loading...
Cover image for How to upgrade RAM on your laptop

How to upgrade RAM on your laptop

munamohamed94 profile image Muna Mohamed ・1 min read

Originally posted on Medium.

A few weeks ago, I upgraded my laptops RAM (for the first time) and thought I’d document the installation process for anyone who might be interested in doing the same 😀. I was inspired by Elizabete (@elisabete.code on Twitter) after I saw her one of her Twitter Moments where she built a PC. Make sure to check her out on Twitter!

Over the last couple months, my laptop has been quite slow and laggy which has meant that running multiple tasks at the same time has led to my laptop freezing or operating painfully slow. In addition to this, overheating also became an issue.

Rather than buying a new laptop, which is an investment in itself, I found another, albeit temporary, solution to my problem. Upgrading the RAM on my laptop.

Research

First, I needed to figure out which RAM memory card was compatible with my laptop. To do this, I used a popular website called Crucial that sells RAM memory and SSDs. The website has two tools that help you find compatible memory and solid state drives(SSD) for your laptop.

  • Advisor tool: if you know your system specs (i.e. the manufacturer, product name and model)

  • System Scanner tool: if you don’t know your system specs

Because I knew the system specs for my laptop, I used the Advisor tool. The website found my laptop and showed the RAMs that were compatible. After going through the list of compatible RAMs and choosing which one I wanted to get for my laptop, being the bargain hunter that I am, I copied and pasted the model number of the RAM on Google to see if I could find better deals. I found the same RAM on Amazon at a better price(£25.99) and after reading the reviews and checking that the seller was legit, I bought it.

Installation

After waiting a few days, it finally arrived and I must say, I was quite excited! Now, while I was waiting for the RAM to arrive, I did watch a few videos on YouTube where people were installing their RAM into their laptop so I had a good idea of what I had to do.

Here comes the fun part!

I started by disconnecting my charger from my laptop. Next, I flipped my laptop upside down, took out the battery from my laptop then unscrewed the screw that was holding the back panel in place.

This is where I’ll be inserting the new RAM (see image below). There are two slots, one of which is already occupied by the RAM that came with my laptop. I turned my laptop to the side(90deg anti-clockwise) so I can see where I had to insert the RAM better.

I slid in the RAM card at a 45° angle. This is how it looks from the side. This was a little fiddly so take your time here. All that’s left to do is to push it down till you hear a click. This part was a little scary because I was worried that if I pushed it too hard it would be break. After a couple pushes I just went for it and surprise, it didn't break!

That’s the tough bit done! It was easier to do than I expected. I screwed the back panel back on and put the battery back in. I plugged the charger back in and started up the laptop. Moment of truth!

To check that the new RAM has been installed, I opened Task Manager, clicked on Memory — and voila! As you can see, the memory has changed to 8GB which means that upgrading the RAM was successful.

One month update

I noticed a quite a difference immediately after upgrading the RAM on my laptop.

My laptop was no longer making lots of noise, which it used to before. This is because my laptop was now able to handle running more tasks and was no longer over-exerting itself to handle running multiple tasks at the same time. As a result, my laptop was no longer overheating. Furthermore, my laptop is able to multitask a lot better than before, allowing me to run more tasks without my laptop freezing or slowing down.

So, would I recommend upgrading your RAM? Absolutely. Installation is simple and doesn’t take long to do (around 10 minutes or so). Plus, if you’re having similar issues with your laptop, upgrading your laptop’s RAM is an inexpensive way of solving the problem.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! If you did, ❤️, 💬 and share! Till next time! ✌️

Posted on Aug 25 '18 by:

munamohamed94 profile

Muna Mohamed

@munamohamed94

Hi! My name is Muna and I’m a Frontend Developer/Full Stack Developer in Training based in London. Welcome to my space on the internet!

Discussion

markdown guide
 

If you want to extend the useful life of your machine even further, replace your existing mechanical HDD with an SSD. (I assume you have a mechanical HDD because you described the virtual memory swapping as making “lots of noise”.) It’s a bigger pain in the neck to swap out a system drive, though. May as well take the opportunity to do a fresh OS install as well - it’ll run like a brand new machine.

 

The upgrade to SSD is the best! But it is a good idea to take it with a specialist, if you do not have experience or security to open the unit. The first time I did I broke a plate resistance 😂 —I guess that's how you learn.

 

I did RAM and SSD on MacBook Pro a few years ago and it wasn’t so bad.

But these days I think that’s impossible on the new machines if I remember correctly.

Ditto, did the same. Back then, I even swapped out the optical drive (aka CD drive) to an SSD. Woot, more disk space FTW. I managed to get my MPB 2010 to last me 5 years after swapping out the dead battery once. Those were the good old days. Apple don't make these machines as good as they used too, my MBP that I bought as a replacement 2 years back has been giving me so many problems I'm considering a Windows or a Ubuntu machine the next time I buy a new workhorse.

