A Guide to PC Memory

When it comes to improving the performance of your PC, purchasing additional RAM is despite the least expensive yet most effective route a person can take. While the solution appears simple, the dizzying array of memory available for purchase today can make the actual decision process problematic for all but the tech-savvy individuals. A very wide selection of differenting RAM types are available for purchase today, SDRAM, EDO, RDRAM, and DRAM to name a few. Knowing how to determine what RAM types are compatible with your current PC setup and what RAM choice will give you the greatest performance are key to making the correct decision.

The purpose of this guide is to give the reader a general understanding of what RAM is, what types of RAM exist, and how to decide what RAM would make the best purchase choice.

What is RAM?

The acronym RAM stands for Random Access Memory. RAM is where data is stored within your PC so that said data can be accessed by your PC's processor, or CPU. RAM should be considered as temporary memory within your PC, in order for RAM to maintain its data storage it must receive a continuous pulse of electricity. Any data that exists solely within a PC's RAM will be deleted when the PC is shut off or loses power.

PC's utilize several common technologies to store data internally on a more permanent level than RAM. These storage mediums include ROM – Read Only Memory, Hard Drives – which store data magnetically in a permanent – or depending on your usage – semi-permanent fashion, CDRWs, DVDRWs, Floppy Disks and Tapes. All of these data storage methods can be considered more reliable than RAM data storage, although none of them offer the speed of data access that RAM does.

RAM stores data that is essential for a PCs immediate operation and does so in an extremely fast and reliable way. RAM allows for a PC to operate at speeds that would be unachievable if it were replaced by more permanent data storage mediums. Think of RAM as a "fast lane" on an expressway. RAM allows for a function or application's most important data to have the fastest possible access to the processor. RAM exists as a "fast lane" for data that needs immediate attention by your PCs CPU. As such, the more RAM your PC has accesses to, the more "fast lanes" that are available for your PC's functions and applications to access your PC's CPU, the faster your PC will perform.

Types of RAM

SDRAM, DDR-SDRAM and RAMBUS are the three major types of RAM, or PC memory, in use today.

Modern RAM

Before the introduction of SDRAM, PC memory is operated asynchronously from a PC's Clock Speed. This asynchronous operation would create data bottlenecks within a PC itself and slow overall performance. Clock speed is the speed at which a microprocessor executes instructions; Every computer contains an internal clock that regulates the rate at which data is processed and synchronizes a PC's individual components. As it stands to reason, the faster a PC's clock speed, the faster a PC's CPU can process data. Before RAM was synchronized to operate at the same speed as the rest of a PC's components, a PC's CPU would be would be forced into the occasional delay while waiting for the RAM to be available to accept data. In theory, as long as SDRAM operated at the same speed as the system clock, it would be available to the system on a regular and consistent basis – thus eliminating data bottlenecks. By regulating RAM and tying its performance to the system clock, memory manufacturers have been forced to increase memory performance to match PC clock speeds.


SDRAM – Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory – was the natural result of the PC industries search for better RAM and PC performance.

SDRAM is available 66, 100 and 133MHz speeds, known as PC66, PC100 and PC133 respectively. 66MHz RAM, in theory, would perform 66.6 million cycles per second and would be compatible with a 66MHz clock speed. Generally memory is considered to be backward compatible, so a pc with a clock speed of 100MHz could accept a memory module with a clock speed of 100MHz. The drawback being that the memory will only operate at the 100MHz speed.

SDRAM is no longer the memory of choice for modern PC's, however, due to the many PCs still on the market that utilize SDRAM, it is certain that memory manufacturers will continue to produce this memory for some time. SDRAM has been in the marketplace for some time and as such is widely available for purchase as a used yet guaranteed product. This used availability offers the buyer the opportunity to save a great deal of money on its purchase, yet sacrifice a bare minimum with regard to reliability as RAM has no moving parts and is generally very durable and long lasting.


DDR and DDR2 – Double Data Rate SDRAM – was again a natural result of the PC Industries search for better RAM and PC Performance. DDR memory has been available since the late 1990's and is a great leap forward in RAM performance. Essentially, DDR RAM achieves its improved performance by transferring data to the processor twice, instead of once in the case of SDRAM, per clock cycle. Theoretically, a RAM module that refreshes the processor twice per clock cycle should equate to twice the performance offered by SDRAM. In reality DDR does not really offer twice the performance of SDRAM, however it is a signaling improvement over the older standard.

