Besides sticking it in a drawer
If you’ve upgraded your computer, you have probably replaced your old RAM modules with faster ones. Buying faster RAM is often the cheapest performance-boosting option. On top of that, when you upgrade your RAM, you should be replacing the modules in pairs, or you might end up with an unstable system. This leads to a lot of old RAM chips lying around and gathering dust.
So what to do with old RAM sticks? In this article, we’re going to explore several options, including building a retro gaming computer and turning your RAM into art. There are many cool things you can do with old RAM, so don’t just throw it away.
1. Upgrade an Old Computer
The best use of old RAM modules is in an older system that could use an upgrade. Old computers can still be useful even if they’re too sluggish for the latest games, software development, or rendering. For example, you can turn an old PC into a streaming media center or even a NAS (network-attached storage).
Alternatively, you can upgrade someone else’s computer. Contact a local school or library and find out whether they could use a hardware upgrade. Most public computers are outdated or cheaply built, so your old RAM modules could mean a lot to anyone using them.
That said, you’ll have to figure out what sort of RAM sticks you have and whether they’re compatible with the old machine you want to upgrade. There are several types of RAM, and each one is compatible with certain motherboards and CPUs. Make sure to read our article on how to check the type of RAM before attempting to upgrade an old computer.
2. Build a Retro Gaming PC
Hardware and operating systems have evolved a great deal since the early days of computer gaming. Modern CPUs have completely different architectures than 20-30 years ago, and there are radical differences even between relatively recent operating systems like Windows 7 and 8.
If you’d try to play a classic DOS game or a game specifically developed for Windows 7 using your Windows 10 machine, you’re going to run into game-breaking compatibility issues. Most classic games won’t even work, and that’s sad considering the vast number of games developed in the past few decades.
This is where the retro gaming PC comes in, and your old RAM will help build it. The market for old computer parts is growing as more people want to replay their favorite childhood games. Good Old Games (GOG) is certainly helping with this trend as it’s making classic games easily accessible. This makes old RAM increasingly valuable, and there are growing retro gaming communities building retro systems.
If you want to revisit your favorite games and you want to recreate that 90s or 2000s atmosphere, save your old RAM, find an old motherboard and CPU that supports it, and go back in time.
Alternative: Build an Arcade Machine
If retro gaming PCs aren’t your thing and you grew up in the arcade days, you can save your RAM for an arcade machine instead. Read our comprehensive article on how to turn your old computer into an arcade machine and save your old RAM for an epic project.
3. Turn Your Old RAM Into Art or Decorations
If you have no use for your old RAM or it’s damaged, you can turn it into art. For example, you can make keychains or even Christmas tree decorations. All you need is keyrings and a cutting tool.
Desktop RAM chips might be a bit too long for a keychain, so cut them up to a desirable size. Then drill a hole (if there isn’t one) for the keyring, and you’re done. You can even skip the cutting part if you have laptop RAM modules since they’re already quite small.
4. Build a RAM Drive
Also known as a RAM disk, this device is a type of digital storage. It is much faster than hard drives and solid state drives. Random-access memory is the fastest type of memory and storing data in it means nearly instant loading times and high read/write times.
You can use your old RAM modules to build a RAM drive; however, you’ll also need to purchase a DDR drive in which you can insert those modules.
The drive looks like a PCI card. All you need to do is insert your memory sticks in its slots and connect the device to your computer’s motherboard. But how does it work?
As you probably know, RAM is a type of volatile memory. Whenever you turn off your computer, the data stored on the RAM drive will be erased. This is the great disadvantage that made RAM drives fade into history as soon as SSDs emerged. You’d have to set up your computer to copy the files from the RAM drive to a hard drive before shutting down. Some RAM drives even came equipped with batteries to save the data for a while in case of a system crash.
That said, a RAM drive is great if you don’t need to save any files and you just want lightning-fast loading times.
If your old RAM modules are damaged or no longer useful to anyone, you should consider recycling them. They still contain salvageable components and materials that you can use to create new RAM modules or different components. Look for a reputable company that recycles computer hardware properly without dumping everything in a landfill.
What did you do with your old ram sticks? Let us know in the comments below.