The Weekly Geek

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RAM aka Memory for your computer

September 9th, 2008 · No Comments

Howdy one and all, welcome back to another fact filled mission. This week we are going to use our James Bond like skills to check out SPECTER. Since we have just finished a series of training article on how to set up Virtual Memory, we need to take the next step and figure out if we have enough memory (RAM) in our computers to tackle the mission at hand.

RAM is where your computers operating system (Windows), your programs (like e-mail, word processors and databases) and your data (the Great American Novel you have been working on) are stored when the computer is on and you are working with them.

Even though many computers suffer from bog downs created by unneeded files, spyware, worms and other “stuff”, you can have all that clean and still need more RAM. To figure out exactly what you need would take a personal visit and time watching your computing habits however, there are some great rules of thumb to go by. The following is the chart that I use based on over 20 years of experience in this industry.

Every operating system is different and faster processors (CPU) do make a difference.

 

Windows 95 256MB*                                    Windows NT  256MB

Windows 98/98SE 256MB*               Windows 2000 512MB

Windows ME 512MB*                      Windows XP Home or Pro 1024MB

Vista Home Basic/Premium 1024MB Vista Business or Ultimate 2048MB

*These versions of Windows have a maximum useable limit of 512MB due to VCache virtual address space. Video cards use this space too so subtract the size of your video card from the 512MB to get the maximum you can utilize. If you have a 64MB add on video card you should put no more than 448MB of additional RAM. As usual there is a workaround, however everything I have tried and read shows a loss of performance instead of increase in performance.

I do not recommend using Windows 95, 98, ME or NT because of the severe lack of security software and hardware support. If you own a computer using any of these versions of Windows you should seriously consider NOT getting on the internet with it.

The next thing I want to discuss is the purchase of RAM. DON’T BUY IT FROM YOUR LOCAL ELECRTONICS SUPERSTORE OR OFFICE SUPPLY! They sell “generic” RAM which may or may not work and they will not let you return opened, installed and tested RAM.

ONLY BUY MODEL SPECIFIC RAM FOR YOUR COMPUTER! I cannot over emphasize this. With the wrong RAM, at best, your computer might not see it. From there things only get worse. The PC could lockup during boot, or it could lockup at random times. These are the times when the additional RAM is being used.

I ONLY buy Crucial memory (www.crucial.com) however, I have plenty of friends in the industry that purchase Kingston memory (www.kingston.com) and a few buy the great overclockers RAM such as OCZ, Corsair, Mushkin and GEil. These are more expensive and I do not recommend mixing them with your existing RAM. Whatever your choice, go to the RAM manufacturers web site, enter your computer model and type (or motherboard information if yours is a custom unit) and follow the prompts to get the exact part number of RAM you need. Now you can search the internet or the Mega Stores for the best deal on the correct memory.

A great benefit of visiting the RAM manufacturer’s web site (notice that I did not say computer manufacturers) they all tell you how much RAM your specific computer can use. This way if you know you have 128 MB in your system and the web site states that your computer has two slots for RAM and holds a Maximum of 512, you can gather that each slot can hold a stick of 256 MB. Now you know you can order a 128 for a total of 256 or purchase a 256 and have a total of 384. This also prevents you from purchasing a 512MB stick of RAM only to find that even though it physically fits your computer, it won’t work in your computer.

Well that’s all the investigating we need for this mission so buckle up in that Aston Martin, upgrade that RAM, out run those Worms and have a virus free day!

I am not going discuss how to install RAM here. It is a simple procedure that requires precautions. Don’t pay any more than $15 to have RAM installed if you bring it in to someone, this is a 5 minute job at the most. If someone comes out to your home or office, that is another matter entirely.

Tags: Hardware · Optimizing · Purchasing · Speeding Up

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