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I've got an old Dell Optiplex 170L with Windows XP that is running about as fast as a speeding glacier. It's really just used for the kids to play on, but even they are complaining it's too slow. Rather than spend a few hundred bucks on a new computer, I thought I might try upgrading the RAM from 1GB to 4GB. Ran Speccy to check what kind of RAM I need, and here's what shows:

Speccy image

I see from this that my current memory type is DDR - but does that mean I can't buy DDR2 or DDR3 type memory?

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For what it's worth, you could put together another machine for under $200 that would be blazes faster than this one. (Using Intel G530 sandy bridge chip). Old DDR memory is pretty expensive. I would recommend just building a new machine. –  user606723 Jun 3 '12 at 4:13

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up vote 12 down vote accepted

Correct, your system only supports DDR memory. Newer DDR2 and DDR3 modules are physically incompatible due to the notch being in a different location:

Also, according to the official specs, the Optiplex 170L only supports up to 2 GB of RAM (although Intel claims up to 4 GB for the 865GV chipset). Specifically, it supports either DDR-333 (PC-2700) or DDR-400 (PC-3200) modules.

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+1 for those pics. Just you beat me for few seconds. :) –  avirk Jun 2 '12 at 18:54
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+1 and answer credit for the pics and the heads-up about only supporting up to 2GB! Thanks! –  Shaul Behr Jun 2 '12 at 19:07

I see from this that my current memory type is DDR - but does that mean I can't buy DDR2 or DDR3 type memory?

That's exactly what it means.

From Dell™ OptiPlex™ 170L User's Guide - Specifications:

Memory

Type                333-MHz or 400-MHz DDR SDRAM [...]
Memory Architecture dual-channel DDR SDRAM
Memory connectors   2
Memory capacities   128-, 256-, 512-MB, or 1-GB non-ECC
Minimum memory      128 MB, single-channel mode; 256 MB dual-channel mode [...]
Maximum memory      2 GB

Also, DDR2 SDRAM ins't backwards compatible.

From DDR2 SDRAM - Wikipedia # Backward compatibility:

DDR2 DIMMs are not designed to be backward compatible with DDR DIMMs. The notch on DDR2 DIMMs is in a different position from DDR DIMMs, and the pin density is higher than DDR DIMMs in desktops. DDR2 is a 240-pin module, DDR is a 184-pin module. [...]

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