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Stupid Question about RAM and my PC

  1. Jan 17, 2009 #1
    Okay; so here is a screenshot of my PCs (it is a desktop) info.

    Here is what I want to know:

    1) 256 MB is pretty small isn't it? My Macbook has 4GB

    2.) Where can I look to see if I can fit more RAM in my PC? I assume that is not the max I can fit?

    3.) Assuming I am not 100% retarded and I know what a screwdriver looks like, is it at all difficult to install the RAM? (I have a DELL)?

    ...Is it like the RAM in a laptop (i.e., are they sticks that just "pop" in)?

  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 18, 2009 #2
    Do a google search for the precise make and model of your PC. Odds are that on the first page of results will be a link to the Dell site where you can access the manual for your computer. You should be able to find out the maximum amount of RAM your computer can hold from there.

    Alternatively, try crucial.com. You should be able to input the model of your Dell there and it will tell you the maximum amount of RAM your machine can take.
  4. Jan 18, 2009 #3
    Thanks for the reply.

    These are not too difficult to install eh?
  5. Jan 18, 2009 #4


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    http//www.crucial.com has a web page that will tell you exactly what type your machine takes (they are also a very good place to buy)
    Or you can go to dell/support and enter the service tag - but don't buy the ram from dell ($$$$$)
    Guessing the age of your computer it could take either DDR or DDR2 , you generally also have to fit pairs of sticks so you might have to throw out the ones you've got.
    RAM is incredibly cheap at the moment, so sticking 1 or 2Gb will give you a great speedup for $20-30.
    Fitting is easy, all you have to do is put them the correct way round - there is a little notch in the connector so you can't get it wrong. Dells are generally very easy to work on, you don't even need a screwdriver - once you have worked out which pit of plastic to press to pop the case open.
  6. Jan 18, 2009 #5
    Cool thanks! I went to crucial.com and found out what I need.

    Many different brands with prices that vary greatly. Any brands I should stay away from?
  7. Jan 18, 2009 #6


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    Not really, there are only 2-3 actual makers. The price difference is how well they are tested, for a home machine I buy the cheapest value RAM - for work I buy crucial's cheapest or one-up-from bottom own brand.
  8. Jan 18, 2009 #7
    RAM is very easy to install, with the caveat that it must be compatible with your motherboard (the memory controller specifically). It comes in very friendly 'modules', which fit into slots on the motherboard in exactly one way.



    You simply push apart the latches at the ends of the slot, gently push the module into the slot all the way down, then close the latches to hold it in.

    You will want to be careful with static electricity - you can destroy your motherboard with your finger, if there's enough charge built up. Avoid dry weather, wool socks, and discharge any static before handling unshielded electronics - touching a grounded conductor, like the interior of the computer case, will work. It's not hard - I've never destroyed anything with static yet.

    Opening a case can be mechanically tricky with brand-name PCs. There's several screws you'll need to unscrew (see your manual). And sometimes there can be sharp metal edges inside - watch out. There is not much space inside a computer, so if you drop a screw it will get lost and give you a headache - magnetic screw tips are useful.

    On rare occasions, new memory can be DOA (broken out of the box), which can cause your computer to mysteriously fail to turn on. The usual troubleshooting method should save you - replace the DIMMs one by one to see which one is dead.

    One last possible pitfall - watch what you touch inside the case, there are important little switches on the system board which you can accidentally bump into.

    Good luck! Have fun!
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2009
  9. Jan 18, 2009 #8
    Unfortunately, my knowledge is dated. There is a huge variation of performance for the same memory capacity - clock speed, access time (these are on the specs). There is also variation in reliability - more expensive memory will have hardware-level error detection and correction (labeled "ECC"). I'm sorry I can't help - I don't know how important ECC is today, or whether memory clock speed is a bottleneck on your system.
  10. Jan 18, 2009 #9


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    ECC requires that the memory controllers supports ECC in which case you generally can't use anything else. It's only common on servers and typically costs 2-3x as much.

    Speed is part of the model number, eg DDR PC2700 - you can use any RAM that is faster (higher number) than this, most likely your 2.8Ghz P4 will take at least 2700 so any RAM made today will work.
    The main difference is DDR (PC from 3-5years ago) or DDR2 (machine <3years old) - they have different notches in the connector so you can't insert the wrong one.
  11. Jan 22, 2009 #10
    To figure out which type or ram you need the easiest way is to just open your computer and look at the sticker on the current ram.


    The last line on the sticker has the only information you will need when looking for new ram.

    Seeing how your computer is from 2002 most likely you will need DDR, but again double check on the sticker which is on the current RAM you have. The sites aforementioned above are most likely the best bet for finding out how much RAM you computer can max out. Chances are if yours came with 256Mb, it can at least get maxed out to 768MB (that's one 512Mb stick in one and a 256Mb in the other or 3 256Mb sticks. If you happen to go with the first option make sure the larger stick of RAM replaces the old one and the smaller sticks go in the secondary slots).

    In regard to brands, it really doesn't make a difference but for reliability go with kingston.
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