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I have had my computer for around 5-6 years. It's a Dell Vostro 200 Slim model. My OS is Vista Home Basic 32-bit. It has 1.00 GB RAM and my processor is an Intel(R) Core Duo @ 2.00 GHz.

  1. Can I replace my two 512 RAM sticks with two 4GB RAM sticks without damaging the computer? I don't know a lot about computers, but is there a proportion as to what RAM you have with processor or system type or anything else?

  2. Is it okay to go with extremely large RAM? Or am I putting too much weight on buying more RAM, and should I just opt for a new computer or operating system?

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That PC will run Windows 7, install the 64bit version and upgrade the memory to 4gb, it has lots of life left. If not, I will pay for shipping it to my house. –  Moab Mar 8 '12 at 21:23
    
doesn't 64 bit correspond to some sort of hardware in the computer.... won't installing a 64 bit windows 7 create problems? –  Yusaf Mar 8 '12 at 21:26
    
If your CPU is a 64bit processor then it will support both 32bit and 64bit OSes. Your Core2Duo would support 64bit OSes, but most likely not fix the problem. With the age of that machine, you'll hit other bottlenecks before you saw a huge speed increase. –  kobaltz Mar 8 '12 at 21:56
    
And one thing to mention if you're really looking for a cheap route. Instead of adding more memory, you could take advantage of SpeedBoost (using a USB thumb drive to cache some data). Personally I would go with a bit more RAM or a new machine, but this would be an alternative. –  kobaltz Mar 8 '12 at 21:57
    

4 Answers 4

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Since your computer is 32bit based, without enabling PAE (Physical Address Extension), you would not see more than 4GB in use. As far as the computer, your CPU and Hard Drive will also likely be the bottleneck along with the RAM. A lot of computers from that generation would only support 2GB - 4GB of DDR2 memory.

  • 1,270 - Intel Core2 Duo E4500 @ 2.20GHz
  • 2,722 - Intel Pentium G850 @ 2.90GHz (Newest Intel "Celeron" Entry Level)
  • 4,196 - Intel Core i3-2120 @ 3.30GHz (Cheap Processor, Better than Entry Intel)
  • 6,746 - Intel Core i5-2500K @ 3.30GHz (Decent Processor)

The above information is taken from http://www.cpubenchmark.net/high_end_cpus.html

You're better off buying a new computer. NewEgg will have shell shocker deals that would go for $250 and be more than 2x faster than what you currently have (G850 CPU) $400 would land you a Core i3, and 650-800 Core i5

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Different computers have different limits on how much RAM they can take. There's a nice tool at http://www.crucial.com for finding info on your specific model (for example, here's the Vostro 200). Crucial is a commercial site, but as far as I know their system specs are unbiased and you can use the information to order RAM From anyplace you want.

In your case, you can have up to 4 GB of RAM. Getting two 4 GB modules would be a waste, but you could get four 1GB modules very cheaply, and you'd still have vastly more than you do now. You could also keep your two 512k modules and get 2 1GBs for a total of 3 GB.

On the subject of how much it would improve your performance, I'll have to defer to others with more experience.

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thankyou for being honest... I have visited the site previously but I was unsure if 4gb was the maximum my computer would operate with –  Yusaf Mar 8 '12 at 21:33
1  
Some computer specs are kind of made-up, but I believe that limits on total RAM are objective and straightforward, unless you do some serious hacking. –  octern Mar 8 '12 at 21:36

If you aren't having a problem or limitation with the old computer, other than the suspicious that its old and the fun of playing under the hood - you are probably fine keeping that pc as-is. Sure, you can add 2 sticks of 2gb memory, but if you are just using it for email/web browsing, you won't see much of a difference.

Another suggestion, instead of getting a faster desktop, consider getting a new, small laptop or netbook. Then you would have the existing desktop - which may work fine, and the new laptop for portability, new and fun factors.

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can i just replace the RAM sticks without installing any new softwareor anything...do i just simple replace them? –  Yusaf Mar 8 '12 at 21:45
    
Yes, its very easy once you've picked out the right physical memory match (number of pins and speed). Just power off, open up, unplug the old, plugin the new. Once you power back up, the bios will probably stop - and warn you that the memory changed - then anything else (windows page file etc) is automatically updated. No other software or configuration changes. –  jdh Mar 8 '12 at 22:02

5-6 years is way old. You'd be better off junking it. If you do want more memory on a newer machine and are not sure what to get, a great app is provided by crucial.com - go to their site, download their app, and run it - it will tell you exactly what to get.

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