3 Tech Things You Can Spend Less On

In the search for a lower budget, people often search for ways to reduce little expenditures. Sometimes, the corners we cut may end up costing more down the line. Here is a list of typical tech expenses that can be reduced without coming around to hurt your pocketbook later on:

Multi-Format Card Readers
Flash media and card readers are a dime a dozen. Unfortunately, some companies put a price tag on these that makes little to no actual sense. Why spend a premium on something that has no other purpose than reading the information on a card and delivering it via USB to your system? There are readers on the market that are available for a little as $10 USD that feature support for 74 different formats and include extra USB 2.0 ports for good measure.

Memory (RAM)
The funny thing about the RAM market is how incredibly diverse the pricing structure is. Brand names such as Corsair, Crucial, and Kingston have a solid reputation and high price points, but that doesn’t really mean they’re made with any better performing chips than the lower priced PNY, Patriot, or OEM brands. Often, off-brand RAM actually contains the exact same components made by the same manufacturer (Elpida, Infineon, Micron, etc.) and the only real difference is the packaging. Even if the off-brand memory goes bad a little faster than the big name brand, you’re likely still saving a significant amount in the long run.

HDMI Cables
If there is one market where people get absolutely ripped off and overcharged, it’s in multimedia cables.  HDMI cables are often overpriced and advertised with the average consumer’s lack of technical knowledge in mind. Digital signals are either on or off. There is no noticeable visual difference between a $200 cable and its $6 competition. All the gold plating and vacuum sealing in the world couldn’t magically improve the image coming out of a Blu-Ray player and in to a television sitting within feet of each other.

How to Save Hundreds on Your Mac RAM Upgrades

I recently ventured in to the local Apple store to look at pricing for a new machine. Some time was spent with an Apple representative who walked me through the pricing and options for a Mac mini, iMac, and MacBook Pro. One thing these machines all had in common were literally hundreds of dollars for RAM upgrades. In one case in particular, a RAM upgrade from 4GB to 8GB on a MacBook Pro would net me a $400 dollar increase on the price. Considering that this is an addition to what was charged on the initial price for 4GB, that’s a steep $100 per GB.

This is where many frugal computer users begin to head back to the door proclaiming that Apple products are only for the rich. While this can certainly seem like a serious drawback to the brand, there is a silver lining in this cloud.

While each manufacturer has their own warranty agreement with their users, Apple has a remarkably easy one to work with. Apple support explains its warranty policy regarding customer upgrades a bit further: “Adding memory (DRAM, VRAM) or other user-installable upgrade or expansion products to an Apple computer is not considered a modification to that Apple product. Therefore, it is not necessary to obtain Apple’s written permission to upgrade or expand an Apple computer.”

In short, the act of upgrading the RAM yourself with a cheaper aftermarket product won’t void your warranty. There is a stipulation that should you or the RAM you install damage the product, you would not be able to take it in to an Apple certified service center for warranty repair. Thankfully, Apple provides detailed instructions on how to exchange RAM for each one of its machines. It also explains exactly what kind of RAM needs to be purchased for a successful match.

Here is where the financial benefit of doing your own upgrades comes in. A search on Newegg.com prices 8GB of RAM suited for the 13 inch MacBook Pro at between $80 and $120. That is a savings of $85 to $90 per GB and you’ll still have the original 4GB as spare.

There is a clear benefit to upgrading your own RAM after purchase, though it is important that each computer user be aware of the slight risks involved and weigh whether or not this method works for them.

Laptop Dilemma

Much to my surprise, some good occasional clients recently decided to switch from PC to Mac after their business desktop crashed and would not boot beyond the Blue Screen anymore. They had two laptops and the faulty desktop. After saving all personal data on the laptops to a flash drive, they took the desktop to the Apple store to have data transferred. Apparently they were able to read the hard drive and recover everything.

Since they did not want to have a mixture of Macs and PCs, they brought their laptops to me to scrub the personal data on them while preserving the applications. They intended to give the laptops to younger relatives who are not computer-enabled.

I would probably do this simple service for free or a nominal charge since they have been clients for years (at least with the business computer and occasional tutoring). However, both laptops were behind on Windows updates and both had only 512 meg of RAM. My how times have changed! It seems like yesterday when that would have been a top of the line feature. While I was looking at one of them, a warning popped up that the anti-virus software was expired.

