If you are looking to upgrade the memory in your computer, you are probably wondering how many open slots you have, what type of memory is already installed, and what you need to buy for an upgrade… without having to open your computer.
Since you shouldn’t have to open up the computer just to figure out what you have installed, here’s a couple of options for detecting the type of memory already installed in your system.
Using System Information for Windows
This very useful free application should be a standard in any geek’s toolkit. It comes bundled as a single file, no installation required.
Once you open it up, navigate to Hardware and then Memory on the left-hand pane, and you’ll see what type of memory is already installed in your computer. Looks like my system supports 4GB of memory, and I have two 1GB DDR2 modules already installed and running at 533Mhz. It also lets me know that I need the SODIMM form factor memory, since this is a laptop and all.
Using this information, I should be able to find the correct memory upgrade, which in this case would be two 2GB DDR2 533mhz modules if I wanted to upgrade to 4GB of memory.
The only question is whether I can install faster memory than the memory already installed, which leads us into our next option.
Download System Information for Windows (scroll to bottom for free version)
NOTE: the installer has some “special offers”. Make sure to click Decline when it asks if you want to install them.
Using the Crucial Memory Advisor
Memory manufacturer Crucial has put together an amazing website, combined with an optional system scanner tool that will detect the memory already installed in your computer the same way System Information for Windows does… It’s just not as geeky.
On their homepage, there’s the two options… if you’ve already figured out the memory you have installed, you can use the drop-down menus on the right to select your system.
They will give you some great information about what your computer can support, along with a list of questions and answers. Turns out I can upgrade to faster PC2-5300 memory if I wanted…
If you chose the system scanner route, you’ll be redirected to a web page showing you the current memory configuration, and what they recommend for upgrading, although they seem to give you less information on this screen.
I’m not sure that you necessarily want to buy memory from Crucial directly since you could probably get a better price elsewhere, but their memory advisor is extremely useful to figure out what you need.
- You can look up the specs for your system to figure out what memory types your computer takes. I usually google for “modelnumber specs”, for instance I’d type in “nc8430 specs”.
- You can use some of the other memory advisors, like Kingston or PNY, but their sites are a bit less useful.
- Pull out the manual for your computer or motherboard, and take a look at your receipts to figure out what you bought last time.
- If you built a computer with parts from Newegg, you can look at your order history to re-order the exact same memory module if you know you have empty slots. (This is exactly the route I chose last month)
- If you are running Mac OS X, you can just look under your “About this Mac” and then click on More Info.
Upgrading the memory in your computer is the fastest way to better performance in Windows Vista. I’d recommend 2GB of RAM for Vista, but don’t bother going over 3GB if you are using 32-bit Vista or XP because Windows won’t be able to use all of it.
Programmer by day, geek by night, The Geek, also known as Lowell Heddings, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on Google+ if you'd like.
- Published 09/13/07