Hey there my Noob Alliance!

So you’ve heard the rumors about RAM have you?

If you heard that it can help make your computer or laptop run faster than you heard right!

In a previous post I actually mention adding RAM as one way you can make an old laptop run like new and why it helps to speed things up.

Adding more memory can only make things better! You’re probably wondering if it is easy or difficult to buy and install laptop RAM, especially if you are a beginner…So today I’m going to show you how to buy RAM for a laptop!

See my post here for more ways to make old (and new) laptops speedy!

The steps outlined:

  1. Check your laptop specifications and limitations.
  2. Check how much effort is required to get to where the RAM slots are on your laptop and then decide if you’re going to brave it or take it in to a PC shop to get it done.
  3. Check what memory your laptop already has installed.
  4. Hit the store and search for and select the correct memory for your laptop (tips included here to help you avoid pitfalls).

So without further ado, this is how I do it!

Step 1 – Can Your Laptop Support More RAM? Let’s Find Out!

Some easy Googling can help us find the answer.

First things first – we need to know our laptop’s model number – it is usually on a sticker at the bottom or sometimes even in the front close to the track pad. Are you also one of those folks that never removes the stickers on the front, like me? πŸ˜›

If you can’t find it there, use System Information – all versions of Windows have this utility – to open it:

  • Press the Windows key and the R key on your keyboard at the same time
Run Hotkey
  • The “Run” box opens
  • Now type in msinfo32.exe
  • Click OK

Look at the info displayed next to System Model and System Manufacturer.

Have a look at this screenshot (I’m using my desktop PC to show you but the principle remains the same):

System Information Model Number

From this I discovered that I have a Gigabyte B250M-DS3H computer. This is the model number of the motherboard inside my PC. The motherboard is the main component that all the other parts fit into and that links all the other components together. Both laptops and desktops have motherboards. Laptop users will see their laptop’s model number displayed in System Information instead of the motherboard model number.

Now write down the model number somewhere so that you have it on hand during the mission. πŸ˜‰

Type your laptop brand and the model number into Google to do a search. Look for results directly from the manufacturer’s product page and visit that page – they will have the most accurate information.

Here are my search results and the page I select is on the official Gigabyte website.

Google results Gigabyte b250m model number

Look for a tab that says “Specifications” or “User Manual” and click on or download it to find out exactly what your laptop can support. Look for a section that talks about “Memory“. Here’s the product info and section relevant to my search:

Memory Support Manufacturer Website

This tells me that my computer:

  • Has 4 x memory sockets
  • Can only take DDR4 type memory (very important!), Yours could be DDR3 or DDR2
  • Can support up to 64 Gigabytes of RAM – Some laptops can only take up to 2, 4 or 8 Gigabytes
  • Can support two types of RAM speed (2400 and 2133 MegaHertz) Yours could be 800, 1066, 1333 and so on

So in summary, this is what you need to know about your laptop’s abilities:

  • Memory type
  • Memory capacity
  • Memory speeds (MHz) it can support
  • The pin count – this is an extra detail required for laptops specifically. Desktops are usually pretty standard when it comes to pin counts. This refers to the number of little metal pins that make contact with the RAM slot when it is plugged in. Laptop memory sticks can have 72, 100,144, 200 or 204 pins to name a few- try to find out how many pins yours supports by checking the product specification page or product manual. If you can’t find it there, do some more research online – it is worth the effort as it will help you avoid buying the wrong memory!

Be sure to write all the info down as you find it – we’ll need it later.

Step 2 – How Easy or Difficult Will It Be To Install More RAM?

Peepz, trust me when I say it is usually pretty simple in most cases so don’t feel intimidated by the idea of installing memory.

If you’ve gotten to this step you should have downloaded your laptop’s manual already. There should be instructions there that shows how to install RAM in your specific laptop model.

You can also inspect the bottom of your laptop – look for a small rectangular cover that looks like it can be unscrewed. This is also one way to tell if it will be easy to get to the RAM slots or not.

If you see no way to unscrew the back cover then it means you’ll have to go in through the front by detaching the keyboard!

Scary stuff!? If your laptop needs to be disassembled I recommend that you don’t attempt this until you have a little more experience with poking around the insides of computers and especially laptops. There are little cables that can snap if you tug too hard by accident. Rather, take it in to a PC shop or take it to a geek friend if you have one of those nearby for help!

