Memory Upgrade – 3 Tips When Buying a Memory Upgrade

Memory Upgrade – 3 Tips When Buying a Memory Upgrade

Does your PC seem a lot slower than it used to be? Wondering if a memory upgrade might be what the doctor ordered? Maybe memory was too expensive when you first bought your computer, so it does not really have all that it needs.

If you have been a Windows user for very long, you are probably aware that Windows loves memory. In fact, if your computer is sluggish, and you have already checked for viruses and malware, chances are it is because Windows is starved for RAM (Random Access Memory) and has to constantly swap out data to your hard disk.

How much RAM is needed? Well, an awful lot of computers that shipped with Windows XP Home Edition or even XP Professional shipped with only 128 megabytes of memory.

I have seen some very sluggish computers really come alive when doubling that to 256 megabytes. But with computer memory being as cheap as it is today, there is no reason not to upgrade memory to at least 512 megabytes and maybe even 1 gigabyte.

Some authors have written that Windows XP’s “sweet spot” with memory is 2 gigabytes. Truthfully, unless you are running some serious graphics applications, I doubt you will see much added benefit to going beyond 1 gigabyte of RAM. In fact, most users are thrilled with 512.

What about Windows Vista? Well, if you are running the sleek new Aero interface of Windows Vista, you hopefully have a good video card with RAM of its own. Vista itself will not even run the Aero interface without having a computer with at least 1 gigabyte of RAM. Vista will run much better with 2 gigabytes and you may want to consider going for 4 gigabytes.

If you have Vista and do not max out your motherboard with new RAM, try buying the RAM in large enough sticks that you are left with some empty slots for later on.

How do you know if your computer is worth a memory upgrade?

At this point in time, the lowest machine that I would consider upgrading memory for would be a high Pentium III; probably 750 – 800mhz. Pentium III 1000’s still do pretty well for basic word processing and internet. If you have a Pentium 4 of any kind, there is no reason it should not still be a viable computer, so I have been upgrading memory on a bunch of those machines, and doing it for less than $100.

Here are 3 tips to speeding up your computer with a memory upgrade

  1. Know what memory you have now. Right click your “my computer” icon and select properties. Your system speed and amount of memory are listed. You can also go through the control panel (from the Start Menu) and select “System”. This will give you the amount. But you also need to know if you have room to add more or if you need to take memory sticks out to insert higher capacity ones. Open the case of your computer and look; with a laptop there is a cover on the bottom – see your computer manual for details. An empty memory slot it is a good sign, that means you don’t have to throw memory away to add more. (Old computer memory does not eBay very well, I have tried.) Also, write down any information that is on any labels on the memory sticks you have installed, it will come in handy later.
  2. Check your computer or motherboard specifications to know if memory should be added in pairs, either by necessity or for increased performance. Rambus memory, for instance, usually requires pair installs. If there are extra memory slots, they will be filled with circuit boards with no chips on them and are necessary for the motherboard to function. Those “blanks” can be replaced with more Rambus memory. Some other computer motherboards, while not requiring paired installation, will perform faster if memory is installed in pairs. Computer memory, if installed in pairs, should be matched pairs; buy them as a kit if so.
  3. While it is possible to mix speeds of RAM in most computers, as long as you put the slowest speed ram in the lowest number slot, it really is not recommended unless you are somewhat of a pro. Memory is not something that you want to mix and match. Do make sure you buy quality memory, do not just go by price. A high percentage of problematic computers and Windows lockups are caused by poor or faulty memory. How do you know if it is quality memory? Keep reading.

Ok, so maybe you are not a pro. The good news is that buying memory doesn’t have to be as hard as it sounds.

The way you can overcome a whole lot of potential problems is by buying from the right source. There are memory manufacturers out there who know what needs to be known about your computer, all you have to do is tell them which computer model or motherboard you have.

The even better news is that one of those manufacturers has an easy to use website, offers top quality computer memory, AND has some of the best prices. You can buy directly from them on their website, but if you have any questions or concerns, they offer toll free (from the USA) consultation – and the call is NOT routed to India.

You can find more information about computer memory upgrades and who that one vendor is on my website here.