How to Determine What Type of Dell Computer Memory You Need to Upgrade Your System

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Upgrading memory is a quick and inexpensive way to improve your Dell computer’s performance. However, with so many types available, selecting it for computer systems takes a little research to be sure you get the right Dell computer memory for your system.

How Much Dell Computer Memory Do You Have?

Before you add more Dell computer memory, you need to know how much your system already has. To find out, right-click on the “My Computer” icon on your desktop, then select “Properties” to get a dialog showing system information including the amount of memory. Let’s assume it shows 512 MB, which means you have 512 megabytes (millions of bytes) of computer memory.

The next thing you need is the number of modules or “sticks” of memory in the computer. Computers generally come with parts lists detailing components inside the computer. If you saved this information, it should show the number and size of modules. If not then turn off the computer, remove the cover and count the memory sticks.

What Type of Dell Memory Do You Need?

The wrong type of Dell computer memory won’t fit in the memory slots and will be useless. Even if it does physically fit, memory comes in different speeds and putting slow memory on a fast motherboard puts serious brakes on system performance.

If available, computer manuals or parts lists are a good place to find this information. Most memory vendors allow you to look up your computer model (such as Dell Vostro 200) to find the right memory. Or try Dell’s website and use your model number or service tag to find the information needed.

A cryptic line such as “800 MHz DDR2 SDRAM DIMM” can be easily decoded once you know what each piece of the code reveals so that you can purchase the right memory. The first set of numbers tells the memory speed (800 MHz), the second set describes the technology (DDR2 SDRAM), and the third set the form factor (DIMM).

How Much Can You Take?

Your computer has slots, generally 2-4, for memory. Each slot can take a certain maximum capacity. A slot taking 512 MB accepts a smaller stick (256 MB) but not a larger one (1024 MB or 1 GB). The number and capacity of slots can be found at the same places as type of memory.

For example, say you have a Dell Dimension 3000. You look it up and find it has 2 slots, each taking a 1 GB stick. You know it has 512 MB of memory and upon looking inside you see that one slot is filled and one slot is empty. You could buy a 1 GB memory stick for the empty slot and increase your memory to 1.5 GB. If you wanted to go to the maximum memory of 2 GB, you would have to discard the existing 512 MB module and install two 1 GB modules.

Dell computer memory can seem confusing, but by narrowing down your selections by computer model you can quickly locate and purchase the memory you need to add lightning speed to your system.