Upgrading Memory (RAM)

Memory is fundamental in a PC, to some extent, it defines how fast a PC is.
Memory holds data and instructions that are to be processed by the CPU. The CPU readily access the memory to read/write data. Data is fetched from memory to the CPU for processing and after it has been processed, the new data is written to memory.

When RAM size is not enough to hold all the data/instructions, your hard drive will act as your RAM as well; the CPU will read/write to the hard drive. This is known as Virtual Memory. When the CPU read/write to the hard drive too often, Disk Thrashing occurs; your computer will begin to lag due to the reason that accessing hard drive takes significantly more time than accessing RAM.

How to know if Disk Thrashing is occurring in your PC?
First you will notice that your PC is lagging.
Next, to confirm Disk Thrashing, minimize all programs and open Task Manager by pressing <Ctrl> + <Alt> + <Delete> at the same time. Observe your disk activity, if it is constantly above 90%, you should upgrade your RAM.task managerArrange the red section in descending order, you will also know which program is accessing your hard drive.

I have a netbook with the following specs:-

  • Intel Atom D425
  • 1GB DDR3 800MHz RAM
  • 300GB 5400RPM HDD
  • Intel GMA 3100

As you can see, it is a quite slow machine. I noticed Disk Thrashing when opening a lot of tabs (6+) on Google Chrome. The chipset (Intel NM10) and CPU (Intel Atom D425) support up to 4GB of memory clocked at 800MHz. My brother’s laptop was broken, it had 6GB (4 + 2) of memory clocked at 1600MHz.

New 2GB RAM

New 2GB RAM

Old 1GB RAM

I wanted to upgrade my netbook to the 2GB RAM from my brother’s laptop but I was afraid of the clock speed and voltage. The current memory was 1.8V and clocked 800MHz (on system) but 1333MHz on stickers while the memory from my brother’s laptop was 1.5V and 1600MHz. I took the risk of frying the RAM and installed the 2GB memory. I thought I should go into the BIOS and adjust the clock speed but there was no such option. I booted Windows and it worked normally. The clock speed was automatically adjusted to 800MHz and seems like the memory could take the extra voltage.

InstalledAdvice on upgrading memory

  • Check recommended brands and models of memory from your laptop’s manufacturer website.
  • Use the same clock speed and voltage on all your RAM sticks.
  • Recommended that all your RAM sticks are from the same manufacturer.
  • DDR3 on DDR3L slots are sometimes not compatible.
  • Use a 64 bit OS if you are upgrading to more than 4GB else only 3.5GB memory will be recognized.

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