How to Buy Used Memory (RAM)

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How to Buy Used Memory (RAM)

RAM, or random access memory, provides one way for a computer to store data, and deals with how a computer accesses its memory. Unlike other data storage methods, such as a computer's hard drive, which accesses data in a predetermined order, RAM memory accesses the computer's memory cells randomly, hence the name random. Modern DRAM, or Dynamic Random Access Memory, does not access memory randomly though, but in bursts, a far cry from how it was accomplished by its RAM predecessors.

Computer components, such as RAM, can get expensive. Used components provide a great way for shoppers to save money and often give the same level of service as new components do. Newer computers can use larger quantities of RAM. So buying an older, used stick should not present a problem. The only issue that can arise involves the number of slots available and if the computer requires dual channelling configuration. When purchasing used RAM, shoppers can find a wide selection on eBay.

Types of RAM

When purchasing used RAM, shoppers should remain aware of the two different types of RAM available: SRAM and DRAM. The table below describes both RAM types.

RAM Types


Static RAM (SRAM)

Costs more than DRAM; faster, requiring less power; typically used as cache memory for the computer's CPU

Dynamic RAM (DRAM)

Predominant form of memory used in modern computers; costs less than SRAM; slower than SRAM

For the most part, shoppers purchase used DRAM as opposed to SRAM, as this deals with the most commonly upgraded RAM type. Dynamic RAM comes in a variety of types as well.

Types of DRAM

Shoppers can choose between three different types of DRAM. They can find the types of DRAM listed in the following table, including SDRAM, DDR SDRAM, and RDRAM.

DRAM Types


Synchronous (SDRAM)

Slower than other RAM types; operates around 66 MHz up to 133 MHz; not compatible with other RAM types

Double Data Rate (DDR SDRAM)

Double the rate of data transfer of SDRAM; operates at 166 MHz x 2 for a total of 333 MHz; incompatible with SDRAM

Rambus (RDRAM)

Costs more than other DRAM types; double the maximum capacity of SDRAM, but has a higher latency

Shoppers need to remember the non-compatibility of the different types of DRAM available. When dealing with SDRAM and DDR SDRAM, both types use a similar parallel bus, meaning they both use some of the same systems that allow shoppers to switch one out for the other more easily.


The two form factors that DRAM comes in include DIMMS, or dual inline memory modules, and RIMMS, Rambus' trademarked term for the memory module type utilised in computers using RDRAM. DIMMS find use in systems that have SDRAM and DDR DRAM installed, while RIMMS find exclusive use with RDRAM hardware.

Another key difference includes DIMMS being 64-bit components as compared to RIMMS 16-bit interface. Both require dual channel configurations, though due to the lack of DDR DRAM chipsets, which cannot use dual channels, this means exact amounts of such chipsets require installing.

How RAM Works

Random Access Memory, or RAM, can significantly impact a computer's performance speed. RAM comes in the form of integrated circuit chips, also known as sticks or modules. These chips plug into the motherboard of a computer.

A RAM module includes tiny capacitors and transistors that store binary code, which computers need to operate. The computer processor relies on RAM modules because they store data that allows the computer to run system processes or applications as quickly as possible. However, running more programs or processes on a computer requires more RAM to run efficiently.

How to Install RAM

For a simple and straightforward way to install RAM, remember to answer a few questions about the current RAM and type, as well as what tools the installation requires. Answer these questions before beginning to install RAM:

* Current RAM amount

* Desired RAM amount

* Form factor

* RAM type

* Tools needed

* Warranty

* Where it goes

Read the following sections for help on answering the above questions. For more help, consult the computer's user manual or research the model type online.

Amount of RAM

Make sure to find out how much RAM the computer currently has. When adding RAM to any computer, determine how much more is needed to perform the necessary functions. Normal usage includes word processing, browsing the Internet, home and office applications, and some low-tech gaming. For those who want to perform extra tasks on the computer, including serious gaming, computer-aided design, heavy data processing, and other similar functions, add more RAM. Computers that also act as servers, such as for web pages of other networking, need more RAM. Also remember to find out how much VRAM should be added to the video card.

