Bargain PC upgrade - memory is everything

If you read yesterday’s posting you’ll see I managed to upgrade the processor on my four-year-old motherboard. The thing is, it’s not as zippy as it should be. I suspect this is because I only have 512 Mbytes of memory.

I asked Marc Bernier, Kingston Technology’s technical guru for his advice on memory upgrades. Marc said:

2 GBytes of RAM seems to be the current sweetspot for Windows XP. It is a good general amount of memory that users generally consider necessary for running their apps… if the use is particularly heavy then up to 4 GBytes memory can be beneficial with a 32-bit OS of course

So 2 Gbytes it is then. The next question is what type of memory. My Gigabyte GA-8IPE1000-G motherboard supports 400 MHz DDR2.

I decided it was best to check with Marc about DDR (Double Data Rate SDRAM). As Marc explained:

Dual channel configurations basically sends data to the processor from a pair of DIMMs simultaneously. Therefore 128bits of data are sent for dual channel rather than 64bits in the case of single channel

Basically, it’s faster because two memory banks are used to send data. So, to make the most of my new (second hand) processor, I should be looking to install 2 Gbytes DDR400 memory. For this to work, the memory DIMMs must be identical, making it practically impossible to find a matched pair bargain on eBay.

Kingston Technology’s web site has a neat tool which helps you check memory compatibility with your motherboard. You simply enter the make and model number of your motherboard and it lists the compatible memory.