Have no idea how to buy ram for your laptop? With so many listings of RAM modules to buy, what is the correct type for your laptop? Allow me to make the process a little less mind-boggling.
If you heard that adding more RAM can help make your laptop run faster, you heard right!
In a previous post I mention that adding RAM is one way to breathe new life into an old laptop and why it helps to speed things up.
But, where do you even start?
You are probably wondering if it is an easy or a difficult task. Do you need to be a rocket scientist to get it right? (spoiler – no you don’t!)
In this guide I will show you step by step how – and where – to go about it – let’s dive in.
See my post here for more ways to make old (and new) laptops speedy!
The outlined steps:
- Check your laptop specifications and limitations.
- 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.
- Check what memory your laptop already has installed.
- Hit the store and search for and select the correct memory for your laptop (tips included here to help you avoid pitfalls).
And now in more detail…
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? 😛
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
- 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):
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. 😉
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.
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:
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 😉
If it is just a case of unscrewing a little cover and popping in the RAM stick, then go for it!
- 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:
- Total installed memory (how many gigabytes installed)
- The number of memory slots occupied
- 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.
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
- 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:
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.
- 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)
- 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
- 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 🙂
wmic MEMORYCHIP get BankLabel,DeviceLocator,Capacity,Tag
In my screenshot it shows that I have 2 sticks of memory installed:
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).
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 🙂
Here is how to download, install and use it:
- Go to https://www.cpuid.com/softwares/cpu-z.html which is their official website
- Scroll down to a button that says SETUP ENGLISH and click on it
- Click the huge button that says Download Now and your download will start
- When your download is complete, click on the Cpu-z install file to start the installation
- 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
- 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
- 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.
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).
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 😉
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! 😉
PS – as always, feel free to ask for help or advice or simply to share your thoughts! <333