Upgrade RAM or hold off to buy a new laptop?

By PoisonWolf ยท 9 replies
Jul 17, 2009
  1. Hi guys,

    I have here with me a HP Pavilion DV 4000. It's a pretty old laptop but used to be considered a beast during its time. In a brief run down, here are the overall specs.

    Windows XP Home Edition
    Intel Pentium M 1.86 Ghz
    ATI Mobility Radeon X700.\
    1 GB RAM.

    Now, my question is, I've been thinking if it is worth spending money on a brand new laptop, or if I should just up the RAM on the current system to say 3 GB or 4 GB (via pae) or a dual channel 2 GB? For some reason, this system seems to 'freeze' out of the blue for no apparent reason. When this happens, the CPU usage shoots up to 100% for a couple of seconds before dropping back down to 0.

    I initially thought a clean reinstall would fix this, but unfortunately, it did not.

    Is it time to move on to the world of Core 2 Duo? Or will having more RAM fix this issue?

    My GF doesn't need to do much on the laptop, but she does love to have like 10 ~ 30 tabs opened in Firefox.

    I'd appreciate any advice/input on the matter.

  2. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    More RAM would be nice, but I don't think you'll see a huge benefit. Also, on that particular laptop. I'm pretty sure the maximum module size is 1GB and you have 2 slots. You'll max out at 2GB.

    Fortunately though, RAM is relatively inexpensive (based on what I think you're laptop needs). So it is always a worthwhile upgrade.

    This isn't your RAM -- there's another problem. I'm unsure what it could be though, since you've seemed to rule out software. However, it might be worth looking at your task manager again. Click 'view' and 'update speed'. Set it to high. Open up the 'processes tab' and wait... when your CPU jumps to 100%, what process is maxing out your CPU (if any?)
  3. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,973   +2,527

    The necessity of more RAM is quite application dependent. What I've found to be RAM hogs are, Photoshop Elements, Nero (when involved with "advanced analysis" of DVD-Video files. and of all things, Firefox. Although, you need to be browsing quite aggressively, (dozens of tabs open) to really eat up memory.

    As Rick pointed out anything beyond 2GB probably isn't possible for your computer, and likely wouldn't be that noticeable. Facts are that on older machines. you run out of CPU cores and CPU clock cycles before you bag the limit on RAM.

    But, 1GB is bare minimum for current usage with Win XP. So, if your machine will take it, you should install the 2GBs, you'll likely see a decent improvement especially when multi-tasking.

    As Rick pointed out though, RAM isn't likely the source of your freezing problem.

    Being out of available RAM results in the machine becoming unresponsive, due to extensive use of the page file area. This is easily recognized by continuous HDD usage.
  4. PoisonWolf

    PoisonWolf TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 31


    Thank you so much. I guess for now, I'll just purchase a 2 GB Dual Kit.
    I'll report back to this thread if I the freezing problem getting worse. I've noticed that Firefox seemed to cause the freezing issue a lot, especially when it was loading a page spammed with images/ads. After installing Adblock Plus, this seemed to have reduced the whole "freezing issue" drastically.

    Thanks again guys, I really appreciate it, you guys rock. We'll be going with the Crucial Dual Channel Kit route!

  5. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,002   +15

    I just put 2GB in my aging 1.6ghz toshiba. Still a workhorse, been on two combat tours and has been working great for 4 years. ( I clean the fan all the time). Ram is cheap, certainly $60 to $100 is better than spending 2K on a new computer. But if all you're doing is surfing, writing papers, and occasionally a simple game then you would be wasting $ getting a new system. get the ram - it's cheap. (and read my ram guide in the guides forum).
  6. PoisonWolf

    PoisonWolf TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 31


    Thank you for your reply. I've been wondering, is it easy to open up a laptop and clean its innards? I've never cleaned both my laptop and my GF's laptop ever, and they're both about 3 years old.

  7. syde

    syde TS Rookie Posts: 113

    "I've never cleaned my GF laptop before" ...rofl o.O

    p.s. sorry hehe mad imagination
  8. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,002   +15

    depends on the model. certainly the ram section and the fan section should be accessable and easy to blow out with canned air.
  9. PoisonWolf

    PoisonWolf TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 31

    Hey guys,

    I'm back again! This time, I have a different question but I'd like to keep it in the same thread to prevent clutter. I have another friend who is interested in upgrading his Thinkpad (currently 2 gb) to 4 GB of RAM in preparation for Windows 7 soon.

    My question is, how can I know if his mobo supports 4 GB of ram? I've gotten so many conflicting answers over the internet. They generally lean towards being able to support 4 GB of ram , (He uses 64bit Vista). However, I'd like to just confirm before he forks over 40 USD.

    Here is the direct link to screenshots of his CPU-Z results.

    Thank you very much again to anyone who helps,
  10. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,002   +15

    if he is already using a 64 bit os and the computer is 2 years old or newer, it will will support 4gb or more. I have not seen a laptop with over 8 gb.
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