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How do I install more memory (RAM)? - Common Computer Questions

Posted: November 28, 2012 - Jim Bernstein

Question: How do I install more memory (RAM)? And how do I know what kind to get and if it will work with my computer?

Answer: Installing more memory (RAM) is one of the best bang for the buck upgrades you can do on your computer but there are a few things to keep in mind. First you should find out how much RAM you already have and decide if it will really be beneficial to do an upgrade. If you are running Windows XP for example and have 2-4GB of RAM then adding more most likely won't help you too much and if you have a 32 bit version of Windows XP then it won't be able to access anything over 4GB anyways. If you have Windows Vista or Windows 7 and have less than 4 GB of RAM then it's a good idea to do an upgrade since we feel that 4GB is the minimum you should have for those versions of Windows. 6 to 8GB of RAM is more suitable in this case.

Next you need to find out if your computer has any open slots for adding more RAM. One way to do this is to open your case and see if you have any open slots. Or you can try an easier method and install the free Speccy program that will tell you how much RAM you have, what type it is as well as how many RAM slots you have in use. If you don't have any slots free you can always take out your existing RAM and replace it with bigger chips.

This brings us to our next point which is to find out the type of RAM you have since you will need to get memory with the same specifications that you currently have in your computer. Speccy will tell you this or you can take a chip out and look at the sticker for something like PC5300 and the size of the chip. If you have an older computer it may be hard to find memory for it without looking for used RAM on sites like eBay. Older motherboards may have a smaller RAM limitations compared to newer ones so if you are planning on going big then you may want to check to see if there is a maximum amount of memory you can add to your system.

Install RAM

Once you figure all of this out then you just need to buy your RAM and install it in your system. Just make sure your computer is powered off and unplugged before doing any work on it. Then line up the RAM in the slot and make sure its facing the right way since it can only go in one way and snap it into place. Then turn on your computer and make sure it’s recognized by the system. If it’s not then you may need to go into the BIOS and see if it’s recognized or update your settings. This is usually only an issue on older computers.

Now after you installed your new RAM you should notice a performance increase especially if you run many programs at the same time or use graphic intensive software such as photo or video editing software as well as play high end video games. The amount of a performance gain you will experience will depend on how much RAM you added, how much RAM you started with and what operating system you are running.

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