DDR2 memory for laptops - quick tips for an easier upgrade

Might you be out searching for DDR2 memory for a laptop but left perplexed by the display of information and misinformation making your laptop memory upgrade just that little bit more cumbersome? If weíve caught you red handed then before we let you go, hereís a quick rundown on key facts of DDR2 laptop memory to settle the score in your favour.

Just what is DDR2 memory for a laptop?

DDR2 laptop memory is a more recent memory technology to both DDR and SDRAM. Its main advantage is that it allows for a considerable boost in overall bandwidth. DDR2 memory achieves this by a smart architecture, which separates the clock speed of the memory chips soldered onto the SODIMM memory module and includes an additional data bus connecting these together at a speed equal to twice that of the memory chips.

As the memory chips on a DDR2 SODIMM memory module are divided into two individual groups that run at a somewhat altered clock frequency, and as stated above the data bus runs at twice their clock speed, the net result is a doubling in performance over its predecessor, DDR memory.

Learn more about the different types of laptop memory.

Does my laptop really require DDR2 memory?

DDR2 memory was very common in the years 2004 to 2008. The type of memory for a laptop your own laptop requires primarily depends on the year it was manufactured. The build date (very often closely related to the purchase date and typically found on a sticker on its base or within its documentation) is a further indication.

A further indicator for telling the type of laptop RAM your system requires is to run some diagnostic software.

A non-problematic method to find this out is to download and run software such as CPU-Z - it's a free application, you can download CPU-Z here. Once downloaded and launched, click on its 'Memory' tab and subsequently also the 'SPD' tab. This will inform you whether your laptop uses DDR2 memory, its specification and timings. If you notice it stating DDR2 then write down the type of DDR2, examples include PC2-3200, PC2-4200, PC2-5300 and PC2-6400. After that keep reference that this is the type of DDR2 memory for a laptop you need to buy.

Great, I need DDR2 memory for a laptop, but how much can I install?

DDR2 laptops support between 2GB and 8GB of RAM. The exact amount depends on the featured memory controller and whether it supports whatís known as memory remapping. The latter enables select memory controllers to support over 3GB RAM, or said differently, for the full 4GB of RAM installed in such laptops to be visible to the system. A DDR2 laptop that does not support memory remapping but has 4GB RAM installed will report anywhere between 3.25GB to 3.5GB RAM.

Keep in mind that if your laptop supports 4GB or more of RAM and you wish to upgrade within this amount then be sure to use a 64bit Operating System such as Windows XP Professional x64 (potentially problematic when running on laptops due to limited driver support), Windows Vista x64 (any edition), Windows 7 x64 (any edition) or any alternative such as a suitable 64bit release of Linux or MacOS.

Find out how much memory your laptop requires for different types of software.

Iím ready to buy, so itís i.e. PC2-5300 DDR2 I need and the rest will be problem free?

Before attempting to purchase your laptop memory upgrade let us just confirm the facts. The specification of DDR2 memory for a laptop you need is whatever was reported by CPU-Z as noted above. If it stated PC2-5300 then yes, you will require DDR2 memory otherwise known as PC2-5300 DDR2. If it displayed PC2-3200 or PC2-4200 then you can still purchase PC2-5300 DDR2 in view of the fact that DDR2 computer memory is inherently backwards compatible. Meanwhile, if CPU-Z reported PC2-6400 then while you can buy and install a lower DDR2 specification (PC2-3200, PC2-4200 or PC2-5300) this is not recommended. Doing so will cause your system to down clock the frequency at which it the memory runs, namely 200MHz for PC2-3200, 266MHz for PC2-4200 or 333MHz for PC2-5300. A slower memory frequency will yield a lower memory bandwidth, which translates into slower computer performance.

As far as DDR2 memory for a laptop goes, you will need to buy 200pin SODIMM memory modules. A SODIMM (Small Outline Dual Inline Memory Module) is a smaller type of a DIMM used in desktop computers. Therefore, if youíve seen a DIMM before then a SODIMM will normally be in circa 50% of the length of a desktop DIMM module.

For DDR2 laptops you only need to install a single SODIMM memory module for your laptop to function, however it makes perfect sense to install pairs of DDR2 SODIMM memory modules. The reasoning is quite simple. The vast majority of DDR2 memory laptops support whatís known as dual channel mode. In compliant laptops, dual channel mode effectively links the data paths of two memory modules (DDR2 in this case) to run them concurrently. Any read, write or copy operations performed on the memory are thus in effect run at double their original bandwidth. The net result of this is improved memory throughput - this in turn contributes to the overall performance of your laptop.

Read about the various types of laptop memory modules.

I just have to ask - can my DDR2 laptop memory upgrade go wrong?

The good news is that while SDRAM and DDR laptop memory upgrades can be problematic at times in older laptops the same is no longer true if youíre upgrading a DDR2 laptop. The incompatibility problems concerning single and double-sided SODIMM memory modules that plagued SDRAM and DDR SODIMM memory modules are rare at best.

The main thing to remember is that as mentioned above, it makes perfect sense to run your DDR2 laptop in dual channel mode. In order to achieve this you need to install identical DDR2 SODIMM memory modules. What exactly is identical? By identical you need to install two likewise DDR2 SODIMM memory modules that are a) the same capacity and b) the same specification. The brand of DDR2 laptop memory isnít as important, nonetheless if you want things to be perfect then doing so will also work well.

Having doubts? Discover answers to your laptop memory questions by reading the laptop memory FAQ's.

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Read the Laptop Memory Upgrades Guide to learn about all the aspects you should know when buying laptop memory...

...alternatively discover Where to buy 100% compatible SDRAM, DDR, DDR2 and DDR3 SODIMM memory.

PC3-10600 1333MHz DDR3 204-pin SODIMM's

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