Types of DDR and DDR2 memory that are available include PC1600 – 200MHz, PC2200 – 533MHz, PC4200 – 533MHz, PC4200 – 533MHz, PC3500 – 400MHz, PC3500 – The first number represents the maximum memory bandwidth, in megabytes, that a RAM module can provide per second. The second number, MHz, is the clock speed that the module is compatible with. As with SDRAM, the memory is backward compatible, a PC2100 chip with a 266MHz clock speed with work with a PC with a clock speed of both 266MHz and 200MHz.

DDR and DDR2 memory are the current standard in the PC industry and will continue to be manufactured for some time. As with SDRAM, DDR and DDR2 types have been in the market for some time and are available as used or refurbished. Both used and refurbished DDR memory can offer substantial savings when purchased while giving the user similar reliability to new product.


RAMBUS – RDRAM – was developed by the RAMBUS Corporation and can be considered to be a proprietary version of RAM as only the RAMBUS company manufacturers it. RAMBUS is a high-performance version of RAM generally found in high-end business class PCs. Today very few manufacturers use the RAMBUS standard as DDR and DDR2 memory offers similar, and in some cases better performance. RAMBUS memory can be found in speeds of PC800, PC1066 and PC1200. Usually you can purchase RAMBUS PC800- () the () will contain a number that references the chips speed in nano-seconds, ie PC800-45.

Memory and Performance:

While adding more memory does not ensure faster performance, not enough memory will guarantee slow downs. Having plenty of memory installed on your PC helps to ensure that your PC operates at its peak speeds and efficiency. Adding memory almost always results in a performance boost, especially if you run larger applications or multiple applications simultaniously. It is important to note that if you triple your current installed memory you will not see a three-fold boost in performance. You will almost always see some gain in performance, but you will go a long way in eliminating slow downs.

It will always be my contention and a good rule of thumb that you can never have too much memory. Maxing out you configuration with memory will help to guarantee the peak performance of your PC.

How to Choose Memory:

Choosing memory is dependent on several factors. First is the consideration of compatibility. Whether you are building a new PC or simply adding memory to an existing system, it is of key importance that the memory you purchase is compatible with your motherboard. Most motherboards accept a specific standard of memory, SDRAM, DDR, DDR2 or RAMBUS. To determine what type of memory that your PC will accept, you can either consult your motherboards owners' manual, or, if this is not available, inspecting the motherboard for brand and model number will allow you to go online and determine the compatible memory type .

Generally a motherboard that accepts SDRAM will accept memory modules that have a higher rated speed in MHz than what is specified by the board's manufacturer. For example, if your current motherboard has a clock speed of 66MHz and accepts PC66 SDRAM, you can install either PC100 or PC133 RAM chips. The board will only utilize the memory at its maximum speed however, so a PC133 SDRAM module will only operate at 66MHz speed. It is important to determine what RAM speeds – MHz – that your board is compatible with before making a purchase.

You should also consult either you owners manual or online documentation to determine the maximum memory that your board will support and physically inspect the board to determine how many available memory slots there are. Usually you will want to use the largest and fastest RAM chips that your board will support and fill all available slots with matching memory speeds. For example, your board has three available slots and currently one is in use by a DDR PC2100 266MHz RAM module. You discover that your board will accept DDR RAM up to PC2700 333MHz speeds. If you were to fill the remaining to slots with PC2700 memory, your memory would only function at the speed of the slowest RAM module, in this case 266 MHz.

New vs. Used:

Due to the sheer amount of memory manufactured within the last years, you will find an abundance of used memory for sale. When it comes to getting the most for your money, it should be noted that purchasing used memory is a great way to save money while getting similar reliability and performance as compared to new. RAM has no moving parts to speak of and as such is highly durable and reliable.

Spend some time researching prices between new and used memory modules. If you can purchase used or refurbished modules from sellers who will offer warranties, you may be making a major mistake spending that extra money on new RAM.

A little research on your part can help you to not only ensure that you see the maximum performance out of your PC set up, but also go a long way toward saving you money both in the short and long term.

Copyright 2006 www.hcditrading.com , Brad Calli

High Risk, Moderate Risk and Low Risk Investments

For those looking to invest, you should know that many investments can be categorized as being high risk, moderate risk and low risk. Investing is not difficult, but you should always put lots of thought and planning into it. It is also extremely important to educate yourself about the many different investments available to you so you can find those that fit best with your specific situation and lifestyle. Here are some tips regarding the three categories of investing.

