Ram?

ApexMirageApexMirage Registered User
edited September 2007 in Help / Advice Forum
I'm looking to upgrate my pc with either 512 or a gig of ram

First of all how do i go about finding out what kind of ram i already have(preferably without opening the case as i've never done so myself) ?
The new ram has to be compatible with the old stuff, right? (general info on ram would be appriciated)
Once i've got it, how easy is it to install myself?

I'm also planning to buy a new computer within a year or so, would it be possible to yank 'this' new ram back out and add it to the new comp, assuming compatibility?

Edit: i've also got an old 1ghz comp, would taking the ram out and sticking it into my current machine be an option?

I'd love to be the one disappoint you when I don't fall down
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  • X5X5 Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Was this a custom built PC? Or from a retailer? From a company like dell , gateway?

    If it was custom built and you bought your own parts but a friend put it together. Try to find the sales history for whatever account you used on whatever site you purchased the parts from.

    If it is a system like a dell or gateway, visit the manufacturers website and you can put in your service # or serial # and it will generally pull up your system information, and you can find your ram type and speed that way.

    Yes you want to match ram, if you mix incompatible types, the system either won't recognize the new ram, or won't even boot in some cases. Matching speeds isn't that big of a deal, but it'll clock down to the slower of the speeds and run all at that speed in most cases.

    X5 on
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  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    ApexMirage wrote: »
    I'm looking to upgrate my pc with either 512 or a gig of ram

    First of all how do i go about finding out what kind of ram i already have(preferably without opening the case as i've never done so myself) ?
    The new ram has to be compatible with the old stuff, right? (general info on ram would be appriciated)
    Once i've got it, how easy is it to install myself?

    I'm also planning to buy a new computer within a year or so, would it be possible to yank 'this' new ram back out and add it to the new comp, assuming compatibility?

    Edit: i've also got an old 1ghz comp, would taking the ram out and sticking it into my current machine be an option?

    I was in your shoes just yesterday, so hopefully what I learned will help you out as well.

    First, it's unlikely (though not impossible I suppose) that your old computer uses the same as the new, depending on the age difference between them.

    As for finding out what kind of RAM you need, is your computer a pre-built (such as a Dell) or something you or (I'd assume) somebody else put together? You might check out this page over at NewEgg...on the left-hand side there's a little memory selector tool. If you're is a brand-name computer, just choose "Desktop PC," hit go, and see if yours is listed. It'll then show you the appropriate options. If your computer is not an OEM system, you can also search there by motherboard model.

    Failing that, you can consult your manual, or do a google search for your PC to find the specs. Chances are if you punch in your make/model along with "RAM upgrade" into google, you'll get actual hits for RAM upgrades specific to your computer. For instance, I googled "Dell C521 RAM upgrade" and got plenty of hits. You can then likely just match specs over at someplace like pricewatch.com.

    As for whether this RAM will work in a future computer, it depends. It should be easy to select a system that will accept your old (as in, the stuff you're buying now) ram, if you care to.

    Lastly, regarding compatibility. Generally your RAM will be put into the motherboard in "banks." For instance, mine has four slots, but they're in two banks of two. Generally you only need to "match" the RAM in the same bank...so as long as you're not putting it in the same bank as the old stuff you can get anything that's compatible with your motherboard. Also, generally you can fill slots individually, rather than having to fill both slots in a bank. You may get a slight performance boost by filling both slots in a bank (enabling dual channel mode if your motherboard supports it), but it's not strictly necessary (and probably won't matter much to you).

    Oh, and why are you afraid to crack the case to look at the old RAM? You're gonna have to do it to put the new stuff in anyway, right? ;-)

    mcdermott on
  • enderwiggin13enderwiggin13 Registered User
    edited August 2007
    McDermott's got it for the most part. A couple points though.

    "Banks" are called DIMM sockets with current DRAM. Not trying to be a smartass, just trying to educate.

    2nd, it's possible to mix and match brands, models, capacities and speeds but not recommended. If at all possible you want the same brand, model, and speeds across all DIMMs.

    And finally, you need to understand a couple specs with memory.

    Pin count - This is the number of exposed pins on the edge of the DIMM that attaches to the DIMM socket. If your system was built in the past couple years, you'll probably have 168, 184 or 240 pins. DIMMs will only fit in DIMM sockets with the same # of pins.

    Speed - This is notated in 2 different ways. Data strobe speed and PC name. Data strobe is the speed in megahertz (MHz). 333MHz DDRAM is the same thing as PC2700 DDRAM. Most places are good about using both notations, so it shouldn't be too much of a problem. Newer DDRAM is known as DDR2. Speed is still MHz, but the PC name will be PC2-3200 (or whatever the number is).

