Last Updated on November 6, 2020
How fast your computer can perform tasks is reliant on the capacity of RAM (Random Access Memory) and the speed of your processor. Even though a balance of these two is essential for a computer to run smoothly, the RAM and the processor perform different roles hence you may be wondering, what makes a computer faster RAM or Processor.
The RAM on your computer does not necessarily make your computer faster. A larger RAM only enables your computer to run more programs simultaneously. The processor, on the other hand, determines how fast your computer runs these programs. Hence when it comes to what makes a computer faster the processor is more responsible.
However, they both work in conjunction to provide you a smooth experience. If you have a very fast processor, but only a small amount of RAM, you will most definitely see performance lags.
The difference in responsibility does not make either superior when it comes to data processing since it is the totality of these two which ensure your computer runs at its optimum capacity.
What Makes a Computer Faster RAM or Processor?
To understand which is more important between these two (RAM and Processor), first, we need to understand the individual roles they play. This will enable us to draw the line on what makes a computer faster RAM or Processor.
The Function of RAM in Processing
Random Access Memory is a form of temporary storage used by the computer to store data on a short-term basis (data which is currently being used by your computer). A computer with more programs running simultaneously will relatively require more RAM.
The RAM is significantly faster than other primary storage devices(HDD or SSD). Thus, the time taken to access data from the RAM is less compared to accessing the data from the HDD or SSD. This is the reason why data is mainly processed in the RAM unless the RAM capacity is depleted.
To put this into context, the RAM provides a workspace for data processing where data can be accessed and executed. This means that a larger workspace will allow a larger memory space for program execution allowing the user to perform multiple tasks simultaneously.
The Function of a Processor in Processing
The main point to grasp about the RAM as seen above is that more RAM does not mean faster processing. It means more tasks being performed simultaneously.
There is a difference between running more programs simultaneously and running programs faster and this is where the processor comes in.
Essentially the processor has three main functions. These are fetching (Receiving instructions from the RAM), decoding (interpreting instructions), and execution(Processing of data fetched from the RAM).
With these functions, it is clear that the processor is the heart of data processing. The more processor cores your computer, the more clock speed hence the faster your computer will execute programs.
The fundamental meaning of having a fast processor is; the speed at which your computer executes data fetched from the RAM is faster hence, the general speed of data processing in the computer is increased.
A computer that has a lot of memory but little processor capacity will still be slow. This is because with a lot of RAM the computer can run more tasks but with the limited processor, the speed at which the programs are running will still be slow.
The processor and the Random Access Memory have to work together to achieve the best results.
Nevertheless, putting limited RAM with a large processor capacity will not utilize the processor because, despite the fast processing, data programs that can be handled at a given time are limited.
This is where we need to understand the balance required between the RAM and the Processor to get better processing speeds.
Also Read: How to Check How Many Cores You Have?
Balance Required Between the RAM and the Processor
As seen earlier, what makes the computer faster is largely the processor’s capacity. Nevertheless, some tasks require more RAM while others require more processing capacity and that is where a balance is important.
Computer with Larger RAM but Lower Processing Speed
A perfect example of balance is a computer running on the Windows 10 operating system with the minimum requirements for windows 10. This is a computer operating on 1 gigabyte of RAM and 1 gigahertz processor.
Running windows 10 is possible on this machine although programs will be so slow. The programs will be slow not because of little processing speed but because of little memory (RAM) available on the computer. This is because the windows 10 operating system is made up of many programs.
The computer will be slow because; even though the 1 gigahertz processor is good enough to run the operating system at a reasonable speed, the RAM has little capacity to accommodate simultaneous programs running on the computer. Hence the solution here will be upgrading the RAM.
Computer with Lower RAM and Fast Processing Speed
A computer with a higher processing capacity with a lower Random Access Memory will not run faster either. An example is trying to run a computer game on a computer with lower RAM and higher Processor speed.
A game is made up of many resources that should be rendered during gameplay. Resources such as maps, backgrounds, characters among others. The disadvantage of having a slower RAM and a faster processor is that even though the processor can process data faster, the RAM has a limited capacity hence cannot accommodate a lot of resources simultaneously.
This will mean that your game either lags or plays smoothly but with limited resources such as an incomplete background. The solution here will be a faster processor.
The Idea of Bottleneck
Connected to the idea of striking the right balance is the idea of bottleneck. You will often hear this term when you look into computer hardware.
A bottleneck happens when one hardware components is too slow, which in turn reduces the capacity of the rest of the components to perform at max speeds.
For instance, in a situation where you have a lot of RAM but a very slow processor, the processor will act as the bottleneck.
Also Read: How to Tell if CPU is Bad?
What You should Go for When Purchasing a Computer RAM or Processor
Even though the RAM and processor complement each other, it is advisable to invest in a computer with a much faster processor. This is because it is difficult and more expensive to upgrade the processor for most computers.
Unlike RAM chips which have multiple slots available on the motherboard in case you want to upgrade by inserting another stick, upgrading the processor is not that simple.
This is particularly true if you go for a laptop. Laptops have processors smoldered making it almost impossible top upgrade the processor.
Also Read: How to Upgrade MacBook Pro Rrocessor