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Pc Memory Upgrade - How to Prepare for a PC Memory Upgrade

a note about speed a note about naming convention a note about laptop memory

Random access memory, otherwise known as RAM, stores data prior to being processed by the CPU, the central processing unit. Here’s what happens when a program is loaded on your computer. First, the program is pulled from the hard drive and stored into the RAM. Next, information is sent from the RAM to the CPU which processes the data and sends it back to the RAM.

It’s helpful to think about RAM as the short-term memory of your computer. The larger your memory, the more your computer can think about at once. Sometimes the computer will slow down simply because it can’t keep up with all of the tasks being given to it. That’s when it’s time to upgrade the memory.

Is Virtual Memory the Same As PC Memory?

There is another type of PC memory called virtual memory (sometimes also known as a swap file). Virtual memory is not the same as a PC memory upgrade because virtual memory is stored on the hard drive. You can think of it like when you clear your mind to put something on “the back burner.” It’s stored on the hard drive but ready to be called quickly if needed. To improve the virtual PC memory, an upgrade is not needed. It can be changed with a simple setting in your operating system. However, increasing the virtual PC memory usually will not significantly increase your system performance.

What You Need to Know to Do a Physical PC Memory Upgrade

To obtain a significant PC memory upgrade, it is necessary to purchase and install a physical memory stick. There are different types of memory such as SDRAM, DDR, and RDRAM. You will need to know what type of PC memory to upgrade your computer with. Another important factor is knowing the maximum size limit your computer can handle (which is measured in gigabytes or GB for short).

How Much Memory Do You Currently Have?

Here is how to find out how much memory you currently have. For windows XP, click the start menu, all programs, accessories, system tools, system information. Look for where it says, “total physical memory.” The amount will be listed in megabytes (MB). To know how much you have in gigabytes (GB), move the decimal place to the left three digits.

Where to Find Information about Your PCs Memory Upgrade

Regardless of whether or not you have a desktop or a laptop computer, you simply need to consult the manual. Check the table of contents for “system specifications.” In that section, there will be details listed about the PC memory. Upgrade information may also be listed nearby. There you will find a term such as maximum system memory, or the amount may be listed in parentheses behind the system memory. You’ll also find which type of memory your computer has including any numbers. Take note of both of those. Your note should look something like this.

PC2-5300, DDR2-667
Max: 2GB

A Note about Speed

Many people have questions about the speed of PC memory upgrades. Here’s what you need to know. And this is the most important point; it is okay to upgrade to a faster memory. That’s right. You can upgrade to a faster memory as long as it is the same type. Knowing this can be very helpful because sometimes a faster memory may cost less money if there is a large supply available on the market. So in the example above, a faster DDR2-800 would work just fine.

A Note about Naming Convention

You may have wondered in the example above why you see PC2 and DDR2. These are two separate naming conventions for the exact same type of memory, and they go hand-in-hand interchangeably. As long as you know one of them, you also know the other.

A Note about Laptop Memory

A laptop memory upgrade is not the same as a desktop PC memory upgrade. That’s because laptops have a different sized memory stick called a SODIMM. The difference is the number of pins or connection points along the memory stick. Be certain you are purchasing a SODIMM if upgrading your laptop memory.

It’s also important to note that many laptop computers have a slot for PC memory upgrades. It can usually be found on the bottom or the side of the laptop. That means you won’t have to take apart your entire laptop. It usually requires no more than a simple screwdriver and one or two screws.

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