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I recently upgraded by computer from WinXP to Win7 x64, and now I want to take advantage of the fact that I can use more memory.

The cheapest memory is from online stores - but I'm a little nervous about buying something that isn't compatible with my computer.

According to Speccy, my current memory is 2x2GB DDR2, PC2-6400 (400Mhz), and I have another 2 empty slots. I found lots of different brands and specs of other memory modules online, but none identical to mine. Can I buy any other DDR2 memory modules, or are there any other gotchas out there I have to beware of?

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3 Answers 3

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With CPU-Z, you can get detail info on each of your memory chip. In general, you just need to make sure that the new memory is same type (DDR2) and speed (PC2-6400 400Mhz) as your old ones. Chip rated faster will generally work, but the limiting factor will be the slowest stick of RAM.

Lastly, you might want to consider spending a extra couple of bucks and getting one with support & warranty. I once had a OCZ that wasn't compatible with my DELL due to some weird chip timing issue. I was able to send it back and get it updated.

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+ answer credit for most useful tips! Thanks! –  Shaul Oct 11 '10 at 14:57
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Get the same or better specs if possible, but check your motherboard manual for spec or size limitations first.

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I'll take a slightly different approach here and caution you to consider what applications you are running before you go to the trouble/expense of adding more RAM.

While adding more RAM is a usually a good way to improve your system's performance, I've noticed that unless you're frequently using applications which you know will benefit from having a large amount of RAM you may not see much benefit.

A while back I increased the RAM on my Core 2 Duo based system from 4 GB (what you have) to 6 GB. Frankly, I think almost all of the time Windows 7 just doesn't use the extra RAM. In my case with the apps I'm running (mostly watching video or web surfing) the 4GB I already had was sufficient.

So stop and ponder a bit more before you leap. Depending on what you do on your system you might actually benefit more by spending the money on another component.

FWIW, in the past I've purchased my RAM from newegg. My approach was to look over the offerings, find the ones that matched my system, and then wait to see how prices went. I've had good luck with Crucial and not entirely bad luck with Corsair. And as was already mentioned, the most important thing, aside from getting the specs right before you order, is to go with a supplier which warranties the memory it sells and whom you can trust to "be around".

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Since John doesn't ever say this... It's probably the hard drive that's the bottleneck. If you don't spend money on RAM, spend money on getting a solid-state. –  Christian Mann Oct 11 '10 at 16:27
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