Dell is a mess - need memory

I have dell dimension 4600. I need memory. When I looked at my memory - it says pc 3200.
But when I called dell they told me my computer has pc 2700.
It is very confusing.
Also the computer needs dual channel ddr - which memory? is a mystery like i mentioned before.
Will crucial memory work in my dell?
Crucial does not say it is dual channel though.
What is dual channel anyway since dell customer reps. are giving me contradictory answers.


pc3200 is backwardly compatable with pc2700 - so you can’t go wrong there-

Probably the best place to buy memory - reliable supplier and all - is Newegg - if at all possible buy matched sets and try to get at least 1 gb (two 512mb sticks) - which Newegg has for $75 to $80 for good stuff-

or if 2gb (two 1gb sticks) - I have this matched pair - and it is hella fast and very stable at a very reasonable price:

Good luck-


Assuming this is your motherboard,
and these are your specs

Your motherboard supports pc3200, but has pc2700 installed (it supports pc2100, pc2700 and pc3200). You need standard ddr ram (dual channel has nothing to do with the type of ram). Dual channel is the process if taking two memory sticks, and basically reading and writing to both at the same time to double speed.

Most mother boards are capable of running dual channel or single channel configurations. If you run single channel, you can run diffrent size sticks and even diffrent speed sticks (pc2100/pc2700/pc3200 are the speeds) but you take a performance hit. Dual channel gives a performance increase but requires two identical memory sticks (same brand, model, speed etc). Memory sticks are even often sold in matched pairs from the same lot to help insure they are identical as memory can very slightlly from lot to lot. There are exceptions to the rule that they have to be identical but there are no guarentees.

I would try to find out what diffrent memory configurations your motherboard can run. Some operations run beter with more memory even if the speed is slower, others will benifit more from faster ram and or dual channel operations. It might be easiest to just pull the pc2700 out and get a matched pair of pc3200 memory (you need to verify that is in fact your motherboard to ensure that it is pc3200 compatible).


You would still need to find out what memory configurations your motherboard supports as you generally need to install the ram in certain slots to run dual channel. You could of course buy 512 or 1 gig and run it with the 512 you already have but again you need to know what memory configurations it will run.

From what I can tell searching quick, your motherboard has 4 memory slots and can only run dual channel, so memory must be installed in pairs.
I am not sure if your motherboard would support running the two 256’s that you have now in two slots, and two new diffrent speed cards in the other two or not, but worst case senerio, you can run the two I linked to above (by themselves without your current memory for sure).

I hope that helps but I would look for a little more info to make sure of everything (but hopefully that will help you understand it beter).

DELL IS A JOKE. Their customer service is really bad.
I have gotten really 2 different answers from 2 different customer reps in their hardware/sales divisoin.
one says its pc 3200 and anothersays it pc 2700.
one says its dual channel and another says no its not.
Their phone lines also suck and you have to wait really long time.
Then they keep on telling you to go call another number.

this should help somewhat; Download that little program;

Fry’s Electronics has Kingston Technology Brand memory DDR 3200 on sle for $34.99/512 MB stick not bad deal.

Personally I would stay away from kingston. I have been running kingston ram for quite a long time and have bought many sticks of it. I’m currently running kingston ram in all my computers. While in the past I have always considered it good, and still consider it decent enough ram, I have seen too many compatibility issues with it latlly, and you can get beter latency ram for the same price.
I personally have a 512 MB stick of kingston value ram (pc3200) that is sitting on the shelf because it it is unusable. Alone it works just fine at full speed and tests out just fine in multiple computers. IT absolutlly will not run with another stick of ram though, and not just in dual channel, but in single channel mode either. Even with relaxed timings and or running at slower speeds, tested in multiple computers, it will not run with another stick of memory (all kingston sticks that I am trying to get it to run with). I have heard of others having similar problems and have even heard of matched pairs not working together. Thier latency speeds are a bit on the slow side too (for value ram). Incompatibility with some motherboards seems to be an issue too. I think it might be a matter of too much variation between memory than poor quality but who knows. Its just a more problamatic brand than it used to be. You can get cosair for the same price.

Fyi that price is a little high for corsair (newegg has had it as cheap as 65$ before). For not much more you could start to look at higher performance ram (and there are lots of options at that price point though the corsair is still good for that price).

OCZ - lifetime warranty, sold in matched pairs, English & competent tech support.

I wouldn’t call Dell a “joke”, but they are clearly not the way to go for either performance or upgrading after purchase - in other words, suitable for 90% of those who buy computers these days. I wouldn’t want one because they don’t carry AMD, but I happily recommend them to those who want www and email.

Go to and download the system checker and it will tell you what you need and can use with no mess! Then go to and but the cheapest memory that goes with your MOBO! Good luck man!

PS/ My 4600 is at my daughters house and still runs great!