Adding RAM - Need Advice

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I want to add some RAM to my mom's older computer. She doesn't use it for much, but it needs more RAM to help speed it up I think. Planning on adding 2 GB (2 each of 1x1GB memory sticks). It's an older Dell desktop, a Dimension E521 with an Athlon 64 X2 3800+ 2.00 GHz processor. The invoice lists the memory type as "DDR2 SDRAM at 533 MHz". I can find this RAM at places like Newegg.com and Amazon.com for pretty cheap. Question I have is they list some of this RAM as "Non-ECC Non parity Unbuffered". How do I know if this will work or not, or if I need something different? Here's an example at Amazon.com. RAM @ Amazon Also, what's the max amount of RAM that Windows XP 32-bit can address/use?
 
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I used to own that exact computer. More RAM will help, but not by a ton. Not unless she already maxes out what's where. Most RAM is non-ECC RAM; pretty much any DDR2 RAM will work here. It can use 533, 667, or 800 MHz memory. I think 32-bit XP will address only 2-2.5 GB of RAM. I could be wrong on that. A 64-bit operating system opens it up to pretty much anything you can fit into a home system. I had 4 GB of RAM in mine, and was able to use it all with 64-bit Vista and 64-bit 7.
 

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Hokiefyd - thanks for the info. Here's some "ECC" type DDR2 SDRAM. How could I tell if ECC type RAM is needed? ECC Type RAM From what you said above, sounds like non-ECC will probably work OK. Would it cause any problems if I used ECC type RAM in a computer that didn't need it?
 
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As for how much RAM Windows XP can address, it can vary depending on your system configuration, but it'll never be more than 3.5GB. My old work computer had 4 1GB sticks and Windows showed 3GB available.
 
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Also, definitely don't get ECC RAM. It won't help, and it may not even have the same number of pins (i.e., won't fit). ECC stands for "error correcting codes" and is usually used in servers and the like that need 99.999% uptime, where any single bit error could cost you.
 

ZeeOSix

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Originally Posted By: NateDN10
Also, definitely don't get ECC RAM. It won't help, and it may not even have the same number of pins (i.e., won't fit). ECC stands for "error correcting codes" and is usually used in servers and the like that need 99.999% uptime, where any single bit error could cost you.
Thanks ... great info/advice. I didn't really know what the difference was, but that explains it well.
 
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I would just get something like this: RAM Make sure the pin layout is the same as the RAM that is in there already. What does she use her computer for? If she doesn't need or use any "windows only" programs you would probably see the most speed switching to a Linux OS.
 
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If she's running the 64-bit version of Win XP, the system will be able to see RAM over 3.5 Gb. I believe 4 Gb is listed as the max, though I've seen other forums' posts where owners have fitted 6 to 10 and gotten it to work (usually with a Win 7 upgrade as well, though).
 
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For a machine of that vintage, a Windows re-install might give you a big speed boost, and at no cost (assuming you have your Windows / restore CD). I work in IT. I'm a DBA and project manager but worked in a really small company once, where everyone in IT handled support. Often I would get complaints of slowness, and add a couple GB of RAM to try and get by (since we had plenty of RAM and I could do the job quickly). Usually I would wind up swapping the machine out for a replacement when the user still complained of slowness. I would then wipe the old machine and re-install Windows, to get it ready to put in our 'stash'. I would have machines go from painfully slow to pretty snappy after the reinstall. More RAM won't hurt, but a Windows re-install might give you surprising results for free, if you're comfortable giving it a try
 

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Originally Posted By: mattwithcats
The E521 came with 1024 MB (2 x 512 MB), and has four memory sockets. it uses a PC2-5300 533Mhz DDR2 SDRAM DIMM. http://www.datamemorysystems.com/dms-memory/dell/dimension-e521.htm
I have the invoice from the computer when I originally bought it for her. It doesn't say if the 1 GB of RAM it came with is 1 x 1 GB stick or 2 x 512 MB sticks ... but it must be the latter based on your info. I haven't opened up the machine yet to look, so I better do that next time I visit. Guess I could buy 2 x 1 GB sticks and add to it if there's already a single 1 GB stick, or remove the 2 x 512s and install 2 or 3 one GB sticks. If it does have 4 slots, and already has 2 x 512 MB sticks, can I add 2 x 1 GB sticks in the other 2 available slots for a total of 3 GB? Or does the RAM all have to be the same size per stick in the slots to work properly together?
 

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Originally Posted By: Smcatub
For a machine of that vintage, a Windows re-install might give you a big speed boost, and at no cost (assuming you have your Windows / restore CD).
My brother mentioned that also. Her machine seems to run pretty good with only 1 GB of RAM, but it seems there would be less swap file action with more RAM, and that might speed it up some. For only $12~15 per GB of RAM I'd probably try that first. My mom is 78 and she uses the computer mainly for email, internet use and simple games. She does keep it up and protected with anti-virus and anti-malware software.
 
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2GB of RAM isn't that bad. What's bad tends to be the price. My next move would be to replace the HDD with an SSD. Prices are far reasonable these days. 240GB for under $90 and 480GB for under $200 are very common sale prices. I've recently seen 480GB for $155. Anyhow, what makes it wisest is they tend to be 2.5" laptop drives that you can readily use on their next computer even when it becomes a laptop.
 
