Fast Guide to Buying RAM

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It's amazing how easy it is to get this wrong - a few basic tips to help avoid expensive mistakes.

If you're in the market for v. fast / overclockers ram you either don't need to be reading this or should seriously reconsider your plans.

The MOST important pitfall:
-Do NOT be tempted buy high-density RAM unless you are absolutely sure it will work with your motherboard - even then I'd recommend you stay away.
-You get what you pay for - dirt cheap RAM will not be as reliable, especially at faster speeds.

Research:
-What kind of RAM does your motherboard support? There are many kinds, most will NOT work with your computer.
Motherboard manual; manufacturer's blurb; model names / numbers plugged into your chosen web search engine...
-What speed RAM should you be getting? Faster is better BUT also more expensive. The correct type of RAM rated as faster than your system supports will in all likelihood work fine but will be a waste of money! Memory rated slower than your system expects will at best result in poorer performance and more than likely cause your computer to malfunction / not work at all.

Buy the biggest sticks you can afford:
-Ghastly modern OS's require ridiculous amounts of memory to function well. This is probably why you are looking to buy more.
-WATCH OUT! There will be both a maximum amount of memory your motherboard supports and a maximum number of sticks - to complicate matters further not all permutations of these will necessarily work. Also some systems (only) work (better) if RAM is bought in matched pairs. Back to Research! Often it is more practicable to replace the RAM you have rather than add to it.
-Bigger sticks will command a much higher price (if selling) when the next version of your chosen horrible OS requires yet another upgrade.

If you are struggling:
-An on-line system scan may come to your rescue.
eg.
http://www.crucial.com/uk/?gclid=CMjp9dzUrZECFR1WMAod9hlKWQ

And Finally:
-Do you really need to upgrade your RAM at all?
Once-upon-a-time it was simple: Progress requires more power so the advice was to upgrade your RAM->HardDrive->Processor in that order. GFX card upgrades are dependent on specific requirements. (Games, CAD)
Sadly those simple days have gone. It is now much more likely your hardware is running poorly because the newest version of your chosen OS is clogging-up your system while not adding anything of any practicable worth!
eg:
Windows Vista has supplanted Windows XP as the latest thing, BUT:
If the ideal RAM requirement for XP is 2gigabites, the ideal for Vista is 4gigabites while bringing NO genuinely useful new functions!
Consider the following ridiculous situation:
You've just bought a shiny new computer with 2gb of RAM and Windows Vista - it doesn't run very well because 2gb isn't really enough. You go back to the shop and exchange it for the exact same computer except it has the 'old' Windows XP installed...
...Not only will you get a partial refund for choosing the cheaper option but you'll find the computer runs MUCH better while running the SAME software!!!
Oh, yes. By the time software vendors stop supporting XP you will probably have been through another couple of upgrades...


Buying advice:
-Check the 'real world' price for your chosen RAM before making a bid. You'd be amazed how often eBay 'bargains' go for more than the new list-price.
Three options:
Good:
1) See the RAM you want, put in a bid for the maximum amount you would be happy to pay, return when the auction when it is OVER - fingers crossed.
2) See the RAM you want, wait as late as you dare, pop in a bid for what you'd regard as a good deal and see if you can sneak a bargain.
Bad: (stupid)
3) See the RAM you want, fire in a bunch of small incremental 'hopeful' bids...
...You'll NEVER win anything while getting right up the nose of the eventual winner by pushing up the final price they get to pay. (The seller will, of course, be your new best friend)

I hope this helps.

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