Considerations for getting RAM for older laptop

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I bought a Dell Inspiron 8000 about 5 years ago.  The processor speed
is 600-750MHs, and it has 128MB ram.  I use it only for
document/presentation preparation, email, and web browsing.  It can be
very slow switching applications because of the virtual memory being
used when applications use alot of memory e.g. firefox can go upto
60MB, acrobat reader can use alot when viewing many files
simultaneously, Thunderbird and antivirus can take more than 20MB,
explorer and Palm Desktop can take 10MB each, etc..  I don't do
gaming, video, music, or multimedia.  However, sometimes things still
run slower than using remote desktop software going over a dialup
connection (e.g. via TightVNC).

I have been considering getting more RAM e.g. 2x256MB.  However, the
laptop is quite old and I'm not sure if it is worth it.  For example,
the hinge for the display needs replacing (and the replacement will
used).  The hard drive was replaced 2 years ago after the original
started to fail.  Right now, I'm sitting squarely on the fence,
considering that I don't think that the additional memory will
be useful beyond this laptop.  However, I don't anticipate getting
another machine in the near future.

What are the opinions of those who have gone this route, especially
those who have older laptops?  Are there any considerations that I
haven't mentioned, but which may become apparent afterward?


Re: Considerations for getting RAM for older laptop

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I think it uses PC100 SDRAMs which are a little bit hard to find these
days.  If you can get some cheap, it's worth it.

Re: Considerations for getting RAM for older laptop

Paul Rubin wrote:
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Here are the specs.  From
(basically echos content of specs in owner's manual, except where

Inspiron 8000
   Architecture:              SDRAM
   Memory module socket:      two user-accessible SODIMM sockets
   Memory module capacities:  64, 128, and 256MB 3.3-V SDRAM SODIMMS
   Standard memory:           64 MB (non-ECC)
   Maximum memory:            512 MB (non-ECC)
   Memory clock speed:        100 MHz
   Memory access time:        CL2 or CL3* (CL2 and CL3 indicate a CAS
                              latency of two and three clocks,

    * My manual doesn't have any mention of "CL3"

From http://
   Standard Memory:     64MB (Removable)
   Maximum Memory:      512MB
   Expansion:           2 Sockets
   CPU & ChipSet:       Intel Pentium III 600 MHz
                        Intel Pentium III 1 GHz
   Bus Architecture:    PC Card
   Mfgr's System P/N's: N/A

    * Virtually any configuration up to 512MB can be reached using
      Kingston's 256MB modules.

   The following 144-pin SODIMM modules are compatible with your

   Common specs: SDRAM, PC133, CL=2, Non-parity, 133MHz, 3.3V

   Size   Part #    Configuration
   256MB  CT347245  32Megx64
   128MB  CT483624  16Megx64

Pricing at local parts shops range from $70 to $140 for suitable
memories (at least from phoning around for quotes; I haven't actually
tried them yet).  Whether this is monetarily worthwhile depends on
one's situation.  I was wondering more from the point of view of
whether the laptop will last much longer.  If laptops are like cars,
where parts start failing left and right beyond a certain age, that's
something to consider.  The replacement hinge will not be new, but the
hard drive is 1.5 years new (replaced original hard drive, which
started to fail).  I am told that hinges are prone to failur.  Not
sure what other components may be age-sensitive...

Re: Considerations for getting RAM for older laptop

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The only downside I can see is: You buy some memory for this laptop and then
the motherboard or screen goes bad - then the memory you have just bought
will be useless, and incompatible with any new machine you may buy. If you
can get the memory cheaply (say eBay) then it might be worth it. You will
certainly notice a vast improvement in speed going from 128MB to 512MB.


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Re: Considerations for getting RAM for older laptop

HMV wrote:
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Yes, my thoughts exactly.

Re: Considerations for getting RAM for older laptop

$78 for a 256 Meg stick

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Re: Considerations for getting RAM for older laptop

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I recently went through that same dilemma. I am on a very tight budget and,
after looking at several laptops of the recent vintage (and not terribly
impressed by their cost/performance vs. what I already had-- DEll Latitude
CPx500), I decided to go the upgrade route. You have a comparable (and even
more powerful CPU) to mine in your 8000 so I think you would see an even
greater improvement.