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Adding more RAM to an old system is really just a band-aid. There are other things going on that'll cause bottlenecks once you fix the RAM issue. Relatively slow single-core CPUs, integrated graphics and slow hard drives and interfaces will put a pretty low ceiling on how much performance you can get out of an old PC. That said, I'm all for juicing up old computers and squeezing out as much use out of them as possible. If you can get two more gigs of RAM for $20, that's about as cheap as you're going to find so go for it. 3 gigs will get you by just fine. Also buy a large can of compressed air and blow out every nook and cranny inside the case with an emphasis on the CPU heatsink and main power supply fans, and make sure you hit the RAM slots good before you install any new DIMMs. This will be a good start but ideally, as mentioned above, you'll probably see the most performance increase by re-installing Windows. Running XP is a risk nowadays but if that's what you have then by all means use it. Just make sure it's patched from minute one and you're using a good AV program.
 
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Originally Posted By: ClutchDisc
I would just get something like this: RAM Make sure the pin layout is the same as the RAM that is in there already.
This is what you need at a very good price. If you go to Crucial website this same ram is specced for your computer and would cost you $39.95. If you're running 32 bit Windows it will see up to 3.5GB, usually about 3.25GB where 64 bit Windows will see whatever amount you have. I must mention, Windows XP is no longer receiving security updates as of this past April and should be retired and replaced. It is unsafe, not just for your mother but for everyone as whatever attacks her computer can be passed on to everyone else. I had a Dimension E510, nearly same computer,but used the Intel chip and I know that Dell had downloadable Vista drivers available for it so I'm sure they're available for yours as well. Those drivers worked for me on Windows 7 as well. So I believe you could upgrade to either Vista or Windows 7. Or, as mentioned above, consider Linux.
 
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Originally Posted By: ZeeOSix
I have the invoice from the computer when I originally bought it for her. It doesn't say if the 1 GB of RAM it came with is 1 x 1 GB stick or 2 x 512 MB sticks ... but it must be the latter based on your info. I haven't opened up the machine yet to look, so I better do that next time I visit. Guess I could buy 2 x 1 GB sticks and add to it if there's already a single 1 GB stick, or remove the 2 x 512s and install 2 or 3 one GB sticks. If it does have 4 slots, and already has 2 x 512 MB stick, can I add 2 x 1 GB sticks in the other 2 available slots for a total of 3 GB? Or does it all have to be the same size in the slots to work properly?
Do you have the Service Tag? With that you can go to Dell's website and find out it's exact configuration when it shipped.
 

ZeeOSix

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Originally Posted By: Bottom_Feeder
Do you have the Service Tag? With that you can go to Dell's website and find out it's exact configuration when it shipped.
I'm sure the service tag is still on it ... I'll have to get her to send me the tag #. Good idea - thanks. Based on mattwithcats's post awhile back, it sounds like it came with 2 x 512 MB sticks. If I add 2 x 1 GB sticks in the available 2 slots (out of 4 total) will it then see all 3 GB or so? Or do you have to use the same size of sticks in each memory slot?
 
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Originally Posted By: ZeeOSix
I want to add some RAM to my mom's older computer. She doesn't use it for much, but it needs more RAM to help speed it up I think. Planning on adding 2 GB (2 each of 1x1GB memory sticks). It's an older Dell desktop, a Dimension E521 with an Athlon 64 X2 3800+ 2.00 GHz processor. The invoice lists the memory type as "DDR2 SDRAM at 533 MHz". I can find this RAM at places like Newegg.com and Amazon.com for pretty cheap. Question I have is they list some of this RAM as "Non-ECC Non parity Unbuffered". How do I know if this will work or not, or if I need something different? Here's an example at Amazon.com. RAM @ Amazon Also, what's the max amount of RAM that Windows XP 32-bit can address/use?
The best solution would a complete upgrade,using XP lets you very vulnerable in terms off security online. IMO it would be a waste to put even a penny into it.
 
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Originally Posted By: bornconfuzd
Originally Posted By: ClutchDisc
I would just get something like this: RAM Make sure the pin layout is the same as the RAM that is in there already.
This is what you need at a very good price. If you go to Crucial website this same ram is specced for your computer and would cost you $39.95. If you're running 32 bit Windows it will see up to 3.5GB, usually about 3.25GB where 64 bit Windows will see whatever amount you have. I must mention, Windows XP is no longer receiving security updates as of this past April and should be retired and replaced. It is unsafe, not just for your mother but for everyone as whatever attacks her computer can be passed on to everyone else. I had a Dimension E510, nearly same computer,but used the Intel chip and I know that Dell had downloadable Vista drivers available for it so I'm sure they're available for yours as well. Those drivers worked for me on Windows 7 as well. So I believe you could upgrade to either Vista or Windows 7. Or, as mentioned above, consider Linux.
I have a 10 year old Dell Dimension E310 that is one of the best computers I own.. I'm typing from it right now. It only has 1GB of RAM (came with 512MB) and it works great! I am running Linux Mint on it. I could get 2GB of RAM for $20, but I just don't need it - the 1GB does everything I really need it to. I'm wondering.. Is the CPU in the OPs computer able to handle 64 bit? I agree, don't keep running XP!
 
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