How to Upgrade the RAM (Memory) on a Laptop

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Got a sluggish or aging laptop that could use a speed boost? One of the most cost-effective upgrades to make your computer run faster is to simply add more RAM. In about the time it takes to read this step-by-step tutorial, you can upgrade your computer’s memory and performance.

1. Find Out If Your Computer Needs More RAM

Low memory is often the cause of bottlenecks on a computer, and can lead to not just slow performance but also stability problems. If you’re a power user–multitasking across several intensive programs or keeping 30 or so browser tabs open at once–more memory will likely help your system run more smoothly.

You can check your laptop’s memory usage in Windows Task Manager: With your typical applications open, hit Win+S to search for “task manager” (in Windows 7, hit the Windows key and type “task manager” in the search field). Then, in Task Manager’s performance tab, see how much memory is being used out of the total available. You’ll also see how many physical memory slots are in use and, thus, how many are available for adding more memory.

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You’ll get an even more detailed view by clicking on the “Open Resource Monitor” option at the bottom of the Task Manager window and navigating to the Memory tab. Note the screens will look slightly different under Windows 7 (shots below come from Windows 8.1).

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Need more memory!

2. Find the Right Kind of Memory

Once you’ve decided to upgrade the RAM, the hardest part is finding the correct memory for your system. Memory supplier Crucial offers handy tools to help you select the right memory. You can download a system scanner and let it find the upgrades available or simply choose your system from the Crucial Advisor tool.

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Depending on your system, Crucial’s Advisor tool might ask you for specifics you might not be sure about–for example, whether you have a dual core processor or a quad core one. You can find these details in Windows’ System Information window: Use Win+S to search for “msinfo32″ and look for the appropriate line (e.g., look at the processor line to see how many cores it has.)

Crucial’s tools will tell you how many memory banks (or slots) you have and the memory chips you can buy for your system. 

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For better performance, memory should be added in pairs. If your laptop has two memory banks, for example, and one of them is taken up by a 4GB chip, get a matching 4GB chip for the other, empty slot.

3. Open the Panel to Locate Your Memory Banks

With your additional memory in hand, it’s time to upgrade your laptop memory, a pretty straightforward process.

First, turn off your laptop and unplug the power adapter. Then open the panel on the bottom of your laptop covering the memory banks. (Depending on your system, you might have to unscrew the whole back of the laptop to access the memory and other components.)

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3. Ground Yourself to Avoid Electrostatic Discharge

Before you touch any component in your PC, though, touch any metal surface inside the computer (e.g., the back of the hard drive or a metal connector for another component). This will discharge any potentially damaging static electricity from your body.

MORE: How to Disable Automatic Restart in Windows 8.1, Windows 8 or Windows 7

4. Remove Any Memory in the Upper Slot

Chances are any installed memory will be taking the upper slot, so you’ll need to remove it and put it in the other bank so you have space for your added memory. 

To remove the memory module, push apart the clips holding it in place. The memory module should pop up at an angle. 

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Then, holding the memory module by its edges–without touching the gold connectors at the bottom, lift the module out.

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5. Install the Old Memory Module in the Lower Slot

Next, insert the module into the bottom slot at a 45-degree angle, with the gold edge facing down (the same way it was installed in the upper slot). Use even pressure with your fingers at the top of the module to push it into place. When you hear a click and feel the memory module snap into place, firmly push the module back until it is installed flat and level, with the clips holding it securely.

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 5. Repeat the Installation with the New Memory Module in the Upper Slot

Take the new memory module, with the gold edge facing down, and repeat the process in the top slot: Insert the module at an angle, and push down and back until it clicks into place.

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That’s it! Power up your laptop and head back to the System Information window or Task Manager to verify your new memory has been added. Enjoy your upgraded memory!


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