So now I have a marketing dilemma. Would the clients go along with a purchase of more RAM and updating the anti-virus software, or since they are planning to give both laptops to other people who I do not know, should we let it slide? That is, I did not want to come off like I was trying to pad the bill by adding tasks, but truly thought the laptops needed the additional work.

So I did what always seems to work best. I called them and we discussed the issues. We came to a pleasant compromise. I had a spare 512 meg stick that could go into the older of the laptops, but no memory of the higher speed newer laptop. The client would purchase some suitable additional memory and deliver it to me. I would download and install any updates needed for all applications. We decided to punt on the anti-virus software.

So this works out. I get some compensation and happy clients. They feel good about being able to help relatives for a rather small additional expense, and supposedly the recipients will be ecstatic.

The story would have ended there, but I got a call asking if I could recover some additional data from the failed desktop. The transfer was not complete. They had not discovered it until they started using the new computer.

Tips For Users Of Ancient Technology

There should be an image here!Gnomie Patrick Connors writes:

Oftentimes, many of us find ourselves using outdated technology. We may be on the go, or limited to dial-up. We may have an older computer. For any reason, these tips should help even with the newest of technology.

  1. Use a fast Web browser. I may be a Microsoft fanboy, but when connections are slow, I’ll have to use another browser. I would recommend Opera because of its “Opera Turbo” mode, which compresses Web sites to allow them to load up to 80% faster.
  2. Clear out your registry and junk files. Make sure you constantly delete anything you no longer need. However, there are hidden files that you may not find on your own. For these reasons, I would recommend CCleaner for Windows users.
  3. Max out your RAM. if you have a computer with less than 256MB of RAM, some newer sites and software may not work properly. (128MB for Win9x users)
  4. Windows 2000. I know some people would say this is an ancient OS, but it works. It’s fast, stable, and just gets the job done. Windows 2000 is even faster than XP, but I wouldn’t say it’s as compliant as XP; you can certainly run much more software on XP.
  5. If you find yourself on dial-up, use this code to (in theory) increase speed: AT&FX — this should increase your maximum speed to 115.5 KbPS (kiloBITS) and maybe more. You can input this code under the advanced options in your modem’s information.

[Photo above by eurleif / CC BY-ND 2.0]

Are 86% Of Windows 7 Users Really Maxing Out On Memory?

I read with interest the article here at Lockergnome posted by the Oracle, another from Adrian Kingsley-Hughes and the original from Computer world, in which it stated that 86% of Windows 7 computers run out of memory. My first thoughts were if 86% of Windows 7 users were running out of memory, than I must be blessed by the Computer Gods since the 3 machines I have using Windows 7 have not displayed this anomaly. Or I am one of the 14% who have not experienced this  freaky behavior.

But wait a minute. If 86% of Windows 7 users were running out of memory, why was there not a HUGE out cry from the masses?  Where was the outrage from the media?  Where were the Apple zealots who love to throw stones at Windows?

In the Computerworld article it stated that:

Most Windows 7 PCs max out their memory, resulting in performance bottlenecks, a researcher said today.

Citing data from Devil Mountain Software’s community-based Exo.performance.network (XPnet), Craig Barth, the company’s chief technology officer, said that new metrics reveal an unsettling trend. On average, 86% of Windows 7 machines in the XPnet pool are regularly consuming 90%-95% of their available RAM, resulting in slow-downs as the systems were forced to increasingly turn to disk-based virtual memory to handle tasks.

The 86% mark for Windows 7 is more than twice the average number of Windows XP machines that run at the memory “saturation” point, said Barth. The most recent snapshot of XPnet’s 23,000-plus PCs — taken yesterday — pegs only 40% of XP systems as running low on memory.

But one starling element in this scenario, is that Windows 7 is compared to Windows XP. No where in the article is Vista even mentioned for comparison purposes, only on how much RAM Vista machines average.  Does this mean that Vista does not use memory at an alarming rate? What this tells me is that the data the Computerworld article is presenting is suspect. The company making these claims, Devil Mountain software, also wants users to download and install their software on your system so you can compare your computer with others in their database.

There was also this statement:

Barth acknowledged that XPnet’s data couldn’t determine whether the memory usage was by the operating system itself, or an increased number of applications, but said that Devil Mountain would start working on finding which is the dominant factor in increased memory use.

