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Maximizing Your RAM: A Basic Introduction

SDRAM, DDR, DDR2, and DDR3

You’ll find one of these descriptors in any potential product, and it is important to recognize each as an important indicator of the module’s performance and its compatibility with your system. Whether you are intending expansions on a server, a laptop, or a desktop computer, consult your system’s manufacturer manual to ascertain its compatibility. Ideally, you would want DDR3 RAM for your system, as it is currently the fastest system memory available (exempting graphic modules, which can extend as far as DDR5 but which aren’t intended for the same purpose). While you may prefer a higher data-rate, if your motherboard doesn’t support DDR3, you may be forced to stick with DDR2.

RAM and CPU Optimizing

Your system’s performance depends on the aggregate of its components. Thus, taking a “weakest link” approach, it is important to optimize the system on a component-to-component architecture. The best way to see the greatest performance from your memory expansion is to optimize alongside with your CPU (central processing unit). Note both your processor’s bus speed and the RAM’s bus speed, both of which work best when planned in accordance with one another. This doesn’t translate directly into a 1:1 ratio. A CPU actually sends information, per clock cycle, four times as opposed to the data rate of standard memory. DDR, double data rate, means that the bus speed is effectively doubled, with increases in data rate seen in DDR2 and DDR3, respectively. Thus a CPU with a 1333 front side bus speed can match accordingly with DDR memory operating only at 667 FSB speeds. Many processor manufacturers include charts for optimal configurations.

Installing Your RAM

We’ll finish off this short introduction with a guide to installing your RAM. First, make certain that your computer has been powered off and unplugged. Discharge any static to prevent damage to your components. Open the case and locate your DIMM slots on your motherboard. Depending on your system, laptops and desktops usually have four slots while servers have between four and sixteen (this can vary). Taking the module by both ends, line its pins with the slot and gently push down, applying pressure on both ends as well as directly down with your thumbs. Oftentimes, you will need to install a kit as two modules together, as was the case with my 4523-8203 memory installation. If there are clips on the DIMM slot, simply lock these into place. You can ensure the modules are registered with your computer by opening up your device manager; it should recognize the added gigabytes right away.

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