Low Risk Investments

While low risk investments are usually very low key and rarely are extremely glitzy or publicized, they do offer conservative investors a way to save money for the short or long term without the risk involved that you find in other forms of investing. Low risk investments usually pay the lowest yields, but are far less volatile than many other types of investments. Low risk investments include money market funds, certificate of deposits and some types of bonds. Low risk investments are perfect for those that want to make sure there money remains safe and secure. While low risk investments don’t offer high returns, they do offer stability and security for those that can’t afford to lose money or would just like to avoid as much risk as possible. Expect low risk investments to pay out yields of 1% to 5% annually.

Moderate Risk Investments

Moderate risk investments are perfect for those that are interested in investing for the long term and would like to earn moderate yields. Moderate risk investments are usually certain kinds of stocks, bonds and mutual funds that pay handsomely over the long term. While generally riskier than saving money in a bank, for those that are looking to invest for the long term, historically speaking you will grow your money quite nicely. Moderate risk investments usually use the power of compound interest and time to create a nest egg from 10 to 40 years with regular savings. For instance, saving 1K per year at an interest rate of 10% for 30 years can return close to 200K. Moderate risk investments usually return yields of 5% to 12%.

High Risk Investments

High risk investments are those investments that if you are lucky can return huge yields, however the downturn is that they can be extremely volatile and in many cases instead of getting rich off your investment, you find yourself losing some or all of it. High risk investments include penny stocks, international stocks, some types of Forex trades, etc. The sky is the limit for returns, but many high risk investments- if considered a winner should return yields that range from 10% to 30%++.

Pros and Cons of a Smart Car

When people are thinking about making an expensive buying decision, especially with something as new and unusual as the smart car, they often want to know the pros and cons of the various options they are considering. This article will examine the pros and cons of a smart car.

There is no doubt that the smart fortwo car has its passionate supporters. Before it arrived in the United States in 2007, it had already enjoyed wild success in Europe over several years. But with its small size, there are also a number of concerns.

Pros of a Smart Car

There are many benefits to be considered; don’t let its small size fool you!

  • Environmentally-friendly. Not only is this small car fuel-efficient, averaging around 40 mpg, but it has several other environmentally-friendly features as well. The smart fortwo car uses innovative energy-efficient and recyclable materials in its construction. In fact, 95% of the vehicle is recyclable and the dash material is made from recycled synthetics.
  • Easy to park and drive. The smart car has a very small footprint. At less than 9 feet long, it’s nearly 3 feet shorter than the already diminutive Mini Cooper. Of course, a big reason for that is that it’s only a 2-seater. But the short size means this car is super easy to park, especially in tight spots or short spots where other cars wouldn’t fit. It’s also got a great turning radius that makes it very maneuverable.
  • Appearance. No one can argue that the smart fortwo car is not unique in its design and appearance. See one, and you will never forget it, whether you like it or not! Many people’s first impression is that it is just so darn cute. When Mercedes Benz brought the smart fortwo car to the United States, they updated its image to be more cutting edge, with more chrome, a bit longer hood section and updated headlights and dashboard area. You can also change out the plastic body panels to give it a whole new color, or purchase a car wrap with some kind of unique print or design on it.
  • Safety design. Most people’s first reaction when they see this tiny car is something along the lines of, “How could such a small car be safe on the road” However, what make the smart car so unique is Mercedes Benz attention to safety. From the innovative tridion safety cell, a sort of safety cage, to its 4 airbags and advanced braking system, the smart car is built for safety. Crash tests have consistently proved Mercedes’ safety claims. Anecdotal evidence, as published on the safeandsmart.com website, also supports those claims.
  • Surprisingly roomy inside. Another surprising benefit of the smart car is its interior roominess. There is plenty of leg room for both driver and passenger. Head room is great too, with men as tall as 6’6″ fitting in the driver’s seat comfortably. The cargo area is also quite roomy for a small car. We fit a 50-pound black lab and 2 other dogs in our hatch when we go hiking. And we’ve toted home as many as 8 grocery bags and a case of soda when we go food shopping.
  • Perfect commuter car. The smart fortwo car was originally designed as a “city car” for crowded European city-dwellers, and that is its greatest value in the United States, as well. It makes a great commuter car, with its roominess, solid gas mileage and zippy performance on the roads, not to mention ease of parking.

