Is your computer starting to feel a little slow? Maybe it's not performing as it used to, or the PC can't keep up with the latest software? Upgrading your RAM (Random Access Memory) is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to quickly improve your computer's performance. RAM can be added to almost any computer, and it only takes a screwdriver and a few minutes of your time. Read on to learn how to do this.
Method 1 of 2: Installing RAM on your desktop
Step 1. Try to find out what kind of RAM is required for your desktop
RAM comes in a variety of models and speeds. The type of RAM you can get depends on your computer's motherboard. Check the motherboard or documentation that came with the computer, or the manufacturer's website for the correct RAM specifications that are compatible with your hardware.
- RAM is available as DDR (double data rate), DDR2, and DDR3. Most newer computers use DDR2 or 3. You should get the type that matches what your motherboard supports.
- RAM is indicated by two different speeds: the PC/PC2/PC3 number and the speed in MHz. Make sure both match your motherboard specifications.
- The PC number (eg PC3-12800) refers to the maximum bandwidth (eg 12800 = 12.8 GB maximum bandwidth).
- The speed of the RAM is indicated by the number after the DDR specification (eg DDR3 1600 = 1600 MHz).
Step 2. Check how many slots you have for the RAM
Your motherboard has a limit on the number of RAM modules you can install. Some motherboards only support two, while others support four, six, or even more.
- Most motherboards have a limit on the amount of memory they support, regardless of the number of slots.
- iMacs use notebook memory, so see the next section for instructions on how to install this type.
Step 3. Compare the different options
You can purchase RAM from various manufacturers and for very different prices. Manufacturers vary in quality, and a large percentage of RAM comes "dead". Some of the most reliable companies are:
- G. Skill
Step 4. Buy your RAM modules
Once you've chosen a brand, it's time for the type of RAM. When it comes to RAM for a desktop, buy SDRAM. RAM is best installed in matching pairs, so you may need to buy two or four sticks.
- For example, for 8 GB of RAM you may need to install two x 4 GB or four x 2 GB. Make sure what you buy will fit in your motherboard.
- All the RAM you have installed should match in terms of speed and bandwidth. If not, the system will be clocked on the slowest module, resulting in performance degradation.
- Please check carefully what your motherboard supports before purchasing.
Step 5. Turn off the computer
Disconnect the computer from any connected peripherals, such as monitors, keyboards, and mice.
Step 6. Open the computer case
Lay the case on its side so you can access the motherboard once the side panel is removed. You will need a Phillips screwdriver to remove the panel, or you can remove it by hand if you wish.
Step 7. Discharge the static charge
Make sure you don't have a static charge on your body. Static charges can damage computer components and are often imperceptible to humans. Ground yourself before you begin, or use an anti-static wrist strap.
- You can ground yourself by touching a metal part on the computer case while it is plugged in, but turned off.
- Do not stand on carpet while working on the inside of the computer.
Step 8. Locate the RAM slots
Most motherboards have 2 or 4 RAM slots. RAM slots are usually located near the CPU, although their location may vary depending on the manufacturer or model. Refer to the motherboard layout diagram in the documentation if you run into any problems locating the slots.
Step 9. Remove the old RAM (when upgrading)
If you're replacing RAM, remove it by releasing the clips on each side of the connector. The RAM will be released from the socket and can be lifted out of the motherboard without any difficulty or effort.
Step 10. Remove the new RAM from its protective packaging
Carefully remove the RAM from its packaging. Grip it by the sides to avoid touching the contacts on the bottom or the circuitry on the motherboard.
Step 11. Place the memory module in the RAM slot
Align the notch on the module with the clip in the slot. Insert the module into the slot, then apply even pressure until the side clips click and lock the module. You may need to apply a fair amount of pressure, but never force it.
- Make sure to place equal pairs in their matching slots. Most are identified by labels on the motherboard or by color, but you may need to refer to the motherboard layout diagram.
- Repeat this process for each RAM module you want to install.
Step 12. Remove dust using a bottle of compressed air
Keeping the computer open can provide a quick fix for overheating issues and poor device performance. Compressed air cans are available at any office supply store. Do not blow the air too close to the computer.
Step 13. Close your computer again
Once you have finished installing the RAM modules, you can reattach the side panel and screw it in place. Avoid turning on the computer with the panel removed, as this will actually reduce the cooling power of your fans. Reconnect your peripherals and monitor.
Step 14. Turn the computer back on
The computer should just start up. If your computer displays the self-test during startup, you can verify that the RAM is installed correctly. If not, you can check if the RAM is installed as soon as Windows starts.
Step 15. Check the RAM in Windows
Press the Windows key + Pause/Break to open the System Properties. You can also click on the Start menu, right click on Computer / My Computer and click on Properties. The RAM will be listed in the System section, or at the bottom of the window.
