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Determine What Memory You Need

The most difficult part of upgrading your computer's memory is figuring out the specific kind of memory you need—and knowing how much memory you can add in what kind of configuration. Here's what you need to know.

How Much Memory You Have

There are several ways to see how much memory you have. When you first start your computer, you see information flash by on the bootup screen, including how much memory there is. If you have Windows, there's an even easier way. Right-click the my Computer Icon and choose Properties. The screen shows how much memory you have. In some cases, this screen might not accurately report how much memory, so it's safer to look at the information in the bootup screen.

Figure 3.6

Determine If You Need ECC or Non ECC

As explained in the previous illustration, some computers require parity memory or ECCmemory. check your system's documentation or motherboard manual—or head to the manufacturer's Web site or call technical support to see whether yours requires parity or nonparity memory, or ECC or non-ECC memory.

Determine the Kind of Memory

Check your system documentation to see what kind of memory you have. Alternatively, open the computer case and look. Look inside at the memory chips. See what kind of memory is in the bank. SIMMs have either 30 or 72 pins. DIMMs, SDRAM, and Rambus are larger and usually have 168 pins. Many motherboards have 30-pin and 72-pin banks of memory, or 168-pin banks. You can sometimes use a coMBination of the banks. To be absolutely sure about what kind of memory you need, check your computer or motherboard documentation.

Figure 3.7

Determine the Memory Speed

Get memory at least as fast as the memory in your PC. Check your system documentation or call technical support to find out how fast the memory in your PC is.

Figure 3.8

Determine the Configuration

Your computer has a set of memory slots, and the motherboard can handle a maximum amount of memory. To find out the maximum amount, check the manual or the manufacturer's Web site, or call technical support. Some computers can handle memory modules only in certain configurations—and because of this, you might have to throw away your existing memory and buy all new memory. For example, some computers can use four 4MB SIMMs and three 8MB SIMMs for a grand total of 64MB. Some computers, however, require eight 8MB SIMMs to get the job done. However, computers with SDRAM or RIMM memory usually don't have this problem.

Figure 3.9

Determine If You Need Proprietary Memory

Although many computers accept memory chips from a variety of manufacturers, some computers accept memory only from the manufacturer of the computer. If that's the case, you have to buy the memory from the manufacturer. Proprietary memory typically costs more than other types of memory.

Watch Out!

Double-check that the memory you're buying is of the right type and configuration for your PC.

Buy the fastest memory that your computer can handle. Check the system or motherboard manual for information.

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