Windows 10 is fine 👌, but it takes some time to get used to it and... Sometimes you have to install some distribution of Linux for development.

I never understand comments like this. I fail to see what you can do on Linux that you can't do on the Windows host OS

I assure you that it happened to me the same, I did not understand it, until one day I did. It's only for specific cases, that's why I say "sometimes". I usually have a virtual machine for those moments.

"Blessed are those who can use Windows without needing Linux".
—Dev 8:26

😂😂😂😂

Again though there is nothing in everyday development that would require me to use Linux.

 
 

Thank you for the suggestion! I'm not ready to let go of my laptop for a new one just yet so will have to look more into that. Adding RAM will do for now I think, but I will definitely keep that in mind for future reference :)!

 
 
 

I fully expected this article to just be a link to this site. I'm glad I'm not disappointed ;)

 
 

Thanks that was just so helpful, I downloaded totally 64 GB of RAM.

 

Heavy work we need to download more ram at DownloadRAM.net this is the new blog I found and very useful.

 
 

It's so easy, my laptop is faster x200 after the download 👌👍🙌

 

Once you upgrade your RAM, you never go back.

When I first upped my RAM it was really when I stepped through the looking glass into caring that much more about the general hardware choices I was making. I've been making more educated hardware choices ever since.

 

I feel like I've gone down a rabbit hole into this whole new world! Oh, the possibilities!

 

As others have mentioned, SSD is probably the next step if you aren't already using one.

It's good that you're already in the Windows ecosystem. Not nearly as much specialization available in Mac-land.

Yes, several people have suggested upgrading to SSD too. I think adding RAM is enough for now but, I'll definitely be looking into that! One step at a time, eh? 😅
Is it more difficult to modify the hardware on Mac laptops compared to Windows? I read somewhere that the RAM on many Mac laptop models after 2013 can't be upgraded because it has been soldered on.

Yeah, in every way Apple has always had hardware that is not built for modification. And lately it’s gotten way worse. They make great devices but their desktop and laptops do not justify the lack of mod ability at all.

Oh, I see. The lack of mod ability also extends onto their phones too which is what puts me off Apple products. I like being able to add modifications on devices like having a removable battery and memory card on a phone or upgrading hardware on a laptop. Apple seems to be moving towards removing mod ability completely which really sucks.

 

I actually just upgraded mine a couple weeks back! One gotcha, which I'm not 100% sure if it's just me, is that I removed the factory RAM before I installed the new one and then swapped their slots (IDK, I thought it's fine to do it). So basically, the factory RAM is at slot_a which I moved to slot_b and installed the new one at slot_a. This crashed my laptop after half an hour of usage in which no peripheral worked (even the display) even if the power displays are on. I tried swapping them back to their original slots and it worked fine ever since!

So.... am I crazy or is what goes where matters when installing RAM?

 

I think you got lucky, I wouldn't use two different types of RAM at once. The reason being they might have different timings, latencies and voltage.

It's a gamble :-)

 

Err, but they're the same memory size and frequency though? Just different vendors. I wonder what went wrong.

Sorry, I wasn't clear enough :-) They should be the same exact model of RAM, vendor included.

Different models and brands can have different CAS latency, slightly different voltages and so on.

They might be identical in manufacturing, they might not. That's why I said you got lucky and that's why people suggest to have 2 exactly identical memory sticks.

Oh yeah I see, that's the reason why (some) RAM sticks are sold as pairs, right? I'll keep in mind next time!

Yeah I think it's exactly for that reason...

 

Over the last couple months, my laptop has been quite slow and laggy

Adding RAM wouldn't be my first thought to solve this unless you've recently started using a more resource-demanding bit of software than you did previously. Whatever is slowing your machine down will still do that with more RAM, it might just take longer to get there.

It looks like the original HDD in the picture, so it'll be a 5400RPM 500GB jobbie, and one that's anything up to 7 years old (I read the specs). Replace it with a cheap (but reliable brand) SSD and you'll see a bigger difference. Since it's an older laptop and you don't want to spend much, you can get something like a WD Green 120GB SSD for about £25. You'll need a USB-to-SATA cable for an extra fiver if you want to copy your old system across, but I'd recommend a complete re-installation of the OS to make sure it's not just going to carry over whatever's making it slow at the moment.

I use a laptop of about the same vintage as my daily machine and can't say I've felt much of an urge to replace it yet :)

 

Hi Ben! Thank you so much for your suggestions! Learning how to code the last couple years or so has required the use of more resource-demanding software than before so adding RAM has really helped in that aspect.

