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There are two machines in my household:

  1. A Dell Dimension 9200 running Ubuntu 10.10, with 4GB (4x1GB) of RAM and a Intel Core 2 E6600 CPU.
  2. A Dell Dimension 5150 running Windows XP, with 1GB (2x256MB, two free slots) of RAM and what I think is a Pentium D 820.

(I think it is fairly obvious that machine #1 has the most 'power'.)

Due to the uses of these two machines I would like to effectively swap their power, or compromise somewhere in the middle of the two (perhaps 2GB of RAM each).

Due to the operating systems, programs and data on the two machines, simply swapping them, and starting from scratch (e.g. reinstalling, transferring data) from each is out of the question. What are my options to beef up the power of machine #2? I am not sure what compatibility issues I could encounter?

I eagerly await the advice of the Super User...

Update: the Dimension 5150 apparently has either a 945G or 945GZ chipset (according to Intel's utility) and according to the Dell website the Dimension 5150 has a PCI-E slot, from which I conclude machine #2 has a 945G chipset that could support the E6600 CPU.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Well, your question has more to do with motherboards than anything else. I don't know what Dell uses in its systems, but the swap may be possible. Here's information for Pentium D 820 and here's for Core 2 Duo E6600. From what I can see, they boths use DDR2 RAM, so there won't be any damage on the modules themselves if you do try to swap. You may have problems with memory frequency, but I suspect that E6600 would use faster RAM which should be able to downclock to the one used with 820.

Those 3 GiB of RAM could come in basically 2 ways: First is 3*1 GiB of RAM. You'd them just take one stick from first machine and put it in the other machine. Second option would be a combination of 2+1 GiB. You'd have to identify the 1 GiB module and move it from one machine to the other machine.

It could also happen that you have 4 GiB of RAM in 2+2 modules, but that E6600's mothermoard can detect only 3. I think that it is unlikely, but it's not impossible.

You could also move processor from Dimension 9200 to Dimension 5150, but E6600 uses higher FSB and it there is a high chance that Dimension 5150's motherboard doesn't supoort it. I don't think that trying out E6600 would be dangeorus.

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1) So I won't have problems with incompatible RAM if I move it between machines? I've heard swapping manufacturers, models, etc is bad... – 8128 Oct 21 '10 at 13:03
Not bad as such.. it significantly increases the chances of BSODs due to mismatched timings and latencies.. – Sathya Oct 21 '10 at 13:45
That sounds bad to me... – 8128 Oct 21 '10 at 14:46
@fluteflute - The unspoken part of what Sathya said though is that it might just work fine. And if it doesn't, you just undo the swap (it is very unlikely to cause any kind of lasting damage) – Shinrai Oct 21 '10 at 14:51
@fluteflute Just as others said. Nothing unrecoverable will happen to computers if you do swap the RAM. If it doesn't work, just put it back. – AndrejaKo Oct 21 '10 at 15:04

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