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If you have a problem getting an adapter card installed, most likely it is due to a conflict with two devices using the same IRQ level. In most case, it's just a matter of changing the IRQ level of the adapter card that you are installing, assuming the card allows you to change it and has a large enough selection available. But in the worst case scenario, you may have to change the IRQ level of another device in order to get the adapter card installed. These situations are quite rare since most manufacturers stick to a certain set of IRQ levels for certain types of devices. So, in most cases, you will use the default settings that are preset on the adapter card. The IRQ levels that are most commonly available are 5, 10, 11, and 15, avoid using IRQ 2 since that is wired to IRQs 8 through 16. Before you change the IRQ level on an adapter card that you are installing, check the manual for your computer to make sure that the new IRQ level isn't being used by another device.

The current style of adapter cards being manufactured today allow you to change the settings for all of these settings via software. In this case, the installation software for the card usually handles any conflicts with other devices for you automatically and makes adjustments to your adapter card's configuration.

Adding More Memory

How much RAM memory your computer needs depends on the software applications that you want to run. Most programs list a minimum amount of memory that they require, which is usually in the range of 4 to 16 MBs or more, but some applications, like Adobe Photoshop, recommend 32 MBs. This minimum amount of memory usually means the minimum amount just to get the program to load.

If you have a 486 class computer, 20 MBs is the maximum amount of memory that you can add to get a performance boost. Adding more than 20 MBs will not affect your applications or improve your computing power.

Installing additional memory to modern computers is a snap. You simply plug in the memory module into the appropriate slot on the motherboard, turn on the computer, and you're done. This assumes that your computer has a modern BIOS that is capable of determining how much memory you have on the motherboard and then configuring itself, otherwise, you have to access the computer's CMOS and make the changes manually.

The problem with installing memory is getting the correct type. You need to know the correct physical size of the module that you need, the size in terms of memory, the access speed of the memory, whether your computer uses parity, non-parity or it can use either/or, and if you need gold or tin plated connectors.

Since memory modules only come in three flavors, 30-pin, 72-pin, and 168-pin, that's easy to figure out by looking at the computer's motherboard or looking in the manual. Most computers built today have either 72 or 168-pin memory modules, the older 386 and 486 class computers used the 30-pin memory modules.

Some computers are only capable of recognizing certain sizes of memory or requires that the memory modules be installed in pairs. For example, to add 8 MBs of memory, you may not be able to add just a single 8 MB module, you may need to install two 4 MB modules instead. Or if you have 4 slots on your motherboard and you want to install 40 MBs of RAM, your only choice may be two 16 MB modules and two 4 MB modules, not two 16 MB modules and one 8 MB module. Also, be aware that there are some computer motherboards that only support a certain range of sizes in these 4 slots. There should be a table in your computer manual listing the various combinations of memory modules that your computer supports. Odds are, if it isn't listed in this table, it's not going to work.

Whether your computer uses parity memory, non-parity memory, or it can use both will be listed in your manual along with the types of memory modules that the computer supports. Parity memory is generally more expensive than non-parity memory and is just a way that the computer double checks itself. Some computers require parity memory, some require non-parity memory and others can use a combination of both.

Computer memory speed is measured in nanoseconds (ns). The lower the number, the faster the memory. Along with the types of memory modules that your computer supports, it will also tell you the speed that the memory must be. If the speed of the module is too slow, the computer may slow down in order to wait for the memory to be ready. If the speed is too fast, then it's the memory that is waiting. Faster memory is usually better, although it won't make your computer run any faster.

Finally, you have a choice between gold plated or tin plated connectors on the memory modules. The only difference between these types of modules is that gold plated connectors do not corrode as fast as the tin plated ones and tend to be more expensive. I have installed tin plated memory modules in computers that have been in operation for the past 6 or 7 years without a problem and have never noticed a corrosion problem myself. So, whether you purchase gold or tin plated modules, it is up to you. Some computer manufacturers however, like IBM, say they require gold plated modules in the manual.


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