The Novice Computer Upgrade Series: Memory

Regular readers will know I am in the process of building a new computer capable of handling VR, Sansar, Obduction (from the makers of Myst), and Second Life. I mostly deal with web tech and repair or upgrade of old computers. I do a lot of repair and upgrading of Core2 vintage machines.

So, when I decided to upgrade I started looking for what is best, fast, and cheap. In the process I realized I haven’t been keeping up with the tech. Helping people in the SL Forum I realize there are a lot of people also unaware of the changes in tech. A lot of bad advice is handed out in the forum. So, I am starting a series of articles on the current state of computer technology. Starting with a tutorial on computer memory.


Computer memory is called: RAM – Random Access Memory.

DDR4 Top - DDR2 Bottom

DDR4 Top – DDR2 Bottom

Memory chips like all other tech advances. Memory gets better, meaning faster and using less power. So, can you put faster memory in your existing computer? May be. 

First, one has to find out what memory they have. That is easily done with CPU-Z, a free program.

CPU-Z - Checking memory installed

CPU-Z – Checking memory installed

Notice information is arranged by memory slot. You can determine how many and what type of memory sticks are in your computer without ever opening the case.

This screen capture shows a DDR2 2GB of PC2-6400 memory in slot #1. The Brand, part number, and serial number are included. This information is import if you are adding memory and want an axact match.

The next challenge is in knowing which memory works with your motherboard and CPU. So, what motherboard is inside your computer?

CPU-Z - Checking motherboard brand and model.

CPU-Z – Checking motherboard brand and model.

Click to the ‘mainboard’ tab. (Mainboard and motherboard are the same.) You’ll see the brand and model. You can search for the manual or specs using the model name. The manual will tell you the fastest speed memory you motherboard can support and the largest memory module a slot will support.

If you already have the fastest possible memory installed, you’re done. There is no way to upgrade JUST memory. The PC2-6400 is the fastest memory my P5N32 can handle. The most I can do is install the maximum possible memory.

Memory Naming

The names of various memory chips is based on how the memory works. Hopefully you know voltage in computers is alternating current (AC). Alternating from the minimum voltage, say -5v, to the maximum, a corresponding +5v. Then back down and repeating. How often it alternates depends on the application. (This is a simplification and I am ignoring the sine verses square wave differences.) In computers that cycle can happen up to 4 billion times per second, 4ghz.

More pages… links below.

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