All operating systems calculate memory differently, and some computers use a certain amount of RAM for specific functions (for example, video), reducing the amount available. For example, you bought 1 gigabyte of RAM. The operating system may only display 0.99 Gigabytes
Step 16. Run Memtest
If you're still not sure if the memory is installed correctly, or if it might be malfunctioning, you can run the free Memtest program to check. The test may take a while, but will detect any errors and display how much memory is installed.
Method 2 of 2: Installing RAM on your notebook
Step 1. Try to find out what kind of RAM is required for your laptop computer
RAM comes in a variety of models and speeds. The type of RAM you can use depends on the computer. Refer to your laptop's documentation, or check the manufacturer's website for the RAM specifications that are compatible with your hardware.
Step 2. Make sure you are grounded
Before opening any panels on your laptop, make sure you are properly grounded to avoid damaging your components. You can ground yourself by touching any metal part on your computer case while it is plugged in, but turned off. You can also ground yourself by touching any connected appliance with a grounded plug, or by touching a water tap.
Step 3. Unplug your laptop (if connected)
Remove the battery from the back of the laptop and then press the power button to release the remaining charge in the capacitors.
Step 4. Check how many slots your computer has
You can access the notebook RAM by removing the panel on the bottom of the computer. There are usually a few different panels, so look for the one with the memory icon, or check your manual. You will need to use a very small Phillips head screwdriver to remove the panel.
Most laptops have two slots, while some have only 1. High-end notebooks may have more slots
Step 5. Determine if your RAM needs to be installed in pairs
Most laptop RAM modules, or SODIMM, do not require matching pairs during installation. If this is necessary, it is because the pairs are on the same memory bank, which should be clearly marked on the laptop, or in the accompanying documentation.
Step 6. Remove the old RAM (when upgrading)
You remove RAM by releasing the clips on the sides of the slots. You can release the clamps by pressing them. The RAM will pop up, slightly at an angle. Lift the SODIMM to a 45° angle and then pull it out of the socket.
Step 7. Remove your new RAM from its protective packaging
Make sure to only handle the module by the sides to avoid touching the contacts or circuitry on the module itself.
Step 8. Align the notch in the SODIMM with the clips in the slot
The chip side does not matter when installing the SODIMM modules, all that matters is that the notches are aligned. Slide the SODIMM memory into the slot at a 45° angle.
If you have several free slots, install your RAM first in the one with the lowest number
Step 9. Push down the SODIMM memory
Once the memory is installed at a 45° angle, you can push it down until the clamp lock clicks into place. The RAM is now installed.
Step 10. Test the RAM
Turn the laptop over again, plug it in and turn it on. Your computer should now boot normally. You may need to enter the BIOS for your RAM to be detected, or it may be detected automatically when you boot your operating system.
You can run Memtest if you feel that the RAM is not functioning properly or may be faulty
Step 11. Close your laptop again
Once you've determined that your new RAM is installed properly, you can close the laptop. Replace the panel in front of the memory and screw it in.
- If you hear anything other than a single one-second beep, see your motherboard documentation for an explanation of beeps. Beeps are a warning system when one or more components fail the POST (Power On Self Test), and are usually due to faulty or incompatible hardware.
- Don't be alarmed if the computer shows you slightly less RAM than you bought. This is a difference in memory allocation measurement. If the RAM size is very different from what you purchased and installed, a module may be incorrectly connected or defective.
- A good website to check out is the Crucial memory website http://www.crucial.com/ because they have a tool that tells you how much and what type of RAM your computer can handle.
- If you hear a beep when you turn on the computer, you either have an incorrect memory type installed, or you have not installed the memory modules correctly. If this is a computer that you purchased from a store, you will need to contact the store or computer manufacturer to find out what the sound code means.
- Memory requirements by operating system:
- Windows Vista and later: 1 GB for 32-bit; 2 GB recommended for 32-bit and 4 GB for 64-bit
- Windows XP: 64 MB minimum, 128 MB recommended
- Mac OS X 10.6 and later: 2 GB required.
- Ubuntu: 512MB recommended.
- Make sure to discharge any possible static charge before touching the RAM; it is extremely sensitive to ESD (Electro-Static Discharge). Do this by touching metal before touching the computer.
- Do not touch the metal parts on the RAM modules. This can cause damage to the RAM modules.
- If you don't feel comfortable opening a computer, take the computer to a specialist. Since you bought the RAM modules yourself, it shouldn't be too expensive to have someone else install it.
- Do not reverse the RAM modules. If the computer is turned on with incorrectly placed RAM modules, the RAM slot and the offending RAM module are damaged. In rare cases, the motherboard may also be damaged.