Forget Me Not

Stop! Think you are ready to upgrade your RAM? Wrong. Follow Windows tips to ensure that you know how to avoid counterfeit products.

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By  Vijaya George Published  July 1, 2002

I|~||~||~|Stop! Think you are ready to upgrade your RAM? Wrong. Follow Windows tips to ensure that you know how to avoid counterfeit products.

What kind of RAM does my current motherboard support?

Each motherboard is built to support only one type of RAM. There are essentially three types of RAM for PCs in the market — SDRAM, DDR, and RDRAM. Of these, SDRAM is one of the most popularly used in the region because it is the cheapest. Unfortunately, it is also the slowest of the lot. Developed when Pentium II entered the market, this memory module, even today, has a maximum of only 133 FSB (Front Bus Speed).

This is when RDRAM, manufactured by Rambus, entered the market. The technology is superb and the fastest available today with an FSB of up to 600 and 800 MHz. However, RDRAM is also the most expensive and, therefore, not supported by some motherboard manufacturers. “Moreover, having so much FSB is immaterial even if you have a P4 CPU,” says Ehssan Khaiyami, systems engineer at Dubai-based reseller Direct Computer Systems (DCS). “If your P4 CPU supports only 400 MHz FSB speed or if you have the latest 2.53 GHz processor which supports 533 MHz, the motherboard will still reduce the speed of the memory module from 600 to coincide with the speed of the CPU.”

Nevertheless, the speed and performance afforded by the RDRAM is still said to be remarkable. However, unless you are a serious gaming enthusiast or a graphic designer, RDRAM will not serve your purpose, and will also create a big dent in your pocket.

The best choice today among memory modules therefore, according to DCS, is DDR. its performance is rated as only 5% less than RDRAM while it is 50% cheaper than the latter. DDR reads data at twice the speed of an SDRAM and the difference in price between the two is almost negligible. As a result, globally, the IT industry is adopting DDR as the standard. The Middle East, however, has been slow to follow suit. However, within the next couple of quarters, DDR is expected to become part of the mainstream as well. This is, therefore, an important factor to keep in mind if you are purchasing a new PC. So, a motherboard that supports DDR is recommended.

||**||II|~||~||~|How much FSB can my motherboard support for the RAM?

A manual that comes with your motherboard should ideally tell you how much FSB it supports. Alternatively, you can check the relevant motherboard manufacturer’s Web site for this information. A little sticker on your memory module should also be able to give you a reasonable amount of information. For instance, 128 MB PC133 would mean that the module you are using has 128 MB RAM and an FSB speed of 133 MHz. If you are already using a module with 133 FSB, you won’t need to check for more information. You could purchase another module with the same FSB. But this information is crucial if you have 100 FSB and you want to put in 133 FSB instead as a motherboard is backward compatible, not vice versa. Most motherboards that support SDRAM also support 133 bus speed. However, if your computer is three-years-old or more, there is a
possibility that it supports less.

It’s also worth mentioning that one memory module on your PC cannot be running on 100 FSB and another on 133 FSB even if your motherboard supports 133. Both modules must have the same FSB, although the RAM can differ. You may have 64 MB on one and 128 MB on another.

This, however, is not true for RDRAM. RDRAM operates on a different policy altogether. If you have two channels with 2 slots each on the motherboard for RDRAM, you must have the same amount of memory in both slots of one channel. The RAM can vary from one channel to the other but must remain the same within the slots of each channel. For instance, one channel can carry 128+128 or 256+256 but not 128+256.

||**||III|~||~||~|How much RAM does your motherboard support?

If you motherboard is only upgradeable to 512 MB RAM, putting in one GByte of RAM will do you no good. 512 MB is all it will support. Unfortunately, most consumers get lost in the web of CPU speed and hard disk drive space. Little or no attention is paid to a component as significant as the motherboard, which determines the performance of your PC, by virtue of its future upgrade potential and RAM support.

Is your motherboard compatible with the RAM module you purchased?

Different vendors have different views about compatibility. Popular motherboard manufacturers and RAM manufacturers ensure that they stick to an international standard to ensure compatibility. DCS recommends motherboard manufacturers such as Intel, Asus and EpoX because they support RAM modules across the board.
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