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Thread: Upgrading/adding RAM: what should I look for?

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    Upgrading/adding RAM: what should I look for?

    Hey everyone, here I am again with a great question ready to be answered. I did my searching but I couldn't find anything like this, so maybe this thread will help others as well if any nice answers make it useful


    Well, here we go.
    About 3 years ago I bought an Acer Aspire T151-J97Z (AMD Athlon x64 3200+, 512 MB DDR, 160 GB HDD, ATI graphics card of some cheap type I have now replaced with an XFX 8600 GTS). I think it's getting about time to upgrade the memory. Yeah, I do. There's two slots in there. One is filled with 512 MB of DDR RAM, the other has never found his true love.

    I've scanned the net a bit to get familiar with the types of RAM you've got and I ran into some scary sources saying that one sick of RAM might be incompatible with another.

    So here's the question: how can I tell which piece of bionic elephant brains is compatible with what I already have? (Or which is not, for that matter.) Or will I have to remove my good ol' RAM if I want to add another stick next to it? Or more generally: what should I look for and what should I laugh at (prices, clock speeds, RAM type, brand etc.)?


    Oh, yeah, I also found this neat little hardware information thingy. Maybe there's something important in there... it doesn't hurt to post it here.




    Thank you for your time,

    Jerry

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    Re: Upgrading/adding RAM: what should I look for?

    I had a quick look on the Crucial RAM selection tool and the Acer support website and your model number was not listed. I would definitely go fro the same size,speed and manufacturer of RAM to avoid any issues.
    Also your motherboard supports dual channel RAM IIRC meaning as long as you have two RAM dimms of the same speed and capacity there will be a slight improvement in actual RAM performance!!

    You need to get PC3200 DDR1 RAM made by Nanya.

    You can many Nanya dimms off Ebay:

    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/512MB-DDR400-P...3A1|240%3A1318

    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Nanya-1gb-2x51...=p3286.c0.m14&

    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/NANYA-512MB-40...3A1|240%3A1318



    This is new:

    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/NANYA-512MB-PC...3A1|240%3A1318

    This comes from an Acer desktop:

    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Nanya-512MB-DD...3A1|240%3A1318

    You could always ask the seller what model it came from!


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    Re: Upgrading/adding RAM: what should I look for?

    +1 with Cat, your looking for DDR1 Ram.. Personelly, I wouldnt bother matching a 512MB stick to what you have and go for one or two new sticks if budget allows.. Can't see any problems with you getting upto 4GB in there, but remember a 32bit OS will only see ~3.25GB.. Last I knew, you could grab a 2GB bank of PC3200 for ~£20 and that would quadruple you up and provide a huge performance increase.

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    Re: Upgrading/adding RAM: what should I look for?

    2gb of PC3200 DDR1 at Ebuyer and Scan is over £50 now!! Some motherboards can be very picky about RAM and as there is such a paucity of info about the motherboard in the Acer T151 it would be easier to play it safe IMHO!!


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    Re: Upgrading/adding RAM: what should I look for?

    Quote Originally Posted by CAT-THE-FIFTH View Post
    2gb of PC3200 DDR1 at Ebuyer and Scan is over £50 now!! Some motherboards can be very picky about RAM and as there is such a paucity of info about the motherboard in the Acer T151 it would be easier to play it safe IMHO!!
    Strange how the price of older RAM types increase isn't it. The OP should look in the stuff for sale.

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    Re: Upgrading/adding RAM: what should I look for?

    £50!!! I stand correct on that then, is insane!

    Deffo play it safe on selection by not mixing capacities etc, yep.. But I've yet to find a motherboard (laptop or desktop, shop or custom) that won't work happily with a decent bank of Corsair, OCZ, PNY, Samsung or whatever.. Just gotta aviod the cheap stuff.

    Sputnik, I guess its down to economy of scale - Laws of supply and demand.. Sooner or later DDR2 is gonna start going the same way as we all shift onto DDR3. The very reason I'm grabbing 8GB of DDR2 as soon as I have some spare cash LOL!

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    Re: Upgrading/adding RAM: what should I look for?