Another way to see what will be required of your skills and efforts is to head over to YouTube and type in your laptop’s model followed by “memory installation” or “disassembly”.

Example of an easy installation:

Example of an advanced installation:

Does all this sound too scary? Try these hacks first to give your laptop a boost – maybe it can go a bit longer without that upgrade πŸ˜‰

If it is just a case of unscrewing a little cover and popping in the RAM stick, then go for it!

Tips:

  • Make sure your laptop is turned off and the battery is removed before starting the installation process.
  • Make sure the power cord is unplugged before doing the installation
  • Discharge all power by holding in the power button for 30 seconds once you have removed the power cord and battery.
  • Always work very gently – don’t apply force when working with the internals.
  • It’s a good idea to take photos as you go along so that you know where things go when putting it all back together again.

If you’re still happy to go ahead at this point then let’s find out what you have under the hood!

Step 3 – What RAM Do You Currently Have Installed?

Now that we know what our laptop is capable of we need to find out what is already installed so that we can work out how much more to buy and also so that we can match the same type of RAM that is already installed.

A summary of the info we need to find:

  1. Total installed memory (how many gigabytes installed)
  2. The number of memory slots occupied
  3. The speed of your installed memory sticks

There are a few ways to find the info, here is how I do it:

For Windows 8 and Windows 10 Users

  • Right-click on the taskbar at the bottom of the screen
  • Select Task Manager
  • Click on the tab at the top that says Performance
  • On the left-hand side of the screen, click on Memory
  • Look in the top right-hand corner of the window for a value in “GB” – this is your installed memory

In this screenshot mine says 16 GB. Also note the number of slots and the memory speed. I’ve highlighted these in the screenshot as well.

Win10 Task Manager Memory Info

For Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 Users (The Retro Way)

Open System Information again like you did in Step 1

  • Press the Windows key and the R key on your keyboard at the same time
Run Hotkey
  • The “Run” box opens
  • Now type in msinfo32.exe
  • Click OK

This time scroll down to Installed Physical Memory and note the amount you already have installed like so:

Windows 10 System Information Memory

From this I discovered that I have 16 Gigabytes of memory installed. Now I need to know how many memory slots those 16 Gigabytes are using up to see if I have some open slots to put more memory into.

(It could be 1 x 16 GB stick or 2 x 8 GB sticks or 4 x 4 GB sticks).

Let’s make you feel like a bonafide tech pro – check this out and try it out for fun!

  • Open the “Run” box by pressing the Windows key and the R key together on your keyboard.
Run Hotkey
  • Type in CMD
  • Click OK
  • A black geek looking window opens: This program is called Command Prompt.

You can either copy the following code and paste it into the CMD window or type it in exactly as shows here in the CMD window.

  • To copy the code click and drag to highlight the code
  • Then press CTRL and C on the keyboard to copy it (or right-click on top of the highlighted code and click Copy)
Copy Hotkey
  • Go the Command Prompt window and press CTRL and V on your keyboard (or right-click on the black window area) to paste in the code that you just copied
Paste Hotkey
  • Make sure there is no space after the word “Tag”. If there is, press Backspace on your keyboard to remove it and then press Enter.

Here is a video showing how to copy and paste the code πŸ™‚

Code:

wmic MEMORYCHIP get BankLabel,DeviceLocator,Capacity,Tag

In my screenshot it shows that I have 2 sticks of memory installed:

CMD Number of Memory Sticks

Close Command Prompt for the next step.

Now I need to find out the speed of those two sticks and then I’m ready to window-shop!

  • Follow the steps above again but this time use this code:
wmic memorychip get speed

Now it shows me the speed of each stick which is 2400 MHz (Megahertz).

