Thinking of buying RAM? Crucial tells you just how much – and what type – to get

Having a slow computer can be annoying.  A lot of the time, your computer is slow because it is running low on RAM.  RAM comes in sizes from 32MB to 8GB in the consumer range, and nowadays generally costs under $50 for a stick of 2GB RAM.  While this price tag can seem like a lot, if your computer has under 256MB it can be very slow and adding 2GB of RAM would be the equivalent of your computer getting a permanent adrenaline boost.  So, have you ever felt the need to upgrade your computer’s RAM?, looked over all the options and felt your head spinning?  Luckily, to help out, there are websites dedicated which everyone can visit to help make purchasing RAM easier on us consumers. Crucial.com – the homepage of a RAM manufacturer – is such a website.

Crucial.com provides two tools which helps make purchasing RAM (for desktops or laptops) really easy. Each tools provides detailed information on what type of RAM will work with your computer/motherboard model. The tools include many old- and new- computers, so there’s a large chance of your model being there. While you are not forced to purchase Crucial RAM after using either tool (just write down the RAM specifications and you can purchase the same RAM from any other manufacturer or store) but if Crucial does manufacture compatible RAM for your computer, you will get a result saying Crucial does not manufacture compatible RAM (don’t worry thought – Crucial manufactures RAM which supports 99.9% computers, if not 100%).

That being said,

  1. Visit Crucial.com.
  2. Either A, run their Crucial System Scanner Tool, or B, do it the old-school-just-the ever-so-slightly-slower-way (the Crucial Memory Advisor Tool):
    The difference between the two methods is the Crucial System Scanner is a downloadable, standalone, and portable 208 KB EXE program that you run. Then, it gives you specific information about the hardware on your computer, general information on what type of RAM is supported by your computer/motherboard model, and specific RAM sticks that will work with your computer:
    On the other hand, the Crucial Memory Advisor Tool is an online based tool (you need not download anything) where you must manually define the computer or motherboard manufacturer of your computer. Then, it gives you general information about your computer/motherboard model, general information on what type of RAM is supported by your computer/motherboard model, one specific recommended RAM type, and specific RAM sticks that will work with your computer:
    For the Crucial System Scanner Tool, watch this short 1 minute video (video by created by Crucial) to learn how to use it:

    For the Crucial Memory Advisor Tool

    • Select Manufacturer
    • Select Product line
    • Select model
    • See what RAM is recommended for you

Whichever method you use, after you get the results, you can buy it from Crucial, or write down the RAM specifications and buy the same RAM from another store or manufacturer.

After you have purchased the RAM, you can Google on how to install it (Google your computer/motherboard model number and find some sort of How-To on how to install RAM on your computer).

Now see, wasn’t that simple?

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22 comments

  1. Bob Hauser

    None of this was of much help: I got two 1 G ram sticks from MCM and after installing per standard drill, not only does this damned Dell fail to recognize them…it won’t even boot up and all you see is a black screen. Another Microsoft lead balloon.

  2. Samuel

    @Refpeuk: The diffrence is speed (theoreticly 2x the speed) and that they can put more memory per chip. But the thing to note is that DDR2 and DDR3 are the interface, the memonry on the chip is the same, so in pratical terms the diffrence is that we can fit twice as much data through at once and more data on the chip its self.

  3. jumbi

    I am using this tool for over 3 years now!
    Together with the results from kingston.com I combine the information and decide which ram to get for my customers…(if I have the computer I use the stand alone application which is always into my usb toolkit)

  4. Jyo

    @Samuel & Ashraf

    Ok, thanks for your inputs. I recently took out a 256mb RAM from my friend’s 5 year old dell pc and I was thinking bout putting it in my 5 year old 512mb RAM compaq pc. I’m running crucial scanner program now to see my ram info.

  5. Ashraf
    Mr. Boss

    @Jyo: It is kind of hard to put in “incompatible RAM” because if the RAM is incompatible with your computer/motherboard, it won’t even fit in as Samuel already stated. All new models of RAM (i.e. DDR, DDR2, DDR3, etc.) have different pins configurations.

  6. normofthenorth

    Sometimes some computers “care” about RAM specs that aren’t usually specified, maybe even by Crucial.

    E.g., I’ve upgraded a couple of older IBM (now Lenovo) Thinkpads (maybe a 600e, definitely a T22 & a T40). There were identical-spec SODIMM RAM sticks available, but some had twice as many little chips on the stick than the others. Same amount of RAM, same speed, same specs. But only the ones with twice as many chips on the stick would run on the Thinkpads!

    After using Crucial and other online sources, I ended up browsing a bunch of eBay ads and corresponding with the vendors until I figured it all out (and got a good deal).

    Adding RAM to newer computers is probably much simpler (and cheaper).

  7. Ron

    These pages on the Crucial website have been around for years, and have always been the first place I check when doing an upgrade. Curiously, Crucial’s direct prices for their sticks are sometimes higher than my favorite online supplier!

  8. Bruce Fraser

    RAM comes in such a bewildering array of options!
    - SDRAM, DDR, DDR2, DDR3, Rambus
    - 168, 184 or 240 pins
    - speed: 133, 166, 200, 400, 533, 667, 800 MHz
    - DIMM or RIMM
    - parity, non-parity, ECC
    - individual stick or in pairs
    YIKES! This is very intimidating, even for people who are comfortable with slipstreaming Windows and installing hard drives, sound cards and other hardware.

    Crucial.com takes away virtually all the fear, and makes it simple and safe to choose the exact type of RAM one needs.

    Similar to Liam, I did this very thing just last week. I got the specs from Crucial.com, and then found the best price at Newegg.ca.