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  1. #1
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    Computer RAM question

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    Okay.
    I'm throwing this out here because I figure someone may know.....this is a web forum, so there have to be a few computer-savvy folks out there!

    My home p.c. is an old (2000) Compaq Presario 5000, which uses Windows XP OS. It currently has 512 MB of RAM (PC133) and a 700 mHz processor. It runs pretty slow sometimes, especially starting up and loading websites and downloading stuff.

    We had one guy tell us we needed to get an upgrade of the graphics card. Another guy told us no way. A graphics card won't help at all and we should add more RAM. He gave us a site (www.crucial.com) which would tell us what our "maximum" memory would be. According to that site, we can put a max of 768 MB RAM in it.

    My question is...Why is there a maximum?? We could put 3 256 MB RAM cards in, but why not stick a few 512's in? How come there is a maximum and what happens if you exceed it??

    Thanks to all !
    2007 Seven ID8 - Bontrager InForm
    2003 Klein Palomino - Terry Firefly (?)
    2010 Seven Cafe Racer - Bontrager InForm
    2008 Cervelo P2C - Adamo Prologue Saddle

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    Lubbock, TX
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    89
    The maximum amount of RAM a computer can use is determined by the motherboard in the pc:

    1. Number of slots the board has
    2. How much RAM each slot is capable of utilizing
    3. The maximum amount your motherboard can utilize

    If you know the exact model of your computer or your motherboard you can find this information online, or you can consult the owner's manual.

    Increasing your RAM to the max amount the system can use is the easiest and least expensive way to increase the performance of your computer.

    Considering the processor speed is only 700mhz, maxing the RAM will only help to an extent. More recent pc’s have double or triple the processing speed, so just keep in mind, that the cpu and motherboard will ultimately be your limiting factors if the RAM increase doesn't help enough. Both of these are more expensive upgrades, and are both often more difficult the deal with concerning compatibility. Usually it is more budget conscious to replace the pc at that point, especially if the technology is more than a few years old.

    Another thing that may greatly increase performance is giving the operating system a good tune up (defrag, clean out the temp files, etc), or completely reinstall the OS. Windows has a horrible tendency to start running more and more sluggish as time goes on (it's coined 'WinRot'), and this won’t cost a penny if you still have the installation disk and key, and have a knowledgeable friend or co-worker.
    Last edited by meridian; 07-08-2007 at 05:38 PM.

  3. #3
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    Riding my Luna & Rivendell in the Hudson Valley, NY
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    Quote Originally Posted by Regina View Post
    My home p.c. is an old (2000) Compaq Presario 5000, which uses Windows XP OS. It currently has 512 MB of RAM (PC133) and a 700 mHz processor. It runs pretty slow sometimes, especially starting up and loading websites and downloading stuff.
    To be frank, I don't know how you are managing to run windows XP on that computer at all.
    Upgrading that computer with a new motherboard and a new processer might cost you as much as just buying a new entry level computer, plus there is no guarantee it'll work well even when you do- there are likely to be other issues to deal with as well, such as graphic cards, etc. It still won't run the newer programs as well as a cheap new computer.
    It might be "time".
    Lisa
    Our bikes...OurBikes...and my mountain dulcimer blog
    Ruby's Website and My blog
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    112
    I asked my DH, since he still uses his 500 mhz PIII. Most can take up of 1 GB, of memory. Cleaning out excess programs will help a lot, if you are able to even reformat your HD and start fresh, that can really help. That said, it should be find for email and surfing, you may have a few program/site problems, but overall not bad. A better investment would be a broadband connection then a faster computer. That said, he just upgraded to a 24" iMac and really loves it, but the old machine is still in use, fully networked, and working great.

    P.S. XP should run great, better then ME or 98...

  5. #5
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    XP runs much better than 98, I can vouch for that! It hardly EVER crashes, unlike 98.
    Lisa
    Our bikes...OurBikes...and my mountain dulcimer blog
    Ruby's Website and My blog
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by SR500 View Post
    I asked my DH, since he still uses his 500 mhz PIII. Most can take up of 1 GB, of memory. Cleaning out excess programs will help a lot, if you are able to even reformat your HD and start fresh, that can really help. That said, it should be find for email and surfing, you may have a few program/site problems, but overall not bad. A better investment would be a broadband connection then a faster computer. That said, he just upgraded to a 24" iMac and really loves it, but the old machine is still in use, fully networked, and working great.

    P.S. XP should run great, better then ME or 98...
    Thanks all.
    Well, I spent last night getting rid of unused programs and transferring files to the G: drive (a second hard drive we bought last year sometime - the C: drive's measly 16 GB went from 7% available - - to 36%. I discovered that 7% isn't even enough space to run defrag and music files are HUGE!
    The computer is used for 'net surfing, email, storing/editing digi-pix, and occasional word processing.
    XP seems to run fine on this p.c. - great, I just jinxed the thing!
    Re-installing the OS wouldn't delete or clear out files, would it? I recall that it didn't when I upgraded to XP from Me (so yeah...the disc should be around here...somewhere). Do you just re-install it over the existing one?
    I'm loathe to replace the p.c., although I do realize that it is inevitable. I hope that a $40 RAM stick will buy me another year of service from this old dog. We just tend to spend our money on things like Seven's and ... oh... that new kitchen.
    2007 Seven ID8 - Bontrager InForm
    2003 Klein Palomino - Terry Firefly (?)
    2010 Seven Cafe Racer - Bontrager InForm
    2008 Cervelo P2C - Adamo Prologue Saddle

  7. #7
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    (sorry for the double post!)
    2007 Seven ID8 - Bontrager InForm
    2003 Klein Palomino - Terry Firefly (?)
    2010 Seven Cafe Racer - Bontrager InForm
    2008 Cervelo P2C - Adamo Prologue Saddle

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    112
    Hi,

    This is the DH. Don't reformat and reinstall your operating system unless you have everything backed up from your hard-drive, as you would loose it. If that's not an option, you can install a new second hard drive and have that be your boot primary drive and the original drive would be storage. A clean disk just seems to run and operate much smoother and faster. That said, it still might not be worth doing. If you can run defrag and disk cleanup that will help. Deleting stuff you don't use will help, and more memory should help. Good luck.

