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Memory Buying Guide

Memory Buying Guide

Topics:

Looking to upgrade your PC's memory?
Why upgrade your system memory
Why use Dell memory?
What if you don't have a Dell system?
How much memory do you need?
How can you be sure you purchase the right memory?
How do you install memory?
Another system performance maximizer: Consider upgrading your hard drive or CD/DVD drive.
Interested in memory for digital cameras, PDAs, or printers, or USB Removable Memory?
Dell DDR Memory
Dell DDR2 Memory
Dual-Channel Memory
System memory glossary
Flash Memory Glossary

Other Links:

How do you install memory?

It's easier than you think, and this installation guide will walk you through the steps so that you can successfully upgrade your memory. The installation process varies among types of systems, e.g., desktops, laptops. Please review your system manual for more detailed instructions. Also, please register at http://support.dell.com to further reference more complete and detailed installation instructions specific to your system.

Desktop Install Guide (DIMM or RIMM)

Step 1: Gather the tools you'll need.
  • Nonmagnetic screwdriver (for opening your case in some instances)
  • Your computer manual or login to the http://support.dell.com website

Step 2: Ground yourself. Static electricity can damage your module and other computer parts. You need to ground yourself to avoid "shocking" your computer. If you have wrist straps designed for this purpose, wear them. If not, here is the easiest way to ground yourself:
  • Turn off the computer, monitor, and all accessories (printer, speakers, etc.)
  • Briefly touch an unpainted metal part of your computer case.
  • Plant your feet and don't walk around. If you do need to walk around, ground yourself again before touching any of the internal parts of your computer.

Step 3: Open your computer case. Every computer case is a little different, so consult your manual if you have any questions about how to open your case.
  • If you haven't already done so, turn off the computer, monitor, and all accessories (printer, speakers, etc.).
  • Wait for your computer to discharge any stored power and for warm components to cool.
  • Remove any screws holding your cover in place. Most current Dell systems open easily by pressing down on two light grey buttons located on the sides of the chassis.
  • Remove or open the desktop cover.

Step 4: Find the Memory slots on your motherboard.

Desktop Memory Install

Memory Slots Desktop memory slots are usually black; there are ejector clips at the each end of each slot.

DIMMs or RIMMs fit into slots that look like this. Some of your slots are probably already filled with modules. Installed DIMM or RIMM Open Memory Slots

Desktop Memory Install

Step 5: Remove the memory you are replacing (if necessary). If you have an open DIMM slot, skip this step and go on to Step 6. For some systems with RIMMs, you may need to install in pairs and/or remove Continuity Rambus In-Line Memory Modules (CRIMMs). CRIMMs can be identified as a thin green-colored board that does not have an aluminum shield. If all of your memory slots are full, you will need to remove one or more of your old modules or CRIMMs before you can install the new memory.
  • Press down on the ejector clips on either side of the module.
  • Remove the module from the slot.

Step 6: Install your new module(s). If you have an open DIMM slot, skip this step and go on to Step 6. For some systems with RIMMs, you may need to install in pairs and/or remove Continuity Rambus In-Line Memory Modules (CRIMMs). CRIMMs can be identified as a thin green-colored board that does not have an aluminum shield. If all of your memory slots are full, you will need to remove one or more of your old modules or CRIMMs before you can install the new memory.
  • Take your module(s) out of its anti-static bag and hold it by the edges.
  • If you have more than one open slot, fill the lowest numbered slot first. If you can't see any numbers on your motherboard, use the slot that is closest to the filled slot(s).
  • Line up the notches in the row of gold pins at the bottom of your module with the keys in the Memory slot on your motherboard. (If the notches don't line up right away, flip your module around and try it the other way. It doesn't matter which side of your module has the black chips or the stickers on it. The important thing is to line up the notches.)

Desktop Memory Install

Place module in slot Ejector clip is still in "down" position.

Push hard Use your thumbs to press the module into the slot. Press hard! It takes about 20 pounds of pressure to get the module properly inserted in the slot. When you hear a click and both side ejector clips snap up around the module, you know it is installed correctly. If your memory installed in pairs, complete Steps 5-6 again.

Desktop Memory Install

Step 7: Test it. Before you close your case, turn your computer back on. You should see the new amount of memory displayed on your startup screens or in the properties for "My Computer" (if you use a Windows operating system). If everything works correctly, skip to Step 9. If not, go to Step 8.

