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Computer updrading

System Memory (RAM) Upgrade:


Motherboard specification guidelines:

Read upgrading manual to see what memory type your motherboard is compatible with. If you are increasing the size of your computer's memory, then it is best practice to buy similar specifications to that installed on your computer, but this time with higher memory size.


As you may have come across, DDR (or DDR1), DDR2 and DDR3 are the generations of computer system memory, and the later is more performing to its early versions. Another advantage of the recent versions, for example DDR3, is that they consume less power, hence are more efficient. However, bear in mind that, the Motherboard already installed on your computer comes with specific voltage requirements, hence recommend the suited memory type (DDR or DDR1, DDR2 and DDR3). Therefore, there is no other way but to stick to this rule when selecting the memory type to upgrade with.


Visit your Motherboard vendor website and go to the support page of your product, if you do not have the Manuals at hand. Stick to the Maximum suggested Memory size limit. Do not Exceed it. For any Motherboard type, there is a limit of Maximum of Memory size to be installed.


How much System Memory Size do I need?

For a general home or office user, a computer with 1 to 2 GB memory can do the job. However, if you are planning to use or upgrade your computer for video-editing tasks or enjoy video gaming, then you may have to go for a minimum of 3 GB of memory or higher.


Graphics-Card Upgrade:


System Memory Vs Video Card Memory

The Memory (or RAM) installed on your motherboard handles the system requirement functions whereas the Memory available within your Video Graphics card is dedicated for video and graphics requests or tasks. Most computers that appeared around year 2001 were installed with 64 MB memory Video Graphics Cards. System and Graphics card memory type or size should not necessarily be the same. For example, the Memory installed on the Motherboard could be DDR while that of the Video Graphics Card is DDR3; they both can run smoothly together.

You could go either for AGP slot or PCI slot type of Video Graphics Card. AGP slot may offer higher X rate, for example: 4x or 8x compared that of the PCI slot may be 4x. However, PCI slots may give a lot of flexibility of upgrading. PCI slots are designed to be backward and forward compatible, hence can take any version (DDR, DDR2 or DDR3) or Memory size (128 MB, 256 MB, 512 MB, 1GB or higher). For example, a computer with DDR system memory installed on the mother board can take any of the versions of Graphics card versions (i.e. DDR, DDR2 or DDR3).


No conflict arises just because the system and Video card Memory types of versions are different. Therefore, a computer installed with DDR on the motherboard may take on Video Graphics card with DDR3 Memory and would work fine. Points of caution, however, this should not always be the case if you are running or intending to upgrade a very old computer (e.g.: 7 or 8 years old). In the later case, my advice is that you need to go for a new computer instead for upgrading.


Issues of Graphics card power consumption:

Generally, AGP cards are long and could take-up more space, so make sure your and other cards installed on your motherboard could accommodate it.

Large sizes of Graphics Cards may take-up more power than shorter sizes. Therefore, make sure your computer's power supply is enough to power the Video Graphics card you intending to buy. Otherwise, you may also have to change the power supply capacity o your computer, which will also require you extra £20 - £30 investment.

How much Graphics Card Memory Size do I need?

For a general home or office user, a computer with 64 to 128 MB memory can do the job. However, if you are planning to use or upgrade your computer for video-editing tasks or enjoy video gaming, then you may have to go for a minimum of 256 MB of memory or higher. I would personally recommend going for 512 MB to 1 GB of memory.

REMEMBER!

The Memory type that you use on your PCI slot is backward and forward compatible, so you can choose whichever one, but the DDR3 is preferred to DDR2 or DDR, as it will give better performance. Another issue to consider is that, the Voltage specification of the Video Card should be compatible with that recommended by the Motherboard manufacturer. For example, they put it as +1.5v etc. There are also issues with applying a technique called Graphics cross-fire, in order to minimise power consumption. This is done by installing two small size Video Graphics cards on the PCI slot of the motherboard, and then both are linked via cable, so that when the computer boots, it recognises them as one and you would enjoy higher definition of video. Not all Video cards are capable of this, only some come with this features. I would however recommend this option only if you have the experience of customising or configuring the computer.

Updated: 28 May 2011

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Yohannes Berhe