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Wise Tech Tips

Boost Computer Performance by Adding Memory (RAM)


By James Wise
web posted November 17, 2009
TECH TIPS – There are several things that affect the performance of a computer. We’ve talked about some things you can do software wise before. Today, we’ll talk about Memory (RAM) which is one of the physical components of a computer.

First, you need to know how much RAM you have. There are a number of ways to determine this, but one easy way is to go to start, control panel, system. You can also get to this screen by pressing the “Windows” key and the “Pause/Break” key together. In the example below, you can see that I have 2 GB of RAM (it’s listed as 1.99 GB actually).



You can also check how much memory you have (as well as other system information) with various software programs. Two such options are:
Belarc Advisor: http://www.belarc.com/free_download.html
Speccy System Information: http://www.piriform.com/speccy/download
An advantage of these programs is that they also show you how much memory is installed in each slot. This can be very helpful if you want to buy more RAM and want to try to re-use at least some of your old RAM.

The next question you might have is “How much RAM should I have”. The answer to this depends on what you are doing with your computer and what operating system you are running. For “casual” use I believe the following values are reasonable:

Windows XP:
Minimum: 512 MB (256 MB MIGHT also be okay but I would really recommend at least 512 MB)
Recommended: 1-2 GB

Windows Vista/7:
Minimum: 1 GB minimum (but I would really recommend at least 2 GB)
Recommended: 2-4 GB

If you have specific needs (like video editing, gaming, running “virtual machines”, etc…), you may need more.

If you have decided you would like to add more RAM, I would recommend going to http://www.crucial.com/ and using the “memory advisor” tool on this page. You can enter your computer information (manufacturer, product line, and model) and see how much memory your computer can handle, how many slots you have for memory, what type of memory you have to use, and whether or not you need to use matched pairs of memory). There are also videos showing how to install memory on this page.

You can also purchase memory from Crucial if you would like but once you have the memory type, you can certainly purchase it elsewhere if you would like or find a better price elsewhere.

Prices for memory will depend a lot on the type, size, etc… but as a rough idea, memory upgrades are typically between $20 and $100.

Important to remember is that if all your memory slots are full, you’ll have to replace one or more memory chips with new ones if you want to upgrade. In other words, if you have two slots and they each have 128 MB of RAM and you want to go to 512 MB, you’ll have to replace one chip with one of 384 MB or more OR replace both with chips of 256 MB or more. 

If you have questions about this or need any help, just email me (EdgefieldTechHelp@gmail.com).

I apologize for not writing a column last week. I was on a business trip to Salt Lake City and ran short on time.





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