Sat. May 18th, 2024

Key Takeaways

To check how much RAM you have on Windows, press Ctrl+Shift+Esc, select the “Performance” tab, then go to “Memory.” On Mac, click the Apple icon, then navigate to About This Mac > Overview > System Report > Memory to get detailed information about your RAM.

Your computer’s RAM (random-access memory) is the speedy short-term memory the PC uses for running applications and open files. The more RAM your computer has, the more you can do at once. Here’s how to check how much your system has installed.

In this guide, we’ll also show you how to check how fast your RAM is. Like practically all technology—except maybe batteries—RAM is getting better and faster over time. Newer computers will have faster RAM than older computers.

What Is RAM?

RAM stands for “random access memory.” This is the physical working memory that your PC uses. All your open applications, files, and other data are stored here for quick access. RAM is different from your computer’s SSD or hard drive, which are much slower than RAM. When you launch a program or open a file, it’s moved from your system’s storage to its RAM.

The more RAM you have, the more you can do at once. If you don’t have enough RAM for your open applications, your system will slow down as Windows (or another operating system) has to move data in and out of the page file on your system drive. You might even see a low memory error if there’s not enough RAM.

How much RAM you need depends on what you do. You’ll need more RAM for playing the latest PC games, running virtual machines, and editing 4K videos.

How to Check How Much RAM You Have on Windows

On Windows 10 and Windows 11, use the Task Manager to view how much RAM you have. Right-click your taskbar at the bottom of the screen and select “Task Manager” or press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to open it. Select the “Performance” tab and choose “Memory” in the left pane. If you don’t see any tabs, click “More Details” first.

The total amount of RAM you have installed is displayed here. The Task Manager also tells you the standard it’s using, the speed, its form factor, and how many of your system’s physical memory slots you’re using. You can install more RAM if you can open your PC (not possible on some laptops) and have some spare slots.

The Memory dialog in the Windows Task Mangaer with the RAM size highlighted with a red arrow.

Information about your RAM is also available in the Settings app.

Open the Start Menu, then search for “Settings” and open the app. Navigate to System > About. information about your RAM is listed under “Device Specifications.”

Windows 11 settings menu with the Installed RAM statistics highlighted.

To see more specific information about your RAM timings on any version of Windows, we recommend CPU-Z. Download and install CPU-Z, launch it, and click the “Memory” tab to see this information.

CPU-Z menu dialog with the Memory tab and the RAM size elements highlighted with annotations.

If you build your own PC, your RAM may not run at its advertised timing until you tweak the timings.

This information is generally displayed in your system’s UEFI firmware or BIOS, too. This is particularly helpful if you’re using a PC without a working operating system. Just boot it up, use the keyboard shortcut to enter its BIOS or UEFI firmware (it’s different on each PC), and look for information about the system’s memory or RAM.

How to Check How Much RAM You Have on Mac

It’s much easier to see how much RAM is in your Mac. But, unlike most Windows machines, it’s nearly impossible to upgrade the RAM in Apple computers. If you own a MacBook, the RAM is soldered onto the motherboard and isn’t user accessible.

Start by clicking on the Apple icon in the top-left corner of your Mac’s display.

Click the Apple icon in the top-left corner of your Mac's screen

Next, select the “About This Mac” option from the drop-down context menu.

Select "About This Mac" from the drop-down context menu

You will now see an overview of your computer’s specs, including how much memory is in your Mac. In this example, the MacBook has 16GB of RAM.

The memory available on your Mac is displayed on the second line, below the processor.

If you would like to see which type of RAM you have installed, first, click the “More Info” button.

Click "More Info" to view more detailed information about your Mac's hardware.

Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the window that pops up, then click “System Report.”

Scroll down to the bottom of the "About" page, then click "System Report."

From there, choose “Memory” from the left sidebar. The amount of memory and type of RAM will be displayed on the right side of the screen.

Choose "Memory" from the left sidebar to view your Mac's RAM

Newer Macs cannot have their RAM upgraded, but they tend to require significantly less RAM than Windows systems. If you’re in the market for a Mac, make sure you buy one with enough RAM for your intended uses.

What to Do When You Don’t Have Enough RAM

If you’ve checked how much RAM you’ve got and found it doesn’t meet the system requirements for the software you want to run, or if it’s consistently maxing out and causing freeze-ups, then you’ll want to upgrade your RAM.

Unfortunately, that isn’t always possible. As we said earlier, modern Mac computers cannot be upgraded with more or better RAM. Many modern Windows laptops and mini PCs have the same issue, but to be certain you’ll have to look up your model number and check the specs. Look for information on whether the memory is “soldered” or “non-upgradable.”

If you don’t see those terms, or if you’re using a desktop tower, then you can likely open up your PC and add to or replace the RAM inside. If the thought of such an operation intimidates you, we recommend bringing your PC to a repair specialist or to a geeky friend. They’ll be able to confirm your device is upgradable and perform the upgrade for you.

Regardless, you’ll need to purchase RAM modules first. The fastest and most future-proof option is DDR5 RAM, but if your computer is more than a few years old it likely can’t actually use that type. Otherwise, DDR4 RAM is widely supported and more affordable.

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By John P.

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