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Month: September 2012

HOW-TO: Find and Install the Right RAM Upgrade

HOW-TO: Find and Install the Right RAM Upgrade

Finding the right RAM upgrade

Whenever I’m asked how to speed up a computer, the first thing I ask is whether the RAM has been upgraded or not. Random Access Memory comes in many variations however, so it might not be easy to find the right upgrade for your computer. Crucial however, the self-proclaimed Memory Experts have put together a memory advisor tool for finding upgrades compatible with your computer.

Note: 32-bit operating systems will be unable to use more than 4GB of RAM. To use more RAM, ensure that your processor supports 64-bit and upgrade your operating system to a 64-bit version.

  1. Find out the manufacturer and model of your computer if bought as is, or the manufacturer and model of the motherboard if you own a custom build. Mine is a custom computer with an Asus P8H61-M LE motherboard, so I will be looking for that.
  2. Go to The advisor tool is on the homepage.
  3. Select the manufacturer, product line, and model from the dropdown menus.
  4. Press the “Find It” button to see which memory upgrades are guaranteed compatible with your computer, as well as some more technical details about your machine, such as the maximum supported memory and how many memory slots are available. In my case it recommends an 8×2 GB kit with the following specifications:

– DDR3 PC3-12800. DDR3 refers to the version of the chip, DDR3 being the most recent. DDR4 is currently in development. PC3-12800 is the peak transfer rate of the chip is 12800 MB/s. A higher number is faster and generally better.

– CL = 11. This refers to the CAS latency of the chip, or how many clock cycles it takes before data starts to flow after a command has been received. Lower values are faster and generally better.

– Unbuffered and NON-ECC. Standard computers use unbuffered memory, which is faster than buffered, but less reliable. Buffered memory is used in servers to counteract errors, as well as ECC or parity chips, which continuously check the memory for errors.

– DDR3 1600. This again mentions DDR3, however the important portion are the numbers afterwards. Here the speed of the RAM is given, meaning that this chip has a speed of 1600 MHz. Higher values mean that the chip operates faster.

– 1.35 V. This is the voltage the chip needs to function. Lower voltages mean less power used and less heat in the system, however other values then tend to suffer. If you own a custom computer, make sure that your power supply can handle the voltage if it’s higher than your old RAM chip.


Write down all this information and go to the nearest computer shop to purchase your upgrade. Crucial also gives an indication of the price the upgrade should be. Usually I find online shops to have better prices, but it doesn’t hurt to look around. Enjoy your new upgrade, which once installed will have your computer back up to speed in no time!

Installing the upgrade – General PC instructions

Note: to install RAM modules on laptops, do a search for the make and model of your computer and “ram” to find instructions for your laptop. To find instructions for my laptop, I searched “Dell Inspiron Mini 1012 RAM”.

WARNING: Tinkering with your machine can void warranty and cause damage if you’re not careful. Do this at your own risk.

  1.  Discharge any built up static electricity. Static can fry chips and ruin your machine, to get rid of it touch a metal object such as the chassis of your computer or wear an anti-static bracelet that you can buy at most computer shops.
  2. Unplug the computer and hold the power button for a few seconds to allow any remaining energy to dissipate. Open the chassis. You may need a screwdriver.
  3. Locate the RAM modules on the motherboard. Press the levers either side of the modules to release them.
  4. Remove the modules and put them in the special anti-static bag your new modules came in. Keep these chips safe in case the new modules get damaged. It never hurts to have a backup.
  5. Place the new chips into the slots, taking care that they are being inserted in the correct direction. Do not put too much force on the chips. Pull the levers either side of the modules to lock them in place.
  6. Close the chassis, plug the computer back in, and boot. The BIOS may inform you that new hardware was added.
  7. Once the computer has booted, confirm that your operating system has recognized the new chips by checking the system information. In Windows this is done by right-clicking ‘My Computer’ and clicking ‘Properties’. Other indications that the RAM has been upgraded include faster boot time and quicker application launches.


