Upgrade Your RAM For a Quick Performance Boost


October 3rd, 2012   |   Author: Chris Sully

Computer running slow? Are you thinking about buying a new one, but aren’t looking forward to spending several hundred or thousand dollars on a new laptop or tower?  Then maybe a RAM upgrade is the right option for you.

RAM, also known as computer memory, was once an expensive upgrade option that only the real “geeks” would even consider.  But things have changed.  Memory prices are dropping and there are a multitude of websites that provide assistance with pricing the upgrade and performing the physical task of installing it into your PC.

Although we don’t dive into the details of actually installing the RAM in this article, you should know that replacing out the “boards” of RAM in a computer is one of the easiest things you can do.  It takes just minutes and you don’t really need any training or guidance to do so.

SHOPPING for RAM

Finding the right memory to fit your desktop or laptop is not a complicated task.  If you can find the model number of your computer, you can easily locate the proper RAM within minutes.  Here’s a quick guide for finding the right RAM.

  1. Locate the model number of your PC - location varies by manufacturer, but a safe bet is you’ll find the model number on the back of your tower (or bottom of your laptop) on a sticker.
  2. Determine the current amount of RAM installed - there are several ways to do this, but the easiest is to right-click on “my computer,” select properties and look at the General tab.
  3. Visit crucial.com – there are several sites that make RAM shopping easy (see RAM SHOPPING SITES below) but Crucial does a great job of organizing the information you need to make a purchase.
    • Use the Crucial Advisor Tool or click on the button to have Crucial Scan my System
    • Enter your manufacturer, product line and model
  4. Check the results – Look under the heading Computer Memory for information on the type of RAM for your system and the Recommended Upgrade

Warning – There are limitations to the amount of memory that your computer will recognize, depending on your operating system.  For example, Windows XP will only recognize 3GB of RAM.  Microsoft provides this information at Memory Limits for Windows Releases

BEFORE YOU BUY

Even though Crucial does a great job of pinpointing the specific RAM you need for your machine, you might want to do a little comparison shopping before spending your hard-earned cash.  Assuming you followed the directions above, you are now armed with the Memory Type and can take that information out to the internet for a deeper search.

For the example above (the HP EliteBook 6930p) crucial offered an 8GB upgrade kit for $159.99.  A quick Google search for “RAM hp elitebook 6930p” returned an Amazon.com listing for 4GB of RAM at $75.94 (so the total would be $151.88).  It’s not much of a savings, but every dollar counts.

RAM SHOPPING SITES

HOW MUCH RAM SHOULD I BUY

Determining how much RAM to buy can be a tricky thing to calculate.  Until you get the RAM installed, you won’t really know what kind of performance boost you’ll see.   Here’s a great quote from Chris Pirillo (blogger and computer guru):

“The best rule of thumb when it comes to determining where your system needs some extra care is to check the system monitors regularly. When your system is under heavy load, take a look and see how the CPU is doing in relation to memory. Is the CPU running at over 80% capacity while your RAM is cruising along just fine? This might be an indication that RAM isn’t the source of your bottleneck.”

To read the full article, visit How Much RAM Do You Need?

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