Add RAM to your PC -- SD RAM, DDR RAM, and RDR RAM explained

Dennis Faas's picture

" How can I make my computer faster? "

The simplest answer to this question is to add more RAM to your PC. RAM allows your computer to process things faster by holding frequently used information for a longer period of time.

The longer data is held in memory, the greater chance that this data will be used again for computation. The end result is that data is loaded and unloaded at a faster rate, which saves you time.

In order to answer the question of how much RAM is required for a computer, we need to inspect two main areas of interest: how much RAM is already inside your machine, and the age of the machine. The latter depends on whether or not you can upgrade your system at a reasonable cost.

Upgrade path: a suggested amount of RAM

The amount of RAM found in computer systems from yesteryear and today vary and is largely dependent on what type of operating system has been installed on the machine.

For example, if you are running Windows 95 or 98, 64 megabytes of RAM is minimal, but having 128 to 256 meg of RAM would definitely make a computer system run much smoother. For users of Windows ME or 2000, 256 to 512 meg and higher is recommended. Windows XP users should have (at minimum) 256 meg of RAM, but 512 meg and higher would vastly improve overall performance.

How much RAM do you have?

To check how much memory you have in your computer, right click over top of "MY COMPUTER" on the DESKTOP and select PROPERTIES. The information displayed under the GENERAL tab will tell you how much memory is inside your computer.

Is it feasible to buy more RAM or is it cheaper to buy a new computer?

Purchasing RAM for an older computer might cost anywhere from 2 to 4 times the price for RAM used in today's PCs, and this is based on the case of "supply and demand". Since most computer stores only carry RAM that is used in today's PCs, it is inevitably difficult to obtain older types of RAM. With a small supply of older RAM, a higher price might be paid.

The age of your computer is directly related to its processing speed, and can also help in determining whether or not it is cost effective to purchase more RAM for your computer. The easiest way to find out about your processor's information is to download and install a program called WCPUid, written by H.Oda. It can be obtained from H. Oda's web site (the author), or Version 3.0d may be downloaded from if the previous link does not work. Download and install the program and the first window that pops up will tell you exactly what type of processor you have and its speed.

Assuming you know your processing speed, you will have a better idea as to whether or not it is viable to upgrade the RAM inside your system. In fact, the above picture states what kind of RAM I have in my machine (but it might not say for your machine).

For all intents and purposes, I would propose that any computer system that has a processing speed slower than 266 MHz should not be upgraded. This proposition is based on the associated RAM type used for processors running at this speed. See the chart below for more information:

Processor Type: Processing Speed: Feasible? / RAM type

  • 486: 16 ~ 100 MHz: no
  • 586 / Pentium I: 133 ~ 233 MHz: no
  • 686 / Pentium II: 266 ~ 466 MHz: yes, some PC66 & PC100
  • Celeron: 300+ MHz: yes, some PC66 & PC100
  • Pentium III: 500 ~ 1000 MHz: yes, PC100 or PC133
  • AMD Athlon, Athlon XP: 600+ MHz: yes, some PC100, PC133, and DDR
  • Pentium IV: 1000+ MHz: yes, some PC133, DDR, and RDR

Side note: RDR RAM is the fastest and most expensive RAM type, which is currently only used on Pentium 4 main boards. DDR RAM is the second-fastest RAM type and is currently clocked at 333 MHz and used with both Athlon XP and Pentium 4 main boards. DDR RAM generally costs about 1/2 the price of RDR RAM. Q: " As you stated above, the DDR RAM is only good for 333 MHz systems... so, what good does it do to buy computers with that use GHz processors (ie: anything above 1,000 MHz)? "

A: The speed you are referring to is FSB (Front Side Bus), and does not refer to the computer's raw-processing speed. FSB is a "highway" that is used for all components inside the machine which communicate with the processor, including RAM.

In conclusion

Adding RAM to your computer system can make a very noticeable difference, especially if your system is lacking (according to the suggested upgrade path listed above). In short: RAM should only be upgraded if it is a cost-effective investment and you plan on keeping your system long enough to "get your money's worth."

Rate this article: 
No votes yet