CMD RAM speed

For All Versions of Windows – The Easier Way

If you’re struggling with the Command Prompt method and just want to take the easier route then you can use a program called CPU-Z to provide you with all your system specs in one place. I use this program all the time so I know it is safe to use πŸ™‚

Here is how to download, install and use it:

Cpu-z download
  • Click the huge button that says Download Now and your download will start
Cpu-z download step 2
  • When your download is complete, click on the Cpu-z install file to start the installation
Cpu-z installation file
  • From here just go through the motions and click “yes” , “run”, accept the license agreement and click Next when prompted

How to use CPU-Z

  • Double click the CPU-Z shortcut on your desktop to start the program
  • Click Yes if Windows asks you to allow the program to run
  • A small square window will open with many tabs at the top
  • Click the Memory tab and write down your type and size
Cpu-z Memory Tab
  • Click on the SPD tab at the top and click on the arrow next to “Slot #1” to open a drop down menu
  • This will show you how many memory slots your laptop or computer has –  mine shows that I have 4
CPUZ SPD Tab
  • Select each slot from the drop down menu and note the details being populated for each slot
  • If the info is greyed out/blank it means the slot is empty
  • If info is displayed it means there is a memory stick inserted into the slot and info about it shows up
  • Write down how many slots you have that are occupied by a memory stick
  • Write down the information next to Max Bandwidth (this is your memory stick’s speed in megahertz)
  • If your memory Rank says Dual, multiply your speed by two – for example, mine calculates to 2400 MHz (1200 Mhz x 2)

Step 4 – Hitting The Shops! How To Search For And Choose RAM

Now that we know what to shop for, let’s head over to Amazon or your store of choice and see what they have.

Noob Tip: There are different physical sizes, also known as form factors, of memory sticks. The longer ones are usually for desktops and is also known as DIMM. The shorter ones are for laptops and known as SO-DIMM.

Memory Sticks Comparison

For instance, say I would like to double my computer’s memory  – I already have 2 out of 4 slots used and 16 Gigabytes installed. So to double it I would need 16 Gigabytes more. To work out how much each slot can support I take the max memory my PC can support (64GB) and divide that by the number of memory slots I have (4) = 16GB per slot.

Now I can either buy 1 x 16GB stick or I can buy 2 x 8GB sticks. If I work smartly I would go for 1 x 16 GB stick which leaves another slot open for future upgrades. Does that make sense? If not, let me know down below and I’ll try to explain better.

In the product search bar type in your capacity, type, speed, form factor and pin count (in that order) that you need.

For the sake of this exercise I’m going to search for: 16 GB DDR4 2400 DIMM 288 pin (Mine is DIMM because it is for my desktop computer – your laptop would be SO-DIMM).

Screenshot of Amazon RAM search

Note that there are different options available (8GB x 2 sticks and 16GB x 1 stick) – this is where knowing how many slots you have open and how much RAM your laptop can support comes in handy.

Sometimes both your slots are taken up but your laptop can actually support double the RAM – in that case you can decide to totally remove the two sticks you have installed and replace them with two bigger memory sticks according to what your laptop can support.

If you’re working on a budget consider getting used RAM-  it’s cheaper and from a reliable seller it will work just as well! (Weigh up cost versus the age of the laptop versus your budget).

It is recommended to always match the same speed of memory sticks together. So if you have a 1333 MHz stick already installed then look for the same 1333 MHz speed memory stick to match.

To Upgrade or Not To Upgrade?!

I bet you’re probably wondering if all this is worth it – and I don’t blame you. It does take some some effort to research to do it yourself and get it done correctly. However, I still feel it is very much worth it!

I’m always pro for memory upgrades! In fact, when I’m helping folks to choose and order their laptops I always make sure they get extra memory if the laptop can take it – that means I do that upgrade before their laptop even gets a chance to age. That way they do not have to worry about it later and everyone is happy πŸ˜‰

Alrighty … my Noob Alliance – let’s do something a little different in the comment section…. Show off your new geek skills and comment down below the details  of your RAM. Share with us which method you used to find the info! πŸ˜‰

PS – as always, feel free to ask for help or advice or simply to share your thoughts! <333

12 Comments

  1. Sujandar Mahesan

    Reply

    My laptop is running slow lately and I tried everything to fix it but it did not work at all. Then I found this article and I thought that this may be the key for my laptop.

    Such an awesome article with all those steps to perform. I couldn’t have done it without this website . Now I changed the ram for my laptop and is running really smooth.

    Thank you so much for sharing this article with us.

    • Nadia

      Reply

      Hey there Sujandar, it is my pleasure! I’m very happy to hear the memory upgrade improved your laptop’s performance! 