As far as I am concerned this study is rubbish.

Comments welcome.

Computerworld source.

Second Slot Not Working After Memory Upgrade

Gnomie Jim writes:

Hey, Chris!

I have a two-year-old Toshiba A205-S4607 running Vista Home Premium with 2 X 1G in the two available slots. I wanted to increase to 3G, so I purchased a 2G card (Black Diamond series) from Memory-Up.com. I took all the safety measures when installing it. The laptop recognized the new memory by showing that I now had 3G.

After four days I got a message that Windows had stopped working because of hardware, software, or a program issue and suggested I close and reboot in safe mode. After powering down, the computer would not come back on. The little blue power light on the front of the laptop was indicating the power came on and the fan sounded like it was running, but nothing came on the screen.

I removed the new 2G card and put my original 1G back in, but again, it wouldn’t boot up. It did boot up with only the bottom 1G card in its slot. I switched and tried the other 1G in the bottom slot and it booted up with that one as well. I again tried the matched pair (Samsung) in their slots and it would not boot up. I had to again remove the top card for the laptop to boot up.

So whenever a card is in the top slot… no dice on booting up. I was reluctant to try the 2G in the bottom slot for fear of damaging that slot as well. The 2G is 667 MHz, so it was supposedly compatible.

Instead of increasing my RAM by 1G, I have now decreased it by 1G. I downloaded a newer version of my BIOS from Toshiba (5.20) and still nothing. Memory-Up.com offered a refund, by that really doesn’t help the situation. It also offered to send a Samsung 2G card which I said I’d try. Have you (or any of your readers) ever heard of anything like this, and do you have any suggestions? Any help is much appreciated. Thanks!


Building A New Gaming Rig

My 3 year old + gaming system was starting to show its age when some of the newer games wouldn’t play on it. So I decided it was time to build a new system. I set myself a budget of $400 and went shopping for parts. I finally settled on getting what I needed from NewEgg since they were running some deals that were appealing at the time I was ordering.

I salvaged my keyboard, mouse, monitor, DVD burner, D-Link Airplus wireless card and a Seagate 250 GB SATA drive from the old system. I had a new Seagate 160G SATA drive on the shelf to add to the new system. My plan was to dual boot both Windows XP and also a new copy of 64 bit Vista Ultimate that I wanted to try since I was going to purchase a 64 bit CPU.

Over at NewEgg I found the following toys:

An Asus Pro mobo. I purchased this board since it had over 400 reviews with a 63% five star rating.

Next I got 4GB of Corsair RAM. This was on special and after rebate was only $26.99 :-)

I tossed in an AMD 64×2 6000 at 3.1 GHz.

I found a plain black case with a 585 watt PS

Even though the retail AMD CPU comes with a heatsink/fan , I opted for a Masscool unit

I also located an EVGA 9300 NVidia video with 1 GB RAM PCI Express 2.0 x16

I stayed within my $400 budget which made my wife happy. :-) Total cost before rebates was $385 which included S&H.

On Friday all the pieces arrived unbroken via UPS and I spent some of my weekend assembling the system. What I found interesting is that the heatsink from AMD actually was impressive having a cooper base and cooper heat tubes as well as a quiet fan assembly. So I opted to use the retail unit and put the Masscool on the shelf as a backup unit. The assembly went without incident.

I installed Windows XP on the 160GB drive and Vista on the 250GB drive. The installs went fine and I updated XP to SP3 and Vista to SP1. Naturally this alone consumed a few hours to complete. On Monday I installed a paid version of AVG on both systems and also installed the D-Link Airplus wireless card. Vista installed the driver automatically but XP rejected the install with failure errors. Checking on the D-Link site I discovered there was an issue with XP with SP3 and found a fix which corrected the problem.

This is where I currently sit. I am hoping to get the new video card installed by tomorrow and try some new games I have sitting on the shelf.

Comments welcome.

Buy A Dodge Ram – Get A Second One Free

If you are in the market to buy a new Dodge Ram pickup, you may wish to consider making a trip to Florida. University Dodge in Davie, Florida has a special 2 for deal. Buy one New Dodge Ram get a second Dodge Ram free.

Check out the other pricing on new vehicles. These American built cars are going for cheap. Oh yeah. Buying two is a great idea. You can use the second truck for parts. :-)

Comments welcome.


