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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

More Memory: Cheap, Easy, and Quick

One of the quickest and easiest hardware upgrades you can do is to add more RAM or system memory. These are memory chips that slot inside your computer. This is easy to do, affordable, and the most cost-effective hardware upgrade you can do yourself.

Vista requires a minimum of 512 megabytes of memory (see Figure 4.4). Anything less will produce disappointing results.

Figure 4.4

Figure 4.4 Vista needs a minimum of 512MB of RAM, but it's better off with 1- or 2GB. Note that depending on your type of RAM, you might have one, two, or more memory modules, such as those shown here.

As I said earlier, 1GB of RAM is preferable, and an upgrade to 2GB is recommended.

Here's how to find out how much memory is in your Vista machine:

  1. Click on the Windows button menu.
  2. Right-click on Computer in the right-hand bar and choose Properties.
  3. Look under the section labeled System for the Memory (RAM) listing (see Figure 4.5).
    Figure 4.5

    Figure 4.5 The System applet shows how much physical RAM is installed in the computer.

It may be tricky to find out your system's exact memory chip configuration (meaning whether memory modules can be installed singly or in pairs, as well as how many memory slots you have) and maximum allowable memory. First, try the website Crucial.com. It will show you what RAM you need specific to your brand, make, and model. Use the Crucial memory wizard to get this information. Kingston.com offers a similar feature.

I also outline in detail how to upgrade your RAM on my website at http://www.cyberwalker.com/article/41.

If you have a custom-built machine, you have two choices:

  1. Try Crucial's system scanner (see Figure 4.6) at http://www.crucial.com/systemscanner/, which can figure it out for you on most machines.
    Figure 4.6

    Figure 4.6 The Crucial System Scanner shows that my Dell computer has 2x512GB of RAM installed in two of the four RAM slots in my computer.

  2. Or, use the free Belarc Advisor. More info on that can be found on p. 45 in Chapter 2 (in the "From Despair to Freeware" section).

The other way to do it, is to crack open the case to figure it out. Here's how:

  1. Make sure your machine is turned off and unplugged.
  2. Remove the side panel.
  3. Be sure to touch the PC's metal frame to discharge any static electricity from your body before proceeding. You also might want to consider wearing an antistatic wrist strap, which is available at most any store that sells PC components. It'll add to your geek cred too!
  4. When you have it open, look for the motherboard, which is the large circuit board that everything is plugged into.
  5. The name of the motherboard manufacturer (Asus, Gigabyte, Intel, MSI, and so on) and the model number of the motherboard are usually stenciled onto the motherboard (see Figure 4.7) in a fairly obvious location, though you might need to gently nudge some cables aside to see it. Make a note of it. Then close up the system and plug in the system again.
    Figure 4.7

    Figure 4.7 This IBASE motherboard has its model number (MB880) stenciled on it.

  6. Visit the website of the motherboard manufacturer, and see the maximum RAM configuration of your computer by looking it up in the spec sheet for that particular motherboard model.

Order extra memory and install it when it arrives. This requires you to open up the system again to slot the new memory modules into the open RAM slots. No further configuration is necessary. The system will auto-recognize extra memory when you boot the system.

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