RAM typically comes in multiples of 16 megabytes, for instance: 16, 32, 48, 64, and so on. So if the computer currently has 48MB of RAM, but you want 100MB, add one more 64 MB module. Modern RAM amounts have gotten up into the gigabyte, or GB, range, with most newer computers having 4, 8, 16 GB, or more installed.

Form Factor

After determining how much RAM to add, find out what form factor or card type the computer requires. Just look in the computer's owner manual for the form factor or contact the manufacturer for more information. Primarily, available options depend on the computer's design. While most computers used at the home or office feature DIMM slots, higher-end systems now tend to use RIMM technology, used in conjunction with RDRAM. These two slots look very similar to each other, so make sure to find out which type the computer uses. Installing the wrong card type can damage the computer and ruin the card.

RAM Type

Before installing RAM, make sure to know which type of RAM the computer requires. Some need certain types of RAM to operate. Remember, for the best performance, match the RAM to the existing RAM in type, speed, and parity. SDRAM is commonly used in computers today. Another consideration includes finding out if the computer supports Dual Channel RAM. If so, install the RAM in matched pairs for optimum performance.


Installation of RAM into the computer typically does not require any tools because the RAM inserts directly into a series of slots on the motherboard, known as the memory bank. At most, keep a screwdriver on hand to take the computer's case off. But remember, always turn off the power, unplug the computer, and stay grounded before attempting to work on or open a computer. Otherwise, electric shock could occur. For grounding, try an antistatic pad or wrist strap that discharges static electricity.

How to Install RAM

Before opening the computer to install the RAM, make sure that doing so does not void the warranty. Some manufacturers require customers to find an authorised technician to install the RAM. If safe to proceed, remember to unplug the computer and stay grounded, take off the computer cover, remove any old RAM, and proceed to installing the RAM into the memory bank.

The bank comes notched at one end, which helps indicate the correct direction to insert the RAM module into. For SIMMs and some DIMMs, install the module by sliding it into the slot at a 45-degree angle. Next, push it forward slightly until it is perpendicular to the motherboard. Now, the small metal clips at each end should snap into place. Some DIMMs do not have metal clips because they use friction to secure them into place. Finally, wrap up the RAM installation process by securing the computer case on the system. Then plug in the computer and test the unit to make sure the installation process was a success.

Purchase Memory (RAM) on eBay

After choosing to buy memory, or RAM, on eBay, shoppers can type in the keyword for the item they seek into the search bar on any eBay page. This search brings up a list of item options and allows shoppers to look for items according to RAM type, size, cost, and other criteria pertinent to computer memory. Shoppers can use such terms as "2 GB Hypertec RAM" or "2 x 256 RDRAM", for example, to begin searching.

After entering the search terms, shoppers can narrow down the list of results that pop up by clicking on category options to only display the items of interest. For those who need help on how to use keywords, the eBay search tips page offers easy-to-understand advice on searching for RAM memory using search terms. And do not forget to visit eBay shops, which provide another place where shoppers can look for more information on the items that they seek. Shoppers with questions about a particular item can use the Ask a Question link located on any seller's page.


Putting more RAM into a computer makes it run faster. Shoppers need to find out which type of used RAM they currently have and how much more they need. This way they can buy the appropriate hardware to facilitate the use of the RAM in their computer. Otherwise, the RAM may not work correctly, if even at all.

Another area to look out for involves putting too much RAM in a computer. While the RAM installed should still work, the computer cannot use the full capacity of the stick of RAM, wasting the money spent. When in doubt about the type and amount of RAM and other hardware needed, ask a computer professional for more advice.

For the most part, buying used RAM can save shoppers money. Another way to save money involves shoppers installing the RAM themselves, a simple process. As long as they do not void their warranty and make sure to ground themselves beforehand, they should encounter no problems. When purchasing used RAM, shoppers can look at local computer shops, at online sites that sell computer parts, and on eBay.

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