HOW-TO: Analyze your Laptop’s Power Configuration

HOW-TO: Analyze your Laptop’s Power Configuration

Battery life is an important factor for every laptop. Using some commands built into Window’s command processor you can easily generate a report about your computer’s power configuration.

Note: This only works in Windows 7 and possibly Windows Vista. The powercfg -energy subroutine has not been added in Windows XP.

WARNING:  The Command Prompt is a very useful tool however it can easily render your computer inoperable if you’re not careful. Use the Command Prompt at your own risk.

  1. Go to Start > All Programs > Accessories. Right click on ‘Command Prompt’ and select ‘Run as administrator’.
  2. Click ‘Yes’ when prompted. A black screen will open.
  3. Type the following command into the prompt: powercfg –energy –output “C:\battery.html”
    Now the prompt will observe system behavior for a minute. Try not to use the computer during this time.
  4. After the time has passed the prompt will display a basic summary of the problems found. Type exit into the prompt to close it.
  5. Open ‘My Computer’ and navigate to “C:\”. There should be a file named ‘battery.html’. Open it with your web browser to view your report.

This report will give you basic information about the computer, the ‘errors’ it found (I had configured those listed above intentionally), warnings, as well as some more useful technical information, such as which processes were most active during the 60 second time interval, power management for various components, and battery information, including to what capacity it was last charged as well as the design capacity of the battery for comparison.

n my case, the battery has a design capacity of 57720 however the last full charge of the battery was 50180, or 87% of the design capacity, meaning that my battery can now only store 87% of the energy it used to be able to when it was brand new. Batteries naturally wear out over time, however there are ways to maintain battery health. Always allow batteries to discharge to about 5% charge or less, before plugging the device in, and allow the battery to recharge fully before removing it from mains power.

Introducing Matt, our PC guy!

Introducing Matt, our PC guy!

Without further ado, I’d like to introduce Matt Grima, a first year Computer Science student with a passion for machines and scuba diving. From the man himself:

I like to tinker with machines to see how they work. I’ve built two computers thus far, and will probably build several more in future. I’m something of a repairman and DIY expert, got plenty of experience working with tools … I’m a computer scientist at heart though, taking the Bachelor of Science Honors Computer Science course with the Faculty of ICT. I am also an avid scuba diver, planning on getting the advanced open water qualification soon … I used to be a total gamer, but then highschool happened, so now I game whenever there’s nothing better to do.

Matt will be adding some great PC-related content to the site, focusing on bringing in-depth tutorials and PSAs to you, the reader.  A word of warning, it gets real technical, real fast – but don’t worry. Follow the guides and you’ll be fine!  Till next time,


HTC One X+ leaked in O2 documents

HTC One X+ leaked in O2 documents

An O2 leak has revealed HTC’s upcoming holiday flagship, the One X+.  The phone’s chassis is essentially identical to the One X but seems to follow last year’s Sensation XE trim.  It has red highlights, red buttons and in another set of leaked photos seems to have a red ringed camera too, while the body itself is black.  As I said earlier, this is to the One X what the Sensation XE was to the Sensation.

Its internals are the same except for a slight bump in the Tegra 3 SoC’s clockspeed, 25GB free Dropbox space (possibly for up till 2 years from activation) and Jelly Bean preloaded. Click through below for two more pictures.

O2 to stop bundling chargers with upcoming devices

O2 to stop bundling chargers with upcoming devices

O2 announced today that it shan’t be bundling a charger with an upcoming HTC flagship. The reasoning behind it is understandable, most households nowadays have four or five USB cables and adapters lying around, so why add to the fray?  O2 hopes this will reduce costs and packaging, which I’m all in for.

The important bit is the fact that they’re acknowledging an upcoming HTC flagship device will be landing on the network in the near future.  Some say it’s the One X+, a refreshed One X with a CPU speed bump, while others are pointing at a FullHD Galaxy Note competitor. Only time will tell, but click through below for some more info on these rumours

One X+ – AndroidCentral

One X 5 – AndroidCentral