Difference Between RAM and CPU (With Table)

The debate of which is better RAM or CPU is always on the list of hot topics among techies. Noting the significant differences between the two shall help in settling the war of word once and for all.  


The difference between RAM and CPU is that RAM is measured in the number of programs it can handle at once while the performance of CPU is measured by how fast a program is launched.

Other difference between RAM and CPU is that RAM or Random Access Memory is the short-term memory storage while CPU or Central Processing Unit is the processor that carries out all the functions by pulling in the required information from RAM.

The RAM stores all data concerning the functions that are going in the present while CPU retrieves this information, processes it and delivers it back to RAM. In other words if RAM is the oil tank of a car, CPU is the driver of the car. RAM and CPU are work in collaboration for a successful run of the operating system.


Comparison Table Between RAM and CPU?

Parameter of ComparisonRAMCPU
Acronym forRandom Access MemoryCentral Processing Unit
FunctionStores memory for programs runningProcesses memory to carry out the program
Performance scaleNumber of programs running at a timeSpeed of launching a program
Usage at idle0.50.8-10%
Factors affecting performanceMemory, processing and bus speed, etc.Cores, the more number of cores the better is its performance


What is RAM?

As the name suggests, RAM is Random Access Memory i.e. the memory that can be accessed randomly or immediately. Latest computers usually have a RAM of 2.5 to 4 GB.

RAM stores the memory that allows processors to access swiftly while carrying out functions to run a program. The number of programs that a computer can run at a time depends upon the capacity of RAM.

RAM is of two main types:

  1. SRAM or Static Random Access Memory
  2. DRAM or Dynamic Random Access Memory

SRAM stored data statically and does not require to refresh data every once in a white. It is a semiconductor based memory that stores data in the cross-coupled flip flops. It is faster than DRAM but losses its memory once power is switched off. This version of RAM is also more costly.

DRAM refreshes stored data frequently but its data is retained even after power is cut. This is also a semiconductor based memory and stores data in memory cells in the transistors. They are cheap and are most commonly used RAM in computers, workstations and servers.


What is CPU?

CPU is the main component of a computer that carries out its functions by processing the information that it receives.  By processing the information it allows for a program or an application to run.

A traditional CPU usually consists of only one processor but with rising demand for speed, the demand for faster processors was a necessity that couldn’t be overlooked. And so, the typical single core processors were replaced by dual and quad core processors.

Technological advancements have now developed hexa-core and even octa-core processors that are installed in the latest machinery. However, a CPU has two parts, the ALU or Arithmetic Logic Unit and a CU or control unit.

The Control unit is responsible for decoding the instruction whereas the Arithmetic Logic Unit is the part that is responsible for executing the instruction. The result of this process is then either presented on the screen or performs internally.

CPU has various types, architecture (32bit and 64bit), speed and capabilities. CPUs are now developed by various companies such as AMD, NVIDA, Motorola, Samsung etc. but the first to develop the CPU was Intel and still remains one of the best in the industry.

Main Differences Between RAM and CPU

  • The main difference between Ram and CPU is that RAM is a temporary memory storage unit whereas CPU is the main processing unit in a computer.
  • RAM is responsible for the number of programs of applications a computer can run at a time while CPU is responsible for the speed of launching a program or application.
  • RAM stands for Random Access Memory while CPU stands for Central Processing Unit.
  • RAM’s performance is determined by memory space, processing speed and bus speed of the computer while the performance of a CPU is determined by the number of cores present.
  • The usage of RAM when idle is about 50% whereas that of CPU is 0.8% to 10%.



While the long drawn debate for replacing RAM or CPU would enhance a computers performance settles at both being equally important, it is worth noting the differences between the two.

The main difference between RAM and CPU is that RAM is a short term memory storage component while the CPU is the main driving unit of a computer.

Another important difference between the two is that the CPU also known as the processor performs the task of processing an instruction while the RAM is the unit that provides the information needed to carry out the function.

The performance capacity of a RAM is measured by the number of programs a computer can run at a time while the performance of a CPU is measured by the speed by which a program is launched. This is because the better the processor the faster it can retrieve information from the RAM.

However the performance of RAM is limited by the speed of the processor and bus speed of the motherboard whereas the speed of the CPU is limited by the number of cores installed in the processor.

A RAM uses 50% of its capacity when idle whereas CPU uses 0.8-10% of its capacity in the idle state. Although this result may vary checking the Task Manager would give an accurate result of their performances.