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Friday, 18 November 2011

Why is it so hard to buy extra RAM?

As I mentioned in a recent post, I managed to buy a PC with only half the RAM I'd intended, following some carelessness by PC World and a lack of checking by myself. I decided to buy the missing 2GB of memory using the £80 refund PC World gave me.

First, I opened up my PC to look at the memory slots. There were two, one of them empty. I carefully took out the RAM board to look for a product code or something that would let me order a new one. As has happened every time I've tried this in the past, all I could find were several very long numbers, which might mean something to the manufacturer, but certainly don't mean anything to me. I carefully made a note of what the RAM looked like, put it back in, and booted up my PC. (With a quick check in case it now thought it had 0GB.)

Why the manufacturers make it so hard to order more of their product is beyond me. Maybe not enough PC owners get round to installing extra RAM, or maybe they are actually providing all the information I need, but I'm just too ignorant to work out what they're telling me.


Onto Lenovo's web site; surely they would be able to tell me what RAM to order. No, they mentioned the H420, but I couldn't find a spec for it. A colleague mentioned Crucial, who list loads of PCs and the memory they need. They had several Lenovos, but not mine. That's what comes of buying a new model, I guess. Then I read about a free program you could download that tells you all the intimate details of your machine. I won't give you its name, because their web site managed to trick me into downloading and installing a completely different program, which also changed my default search engine in all three browsers I've got installed, as well as insinuating itself via unwanted toolbars and start up settings. It goes by the name of iLivid, and I've been seeing tempting download ads for it all over the place recently. That might just be ad servers spotting I've got a cookie from it though. uLivid would be a better name for it. I thought I'd managed to get rid of it last week, but I found today that it had got back into IE9. The icing on the cake was that the program I was looking for claimed it was getting incorrect values from Lenovo, and couldn't really be sure what RAM I needed. I uninstalled that too.

While reading up furiously about the different types of RAM available (including the bizarre discovery that 10600 and 10700 mean the same thing, because it's actually 10666 but vendors round it up or down in case the '666' puts people off), I came across a company called Orca based in Surrey. They also had a memory checker facility, which couldn't tell me about my model (although I see it now can), but which did offer me the chance to e-mail for help. I told them my model number and hoped for the best.

It was a Saturday, so I was more than a little surprised to get a reply at 16.45 telling me exactly what I needed to know, and even pointing me into their on-line catalogue where I could order the new RAM. It turned up earlier this week, and is now sitting comfortably inside its slot, working just fine.

Now that's service!

And just for the record, the Lenovo H420 takes 240-Pin DDR3 DIMM PC3-10600 (1333MHz).

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