Here's what I figured:  A new laptop with what I wanted would cost me in the
1500++ neighborhood. I thought, hey my machine is running well as it is, the
keyboard and LCD are fine ( I originally got this used off of one of those
used laptop sellers) so what can I do to improve my experience without
breaking the bank. First off, maximize RAM. I had bought some used 256's
(CPx can handle 512 max) off ebay but within a year they were starting to
show errors and I was getting the occasional blue screen. I had the original
and very noisy Travelstar 6GB HD and the original CDROM. First, I sprung for
2 brand new sticks of PNY PC100 256MB SODIMMs (I would bet your 8000 takes
those too) through Tigerdirect (190 bucks-ouch yeah that hurt a bit), a
brand new Samsung 40GB HD off Newegg (66 bucks--read the reviews, it's an
awesome VERY quiet drive--5400RPM and 8MB cache); Lastly, I spent about 100
for a brand new DEll CDRW/DVDROM drive off ebay. The new DVDRWs on ebay for
the CPx are other brands that they encase in a Dell enclosure, and they
probably work fine, but I didn't want to take a chance so I bought the
original Dell part, new, off ebay. (Your 8000 might have a Dell part for
DVDRW, you'd have to see). It reads and writes CDR/RW and reads DVDR and
DVDRW (the latter was a pleasant surprise). I also had previously thrown in
a Targus laptop cooler too and it does a nice job.

All in all, I spent about 350-400 to upgrade this thing and it operates
pretty well. Mainly though, since I knew this machine already, had all the
kinks worked out, liked the screen, etc., I went the upgrade route. The new
drive has had a very dramatic impact on my experience. It's so quiet I
hardly know it's on. With the RAM and the new HD it seems like a new
machine. I mean it! As I type I am listening to winamp radio and have OE and
a few browsers open. It's handling it fine. The limitations are when I am
running an intensive app and surfing certain CPU-driving pages, the fan will
run a lot. That is the most annoying thing. I don't play games and run a lot
of heavy duty media stuff and, knowing the limitations of this machine, I
can ususally keep things under control. I realize it's a trade off but I
also didn't spend a thousand plus more bucks and, so far, I can live with
that. In my case I made a conscious decision to spend a bit more than many
would on an older machine in order to get NEW upgrade parts but I feel it
was pretty much worth it. I figure I'll get at  least another couple years
out of this and by 2007-08, SATA laptops will be cheap and I can get
something that will outperform my current SATA desktop and not spend an arm
and a leg. Another thing is I am running Windows 2000 Pro, which will use
less resources on an older machine vs XP. Sorry to be longwinded, hope my
comments make sense. Good luck.

Re: Considerations for getting RAM for older laptop

Bob Schmidt wrote:
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Thanks for sharing your experience.  I noticed that you said our
models were comparable.  I am unable to find specs that clearly
describe my processor, but the original system configuration itemizes
a part#99NVF: "PROCESSOR, PIII-CUM, 700, 256K, PGA2, C0".  I think the
700 refers to MHz.  I also replaced the original hard drive
(part#91YMK: "10GB, I, 2.5" FORM FACTOR, 9.5MM, HITACHI") with a
Fujitsu MHT2030AT
( ).
At the time, the situation was urgent, so I didn't give too much
attention to the new hard drive's specs, but I found it performed
significantly slower (though as in your experience, it was much
quieter).  Coupled with the extensive reliance on virtual memory, the
user experience....requires patience.  Thus the search for RAM.  Since
I don't deal much in media files, the drive capacity is more than
adequate for my purposes.  My antivirus's on-access scan probably
exacerbates the speed problem, but it is probably wiser to keep that
feature active.

I find it quite sobering to hear that your 2nd hand RAM started to
fail after 1 year.  I will give the issue more thought.

About a DVD reader/writer, I haven't yet thought about acquiring one.

Like you, I find it much more appealing to simply upgrade the
bottleneck areas of my current laptop, since I'm familiar with its
in's and out's.

Thanks again for sharing.

Re: Considerations for getting RAM for older laptop

MrB wrote:
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Thanks, Mr. B.  It's about the same price as new RAM
at local stores, once taxes, shipping, and exchange
rates are accounted for.  I'm not sure if there are
duties at the border, but there are conveniences in
ordering locally.

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