    Capacity - This is how much storage space the memory has and it's currently measured in gigabytes (GB). Motherboards have maximum capacities to how much they can use and all 32-bit operating systems max out at 4GB (actually slightly less than 4GB, but its an easy round number). If you have XP64 or Vista64 and your motherboard allows it, you can exceed the 4GB barrier.

    So to find the correct RAM to upgrade, you're going to need to know:
    1. The PIN count of the DIMM sockets on your motherboard
    2. The speed your motherboard can run (this number is backwards compatible so if your mobo accepts up to 400Mhz, you can use 166MHz or 333MHz)
    3. How much you capacity you currently have, how much your motherboard can use, how much your operating system can use.

    Armed with all that, you should be ready to find the correct memory upgrade.

    Of course, if its a Dell or other premade system, you can use one of those configurators listed further up and they'll spit out a link to the correct one to buy.

    enderwiggin13 on
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  • ApexMirageApexMirage Registered User
    edited August 2007
    how would i get the info i need once i actually do open the case?
    I've opened my old once since i havnt actually used the thing in ages - i took out 2 sticks of ram (i vaguely recall having some added to the old system)
    how do i find out how many pins these things have? they both say pc-133 but that's about all i've been able to piece together

    how do i find out what speed my mobo can run? >_>

    This is an HP pavilion a720n, and the old one was custom back then so i have no idea - the newegg page is offering me compatible stuff, but hasnt actually told me what kind i have right now =(

    ApexMirage on
    I'd love to be the one disappoint you when I don't fall down
  • ApexMirageApexMirage Registered User
    edited August 2007
    A little googling revealed:

    Memory
    RAM Technology DDR SDRAM
    Installed RAM 512 MB
    Max Supported RAM 1 GB
    Number of Memory Slots 2 x 184 Pin DIMMs
    Supported RAM Speeds 333 MHz
    Installed Cache Memory 512 KB

    So i guess i'm good to go with buying another stick of 512 =D

    Thanks for the help.

    ApexMirage on
    I'd love to be the one disappoint you when I don't fall down
  • saggiosaggio Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    ApexMirage wrote: »
    how would i get the info i need once i actually do open the case?
    I've opened my old once since i havnt actually used the thing in ages - i took out 2 sticks of ram (i vaguely recall having some added to the old system)
    how do i find out how many pins these things have? they both say pc-133 but that's about all i've been able to piece together

    how do i find out what speed my mobo can run? >_>

    This is an HP pavilion a720n, and the old one was custom back then so i have no idea - the newegg page is offering me compatible stuff, but hasnt actually told me what kind i have right now =(

    PC-133 is old SD-RAM, state of the art back in '99. If you want to open the case of your new computer, you could power off and pull a stick of RAM out. It will usually be labelled with the frequency, manufacturer name, and model number. That would be the most fool-proof way of doing it, but you may not want to open up your computer and pull out a stick of RAM.

    saggio on
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  • ApexMirageApexMirage Registered User
    edited August 2007
    saggio wrote: »
    you may not want to open up your computer and pull out a stick of RAM.


    yeah i'm having trouble putting the old ram back in the old comp with all the crap in the way, im thinking i could just get the place i buy the ram at to throw it in at worst

    ApexMirage on
    I'd love to be the one disappoint you when I don't fall down
  • ApexMirageApexMirage Registered User
    edited August 2007
    I've got another ram related question so i'll just use this topic:

    I've suspected having 'bad' ram for a while now and had someone suggest 'memtest' or something.
    1. Can i get it's name from someone? Link?
    2. I'd looked into it the first time i'd heard of it but decided not to go through with it because it seemed so complex, could anyone either point me towards a 'for dummies' guide to using it or just give me a rundown?

    ApexMirage on
    I'd love to be the one disappoint you when I don't fall down
  • Uncle LongUncle Long Registered User
    edited August 2007
    Chances are your new machine is going to be a bit more neat on the inside; my mother's dell is well zip-tied and fairly easy to work in.

    Just install the RAM yourself, it's easy and the labor cost for having someone do it for you is probably going to be near the cost of a 512 stick of RAM. Just touch the case to discharge static electricity and then put the new DIMM in the slot, press down until it clicks and the two little arms (technical speak, oh my) are securely in the notches at the edges of the stick. Power on and test to see that the computer recognizes them, going through control panel and general comp information will show that it sees 1024 MB instead of the earlier 512.