    Quote Originally Posted by mehmeh View Post
    Sputnik, I guess its down to economy of scale - Laws of supply and demand.. Sooner or later DDR2 is gonna start going the same way as we all shift onto DDR3. The very reason I'm grabbing 8GB of DDR2 as soon as I have some spare cash LOL!
    Yes, Of course but, It has always been the same. I remember during the late 1990's the price of RAM changed almost on a daily basis and was the reason some computer companies went bankrupt at that time. I remember around 1999 128Mb of RAM was £150 one week and £20 the following week before going back up again.

    DDR2 is very cheap at the moment.

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    Re: Upgrading/adding RAM: what should I look for?

    First of all, many thanks for the quick and very helpful replies

    I can conlcude that if I keep the RAM I have now, the second one must:
    -match the size (512MB);
    -match the type (DDR1);
    -match the manufacturer (Nanya).

    Quote Originally Posted by mehmeh View Post
    +1 with Cat, your looking for DDR1 Ram.. Personelly, I wouldnt bother matching a 512MB stick to what you have and go for one or two new sticks if budget allows.. Can't see any problems with you getting upto 4GB in there, but remember a 32bit OS will only see ~3.25GB.. Last I knew, you could grab a 2GB bank of PC3200 for ~£20 and that would quadruple you up and provide a huge performance increase.
    Now new questions come to mind I obviously don't have to keep the RAM I have with such silly prices.

    -I'm free to choose the size. Would 1x2GB be any better/faster than 2x1GB (just curious)? And am I wasting RAM by putting 4GBs of RAM in? Would a combinaton of 2 GB and 1 GB (or 1 GB and 512 MB, or whatever) make any sense?

    -Am I free to choose the type? Or will I make my MB cry by feeding it with DDR2? Or, does that even fit in?

    -I assume I'm not limited to Nanya then anymore either. Not that I really care about that... as long as it's not 'expensively cheap rubbish'*.



    Jerry


    (*=such cheap rubbish, that it's expensive for you to buy ;p)

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    Re: Upgrading/adding RAM: what should I look for?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerrythafast View Post
    Would 1x2GB be any better/faster than 2x1GB (just curious)?
    Technically yes, you can run matched pairs of Ram (2x1GB, etc) in something called Dual Channel mode.. The actual performance increase is debatable, but most reckon on about 10% last I knew.. Double check your motherboard supports it (should do tbh) and if you can get a 2x1GB kit for the same price as a single 2GB stick, then your laughing I guess. Worst case, your motherboard won't dual channel it, but you've still got 2GB of Ram, sorted.
    Only other thing worth mentioning is if your likely to be ugrading the Ram in future.. I have 4x1GB sticks atm and it really annoys me that I didnt stick 2x2GB sticks in at the time, as now I want to go 8GB, I have to replace the lot and really cannot be arsed with it!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerrythafast View Post
    And am I wasting RAM by putting 4GBs of RAM in?
    Yes and no. No single program currently addresses more than 2GB AFIAK and remember under a 32bit OS you'll only be able to use ~3.25GB (google "32bit Ram limit"). IMO unless your doing some heavy multi-tasking, 2GB would be plenty for your system, even going to 1GB would be a nice boast (assume your WindowsXP?). In all honesty though I wouldnt spend £50 on 2GB of Ram as its insane, much better off looking secondhand at the usual places. Hell, you could sell your current Mobo, CPU and Ram, add the £50 and probably get a very nice AM2 (Althon X2) or S775 (Intel Core2) upgrade. Last I knew s939 stuff was going for silly money on ebay.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jerrythafast View Post
    Would a combinaton of 2 GB and 1 GB (or 1 GB and 512 MB, or whatever) make any sense?
    Its wise to match capacties to aviod problems.. 2x512MB, 2x1GB and so fourth. Thats not to say the banks have to be matched pairs or even the same brand. Thats only for dual channel and even then, you'd be surprised, I have OCZ and PNY banks that will dual channel lol!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerrythafast View Post
    -Am I free to choose the type? Or will I make my MB cry by feeding it with DDR2? Or, does that even fit in?
    PC3200 DDR is what you want.. You could fit slower DDR memory, PC2700 for example, but that will bottleneck your CPU, you can also fit faster stuff, but it will down clock to match your CPU. Can debate the ins and outs of that all day, but me says if your going to do it, do it right, no?
    DDR2 won't fit in a DDR slot and vice versa.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerrythafast View Post
    -I assume I'm not limited to Nanya then anymore either. Not that I really care about that... as long as it's not 'expensively cheap rubbish'*.
    I say no, Cat says yes ^^ LOL
    Can only speak from experience, but I'm yet to have problems with decent ram. Umm.. to make my point.. Some people swear by Crucial and are happy to pay a bit extra to use the memory selector and have a gaurantee.. Basically all Corsair are doing is supplying you with decent memory that will fit, they don't really care what brand the factory fitted/had in stock at the time.

