Adding RAM to Increase Your Computer Speed

The two reasons for installing Random Access Memory, or RAM, in your personal computer is either to increase the RAM installed to run more complex programs, or your current module has failed. Replacing RAM is fairly straightforward as long as you purchase a compatible memory module, almost all of which is in DIMM (Dual Inline Memory Module) for. The first task if to remove your old RAM and check the labeling, which is the best way of making sure the replacement RAM will work.

Each motherboard supports only a certain range of memory types in certain combinations so always check with your motherboard manufacturer before making a purchase. In older computers the RAM modules had to be matched, but most PCs today will allow odd numbers of modules to be installed. Additional RAM allows a computer to work with more information at the same time which can have a dramatic effect on total system performance.

Removal and Replacement

Use both thumbs to simultaneously depress the while locking levers on the memory slot slowly to prevent the DIMM from popping out and falling onto the motherboard.

Removing RAM

Hold the replacement memory module over the slot to align the notches before installing the RAM. The two notches align the module in the proper direction and prevent you from installing the wrong type of RAM in the motherboard. The notches on DDR-2 and DDR modules are located differently, and the notches also prevent the installation of older RAM modules that require a higher voltage in the slot. You should always handle DIMMs by the edges, and never touch the gold contacts, because the oil from your fingers can degrade the connection. Make sure that the white locking ears of all three slots are wide open. (Note: The locking ears can also be black)

Note: Remember to work on a low-static surface like a wood table on a concrete or tiled floor. You may want to purchase anti-static wristbands as well.

After aligning the memory, seat the RAM module by pressing down firmly with our thumbs on both ends of the module. The white locking ears will swing up and lock into place when the RAM is installed properly. There are usually 3 or 4 slots on a motherboard to install DIMMs, and it is not considered good practice to mix brands and speeds so always try to replace the entire RAM in a system when you upgrade the capacity.

Push RAM module into place with thumb and locking tabs will swing into place.

Problems

If you have ever noticed a series of beeps when booting up your computer, these indicate the status of the computer BIOS through a POST.

The computer power-on self-test (POST) tests the computer to make sure it meets the necessary system requirements and that all hardware is working properly before starting the remainder of the boot process. If the computer passes the POST the computer will have a single beep, although in some computer BIOS it may beep twice, as the computer starts and the computer will continue to start normally. However, if the computer fails the POST, the computer will either not beep at all or will generate a beep code, which tells the user the source of the problem.

Each time the computer boots up the computer must past the POST. Below are the common steps a POST performs each time your computer starts.

1. Test the power supply to ensure that it is turned on and that it releases its reset signal.

2. CPU must exit the reset status mode and thereafter be able to execute instructions.

3. BIOS checksum must be valid, meaning that it must be readable.

4. CMOS checksum must be valid, meaning that it must be readable.

5. CPU must be able to read all forms of memory such as the memory controller, memory bus, and memory module.

6. The first 64KB of memory must be operational and have the capability to be read and written to and from, and capable of containing the POST code.

7. I/O bus / controller must be accessible.

8. I/O bus must be able to write / read from the video subsystem and be able to read all video RAM.

If you get a beep code after replacing your RAM, the computer may need to be rebooted after it discovers that the RAM has changed, or the RAM modules may not be securely in their slots. Also if you have moved your computer recently the RAM may have become dislodged or some other hardware component that is preventing a normal boot sequence.

There are a wide variety of different computer manufacturers of BIOS so the beep codes may vary.

Errors include:

1 short – DRAM refresh failure

2 short – Parity circuit failure

3 short – Base 64K RAM failure

4 short – System timer failure

5 short – Process failure

6 short – Keyboard controller Gate A20 error

7 short – Virtual mode exception error

8 short – Display memory Read/Write test failure

9 short – ROM BIOS checksum failure

10 short – CMOS shutdown Read/Write error

11 short – Cache Memory error

1 long, 3 short – Conventional/Extended memory failure

1 long, 8 short – Display/Retrace test failed

Hopefully you will be able to replace or add RAM to your computer to increase its performance and save money on an upgrade of your PC.