    It really really is an easy job, and makes you feel good when it's the first time you've done something on your own computer.

    Edit: What makes you suspect that you have bad RAM? From what I've seen, most people run a memtest when their system is having major errors (like rebooting when idle, or not booting at all).

    Uncle Long on
  • whuppinswhuppins Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    I recognize that this may not be the most helpful advice, but...

    Come on. Come onnnnn.

    Replacing RAM isn't hard! If you do get the person do it for you, he'll probably charge you $50 for 10 seconds' work and call you a sucker behind your back. Now's your chance to get some hardware know-how under your belt! It's really not hard, I promise.

    whuppins on
  • ApexMirageApexMirage Registered User
    edited August 2007
    programs just seem to randomly crash for no reason, and i'd rather blame something that could be affecting all of them rather then trying to diagnose the problem on a per-prog basis >_>

    as for the not wanting to do it myself i'm just paranoid i'll break something in there =(

    so what about memtest though?

    ApexMirage on
    I'd love to be the one disappoint you when I don't fall down
  • VeeveeVeevee WisconsinRegistered User regular
    edited September 2007
    ApexMirage wrote: »
    as for the not wanting to do it myself i'm just paranoid i'll break something in there =(

    Thats nothing to be sad about, it just gives you a reason to upgrade.

    Veevee on
  • RaereRaere Registered User
    edited September 2007
    ApexMirage wrote: »
    programs just seem to randomly crash for no reason, and i'd rather blame something that could be affecting all of them rather then trying to diagnose the problem on a per-prog basis >_>

    as for the not wanting to do it myself i'm just paranoid i'll break something in there =(

    so what about memtest though?

    RAM is quite honestly the easiest thing to install. The only and I mean only thing you have to worry about is pulling a nearby cable, which is very hard to do, even more so with a Dell. There should be no cables near the RAM at all. You quite literally snap the stick in. Just make sure you have it the right way. Which is even easier, just look to see if the notch is towards the top or bottom, and compare it to the slot on the board.

    EDIT: As for memtest, it's located here. You burn it onto a CD, and boot with it. Run it overnight, see if anything's red in the morning. Also, you might want to upgrade if you're using DDR-333. They're up to DDR3-1866 now. If you can afford it, I'd wait until Intel releases their new Penryn CPU's in Q1 '08. It should be called something like Core 3, as it's a somewhat big upgrade.

    Raere on
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  • ApexMirageApexMirage Registered User
    edited September 2007
    how exactly do i 'boot with it'? and would a dvd work? i dont have any blank cd's lying around

    ApexMirage on
    I'd love to be the one disappoint you when I don't fall down
  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    ApexMirage wrote: »
    how exactly do i 'boot with it'? and would a dvd work? i dont have any blank cd's lying around

    You'll need one. To my knowledge there's no way to boot from an ISO without burning it to disc first.

    mcdermott on
  • ApexMirageApexMirage Registered User
    edited September 2007
    that doesent quite answer it

    can i use a blank dvd isntead of a cd for the iso?
    how do i boot from it afterwards?

    ApexMirage on
    I'd love to be the one disappoint you when I don't fall down
  • Uncle LongUncle Long Registered User
    edited September 2007
    I am pretty sure you'd be able to use the DVD as a boot disc.

    You know when your comp starts up and there is an initial black screen that'll say something like f2-set up?

    Well, sometimes at this little menu there will be several options with several different commands, sometimes there will be one with "boot drive" sometimes there will only be the option to go into BIOS.

    If you have the option to go right to the boot menu then do that, if you have to go through your BIOS then there will be a boot option which you can select.

    In the boot menu it will have options like "Boot from HD, Boot from Disc" and so on. You want to select boot from disc.

    Uncle Long on
  • ApexMirageApexMirage Registered User
    edited September 2007
    nero seems to specifically be asking for a CD-R, and i have no floppy drive

    could i use the non-image files with the dvd somehow?

    ApexMirage on
    I'd love to be the one disappoint you when I don't fall down
  • Uncle LongUncle Long Registered User
    edited September 2007
    You know, if you're going to do it, you should probably just get a CD-R and do it that way. I mean, they're cheap and once you have the iso on there you can just tuck it away for safe keeping and, if you're like me, won't feel like you've wasted the huge capacity of a DVD for an iso.

    Uncle Long on
  • ApexMirageApexMirage Registered User
    edited September 2007
    i live in the country and it would cost me more gas then a dvd is worth, which i have a pile of anyway >_>

    ApexMirage on
    I'd love to be the one disappoint you when I don't fall down
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