Determine how much RAM you have and how much you need
Before you make any purchases, you need to know how much memory
you have and what type of memory to buy.
To see how much RAM is in your PC, go to the Start menu,
click Settings, and then click Control Panel. Click
System and then select the General tab. At the
bottom of the page you should see the amount of RAM.
Most games will specify the minimum amount of RAM you need to
install them and play. For example, Harry Potter And The Prisoner
of Azkaban requires 256 MB. This amount includes RAM that the
computer needs to do its own background work as well as to run the
of RAM you need depends on the operating system you are using. For
Windows 98, 128 MB to 256 MB is more than enough. For Windows XP,
"the more the merrier—depending on what you're doing," he says. If
you're just surfing the Internet and writing letters, you need 256
MB to 512 MB. "If you're gaming, the sky's the limit," says
Gary, which means anywhere from 512 MB to 1 GB RAM (extreme
gamers will need even more). You'll also need more RAM if you're
using a lot of applications at the same time, such as desktop
publishing and video rendering.
RAM modules can be purchased in 128 MB, 256 MB, 512 MB, and 1
Figure out what type of RAM you require
To determine the maximum amount of RAM your computer can handle
as well as the speed, consult your PC's owner's manual, which
should show you the number of slots (the place where you insert
the RAM), how much each can take, and the maximum your system can
Contact the manufacturer or use an online memory advisor, such
as the one from
Crucial Technology or
that will tell you which products work with your system.
To find out what kind of module you will need, you can also
open up your computer.
||First, turn off the computer, but leave it plugged in,
because then it's automatically grounded, explains Gary.
(Computers that should not remain plugged in will be clearly
||Place the computer on a clean workspace and remove the
cover carefully (you may need to use a screwdriver).
||Touch the case to ground yourself. "If you've got a static
charge then you won't once you've touched the case," says
Gary. (Although some manuals recommend anti-static wrist
straps, Gary says that this is not necessary for home
||Locate the RAM modules, which are green with black tubes,
on the motherboard.
||Now determine the type of module you have. "It's all in
the look of the slot," explains Gary.
||RDRAM is paired up (you have to put
in two at a time) and has metal casing on one side;
||DDR SDRAM is the most popular and
looks like regular RAM, but has one notch;
||SDRAM (which is being phased out) has
||Also note your RAM speed, which is usually written on the
side of the existing chip (either 266 or 333).
||If you don't have a free slot, remove one of the memory
cards to check the number of notches on it. You'll be
replacing the smaller of the two RAM modules.
Install your new RAM
||Turn off the computer and touch the metal casing.
||Locate the RAM modules. Find the empty one you plan to
replace, or remove the RAM module you will replace.
||Line up the notches of the new RAM module and apply firm
pressure to attach.
||Once you're sure the RAM module is snugly in place, close
the latch at either end. If you have clips, they should snap
back in place.
||Reconnect all the cables, but leave the casing open until
you're sure everything is working right.
||Turn your computer back on. If the machine starts to beep,
the memory is either incompatible or not in correctly, says
Gary. If you've installed everything correctly, the system
will detect the new RAM.
||Check the system properties to see how much RAM you now
have. If you replaced a 128 MB with a 512 MB module, then you
should have 512 minus 128 equals 384 MB more RAM than you did
previously. If you added the RAM but didn't remove any, then
you'd have 512 MB more RAM.
||Try one of your programs that wasn't working up to speed.
If it still isn't working, unplug everything again and get
back into the computer to check that the RAM modules are
Quick facts about RAM
RAM = random access memory. According to Encarta, it is the
primary working memory in a computer used for the temporary
storage of programs and data and in which the data can be accessed
directly and modified.
Amount of memory/RAM you have: _____________ MB
Amount of memory/RAM you require: ____________MB
Amount of memory/RAM on each module: __________and ____________
Maximum amount of RAM your computer can handle: _____________ MB
Amount of memory/RAM you will buy: ________________ MB
RAM speed for your computer: ______________________
SDRAM or DDR SDRAM