Step 8: Troubleshooting If you have trouble with your new RAM, check these things first.
  • Check the power cords. Is everything plugged in properly?
  • Check the module. Did both side clips pop up to hold the module firmly in place? Try removing the module and replacing it to make sure it is seated properly in the slot.
  • Check the wires and cables inside your computer. Did you accidentally bump one of the cables inside your computer while you were installing your module? A loose hard drive cable can prevent your computer from booting up properly. Make sure all the cables are firmly in their sockets.

Check the clips If your computer doesn't recognize your new RAM, check to make sure the ejector clips on each end of the module have snapped around the module. If you experience any technical difficulty, please call Dell Technical support at (800) Buy-Dell for assistance or reference on http://support.dell.com.

Step 9: Close your case. Congratulations! You have successfully installed your new RAM. Now replace the cover and plug in your accessories. Your computer should be speeding along in no time.

Portable Systems Install Guide (SODIMM)

Step 1: Gather the tools you'll need.
  • Nonmagnetic screwdriver (for opening your case)
  • Your computer manual or login to the http://support.dell.com website

Step 2: Ground yourself. Static electricity can damage your module and other computer parts. You need to ground yourself to avoid "shocking" your computer. If you have wrist straps designed for this purpose, wear them. If not, here is the easiest way to ground yourself:
  • Turn off the computer, monitor, and all accessories (printer, speakers, etc.)
  • Briefly touch an unpainted metal part of your computer case.
  • Plant your feet and don't walk around. If you do need to walk around, ground yourself again before touching any of the internal parts of your computer.

Step 3: Open your computer case. Every laptop case is a little different, so consult your manual or login to the http://support.dell.com website to find out where your SODIMM slots are located and how to open that part of your laptop case. Some of the most popular places for SODIMM slots are:
  • Behind a back access panel
  • Under the keyboard

Locate the memory On most Dell portable computers; the memory is located under a panel on the back of the computer. On some portable computers, the memory slots are under the keyboard. Check your manual for details or login to the http://support.dell.com website Desktop Memory Install

Step 4: Find the SODIMM slots and banks. SODIMMs fit into slots that look like this. Some of your slots may be already filled with modules. SODIMMs fit into slots that look like this. Some of your slots may be already filled with modules.

SoDIMM Slot The notebook may have one or more slots.

Desktop Memory Install

While most SODIMMs are installed individually, some SODIMMs must be installed in matched pairs known as "banks." The memory banks on your motherboard should be clearly labeled.

Step 5: Remove the memory you are replacing (if necessary). If you have an open SODIMM slot, skip this step and go on to Step 6. If all of your SODIMM slots are full, you will need to remove one or more of your old modules before you can install the new memory.
  • Press down on the retaining clips on either side of the module.
  • Remove the module from the slot.

Step 6: Install your new module(s).
  • Take your module out of its anti-static bag and hold it by the edges.
  • If you have more than one open slot, fill the lowest numbered slot first.
  • Line up the notch in the row of metal pins at the bottom of your module with the key in the SODIMM slot on your motherboard. (If the notch doesn't line up right away, flip your module around and try it the other way. It doesn't matter which side of your module has the black chips or the stickers on it. The important thing is to line up the notch.)

Line up notch The notch in the module fits into a key in the slot (circled).

Desktop Memory Install

Hold the module at a 45-degree angle to the slot and slide it into place. No more than 1/16" of the gold contacts should be showing when the module is properly seated in the slot.

Push hard Hold the module at a 45-degree angle to the slot and firmly push it into place.
  • Press the top of the module down until it is lying flat against the motherboard and you hear it snap into place.

Press module into place Module should lie flat against the notebook

Step 7: Test it. Before you close your case, turn your computer back on. You should see the new amount of memory displayed on your startup screens or in the properties for "My Computer" (if you use a Windows®  operating system). If everything works correctly, skip to Step 9. If not, go to Step 8.

Step 8: Troubleshooting If you have trouble with your new RAM, check these things first.
  • Check the power cords. Is everything plugged in properly?
  • Check the module. Did both side clips snap to hold the module firmly in place? Try removing the module and replacing it to make sure it is seated properly in the slot.
  • Check the wires and cables inside your computer. Did you accidentally bump one of the cables inside your computer while you were installing your module? A loose hard drive cable can prevent your computer from booting up properly. Make sure all the cables are firmly in their sockets.

Check side clips Small side clips should snap around the module.

Step 9: Close your case. Congratulations! You have successfully installed your new RAM. Now replace the cover and plug in your accessories. Your computer should be speeding along in no time. If you experience any technical difficulty, please call Dell Technical support at (800) Buy-Dell for assistance.

Offers subject to change, not combinable with all other offers. Taxes, shipping, handling and other fees apply. U.S. Dell Home new purchases only. Dell reserves the right to cancel orders arising from pricing or other errors.

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