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Upgrading Memory  - like all products you get what you pay for: "Buy cheap, Get Cheap!".

Upgrading Memory is the one of the cheapest [as in cost effective] ways to get a large performance boost.

On the other hand if you all ready have an abundance of memory (over 4 gig using a 32 bit Operating System, the OS can only utilize 3.5 GB) then adding more RAM will not solve your performance problems.

Memory comes in different forms (module), speeds, and sizes.

Forms - Also called modules that are currently in use in computers there are two DDR and SDRAM (includes DIMM)

Sizes - Range from 64Mb (megabyte) to 64Gb (gigabyte).

Speed - The speed of the ram installed is controlled by the motherboard BIOS when it was manufactured.

Channels - By combining two or more memory modules the speed of the base module will double or even triple.

Say you have a Pentium 4 processor, you have 256 meg of ram and it is in the DIMM form.

If you have the motherboard installation guide it may list all the ram types the motherboard supports, also listing the speeds and maximum size for each slot. If you don't have the installation guide have two choices on finding out what ram is installed in your computer, the easiest is to go to the motherboard manufactures web site and search for the information on your motherboard. Or you can open up your computer and look at the markings on the ram itself.

If you do open the case up remember when Upgrading Memory Observe ESD it will kill anything you touch if you are not grounded.

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With this information you can search the web for suppliers of third party memory. They will have table that will list all the ram that matches the form and speed you are looking for, just pick the size you want to upgrade to.

I use kingston.com to check for RAM installed in a computer, you can search for the  make of the motherboard by manufacture and model, you may find you can increase the FSB (Front Side Bus) speed and increase the amount of RAM all at one time. Increase in FSB will give you a modest performance boost also.

Channels - When you buy memory you need to know if your motherboard has single, dual, or triple channel memory. Also you will need to know the minimum speed and the maximum speed that the motherboard will support. You need to consider that if the motherboard supports single channel memory then the speed published will be the base speed of the memory.

However if you have dual channel memory you would have to divide the published speed in half to get the base memory speed that the motherboard will support. That is say your motherboard will support dual channel memory at 400, 800, 1066, or higher . You would either buy the memory as a set of two modules or find single modules. If you are searching for single modules you would divide the speed of the memory in half to find a single module such as if you had 800 MHz memory and wanted to replace one then you would search for 400 MHz DDR 2 memory.

If you have DDR3 which is triple channel memory then to find the base memory speed you would divide the memory speed by 3 such as your computer has DDR 3  and it is 1333 the base memory speed would be 444 MHz.

Quality - Quality counts. Remember "Buy cheap, Get cheap". You are doing this yourself to save money but doing something twice costs twice as much.

Did you know that if you install memory that has a FSB of say 800 MHz that your processor will run slower than if you installed say 1066 MHz memory?

Update 03/02/20 - I needed to increase the memory in my domain controller server, it has a Gigabyte motherboard. I ordered two 4 GB Patriot DDR 3 modules, they are rated at 1066 MHz, I have the same memory in my tower computer with an ASUS Pk53 motherboard. Gigabit web site lists this memory as usable on the motherboard. However I could not get that memory to initialize in the Gigabit motherboard. Instead I went with Kingston memory for the Gigabyte motherboard and gave my ASUS a 8GB memory upgrade. Even with the specifications some newer memory is not compatible with newer motherboard even if the manufacturer indicates it is... And this memory was not cheap!

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