  2. Oloyede3

    Reply

    Thank you so much for this article exactly what I need right now, I have been looking for a way to make my laptop run faster, I have installed a lot of different drivers just to make my laptop run faster but yet it is still slow, but after reading this article i now know what to do to make it run faster, Thank you for this post once again it is very useful because i almost want to sell my system but I won’t be doing that again since I can now fix it.

    • Nadia

      Reply

      I’m so glad this article provided you with some hope! 

      Although updating drivers will help to some extent, it is one of the last steps I take to improve the performance of laptops and computers -I do it mostly for  general maintenance purposes. 

      I’m sure the memory upgrade will help significantly. You could also consider upgrading your hard drive to a solid state drive as this proves to make the most notable difference. Check my post here where I explain how it works: How To Make An Old Laptop Run Like New

  3. Celeste

    Reply

    Hi,

    This is a very good description of how to buy RAM for a laptop and very useful for someone life me who has no idea what they are doing! I have an Apple MacBook and wonder if the principles are the same or if you have to do something different with an Apple laptop?

    • Nadia

      Reply

      Hey there Celeste

      Some MacBooks can indeed have their memory upgraded – you would follow much the same process to find your MacBook’s specifications online.The procedure to determine your MacBook’s currently installed memory would be different. I believe the info can be found under the “About This Mac” section on your laptop. This YouTube video gives a general idea of how MacBook memory upgrades are done:  

  4. Susan

    Reply

    Nadia,

    You have given a very detailed explanation in this article, however, I am not even one to attempt being a computer geek with this I am a big chicken.  I did walk through the steps given to find my memory capacity on my computer (laptop) and found that I have 4 GB with the 1333 MHz and 1 of 2 slots!  In the future, I possibly will require more memory and I think for me a computer shop is going to be my way to go.  I am not a mechanically inclined person to tear apart a computer and would break something for sure.  

    Thank you for this article and now that I have the understanding of how this is done know what is required.

    Susan

    • Nadia

      Reply

      Hey there Susan, thank you for visiting me here and leaving some love! Super well done walking through the steps to get your memory info! 

      It’s unfortunate that 99% of laptops only have 2 slots but luckily it is still enough to make a nice difference in performance. 

      I totally understand how you feel, the first time I attempted to poke my laptop’s insides I was terrified and at one point I did think I broke something but it was just a false alarm thankfully lol.

  5. Sondra Meyer

    Reply

    Thank you for explaining how to buy RAM for a laptop.   Your explanation actually made it sound relatively easy.  Unfortunately, I can not show off my new geek skills right now because the laptop that needs to have it’s memory updated is at home.    

    Regardless, you have given me hope that I can extend the life of my beloved laptop that does not have enough memory a little bit longer.   That laptop also has a few programs installed on it that would be expensive to replace now if I had to upgrade my laptop.   It’s so frustrating that most software providers want you to purchase a subscription now rather than allowing your to purchase the program outright and not have ongoing monthly fees.   

    Your tips for taking photos as we go along with a great idea.   I am glad that you also explained how to discharge the power.  That has been my single biggest concern about working on the laptop.   I didn’t know how to do that.   

    So….you are my hero if I can simply add more RAM.   Thanks.   

    p.s.  Yes, I am one that leaves all of the  stickers on my computers

    • Nadia

      Reply

      Hey Sondra, thank you for stopping by and leaving some love! I’m so happy to hear that these articles are helpful! to folks 

      I love that computers give us that upgrade option, maybe it’s my inner geek but seeing an upgraded laptop or computer take off like a rocket makes my day. πŸ˜›

      I agree and feel your frustration about the way that they are selling software these days. 

      I’ve never been a fan of any sort of subscription but I suppose I can also see the flip side where teams of people working on the updates and support need sustained funding. Since I’ve started dabbling in website creation I started getting a glimpse of all the hours that go into things – and that’s not even the programming side. It gave me new respect for creators – any and all people that create. And now I’ve gone off topic lol. 

      I knew it! I knew I couldn’t be the only one in the world that keeps those stickers on rofl! (happy dance) πŸ˜‰

  6. Sondra

    Reply

    Good morning. I truly appreciated the help that I got from your post yesterday.

    I do understand that companies need to pay their teams of people. Yet, the programs that I do not want to have to subscribe to are Microsoft products and Intuit products. I like having the desktop versions that I can update only when I am ready to update.

    Again, thanks for the help that you are providing via this website.

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