How To Install Computer Memory

When a computer’s memory falters, tying a string around the mouse cord won’t help much. Computer Repair Las Vegas

Memory Demystified

System memory, also known as DRAM (pronounced dee-ram; dynamic random access memory), plays the role of messenger between your computer’s CPU and its main storage, holding all temporary data your computer needs to run programs and background processes until the CPU needs it or until it is written semi-permanently to the PC’s main memory, which consists of a hard disk drive or SSD (solid-state drive). For instance, when you launch Internet Explorer, the system copies all data related to the running of that program from the main storage to system memory. As you browse, system memory plays tag with your browser cache to alternately store and display the contents of your browsing session. When you launch another program, system memory loads data from that application, and any other applications you launch, as well as a multitude of background processes. Shedding Light On DIMMs System memory comes in two form factors, DIMM (dual inline memory modules) for desktop memory and SODIMM (small outline DIMM) for notebook memory. Memory modules in most modern PCs are either DDR2 or DDR3, though some older PCs may still be running DDR. We’ll explore the differences later on, but it’s important to note that each memory type has a notch carved in it among the metal contacts that correlates to specifically keyed memory slots. This ensures that you can’t plug a DDR3 module into a motherboard that only supports DDR2, and vice versa, and it also ensures you install them in the right direction.

When To Upgrade

You’ve probably heard that upgrading your system memory can speed up your PC. A system memory upgrade will improve how your PC performs if the sluggish performance is due to a system memory shortage. This is because as soon as your PC runs out of available system memory, it turns to virtual memory, which is just a fancy term for main storage that acts like system memory. When this occurs, you’ll typically notice a dramatic slowdown, because reading and writing data from main memory is incredibly slow. The hard drive, and even its faster sibling the SSD, were not built to be read and written to constantly as you open new programs and manipulate files during your computing session. If you have plenty of system memory already, upgrading to slightly faster modules will only marginally improve your overall PC performance, and you may not even notice the difference. You can reasonably assume that your PC needs a system memory boost if performance appears to slow down as you launch more programs, if your PC is more than three years old and has not already had a system memory upgrade, or if you know that multiple background processes and a few foreground programs running simultaneously are bogging down your system. You may also consider upgrading your system memory if you do not have enough, Computer Repair Las Vegas.

Check Your QVL, ASAP

When you decide that it’s time to upgrade, there are several specifications you have to know in order to purchase system memory that will work with your motherboard. Because motherboard and system memory compatibility can be difficult to determine, we suggest that you consult your PC or motherboard manufacturers’ Web sites and look for a QVL (qualified vendor list), which lists brands and part numbers of all the memory modules that have been tested and shown to work with the particular motherboard. Your motherboard or PC manual may include a QVL among its pages, but check online for the most up-to-date information. It’s important to consult the QVL first, because even if you purchase memory that should work in your motherboard (but that isn’t on the list), sometimes it just won’t. If you cannot find a QVL, or want to make sure the modules recommended in it are indeed appropriate for your PC, read on for all the facts you need to note when choosing the right system memory for your upgrade.

Capacity Concerns

There are three limiting factors when it comes to system memory capacity. The first is the current peak capacity of memory modules available, and the second is the number of memory slots that exist in your motherboard. As of this writing, 4GB modules are widely available. Most midrange motherboards come with four memory slots and low-end models can have as few as two. That means that on your average midrange motherboard, you’ll be practically limited to 16GB of system memory, and low-end motherboards will be limited to 8GB. The third limiting factor is your operating system. Avid Smart Computing readers will also recall that processors were once a system memory barrier, but nearly every processor sold in the last five years is capable of accessing more than 4GB of memory. Although processors effectively punched through the 4GB system memory limit long ago, 32-bit, consumer-centric versions of Windows, including WinXP/Vista/7, recognize only capacities of 4GB or less. To determine if you’re running a 64-bit or 32-bit operating system, click Start, right-click Computer, and click Properties. Look under the System Type heading and you will see whether you’re running a 32-bit or 64-bit operating system. If you see 32-bit, then stick with 4GB of memory. If you see 64-bit, then feel free to purchase 4GB or more.

Speed Specifications

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