Cons of a Smart Car

Of course, no car is perfect for everyone, and this one is no exception. It does have a few features that could be improved, as well as some aspects that just make it the wrong choice for certain people.

  • Size vs. other cars on the highway. Despite its considerable safety features, there is no question that the smart car is much smaller than just about every other vehicle on the highway. So, there is a good chance that if you are involved in an accident with a big SUV or truck, you might come out the loser. However, there are accounts of smart cars faring better than other larger vehicles in an accident. One advantage of its small footprint is that it might be able to avoid collisions that a larger vehicle could not.
  • No cruise control. As mentioned above, the smart car was designed as a commuter, in-town type of car. Perhaps that’s why, despite a number of other high-end features, it lacks a cruise control option. If you do plan to travel in it or your commute involves highway driving, chances are you are going to miss having cruise control.
  • Unusual transmission. Smart cars have what is termed an “automated manual transmission.” What that means is that you have an option between going completely automatic or using a modified manual transmission. Most people find that keeping it in automatic means slightly sluggish gear shifting. That is easily remedied, however, by switching to the automated manual mode. This is a clutch-less manual transmission, meaning you are in charge of using the stick shift or paddle shifters on the steering wheel to switch gears, but you don’t have to coordinate with a clutch. The manual mode is super easy to use, even if you’ve never driven a stick shift before, and provides for a much zippier gear-shifting experience.
  • Limited passenger seating and cargo space. Smart cars only have 2 seats – the driver’s seat and one passenger seat. So they’re not meant to be family cars. And while the cargo hatch area is surprisingly roomy, it is still less than 8 cubic feet. So you won’t be hauling any lumber or large pieces of furniture in it.
  • Gas mileage could be higher. For such a small car, you might expect the gas mileage to be much higher. However, the smart car was rated the most fuel-efficient gas-powered car in the United States by the EPA in 2010. And even at 40 MPG, it is considerably more fuel-efficient than most light trucks and SUVs on the road today.
  • Requires premium fuel. The smart car requires premium fuel, which can be pricey, because of its small engine size. Smaller engines tend to perform better with a higher grade of fuel. You might consider its gas mileage to be the trade-off for the pricier gas.

In weighing the pros of a smart car against the cons, I find the pros win. For what it’s designed to be — a commuter vehicle for 1 or 2 people — the smart car is a great value with many added benefits. Could it be better? Sure, as with most products, there is definitely room for improvement. But, if you want a forward-thinking, unique and fuel-efficient small car, then I would definitely encourage you to consider the smart fortwo car.

Characteristics of Leisure

In "Motivational Foundations of Leisure" by Seppo E. Iso-Ahola and "Pathways to Meaning-Making Through Leisure-Like Pursuits in Global Contexts" by Yoshitaka Iwasaki, both authors are grappling with distinguishing leisure from other aspects of human life. To this end, they are trying to describe the basic characteristics that identify something as leisure as opposed to something not being leisure. However, the big problem for both of them is the elusive definition of "what is leisure," since it is difficult to describe its characteristics if it hard to distinguish leisure from what is not leisure. This problem is made even more difficult in modern society, in that there is something of a continuum between leisure and non-leisure, with many activities seeming like a mix of the two.

For example, a part-time entrepreneur who sets up a party-plan business is engaging in an economic activity, but it is also fun for her (usually the entrepreneur is a woman), and she might see organizing sales parties as a side venture To something she considers work. So maybe this business starts out as a leisure activity, but as she makes more and more money, she may spend more and more time putting on parties to build a serious business. Thus, at some point, holding these fun parties may cease to be a leisure activity – but exactly when this occurs can be hard to tell.

This same problem of distinguishing leisure and not-leisure confronts both Iso-Ahola and Iwasaki in trying to discuss the characteristics of leisure, in that many of these characteristics are use to describe leisure can be true of non-leisure activities, commonly considered work. Iwasaki tries to get around this problem by calling things that he characterizes as aspects of leisure as "leisure-like" activities, and by the same token, one might character what people normally call work as "work-like" activities, but this is Really more of a semantic sleight of hand. Calling something "leisure-like" – or "work-like" for that matter – purely provides a nomenclature that is fuzzier to identify a part of human life that is hard to define. In other words, using a fuzzy term to define what is considered an elusive hard-to-define quality simply points up the fuzziness, but it does not help to clarify the basic characteristics of what is leisure as compared to other aspects of human life.