Adding RAM is enough for me for now but I will definitely keep your suggestions in mind for future reference!:)

 

I would caution you to learn about SMART data for your hard drive. When your hard drive makes lots of clicking noises, you will want to check the SMART attributes (generally done in the BIOS or a manufacturer utility) to see if the drive is failing. If your drive is starting to failk, you'll want to replace it and restore your data (you already have backups, right? :P )

 

adding ram does wonders, now I can game, have 20 chrome tabs open, have discord open and still run other programs without my computer giving up
(having a desktop does help a lot, you don't even have to use a screwdriver to install new memory)

 

Wow, that's a lot of tasks! May I ask how much RAM you added onto your computer?

 

went from 2x4 to 4x4 so 8gb added :)

 

Amazing timing for a post. I'm pretty shocked by the coincidence! :) I did the exact same process (also via crucial then searching the web for cheaper) then watching youtube videos on how to replace my RAM then unfortunately the new RAM did not work :O . I had to revert back to my old RAM. Well i'll try that again next weekened ... but yes the process was exactly as explained! and it was surprisingly easy for me non-hardware guy, great explanation, thanks for the confirmation I went through the right steps ;))

 

Great minds think alike, eh? :D

Oh no, I'm sorry to hear that. I wonder why it didn't work. Best of luck on your next try! If it doesn't work, come back to this thread. I'm sure someone would be able to help figure out what the problem is! Fingers crossed it works out 🤞🏾

 

There are a lot of technicalities that can apply. DO you have multiple slots for memory? Generally, they have to be filled in pairs and there is an order you need to follow as to which of the two slots in a pair is filled first. Consult the manual for your motherboard to get the facts.

 

👍👍👍 I updated the RAM on my old 2011 macbook pro and it runs like a dream! Only cost $150 and I basically got a new computer.

 

That's awesome! Upgrading the RAM really does seem to bring a laptop back to life!

 

Nice and short guide, it covers everything with the mindset of a newcomer.

Tip: if one of the RAM stick is not the same speed as the other, they will both take the slowest speed of the two. So it's not a big deal if the speed is mismatched, as long as they are the same type (ddr3, ddr3, etc.)

 

We do "mid-life kicker" upgrades (RAM and/or SSD) for lots of clients on desktops and laptops, and it nearly always makes the machines feel like new again. A couple of caveats:

The crucial.com scanner is our go-to tool for figuring out which RAM a machine needs, but I'm never buying Crucial RAM again, I found after a while (2-6 months?) the RAM gets flakey, and needs replacement again. Yeah, lifetime warranty, but who has time to deal with those kinds of issues? Make sure you keep the old RAM in case things start acting wierd, so you can swap back... [Kingston has been pretty good for me, either their regular or Hyper-X, FWIW, and the NewEgg product picker works so much better than Amazon, IMHO, that I usually determine what I need from Crucial and then buy at NewEgg.]

As Rhymes points out, mixing and matching will sometimes work, but depends on so many factors that you are really better off getting the full new kit of however much RAM your machine can handle.

Not every RAM upgrade is successful, just one of those timing or voltage or other more esoteric problems, so run your normal workload for a while or run a RAM test like memtest86.com to make sure there are no issues.

Overheating can also be caused by dust or pet hairs clogging the cooling system, use a flashlight to see if you can detect any clogging of the cooling fins, and blow the cruft out backwards when the machine is off and the covers are open.

SSD upgrades are a little more work, as you have to transfer your data over to the new drive. Some kits come with an external housing so you get all the parts and software you need. I usually use a Linux box with a couple of removable SATA drive housings and ddrescue(*) or equivalent, or Acronis or other cloning software if the drive sizes are different.

(*) Many times drives going bad will get really really slow as they retry a lot, so ddrescue can recover most or all of your data if you catch it in time, and return the machine to 'normal' speed.

And yes, a lot of modern laptops (and some desktops) are so small and thin that the RAM is soldered to the motherboard, and can't be replaced. Make sure when you buy a new one you max out the RAM and buy as much SSD as you'll need for the future. 8*)

YMMV, but great post, thanks!

 

SHout out to Apple for ensuring I cannot replace the memory on my 2012 Mac Book Pro! I mean technically I could pay $300+ for a new motherboard, but at this point I decided to surrender. I found a deal on an HP Spectre last weekend and am trying out the 2 in 1 thing. So far, it's really enjoyable for notetaking!

 
 

I upgraded RAM in my old laptop that had 5 years at the time from 8GB to 12GB and it was great experience, thanks to this it served me another two years.

 

Thank you for sharing your experience Andy! That's amazing! I was a little skeptical when some described their laptops as having a new lease of life after upgrading their RAM but, now I'm completely sold! I wish I had done it sooner!