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Question re: Dell Dimension Specs & Performance

SaraLynnn1
SaraLynnn1 asked
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Last Modified: 2013-12-09
Hi--
I am writing on behalf of a colleague who is having a lot of trouble with her computer (she is an Operations Manager so most of her work is on the comptuer).  Programs take up to 30 seconds to open, there is a lot of trouble having more than one program open at once, it freezes excessively, etc.  Our IT guy said she shouldn't need a new computer but I disagree after looking at the specs.  I have included them below and would be grateful for some opinions re: the appropriateness of her current computer as the relate to her daily work tasks (mainly Office Programs & Internet).  Also, I believe the computer is at least 5 years old, possibly older.

Dell Dimension 4550 (I *think* it originally came with Windows ME and was updated to XP at a later point but cannot be sure)
Processor: Intel(R) Pentium(R) 4 CPU 2.40GHz
Processor Speed: 2.34 GHz
Memory (RAM): 512 MB
Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP Professional
Operating System Version: 5.1.2600
Note: Hard drive has around 50-60 GB of storage

One last question...if we end up purchasing a new computer, what (very generally speaking) specs should we aim for?  Mainly concerned about processor, RAM, & hard drive size.  Budget is a VERY big concern.  Also, it would have to be a Dell.  Thanks so much!!
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How do I run a defrag?  Also, you think that 0.5 GB of RAM is sufficient for running multiple programs simultaneously?
Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Disk Defragmenter.  

Also, 512MB of RAM could be acceptable depending on what programs you're running.  Don't forget that you can always upgrade RAM in most laptops.  Your Dimension 4550 has a maximum capacity of 1GB.  RAM is very cheap now so you could always try that first.  Just trying to save you some $$$ if possible :)

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Commented:
sno0401: Funny you should mention the Inspirion, as we were thinking of getting the 546 MT version (don't see an option on the Dell site for the 545?)

I have attached the specs, any suggestions/comments would be appreciated.
Inspirion-546-MT.pdf

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Commented:
It's not a laptop...

How do I find out if I can add more RAM?  I know my HP Pavilion laptop (about 2 years old) does not accept more than than the 2 GB of RAM it came with--which is a bummer because I'd love to add more considering a use Adobe CS3 daily and can't run more than one (max 2) programs at once.  But that's another topic; sorry!

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Sorry, didn't mean to say laptop earlier.   According to this support document on dell.com your machine can handle 2GB (1GB x 2) worth of memory.

http://en.community.dell.com/wikis/desktop/dimension-4550-maximum-memory-2gb-not-1gb.aspx

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Commented:
sno0401- I clicked on the link and see the 545, but as we are located in the US, which I switch from the UK store the option of a 545 is no longer available.  Thanks tho!

garycase & stephenbyrd-thanks a bunch for the RAM info.  this is probably a silly question but how difficult is it to a) find out how the RAM is currently installed; as in if both slots are being used or not, etc. and b) install extra RAM if this is an option.  I imagine the CPU must have to be taken apart in some manner, in which case we probably wouldn't feel comfortable touching it ourselves!

Thanks again and I'll award the pts. shortly!
You can easily spot your memory slots as soon as the case is removed.  There are 2 slots where you will see the RAM chips plugged into.  I am going to GUESS that it has 2 256MB RAM chips installed instead of a single 512.  This would allow you to put in a single 1GB chip (in addition to the 256MB) for less than $50.  To answer your question, you would need to at least open the computer case, but really it's a very simple install once you do.

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Thanks to everyone!
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"... how difficult is it to a) find out how the RAM is currently installed; as in if both slots are being used or not ..."   ==>  You can easily do this without opening the case.    Download and run CPU-Z  [http://www.cpuid.com/cpuz.php ].    Click on the SPD tab.   It will now show you what's installed in Slot #1 ... and you can change the dropdown (where it shows Slot #1) to Slot #2 to see what's in Slot #2.     This will let you easily determine whether or not you have one or two modules installed now.

"... b) install extra RAM if this is an option. "  ==>  Yes, as you've correctly surmised, you DO have to open the case to install a 2nd memory module (or to replace one of the current ones).    While this is a very simple task, I can understand that you may not want to do it if you've never had any experience with it.    Your IT guy could do it in 3 minutes ... or perhaps you have a coworker who has experience with it.    

This short video gives you a good idea on what you need to do -- note that while the anti-static strap they use in this is a good idea (I use one), it is not absolutely necessary.   As long as you take good anti-static precautions ... basically just ground yourself well by touching the metal part of the case for a couple seconds before handling the memory ... and then don't move around where you may generate any static while you're handling the memory ... you'll be fine.    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWqiv8ag0s4     I suspect that fewer than 5% of folks who add memory to their computers use an anti-static strap ... and rarely have problems.
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