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Building Your Own Computer Like My Super PC

Random Access Memory - RAM

RAM prices fell so fast just as I was purchasing components that at first I went ahead and bought two sticks of 128MB RAM, then I turned around and bought two sticks of 256MB RAM to replace them! And now prices have fallen much further still! I've really gone overboard with 512MB total, but with prices so low you should definitely get at least 256MB. Although 128MB is really all you need today, chances are the extra RAM will come in handy more likely sooner than later. On the other hand, if you go to the other extreme and pack your system with even more than 512MB then you should be aware of this Microsoft Product Support Service article in case you run into any trouble.

The CAS 2 RAM is faster than the CAS 3 RAM, and the performance difference shows up more with the faster bus speeds and faster processors. This CAS2 RAM vs CAS3 RAM comparison by TweakMax is very informative. The best RAM comes from Mushkin, but it costs more. Corsair and Kingston make the "honorable mentions" list of those producing quality RAM modules. But Crucial Technology makes outstanding RAM at a great price and makes it the "sweet spot" winner. Many PC enthusiasts have reported success overclocking both Crucial and Mushkin RAM (although more often and with better results using Mushkin). But overclocking is a pretty tricky business, so if you're not having any luck with it then it could be the problem is more to do with the BIOS settings, PCI cards or who-knows-what rather than the RAM itself.

One more point about the RAM. Originally I had two 128MB sticks. I could've bought just one 256MB stick which would have given me the same total amount I have now of 512MB without going to the trouble of selling the original RAM. However, then all 3 DIMM's would have been used. By selling the original two sticks for about the same money as one 256MB stick, I could then upgrade to a total of 512MB and still have an unused DIMM. On the other hand, it's highly unlikely that even 512MB will ever really all be needed, but it's a point.

How to build a computer - Crucial PC133 CAS2 SDRAM Click on the picture to see it enlarged.

The popular motherboards of today use primarily either PC133 SDRAM memory or PC2100 DDR memory. Both follow the DIMM form factor (physical construction). A motherboard will support one type of memory or the other, but nearly always not both since they require different size memory slots. Even the rare motherboard that does provide both sizes of memory slots such that either size can be accommodated does not allow both types to be used at the same time. For a great deal more information regarding memory and for detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to install memory, check out my Computer Memory Upgrade - How To Add Or Upgrade System Memory (RAM) For Your Computer site. If you're wondering about such things as unbuffered memory, buffered memory, registered memory, parity, non-parity, ECC, or anything else about memory then this site will help!

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