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Beginners Guides: RAM, Memory and Upgrading

Beginners Guides: RAM, Memory and Upgrading - PCSTATS
Abstract: Random Access Memory (RAM) can be thought of as the short-term memory, in the sense that once the power is turned off, all information stored there is not saved.
Filed under: Beginners Guides Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Memory Aug 14 2005   Mike Dowler  
Home > Reviews > Beginners Guides > Memory

The Advantage of more memory

The relation of memory to the actual perceived speed of a computer is always going to be a bit nebulous, as it is governed by so many other factors. To make it easier to think about, try this. Not having enough memory will slow your system down.

That's about the easiest way to express it. Think of memory as enabling your system to reach its performance potential and you will have the right idea. The processor governs the overall speed of the system, but the memory provides it with a workspace to store information it is using.

If you have multiple applications running at the same time, demands on the memory increase drastically, and if all available memory is used, the system will resort to virtual memory, which entails using a portion of your hard drive (the swap file) as extra RAM space. As you can imagine, as soon as virtual memory must be accessed, system performance slows down considerably, since hard drives are vastly slower than RAM in transferring data.

Thus, adding more memory is not so much about speeding up your system as it is about avoiding slowdowns. Memory upgrades work on the law of diminishing returns though. You will see a much bigger increase in performance going from say 64MB of RAM to 128MB on a Windows 2000 system than you would going from 512MB to 1GB of RAM on the same system.

This is also dependent, of course, on the amount and type of applications you commonly run, as well as the operating system you use. Newer versions of Windows like 2000 and XP take better advantage of large amounts of system memory than do older operating systems like Windows 9x/ME.

For example, we ran through a couple tests with Bapco sysmark 2002 on a 2.4GHz Intel Pentium 4 computer with 256MB and 512MB DDR. In the first round of tests, with 256MB, the Internet Content Benchmark came in at 425, Office productivity at 219. By increasing the memory to 512MB, the Internet Content benchmark increased to 452, and Office productivity to 246.

While not showing a massive increase in performance, doubling the memory on our test system gave an appreciable increase in performance when the system is under heavy load, especially in the office application portion of the Sysmark test. This is consistent with the real life performance benefits you will see by upgrading your system's memory.

Installing Memory modules.

Before proceeding with this section, please ensure that you have purchased the correct type and speed of memory for your computer as specified in your motherboard manual.

Power off and open up your PC.

All modern RAM is keyed so it can only fit into the RAM slots a certain way. With modern motherboards, it should not matter which slot you use, though if they are numbered in the manual or on the board, it is always a good idea to go with slot #1 first. Hold the RAM chip next to the slot so that the indentation(s) on the chip line up with the bumps in the slot.

Once you are certain of the orientation of your RAM, open the levers on either side of the RAM slot and push the RAM chip straight down into the slot until both levers snap closed on either side of the chip. This will require some force. If it does not seem to be going in with a moderate amount of force, remove the chip and re-insert it, making sure that it is exactly lined up with the slot.

Now power on the computer. Check on the boot up screen and on the properties of 'my computer' in your OS to verify the RAM was installed correctly. Everything should be good to go once the operating system boots up now!

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Contents of Article: Memory
 Pg 2.  Beginners Guides: RAM, Memory and Upgrading
 Pg 3.  DDR-SDRAM
 Pg 5.  What type of memory should you use?
 Pg 6.  — The Advantage of more memory
 Pg 7.  Memory Bandwidth vs. Latency Timings
 Pg 8.  DDR memory with slow timings

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