    Did a search and found this down the road from me.. http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/512MB-Corsair-...3A1|240%3A1318 Reckon if I was you, I'd be looking to grab something like that for a few quid and see how it goes.

    Woah, thats a long post, sorry..

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    Re: Upgrading/adding RAM: what should I look for?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerrythafast View Post
    Now new questions come to mind I obviously don't have to keep the RAM I have with such silly prices.

    -I'm free to choose the size. Would 1x2GB be any better/faster than 2x1GB (just curious)? And am I wasting RAM by putting 4GBs of RAM in? Would a combinaton of 2 GB and 1 GB (or 1 GB and 512 MB, or whatever) make any sense?

    -Am I free to choose the type? Or will I make my MB cry by feeding it with DDR2? Or, does that even fit in?

    -I assume I'm not limited to Nanya then anymore either. Not that I really care about that... as long as it's not 'expensively cheap rubbish'*.



    Jerry


    (*=such cheap rubbish, that it's expensive for you to buy ;p)
    Running 1x2gb is definitely NOT faster than running 2x1gb as your motherboard chipset supports running the RAM as dual channel(I stated this before) and you need to run 2 identical sticks of RAM to do this. This will definitely lead to a performance boost. Running two different sized dimms will mean that the chipset will revert back to single channel model. Also DDR1 and DDR2 have totally different slot sizes and pin arrangements and are hence incompatible with each other. Trying to force a DDR1 dimm into a DDR2 slot and vice versa will probably destroy your motherboard.


    2gb of DDR1 costs £50+ now so it is not a very cheap upgrade. Nanya supplies RAM for many companies so they are not a cheap or rubbish make.

    There is also NO specs for your motherboard too and it would be safer to stick with the same brand of RAM.

    Some motherboards just don't like some brands of RAM for unknown reasons. This even includes Corsair DDR1 ram(some Shuttle motherboards have had major issues with them). I have known computers which refuse to boot up due to having a particular brand of RAM(the RAM was not faulty BTW). Once the RAM was changed to another brand everything was fine!!

    Also since you do not have a spec sheet for your motherboard it may not even support 4gb of RAM or even high density dimms. There are many motherboards which only support 2gb of RAM and low density dimms. Many motherboards have had issues in the past with high density dimms.

    I have had to troubleshoot RAM incompatibility issues with motherboards before and you DO NOT WANT TO GO THERE!!

    Remember this is an OEM motherboard made for an Acer computer. The BIOS does not need to be compatible with different brands of RAM - only the ones Acer uses. Also the BIOS options will be much more limited in OEM motherboards so you cannot even tweak the RAM voltages or speeds even in many cases!!

    No spec sheet or support sheet for a motherboard = go for safest option unless you want any potential major stability issues with your computer!


    Here is the spec sheet for the RAM:

    http://www.elixir-memory.com/product....2-15Apr04.pdf

    Elixir is part of Nanya BTW.

    It looks like the existing RAM stick you have is a low density one(64Mx8) so I would stick to Nanya low density 512mb dimms.

    Looking at the RAM spec sheets the following should work:

    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/512MB-DDR400-P...3A1|240%3A1318

    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Nanya-1gb-2x51...=p3286.c0.m14&

    I would definitely ask the seller what computer the following came from:

    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Nanya-512MB-DD...3A1|240%3A1318
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 31-03-2009 at 12:54 AM.


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    Re: Upgrading/adding RAM: what should I look for?

    Quote Originally Posted by mehmeh View Post
    I say no, Cat says yes ^^ LOL
    Can only speak from experience, but I'm yet to have problems with decent ram. Umm.. to make my point.. Some people swear by Crucial and are happy to pay a bit extra to use the memory
    In the first post I made I said that I did check the Crucial tool and also had a quick look on the Acer website. The Acer T151 was not listed on any and neither was a T150 series too.
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 31-03-2009 at 12:48 AM.


