While either buying or upgrading RAM it can become tricky, as purchasing the incorrect type of RAM and attempting to install it within your PC could cause your PC not to boot at all. Throughout this article is a complete guide on all you need to know when changing RAM.
1- Your motherboard manual. If not then open the manufacturer's website with your motherboard model displayed along with all its specifications.
2- If you don't know your motherboard model then simply go into the 'Run' command menu from the start button and type, without the quotation marks obviously, 'dxdiag' and press enter. Your system information will be on the screen along with your motherboard model number.
So with all that done lets move further in this guide.
Identify what RAM your motherboard acceptsKnowing what type of RAM you need depends on the make or model of your motherboard. The quickest and easiest way to find out the correct RAM is to check your motherboard’s manual or manufacturer’s website. It is crucial that you check the compatibility list as installing the wrong type of RAM will cause the PC not to boot.
When looking to purchase RAM, you may come across the option to select buffered, also called registered, or unbuffered. The major difference between the two is that buffered memory is designed for server motherboards whereas unbuffered memory is designed to run with standard desktop motherboards. One final note about unbuffered memory is it can also be symbolized with a U – for example PC3200U.
In short if you are buying a RAM for your living room or bed room desktop machine then it has to be an unbuffered RAM.
If you are interested in knowing the exact type of memory currently installed in your system, CPUZ is an excellent tool to use. It will provide you with the exact type, model number, speeds as well as brand name not only for your RAM but for every other PC component.
Mixing RAMBe careful with mixing memory sticks as in some cases it may cause the PC to not boot. Common errors that people commit are like, mixing faster memory with slower memory this will always result in the motherboard using the slower speeds. Same issue goes for the sizes. Having one 4GB with one 2GB is not ideal as one stick may receive double the work. However as long as both memory sticks are on the compatible list provided from your motherboard the PC should accept the new RAM.
Memory works best when running in the correct channels along with a matching RAM stick.
Then it all comes down to the channels, Channels are the dual in-line memory module (DIMM) slots located to the right of the CPU socket (those long thick parallel slots). Here is where RAM is inserted into the motherboard and is where the RAM will receive its power as well as do its calculations. There are four different types of channels that different motherboards use: Single, Dual, Triple, and Quad. The most common found on motherboards would be a dual channel meaning that the PC will perform its best when running two RAM sticks at a time.
The Processor IssueThe standard RAM speed for an Intel CPU is 1600MHz, anything higher will run off the motherboard’s chipset adding more load to the motherboard. The AMD FX series on the other hand works best with memory running at 1866MHz.
Unless you are a PC enthusiast I would recommend that you don't purchase anything higher then 1600MHz RAM for an Intel or AMD system, with the exception of the AMD FX series of course.
Finding the correct RAMThere are three very easy and simple ways to find the correct RAM for your motherboard.
1. Check your motherboard’s manual or website.
2. Contact me as always.
3. Use an Online Memory Finder Tool:
• Crucial’s Online Memory Finder tool
• G.Skill’s Memory Configurator
• Corsair’s Product Configurator
Brands such as Crucial, G.Skill and Corsair have proven to be some of the best RAM on the market and are the recommended brands by me on any given occasion.
Understanding DDR MemoryDouble data rate synchronous dynamic random-access memory (DDR SDRAM) is the newest and most common type of RAM for most of the PCs out there.
There are three types of DDR SDRAM: DDR, DDR2 and DDR3 none of which are backwards compatible ie you can't use a RAM module of one family along with another. Depending on the DDR type your motherboard accepts there will be a selection to choose the type of PIN style (184-Pin, 240-Pin). Remember to check your motherboard’s manual to see which DDR style and how many PINs is compatible with your system.
The DDR style of memory allows for much faster transfer rates as well as a high storage capacity. Higher storage capacity and better performance will typically come with heat. You may notice that most RAM now comes with a design shroud (that flashy colored case that encases the green RAM inside). Its main purpose is not to just add a nice appearance but is to act as a heat spreader.
Sometimes installing 1600MHz RAM will result in the BIOS using default speeds of 1333MHz. It would be recommended to enter the BIOS and change the default setting to 1600MHz at maximum.
Finally, you may be thinking that the more RAM the better! With DDR3 capacities reaching an outstanding 64GB, this high capacity is unnecessary for both home users and gamers. Most PC applications or games only require around 6GB of data. The highest recommendation from my side would be 16GB and should only be required for demanding software like Photoshop CS6+ and AutoCAD rendering or if you just want to flaunt of your configuration to your neighbors!