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Topic: Computer upgrade question
Message: Posted by: MagicSanta (Mar 13, 2007 01:13AM)
I need to replace the dvd drive on my laptop, should I just go with the dell replacement or something else? Also if I get better memory will it effect anything on the desk top etc or is that all on the hard drive? Thank you from a non PC person.
Message: Posted by: Marvello (Mar 13, 2007 09:44AM)
Memory (RAM) and Hard drive space are independent of each other - you can have a lot of memory and a small hard drive, or vice versa. Your computer uses the hard drive to store data that it will need to refer back to again later (programs, photos, music, data), your memory (RAM) is for processing that data.

I like to explain it like this - I hope that this doesn't confuse you more... Think of the "data" that needs to be processed as water in a bathtub, and your RAM is a device to transfer the water to another tub. If you use a teaspoon to transfer the water from one bathtub to another it will take forever, but if you use a huge bucket it will be done faster. Conversely, if you have a little bit of RAM, then it will take longer to do things on your computer, but if you have a bunch of RAM, it will take less time. Most computers these days should have at least 1 Gigabyte of memory to run the operating system, and any programs or games you may want to use - you can get by with less, of course, but for me that is the minimum needed. RAM is cheap these days, there is no reason not to max out your computer if you can. Large hard drives are also getting cheaper, and it is good to have extra room because your operating system does write data to the hard drive, and it starts running poorly when the Hard Drive gets too full.

As far as what brand to get - that is up to you - there is no need to go with a specific brand just because it was made by the same people who made your computer - the most imprtant thing to consider when getting a hard drive, next to the size, is the speed at which the hard drive spins - you will want to get the fastest one you can afford. The faster it spins the faster it can access the data needed.

Hope this helps.
Message: Posted by: acmp (Mar 13, 2007 10:12AM)

Adding to what Marvello said. Laptops can be awkward with upgrades. For the DVD upgrade IF the replacement expressly states it is compatible with your Dell laptop you should be OK. This is because although the basics of the DVD drive are the same for all drives and manufactures the data, power and physical connection to the laptop tend to be proprietary. Things are getting better though. Also Dell don't make DVD drives they buy them from people like Sony.

Upgrading your memory is easy on a laptop, probably easier than on a desktop PC. Go to http://www.kingston.com and use their search by manufacture thing. It will tell you what your standard configuration is and what you can do to upgrade it. depending on the age of your laptop you should be OK with 1GB of ram, or more if you want.

A good thing to do is to have a look at how much memory you are actually using. When you are using your laptop in a normal/heavy manner open the task manager. this can be done by pressing <ctrl> <shift> <esc> at the same time (there are other ways but I like this one) when it loads click the performance tab. This has some charts on it. For this exercise we are interested in the memory (or PF) usage. This value is how much RAM you PC wants at this time. Next is the top right box, Physical Memory (K), the Total value is how much memory you have, in KB. Divide this number by 1000 to give your approx MB of RAM. If the memory usage is bigger than this number then more RAM will help, if it is not then there is not much reason to spend money.

Upgrading your hard disk on a laptop can be difficult. it is not easy to get your existing date from the old disk to the new one. This will usually mean a full reinstall of your OS and applications. If you have a current backup of your data and can cope without having a usable laptop for a couple of days then it can be educational. If you're not low on disk space (say less than 1/3 free) then I'd not bother.

Feel free to ask for clarification or PM for details.
Message: Posted by: Marvello (Mar 13, 2007 12:22PM)
Doh- I misread - I thought he said Hard drive, not DVD drive... sorry. A DVD drive needs a fair amount of RAM to process the data from a DVD drive, especially if you are going to be watching movies, or creating your own DVD videos.
Message: Posted by: MagicSanta (Mar 13, 2007 12:39PM)
Thank you. I am replacing the dvd drive with the same thing I have in it. I'll look into the memory issue, I understand now how it works, thank you.