Brian's Blog

…one man's contribution to the Weeeeerly Wild World

Fixed RAM and the throw away society

Being in the business of fixing or sometimes selling computers to people, or in chatting to friends online, I occasionally come across laptops, or more typically “netbooks” which lack RAM.

How do we know they lack RAM?

  • the thing is slow
  • “virtual memory” warnings

The first point may be missing some other point, but this second point is what a friend of mine reported to me recently, and I immediately knew it meant her laptop had a lack of RAM; she was trying to be in Second Life which demands a fair amount. I already knew her computer was struggling but this was the final evidence. So I asked her to give me the make and model of her laptop so I could do a quick look online to see what could be done, and it turned out that answer was “Nothing.”

asusHer laptop turned out to be what I term as a “netbook” which is typically smaller than your usual 15″ affair and generally lack a DVD drive, they quite often lack RAM too. Hers (being an Asus EeeBook-X205TA) had 2GB of RAM and for anything running Windows Vista or later, I deem this to not be enough (although Windows 10 fairs better) – really you should have 4GB or more, and for playing in Second Life ideally 8GB.

“But I only use it for checking e-mails…” is what I often hear in response. It doesn’t matter, it’s like trying to drive a car to the shops when its engine capacity isn’t sufficient to propel its own weight, let alone yours and an additional bag of shopping, and this is from new. The bug-bear with such laptops is that they’re sold with this deficiency and there is no way to upgrade – with this case in point the RAM is fixed in place/soldered to the mainboard, rather than being slotted in; it may just about work smoothly from new, but give it all the Windows Updates, your antivirus program, Skype, and a few tabs to open in your web browser, and Computer is going to say “No.”

If a computer is going to be sold with a bare minimum amount of RAM, then it should at least be able to accommodate more; a spare slot that is easily accessible via a simple cover would be nice. Even with removable RAM some computers can’t recognise much more.


Really I think computer manufacturers, and suppliers, should be hung-dried-and quartered for supplying such things when they’re turn out to be not fit for purpose. They shouldn’t be made in the first place, although I suspect some are left-overs from a time when XP was doing the rage (which can run fine with 2GB of RAM) and they’re just repackaged with something more recent, to “bring them up to date.” Just because some people demand the cheapest possible, doesn’t mean they know what will work, whereas the manufacturers and tech stores should, and they do, so really they’re selling you a lie and something that isn’t fit for purpose – it bugs me and its not even me being ripped off*. You may well tolerate it for a while until you can afford something better, but really it’s going to end up in the bin (ideally with electrical recycling, although that’s no excuse) as useless, as it always was.

Far too much stuff is manufactured and sold as “crap” even before we consider the worthwhile stuff that gets thrown away, and it needs to stop. Companies may well make a quick-buck in the process but the cost to someone else, recycling centres, and the planet as a whole (and thus it works full circle back to the individuals who run that company that sold the tat) ends up greater.

*It’s my planet too and you’re f*cking it up!

[Edit] And then I just watched this, where Russell Brand mentions cars and “built-in obsolescence”…


2 comments on “Fixed RAM and the throw away society

  1. taskerdunham
    14 November, 2016

    I agree 100%. So many things. Kettles used to last ten to fifteen years. Now (if used say 10 times per day) they either begin to crumble and smell round the spout (if plastic) or leak (if metal) within two. We now get a new one every 12-18 months, cheap ones for about £12, which are just as good as the last expensive one we had. But you are right that, with computers, cheap does not equal good. I do however take issue with the Which? organization who don’t seem to like any laptop under £1,000 or not made by Apple.

    • Brian
      14 November, 2016

      Yes, in our house we had an ongoing joke about the expensive kettle we were once bought as a Christmas present, stainless steel, branded, leaking after a year. And us bringing out the old kettle that had been left in our house by the previous occupants, as a backup, each time a new kettle we had bought packed up prematurely, often within the 12 month warranty, which cheap or expensive kettles seem to carry, and generally fail to live up to. Having said all this, my kettle I bought for £1 at a carboot because it failed to match the decor of their newly painted kitchen of its previous owners; after two years it’s still going strong but I wonder how their replacement has faired.

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This entry was posted on 14 November, 2016 by in Computers, Green Living, Recycling, Technology and tagged , , , , , , .
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