What Are the Different Types of RAM

Different motherboards require different types of RAM, depending on the processor, chipset and a whole host of factors. Do you know what kind of RAM you need for a RAM memory upgrade, and how to make your computer run like a dream?

SDRAM is almost obsolete.
SDRAM, which stands for Synchronous DRAM, is one of the earlier RAM protocols, and it's almost obsolete. You'll be hard-pressed to find SDRAM in a brick-and-mortar computer store, and even modern online stores have a very limited selection; less than two dozen, typically, compared to hundreds of options in other types of RAM. SDRAM is 168-pin RAM, and runs at speeds ranging from 66MHz to 133MHz.

DDR SDRAM is the modern starting point.
DDR SDRAM is short for Double Data Rate Synchronous DRAM and is similar to but faster than the old SDRAM standard. DDR RAM is a 184-pin module, and works with certain older motherboards. While DDR RAM isn't out of style yet, it's an older RAM protocol and it'll go the way of SDRAM eventually. You may still have as many as a hundred options for DDR RAM, whereas you'd have over 300 options for newer memory protocols. In technical speak, DDR RAM completes two data transfers per memory clock cycle.

DDR2 RAM is a more common modern RAM selection.
DDR2 RAM is the modern computer memory protocol, and it is the typical choice for a mid-range gaming system, or a general workstation. It's a 240-pin RAM module, and you guessed it-it's faster than DDR RAM. Through innovations in technology, DDR2 RAM completes four data transfers per memory clock cycle, making it considerably faster than DDR RAM.

DDR2 RAM is not backwards compatible, as it's an entirely different memory module than DDR RAM. It's the typical choice in most modern desktop computers, so you probably need DDR2 RAM if you're performing a RAM memory upgrade. Some online stores have as many as 350 options for DDR2 RAM, making it the most available RAM currently on the market.

DDR3 RAM is the next generation of RAM.
DDR3 RAM is the newest memory protocol and is effectively twice as fast as DDR2 RAM, which is twice as fast as DDR RAM. DDR3 RAM is the best choice of gaming RAM for a high-end gaming system, if your motherboard supports it. DDR3 RAM modules may contain as much as 16GB per stick, so it's definitely the RAM of choice if you want a lot of memory in your system. While DDR3 RAM is a 240-pin module, it's not backwards compatible with DDR2 or any prior technology.

A note on RAM speeds.
Speed is a tricky thing to calculate for RAM. Generally speaking, the faster the memory clock, the lower the memory cycle, and that makes the RAM transfer data faster. Likewise, you'd need a fast bus rate and data rate to move data quickly through the RAM. Look for these measurements when you're choosing your RAM in order to narrow down your choices.

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