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How much RAM can my PC handle?

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4 replies to this topic

#1 of 5 OFFLINE   Richard_T


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Posted April 23 2005 - 04:51 PM

I'd like to get some more RAM for my computer. Right now I'm using 1024 MB DDR RAM and I find when I'm running a Norton virus scan, my pc slows right down to an almost unusable state. I know Norton can be a real memory hog but it seem a bit strange that it becomes that slow. Anyway, I'd like to get some more but I don't know how much my motherboard can handle. Is there a way to see what the maximum amount of RAM my motherboard can handle before buying it? Is there a way it should be installed to run better. Is it better to have 2 512 sticks or one 1 gig stick

Also, My wife and I run our pc under two different XP user accounts. Does that mean it's running everything twice, once for each of us? Wouldn't that slow things down allot? Is it better to have just one desktop between the two of us? Thanks for you help.
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#2 of 5 OFFLINE   Kimmo Jaskari

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Posted April 23 2005 - 07:58 PM

It's not a RAM-related problem; when any anti-virus program scans for viruses, it runs your harddrive very heavily. That will slow your system down very much regardless of how much RAM you have. Hard drives are mechanical devices and thus much much slower than electronic memory. They also don't handle doing several things at once very well.

While virus scanning, Windows still writes to the swapfile, your programs need to access the harddrive to read information, and so on - and all that will be very slow because the harddrive needs to keep moving the actuator arm from one part of the hard drive to another to read (and maybe write) information.

Instead, you should schedule the virus scans to times when you aren't actively using the computer, say 2 am or something. That way you won't be inconvenienced by them.

The same is true for running disk defragmentation programs like Diskeeper or PerfectDisk - automatically schedule those to run late at night while you sleep and they will keep your hard drive well organised and as speedy as possible.

Oh, and about different accounts - Windows will use almost all the same information for you both, and the stuff that differs will be running either when you or she uses one account. You are doing it right now with separate accounts.
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#3 of 5 OFFLINE   SethH



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Posted April 24 2005 - 01:10 AM

Kimmo is most likely correct. Adding more RAM will probably only help marginally.

To answer some of your questions, though:

a 1GB stick of RAM is generally better than 2x512MB unless your motherboard supports dual channel.

your motherboard can most likely support 4GB of RAM. computers with 64-bit processors can support 8GB of RAM.

I don't believe that using 2 accounts would double the number of processes running. However, if your wife has some programs open while you are using your account, then there would be extra processes running.

I agree with Kimmo that the HD is probably a big part of your problem. Could you let us know some of the specs on your computer? If you're running XP with a Pentium2 processor that could be the problem as well.

#4 of 5 OFFLINE   Greg*go


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Posted April 24 2005 - 01:21 AM

If you purchased your PC instead of piecing it together yourself, you can go to a RAM store, like crucial.com, and enter in the make and model of your PC, they'll tell you exactly how much RAM you can put into it.
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#5 of 5 OFFLINE   Joseph DeMartino

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Posted April 24 2005 - 05:12 AM

Kimmo is mostly correct. The virus scanning processes uses three things extensively, in more-or-less this order: the hard drive to access files, CPU cycles to analyze the data, RAM was working space. Yes, RAM is involved, but it is quite literally the least of your problems, which is why it is one of those tasks that should not be run while you're trying to do other work. Adding RAM certainly will not help. Unless you routinely work in many programs at once, run very complex database or engineering apps, or often work with very large files (photos, video, etc.) you're probably not going to see much of a performance increase going to 1.5 GB or even 2.0 GB of RAM.

If you purchased your PC instead of piecing it together yourself, you can go to a RAM store, like crucial.com

If it is an off-the-shelf PC this information should also be available from the manufacturer. A customer service rep at a Gateway, IBM or Dell can enter your serial number and punch up a picture and spec sheet and tell you exactly what type of memory the system supports and which chip types are compatible.

Also, My wife and I run our pc under two different XP user accounts. Does that mean it's running everything twice, once for each of us?

No. The computer doesn't "run" anything at all for the account of a user who isn't logged in at the time.



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