Firefox Users – Give This A Try

The debate on why Firefox uses large quantities of RAM or seems to suck up CPU cycles has been going on for way to long. I usually steer clear of the arguments, since when I do mention the topic, I am reprimanded for being anti-Firefox, a Microsoft shill and other unkind names. :-) But I am a big boy and usually let this name calling just slide off of my back.

But I also know that for some of us who do still experience high RAM usage by Firefox that the problem is real. I have also tried disabling all of my add-ons which didn’t do anything. So the add-ons theory of causing high RAM usage goes to the way side, though in some cases could be the cause for some of you. But I want us Firefox uses to try something for me and to report back your results.

Here is what happened. During the day I normally leave Firefox open using 5 tabs which are my web site The Blade, Lockergnome, Google Adsense, Google homepage and a blank tab used for searching for stuff. This works well for me and I normally will hover around 100 MB of RAM usage with zero CPU cycles. So the other day when Lockergnome was down, both The Blade and Lockergnome itself were replaced with Chris’s site pirillo.com. I didn’t give it much thought.

So while I was waiting for Lockergnome to come back up, I left the tabs open and continued to another chore. About an hour into using the system, it starting to experience a severe case of hard disk thrashing, slowed to a crawl and basically was on the verge of being useless. I opened task manager and noticed Firefox was using 99% of the CPU and a whopping 237 MB of RAM and still climbing. I closed down Firefox restarted and all was well, so I thought.

I opened up the same sites, which included pirillo.com and wham! CPU and RAM went off the scale. So here is what I would like you Firefox folks to try. Go to pirillo.com and open two tabs for the site and let us know what happens. Your time is appreciated and please share your thoughts.


Comments welcome.

PS I don’t think it is the site. Or is it?

Vista 64-Bit Gaining Steam

Over at the Windows Vista Team Blog, seems that their statistics are showing that Vista 64 bit is gaining users. According to Chris Flores, Microsoft has noticed an increase in 64 bit machines connecting to Windows update. In fact the number of machines using 64 bit has tripled in the US during the past 3 months. On the blog it also states:

64-bit PCs running 64-bit editions of Windows Vista typically have 4GB of memory or more. Compared to 32-bit systems, which top out at around 3GB of memory, 64-bit PCs can offer added responsiveness when running a lot of applications at the same time and have the potential for greater performance and new experiences as next-generations applications are written to take advantage of this new platform.

What started out as a gradual (some would say “glacial”) movement toward 64-bit PCs, driven primarily by technology enthusiasts, seems to have turned into a swift transition, likely fueled by the falling cost of memory and consumers’ desire to get the most out of their PCs.

This change begs a few questions:

Is the 64 bit market ready to go mainstream?

Will consumers realize the benefits from larger chips and 4GB or more of memory?

The answer to both of these questions is yes – but a qualified yes.

Preconfigured 64-bit PCs obtained from retailers or PC manufacturers should work quite well.  This is in stark contrast to the experience of many technology enthusiasts who built their 64-bit PC from scratch and may have had to scour the Web looking for drivers.  So, unless you really love to tinker with your PC, we suggest you buy a pre-built 64-bit PC at retail or directly from a PC manufacturer.

The hardware requirements, more RAM, is higher than even for the 32 bit systems. This seems to indicate that 4G, maybe even more, is needed to run 64 bit applications. So how much RAM is enough for consumer systems?

What do you think? Is going 64 bit worth the added cost of more RAM?

Comments welcome.


Wal-Mart Offers Inexpensive Toshiba Laptop For $399

I received an advertisement from Wal-Mart in the mail this morning, which featured a Toshiba laptop for $399. I have always thought that Toshiba made a fine laptop product and have recommended the Toshiba models to clients for years. What surprised me about this model is that it also featured a 15.4″ true bright screen.

The specifications included 2 GB of  RAM, 120 GB hard disk, CD/DVD writer as listed in the ad plus Vista Home Premium and not Vista Basic . So I took a ride around the Internet looking for additional information concerning this model. Here is what I learned. Additonal information on specifications included:

CPU : Intel Celeron Processor 540 (1.86 GHz)
LCD : 15.4″ Diagonal Widescreen TrueBrite Display
HDD : 120 GB
ODD : SuperMulti DVD+/-RW
LAN : 10/100 Base T
WIRELESS LAN : 802.11 b/g WLAN
SOFTLOAD : Windows Vista Home Premium 

This is how they got the unit price so low. The CPU is the older Celeron and not a dual core. But overall the unit should met most users needs.

