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Memory Upgrade - need advice


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I just purchased a Dell 2400 desktop, which runs on a Pent 4 at 2.66 GHz. I have only 128 MB Shared DDR SDRAM at 333 MHz (184-pin).

It's slow loading programs and switching to other windows, and even booting, so I want to boost the RAM if I can. And I'm computer illiterate basically.

I'm looking into what I should get. The brands of memory that most people seem to like are Corsair, Mushkin and Kingston, with the latter being the most affordable.

Here are my requirements: I like to have on average 3-6 windows open at a time to surf multiple web pages and work on docs, applications. I also like to play games often involving relatively complex graphics and processing, such as Combat Mission or the Age of Empires series. On occasion, I'll alt-tab out of the game when it's paused to check email, so that may be one window that's open too.

At this point, the money is no particular object - the difference between $75 for the cheap stuff and $140 for the high end upgrade is essentially meaningless as the point of this is to ensure that my computer performs the way I want it to.

So, are there any suggestions out there?

Many thx.


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First suggestion: Find out what type of memory your system will take. (What sizes, what speed, etc.)

Odds are, it'll take up to 1GB per slot (just based on how new it is.)

Unless your system is really wierd, it'll only take one speed (the speed it came with). (It's not that "if you plug in faster RAM it still runs at a slower speed". It's that "if you plug in faster RAM, it won't work at all".)

If your system will is like most I see, you've got two slots for RAM, and one is occupied. If you upgrade today, and somewhere down the road you want to upgrade again, then you'll be in the position of having to throw away one DIMM (and writing off what you paid for it) just so you can free up a slot to plug something bigger in. OTOH, since your existing DIMM is, frankly, rather puny, that won't be too big a loss.

I'm just saying, if 512 is only 25% more money than 256, then I'd think about the bigger one. (From what I've seen, the 1GB DIMMs are still pretty pricey, so they may not be worth the money.)

If your question is "How much do I need?", then I'd say adding RAM will not make your machine twice as fast. Some tasks, like refreshing ExtremeSkins during the Official Game Thread, won't increase performance at all, since the bottleneck is either your internet connection or the server speed, anyway. Adding RAM may not affect your startup speed, since that's often limited by the speed of your hard drive.

But, you will notice the performance increase on most normal tasks. And, there will be noticable differences between adding 512 and adding 256. (You might not notice the difference between adding 512 vs 1GB, although you might.)

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Go with two 512 sticks of Mushkin. If you game you should have 1 gig of good quality RAM.

Now you don't need the uber high end low latency stuff that costs your first born and a tumble with your wife. As long as you stick to a good brand and a decent level you should be fine.

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I went with 1 stick of 512 Corsair - it was the best priced at $86 +shipping/tax - and from what I was reading it is comparable to Mushkin. I have two slots with 1 Gb aggregate capacity (dang, I bought no RAM at all!) so after I see how this goes I'll add another 512 stick. My system runs at 333 MHz with DDR SDRAM, so I made sure to order with those specs in mind.

Thanks to all for your input. I appreciate it.

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