    P.S. if you end up looking at a new computer, you might check out a MAC, there are a few hiccups coming from a PC, but I'm sold...

  9. #9
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    May 2005
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    Bay Area, CA
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    Regina, I presume you run virus scans and spyware software? Those little nasties can cause a PC to slow down quite a bit.

    Also, if you have moved important files off to an external drive, be sure to back them up onto CD, DVD or a second external drive - all drives can fail, and extra disks with tons of storage are very cheap these days.

    I've spent way too much time trying to keep elderly PCs running over the years, and have finally realized it's a case of severe diminishing returns! These days, when you can buy a brand new PC box for well under $500 (I bought one a few months ago for $187!) your time is worth more.

    My one caution - if you get a PC, DON'T GET VISTA! In my opinion, it is not ready for prime time yet!
    Keep calm and carry on...

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    526
    I am no computer expert, but I did have very good luck upgrading with Crucial.com. They knew exactly what the computer required and I was able to do the installation myself.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    sigh....i just can't help but giggle every time someone mentions Vista. coming from a Mac user, i despise the new Vista OS so it's great to hear how often it crashes and how much everybody hates it. way to go Gates!

    anywho...me and my MacBook Pro will be hanging over here with a 2.16 GHz processor and 2.5 GB of memory that makes me smile every time i play on it.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikerz View Post
    Regina, I presume you run virus scans and spyware software? Those little nasties can cause a PC to slow down quite a bit.

    Also, if you have moved important files off to an external drive, be sure to back them up onto CD, DVD or a second external drive - all drives can fail, and extra disks with tons of storage are very cheap these days.

    I've spent way too much time trying to keep elderly PCs running over the years, and have finally realized it's a case of severe diminishing returns! These days, when you can buy a brand new PC box for well under $500 (I bought one a few months ago for $187!) your time is worth more.

    My one caution - if you get a PC, DON'T GET VISTA! In my opinion, it is not ready for prime time yet!
    I run Norton antivirus, which updates and scans regularly and which I've been told is a pig of a program and may also be the cause of some slow performance. AOL gives us spyware checks, but I wonder about that. DH had his computer guy check our p.c. out recently, and he said it looked fine in the virus/spyware department. Files have been moved to a second internal hard drive, and yeah..I'm overdue for a backup.

    Can you even get a new p.c. these days that *doesn't* have Vista??
    2007 Seven ID8 - Bontrager InForm
    2003 Klein Palomino - Terry Firefly (?)
    2010 Seven Cafe Racer - Bontrager InForm
    2008 Cervelo P2C - Adamo Prologue Saddle

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Regina View Post
    Can you even get a new p.c. these days that *doesn't* have Vista??
    I think Dell caved in to customer anger and is offering their pc's with windows XP as an option as well. I hear Vista sucks. I'm very happy with XP.
    Lisa
    Our bikes...OurBikes...and my mountain dulcimer blog
    Ruby's Website and My blog
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Bay Area, CA
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    Yes, you can get a PC without Vista -especially is you go with one of the real cheap boxes. If you want to go with Dell, or someone like that, keep an eye on www.bensbargains.net - there will often be great coupon deals for PCs from Dell. I usually buy from Dell, but I have also gotten very inexpensive PCs from pcconnection.com, buy.com and tigerdirect.com.

    For antivirus, I am a huge fan of AVG by Grisoft - both Norton and Mcafee and total resource hogs and I find them very intrusive. AVG has a free personal version, and I now use the very inexpensive SOHO version to protect all of my PCs. I've never had a problem with it.

    You'll probably get a nice long life out of your next PC if you go for something that can take 1 gig of RAM or more, and has a big hard drive. If you buy an inexpensive box with 512 meg RAM, see if you can get all that ram on one card in one slot, then use a site like 4allmemory.com or any of the other memory sites to get a compatible card for the other slot. It is often cheaper to buy the PC with less ram, and then buy more RAM from another site.

    Good luck!
    Keep calm and carry on...

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Regina View Post
    I run Norton antivirus, which updates and scans regularly and which I've been told is a pig of a program and may also be the cause of some slow performance. AOL gives us spyware checks, but I wonder about that. DH had his computer guy check our p.c. out recently, and he said it looked fine in the virus/spyware department. Files have been moved to a second internal hard drive, and yeah..I'm overdue for a backup.

    Can you even get a new p.c. these days that *doesn't* have Vista??
    AOL is also a resource hog and can slow down a system.
    New computers are pretty darn cheap with rebates etc, why not just go for it?

    Plus, with upgrading a compaq- you may run into issues with the way the hardware is put together, all integrated so that it's not possible to upgrade. Me, I always go with a custom build ( courtesy the geek child) which makes it easy to add/remove/upgrade hardware as long as there aren't compatibility issues.

 

 

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