The sale at Wal-Mart starts Sunday, July 20th, at 8:00am and there is a minimum of 10 units per store.  No rain checks will be available. Model # is A205-S5000.

But what do you think? Deal or no deal?


Firefox 3 – Is It Still A Memory Hog?

Every time I have previously written about Firefox 2 and the huge amount of RAM that it consumed, I got all kinds of criticism not only from readers, but also from the folks at Mozilla. So when I started testing Firefox 3 betas and noticed little difference in the amount of memory usage, I again wrote about it and again received comments that basically indicated that I was nuts.

Well this NUT has remained silent every since I installed the final release of Firefox 3. I haven’t even mentioned that on my personal system Firefox 3 is still consuming large amounts of RAM. This morning it sat at 153MB, since I didn’t want to be labeled as anti-Firefox, I haven’t said a word. That was until I read this InformationWeek article which stated:

Memory Problems

We talked a bit about Firefox 3’s memory usage. Mozilla.org asserts that the memory-leak problems that plagued Firefox 2 are solved, but I’ve noticed if I leave Firefox 3 running overnight with many tabs open, I often come in in the morning to find it using 120+ MBytes of memory or more, and find it slow and unresponsive. “Norm,” quoted above criticizing the AwesomeBar, says Firefox 3 is actually more of a memory hog than Firefox 2: “FF3 constantly consumes 20%-40% of the CPU when nothing is going on. FF2 displaying the exact same pages consumes 5%-15%.”

Sougent Harrop listed problems he’s having with Firefox 3 in a series of Twitter posts: “I’m seeing 95%+ CPU usage, this last time when I did an Image Save As, had to kill it in process explorer. Other times, it just happens even when I’m not even doing anything in FF, like when in [Second Life], though usually it’s responsive then. Massive CPU usage, even if it might be an add-in, isn’t something that should persist until the entire browser is closed.” Harrop’s posts are here: 1, 2, 3.

But Dotzler stands by Mozilla.org’s claims that Firefox 3 is lean and mean. He said that Mozilla.org’s own tests, and independent third-party measurements show that Firefox 3 uses less memory when viewing the same pages asMicrosoft (NSDQ: MSFT) Internet Explorer, Safari, and Opera.

Why does Firefox use up so much resources so much of the time, then? He says it’s the changing nature of the Web. “The Web isn’t the same thing as it was five or ten years ago, it’s not the same thing as it was two years ago,” Dotzler said. Users routinely run the equivalent of Microsoft Outlook, Excel, AIM, cable television and Photoshop inside the browser, in the form of Web applications for e-mail, office suites, instant messaging, Internet video, and image editing apps. Those kinds of applications require computing resources whether you run them inside the browser or as standalone apps. The memory problems of Firefox 2 got people looking at the memory usage of their browsers, and now they’re looking at the memory usage of Firefox 3 and thinking it’s too high, when in fact it’s just the amount of memory needed to do what needs doing.

“We should compare apples to apples, compare today’s browsers running on today’s Web, and in that test, for all the tests I’ve seen, Firefox is well ahead,” Dotzler said.

I have been using an add-on called RamBack which usually frees up between 15MB to 30MB at a crack. When things get to outlandish I close down Firefox and reopen it and start again. This is a small price to pay for using what I consider to be the best browser out there.

OK. Go ahead and slam my opinion. But this is also the opinion of others as well who are loyal Firefox fans. :-)

Comments welcome.


Firefox 3 RC2 – Memory Useage Still An Issue For Some

Everytime I write about Firefox and it being a memory hog, I have to always point out the following:

First I have been using Firefox since it was in diapers. I personally believe it is far superior to Internet Explorer. I will continue to use Firefox no matter how much RAM it uses. Enough said. :-)

But over at PCMech a writer points out that his system is being sucked dry of memory by Firfox 3. BUT, it is also pointed out that Add-Ons are at fault and not the browser itself. Plus the writer adds that he has no intention of dumping Firfox either. But there is one sentence that describes my deelings as well:

Plus, if you have to steer clear of plug-ins to keep Firefox running correctly, then that is a stupid trade off. One of the primary “selling points” of Firefox is the ability to use plug-ins.