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    Re: Upgrading/adding RAM: what should I look for?

    Yep, I conceed the point on high density modules in older boards/chipsets. But if you look at the piccies in the OP, it says he has an nForce4 chipset.. AFIAK those had no problems with high density dimms. (I can remember jamming 4GB of Corsair value into an old Asus A8N and being extremely peeved it was the only Corsair stuff that didnt support dual channel lol)

    'Course without a spec sheet, as you say, theres no way to know the max supported size, but I would still be confident trying a couple of gigs of a decent brand, knowing absolute worst case aslong as I didnt pay silly money, I could shift it on myself. I only speak from expereince though and conceed aswell, your approach removes pretty much all of the compatabilty questions, but I still don't honestly think mine creates that many and your always going to get some boards that refuse to work with ram x or y.. Could go extreme and say to be even safer, the guy would need a 512MB dimm from the same batch. Do we know if Exilar have always used the same brand of memory chips or do they make their own?

    As a side.. Serious question as I'm a little confussed.. I know OEM BIOS' can and do lock out support for some hardware (learned that the expensive way when I upgraded the wireless on my laptop), but surely no OEM would tie themselves into one brand or size of Ram in a market where supply and prices can go up and down on a daily basis and inevitiably theres a version with more ram, if not at launch, a few months later when PC World peeps reckon you now need atleast double what the cheaper one in the next isle has to truely experience youtube.
    Last edited by mehmeh; 31-03-2009 at 01:49 AM.

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    Re: Upgrading/adding RAM: what should I look for?

    Even the same memory from the same mfr bought at different times can give problems, because different batches can use memory chips from different sources, so although the specs appaer the same on paper, in practice they don't play well together. You may be OK - it depends on the mobo and the chips so is hard to predict. So preferably upgrade in pairs. Is it worth upgrading beyond 2GB? Probably not unless you are using a 64bit OS and memory intensive apps. That is probably less true if you are using Vista as it is optimised to make maximum use of memory and (I'm told) its memory management is better than earlier Windows versions.
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    Re: Upgrading/adding RAM: what should I look for?

    Hmm, I'd prefer to buy new RAM from a store. I can buy them second hand from a Dutch website like marktplaats.nl too, but those cost almost as much as new RAM. So I'd rather get the new RAM from a store then. Then I can return it if my computer won't work with it anyway.

    The only problem with this is that I can't find any Nanya RAM on their websites. According to Wikipedia DDR-400 = PC3200. I looked for anything that is 'not not': DDR1, DIMM, PC3200, 400 Hz.

    -Computerland has A-Data (512 MB and 1024 MB)
    -Dynabyte has Dane-Elec (512 MB and 1024 MB)
    -Dixons has Dane-Elec (512 MB and 1024 MB)
    -Alternate.nl has Kingston (256 MB, 512 MB, 1024 MB and 2048 MB), Buffalo (512 MB, 1024 MB and 2048 MB), GeiL (512 MB, 1024 MB and 2048 MB) and OCZ (2048 MB)
    -Dell.nl has a huge list of Dell, Kingston and PNY Technologies DIMMs.

    Interestingly, Alternate also sells so-called 'kits', that means the specified capacity is spread over two absolutely identical DIMMs (better compatibility). The price is slightly higher, but it sounds good enough. I assume this also activates dual channel. All those 2048 MB capacities I listed are actually kits of two 1024 MB DIMMs.


    Could it do any harm if I just buy some of this non-Nanya RAM and find out it isn't working? How big is this chance anyway?

    Thanks again for answering my questions

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    Re: Upgrading/adding RAM: what should I look for?

    I haven'tlooked for your particular requirement, but have a look at

    http://www.orcalogic.co.uk/

    They sourced some obscure RAM for me (after I ordered and had to return the wrong module). Very efficient, extraordinary helpful customer services but it is mail order and in UK.
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    Re: Upgrading/adding RAM: what should I look for?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerrythafast View Post
    Could it do any harm if I just buy some of this non-Nanya RAM and find out it isn't working? How big is this chance anyway?

    Thanks again for answering my questions
    If you can return it to a shop then there is no problem.


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