For example, in the "Motivational Foundations of Leisure", Iso-Ahola seeks to find an explanation for what is leisure in the "basic innate (psychological) needs that are the main energizers of human growth and potential." From his perspective, this need which everyone is born with both defines what people consider leisure and direct them to be involved under various conditions to satisfy those needs. Given this driving need for leisure, then, Iso-Ahola suggests that having a sense of freedom or autonomy is "the central defining characteristic of leisure". However, he distinguishes this feeling of freedom from the everyday characterization of leisure as "free time", which people use for describing the time when they are not working, since only some of this time time may truly be free from any obligations so someone can Do exactly what they want to do.

For instance, if someone performs chores during this time period, this time would not be really free, although Iso-Ahola suggests that the more a person thinks of his work as an obligation, the more free that person would feel when he is engaged In nonwork activities, and there before that activity might really be considered leisure.

From this perspective, then, if a person truly enjoys their work and participates in a variety of activities that contribute to success at work, though these activities might otherwise be considered leisure for someone who engages in these activities for reasons that have nothing to do with Their job, these activities may no longer be considered leisure. An example of this is the salesman or CEO for a company that plays golf with other potential customers. On the one hand, golf is normally regarded as a leisure-time recreational activity. But it has become part of the salesman's or CEO's work, even though the salesman or CEO may freely choose to play golf or not, or engage in an alternate form of entertainment with prospective clients, such as taking them to a show or ballgame. If that person plays golf, goes to a show, or is a spectator at a ball game with members of his family and no work buddies are present, that might be more properly characterized as leisure. But in many cases, the salesman / CEO may take the family along on a golfing, show, or ballgame excursion with his work buddies, thenby muddying the conception of leisure. Under the circumstances, using a continuum from non-leisure to leisure activities may be a good way to characterize different types of leisure, rather than trying to make a distinction between what is leisure and what is not-leisure.

In any event, building on this notice that freedom is a basic characteristic of leisure, Iso-Ahola suggests that leisure activity is characterized by behavior that is self-determined, or which may start off as determined, but can become self-determined by the Process of "internalization" Therefore, to the extent that people perform everyday activities because they want to do so, they make them leisure-like. An example might be if I hate gardening (which I really do), but I start doing it because I can not afford to hire a gardener, and ever I start to feel joy in it, which would turn it into a leisure activity. (But since I can hire a gardener, I have no compelling reason to do this, so for now this is definitely not a leisure-time activity for me).

Then, too, according to Iso-Ahola, leisure might be characterized by escaping, which can contribute to internalizing an activity, which makes it even more a form of leisure.

Iso-Ahola brings together all of these ideas into a pyramid in which the greater one's intrinsic motivation and sense of self-determination, the more one is engaging in true leisure outside of the work context. On the bottom is obligatory nonwork activity participation, such as chores one has to perform in the house. On the next level above this, he diagnoses free-time activity participation in TV and exercise, which he feels are usually not true leisure, since people are not really autonomous in participating in either activity. He claims people lack autonomy in watching TV, because they do not really want to do this and it does not make them feel good about themselves (though this opinion of TV is questionable), and in the case of exercise, he claims that They feel they should do this because it's good for them, rather than because they want to. Finally, at the top of the pyramid is full leisure participation, where one feet complete autonomy and freedom, so one gains intrinsic rewards, a feeling of flow, and social interaction with others.

Finally, to briefly cite Iwasaki's approach to characterizing leisure, he seeks to describe leisure as a way of generating certain types of meanings, although the particular meanings may differ for people experiencing different life experiences or coming from different cultures. In Iwasaki's view, citing the World Leisure Association's description of leisure, meaningful leisure provides "opportunities for self-actualization and further contribution to the quality of community life." As such, leisure includes self-determined behavior, showing competence, engaging in social relationships, having an opportunity for self-reflection and self-affirmation, developing one's identity, and overcoming negative experiences in one's life. Iwasaki also goes on to describe the five key factors which are aspects of leisure (which he prefers to call "leisure-like" pursuits: 1) positive emotions and well-being, 2) positive identities, self-esteem, and spirituality; 3) social and cultural connections and harmony, 4) human strengths and resilience, and 5) learning and human development across the lifespan.