Also like this writer also states, RamBack does give some help, but it is minimal. On my system  I have had as much as 15MB given back, which isn’t that great but it’s better than nothing.

Bottom line: If you expect Firefox 3 to be better on RAM usage you may be disappointed.


The $125 Upgrade – Is It For Real?

Over at PC Magazine there is an article in which the writer states that, for $125, you can upgrade a four-year-old system and have it running with the newer bad boys. The article shows how the replacing of the video card with a faster one, adding more RAM, upgrading to a DVD recorder, a wireless card & 1,000G network card will make your system fly off your desktop. But my questions is this: is it for real?

When I first read this article my first thought was how about the power supply? By adding this new stuff to an older system, is the old power supply going to be able to handle the load? The unfortunate thing is that most OEMs [in this article a Dell Dimension 8300 was used] normally install power supplies that are on the weak side. The system shown in this ad here came with 200 or 250 watt power supplies. Though they were enough to supply the unit when it came out of the factory, some have found when they added on equipment that the units could not handle the load or failed completely.

The writer also went to great lengths to find the most inexpensive pricing using no less than four vendors to buy five parts. No mention was made about the cost of shipping or applicable sales tax. Most of us are aware that even light parts such as RAM still require some type of shipping costs. So the $123 price quote may not be entirely accurate.

This statement also caught my attention:

A new fully equipped PC may cost as much as $2,000

The days of using the $2k benchmark have long past. This was used maybe 15 years ago when the starting price of a PC was in the $1500 to $2000 range. But when you can buy a brand new dual-core system minus monitor for $299, that will run circles around the older Dimension 8300 no matter how much you upgrade the unit, you decide what the best option is. Updating a older system for $125 [with shipping & sales tax the price could be closer to $150] or using that $150 to buy a new system.

Comments welcome.

PC World article is here.

Which Laptop System Should This Reader Buy?

Since yesterday, reader Jason L has inquired about which laptop should he buy and is trying to compare the difference in a 256MB or 512MB video display adapter, when it comes to gaming. In his first request Jason L. said:

Hi Ron,

Great forum. I recently purchased a high-end gaming laptop with the following: (my question concerns mostly the video card RAM)

Core2Duo T9300 2.5Ghz 6MB/800Mhz
512mb dedicated nvidia 8600gt
64-bit VISTA premium

This is an iBuyPower machine from COSTCO (i am trying it out because it was cheap and despite the bad reviews of ibuypower, costco warranty backs it and so will I)

I am a gamer and would really like to know your opinion. Do you think the 512mb of video card RAM is too excessive (or perhaps more on par with the 4gb system RAM)?

Thanks in advance for your help!!

This was my response to his request yesterday:

Hello Jason L.
It sounds like you have a sweet machine. 512MB video to much? Nope. Not at all. IMHO.

So this morning Jason L. asked this question:

Thanks for your quick reply, Ron. I have one more question and I hope it’s not too tough (unlikely, right? )

The laptop I ordered has an Nvidia 8600GT. So does the Dell XPS1530. Check out the difference in video cards and maybe you could tell me which one you would choose. Thanks again, in advance.

Dell XPS 1530: 256mb GDDR3 Nvidia 8600GT
IBuyPower CRZ: 512mb GDDR2 Nvidia 8600GT

If I’m going to utilize the graphics card, I’d like to know I’m going with the best choice. Both are dedicated.

That leaves the question: Do current games utilize 512mb of GDDR2 RAM, or are they more likely to prefer the faster 256mb GDDR3 RAM?

To which I replied with the following:

I’m not sure about the gaming requirements for the specific card that these systems are using. But I can share one thought. I personally would buy a Dell before a unit from IBuyPower.  Not because an IBuyPower is bad, I am just not personally familiar with their warranty policies nor their track record. Hopefully someone stopping by here can add to the comments and offer their opinions as well.

Buy just giving my WAS [wild ass guess], I think a 256 MB card with faster RAM would be more appealing.

What about OS? Windows XP or Vista?

So what is your opinion? The Dell or the IBuyPower unit?

Comments most appreciated.

[tags]reader, questions, dell, ibuypower, laptop, computer, system, ram, windows, microsoft, xp, vista, gaming,  [/tags]