How to upgrade RAM on a laptop

Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

Is your trusty laptop feeling a little sluggish lately? Is it overloaded when too many tabs are open? Upgrading your RAM may be the solution.

RAM, or random access memory, plays a crucial role in your computer’s performance. When it runs out of physical memory, it starts transferring data to your hard drive, which dramatically slows down processes. Here’s how to upgrade your laptop’s RAM and how to install it yourself when the time comes.

Install RAM on your new laptop

As long as you follow the instructions carefully, you will be able to install new RAM on your laptop yourself without any advanced technical knowledge. Before you get started, though, skip to the bottom of this article for more information on how to check your RAM usage, how to tell if your laptop is upgradable, and how to choose the right kind of RAM.

It should be noted that the inside of laptops is diverse in terms of design. The following steps are general tips that should apply to most laptops, although the details will vary from laptop to laptop.

  1. Turn off your laptop and make sure it is disconnected from any power source.
  2. Turn your laptop over so you can identify and remove all the screws that will allow you to remove the base plate.
  3. SODIMM memory is often held in clips. Find them and remember to hold the RAM by the edges instead of covering the gold connectors.
  4. Remove the old RAM from your laptop by releasing the clips that hold the RAM in place.
  5. Insert the new RAM, holding it sideways at an angle; the pins must be aligned with those in the slot.
  6. Press the new RAM firmly until it clicks into place under the clips.
  7. Replace the base plate and screw it back on.
  8. Turn on your laptop and navigate to Settings > System > regarding. Here you should see the full amount of RAM installed. If it is incorrect, you will need to repeat the above steps to reseat the RAM.

Check your current RAM usage

Those are the basic instructions, but there’s a lot more you need to know before you go out and buy new RAM modules. Start by checking your laptop’s memory usage. When your most demanding workload is open and running, open Windows Task Manager to check and see if it needs more. Here’s how to open it:

  • Right-click on the taskbar.
  • Choose Task manager.
  • Click on productivity section.

Here you can see how much memory is being used compared to the total amount of RAM available. If you’re nearing the limit, upgrading can greatly improve performance.

Find out if you can upgrade

Next, you need to know if upgrading your laptop’s RAM is even possible. Not all laptops allow RAM upgrades; some have sealed bottoms or soldered memory. If you have a recent MacBook or other compact laptop, for example, you’re probably out of luck.

You can use tools like Crucial Memory Advisor or refer to your laptop’s documentation to determine if an upgrade is possible. Determine the type and speed of RAM supported by your laptop (DDR2, DDR3, DDR4 or DDR5) and the maximum capacity. If you have access to your memory, you’re all set.

Buy RAM that is compatible with your laptop

Now that you know the type and speed of RAM your laptop can support, it’s time to buy that RAM for your laptop. Although you don’t need to buy a matching pair of memory, dual-channel RAM offers increased performance. It also eliminates any potential compatibility conflicts.

You can purchase RAM to upgrade your laptop from the manufacturer’s website or through online retailers such as Amazon or Best Buy.

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