Ask Dan: Messing with memory

Publication date: 4 November 2008
Last modified 03-Dec-2011.


Laptop Of Mystery

I have a NEC Versa P7200 Notebook computer with a 1.83GHz Core Duo T2400 CPU, supporting 2Gb of memory. Currently it has 2x512Mb DDR2, 533, CL4 200-pin memory which I would like to upgrade to 2x1GB.

In the Corsair memory adviser I can't see NEC Notebook computer support at all.

Would this Corsair module suit my notebook or can you suggest some other brand of memory modules to the above upgrade requirement?


The advisor doodad on is usually very good, even for laptops - but it doesn't have the P7200 listed either! (As I write this, though, it does have the P7300.)

Just going by the specs of the current memory, though, you shouldn't have any trouble with just about any other DDR2 SODIMM memory on the market today. I wouldn't bet my life on it, but any of these modules ought to work fine in your computer.

The "Mac Memory" pack AusPC have here for only $AU99 delivered would very probably work too. 667MHz CAS5 RAM should be perfectly interchangeable with 533MHz CAS4 RAM.

I'm loath to give you a guarantee that this RAM will work, because laptop manufacturers are still making computers with weird quirks. The bad old days when a laptop that wanted PC100 memory would refuse to work with PC133, though - just because its BIOS couldn't recognise the new RAM, not because the new RAM wasn't perfectly capable of working at PC100 speed - are almost completely gone.

(Shortly after this page went up, a reader pointed out that the Kingston memory-configurator thingy lists the Versa P7200, and confirms that current DDR2-667 modules should work fine.)


This one goes to 64

Would Vista 64-bit be of any advantage for me? I'm building a new system and interested primarily in gaming. I'm considering an E8400 CPU, 780i mobo, two high-end GeForce cards and 2x2Gb RAM, plus a Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS Platinum (a bit old).

I've read up on it but all I can see is a lot of driver updating issues. I can't see a final decision as of yet. The enhanced security is nice, but not crucial to me.


If you intend to get more than 4Gb of memory in the future, then yes, 64-bit Vista will be essential. It'd also let you use more of the 4Gb you've got - though you shouldn't expect that to make much of a difference to performance.

If the motherboard you're considering uses DDR2 RAM, I suggest you get more than 4Gb of memory to start with if you're going with 64-bit Vista, because DDR2 is so cheap. The higher speed of DDR3 still isn't really necessary, either, so DDR2 is a very sensible choice.

(The new Nehalem "Core i7" CPUs and motherboards use DDR3 to good effect, but as I write this, you can't quite buy 'em yet. Aus PC Market have the CPUs available for pre-order, but the prices are outrageous. There's still a lot to be said for a far cheaper DDR2 system using the previous generation of CPUs.)

Apart from the RAM ceiling thing, though, 64-bit Vista has no real advantages for you over 32-bit Vista, and it's somewhat more likely to have driver problems - though those are largely a thing of the past, now.

Honestly, if I were you I'd just get a 4Gb machine with 32-bit WinXP on it. When DirectX 10 looks better than DX9 (which certainly isn't all the time...) it often does so at the price of unacceptably slow performance, and Vista slows games down a bit all by itself as well. And people do still have driver problems with Vista, especially with things like your old Creative sound card (which ought to work OK in both 32- and 64-bit Vista now, but for some people just... doesn't).

But Vista does Pretty Much Work now, so you'll probably be fine if you get an 8Gb 64-bit Vista box or a 4Gb 32-bit one.


"My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius... Extreme."

I need to know if the CPU/RAM/GPU I have chosen will work with an Asus Maximus Extreme motherboard, and can I use four sticks of RAM?

RAM type: Corsair Twin3X 240-pin DDR3 1333MHz PC-10600 Twin Pack, two sets for four sticks and 4Gb total.

CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q6700 2.66Ghz

Video card: GeForce 8600GTS 256mb PCIe x16


Yes, all this ought to work fine. Make sure you get a hefty power supply, though.

Note, once again, that you can save quite a lot of money by getting a motherboard that uses DDR2 RAM rather than DDR3. There's no great performance advantage from DDR3 in pre-Nehalem/Core-i7 systems - it can run much faster than DDR2, but it doesn't need to in those systems. And it still costs considerably more, though it's not nearly as ludicrously expensive as it used to be, not that long ago.

If you switch to a DDR2 mobo (which'll probably mean you'll have to add your own water-cooling gear to it if you want it to match the specs of the cheerfully over-the-top Maximus Extreme), you should easily be able to save enough money to get a much faster Nvidia or ATI graphics card than the 8600 you're considering.

(You could also easily get your four gigabytes of RAM from a couple of cheap 2Gb DDR2 modules, rather than four one-gigabytes. That'll leave room for more in the future, and may also make the computer a bit more overclockable.)

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