Monthly PC Tips

Add More Memory

May 2012 – by Per Christensson

Adding memory is the easiest and most effective way to increase the performance of your computer. Of all the different ways you can upgrade a desktop or laptop PC, installing additional memory will give you the biggest bang for your buck.

Important: "Memory" is often used synonymously with "RAM." Therefore, adding more memory means adding more RAM. This is an important distinction, since "memory" is sometimes confused with "disk space" or storage capacity.

When adding memory, make sure you know how much and what type of RAM is currently installed in your computer. If all your RAM slots are filled, you may need to replace the current memory modules with higher capacity chips. Otherwise, you can simply add additional memory modules to increase your computer's memory.

Consider the following examples. 1) Your computer has four RAM slots. Two slots contain 2GB RAM chips, while the others are empty. That means your computer has a total of 4GB of RAM. You can easily upgrade to 8GB by purchasing two more 2GB RAM chips and installing them in the empty slots. 2) Your computer has four RAM slots, but each one contains a 1GB DIMM. You will need to purchase four 2GB RAM chips and replace the current 1GB chips to upgrade to 8GB of memory. In either case, you may also be able to use 4GB or 8GB DIMMs if your computer supports them.

Since there are many different types of RAM, it is important to make sure you get the right kind for your computer. If you get the wrong type, the RAM may not fit in the RAM slots or may not work when you turn your computer on. RAM specs include data rate, clock speed, form factor, pins, parity or non-parity, and ECC or non-ECC. It can be difficult to match all the specifications, so most RAM sales websites allow you to simply select your computer model from a list and the website will match your computer with the correct RAM.

For many computers, especially laptops, RAM is the only user-serviceable component. Therefore, installation instructions are often provided with the user manual. If not, you can typically find instructions on the computer manufacturer's website. Here are a few of the most important things to remember when installing memory:

  1. Make sure your computer is turned off and unplugged before starting the installation process.
  2. Only hold the RAM by the side edges to avoid shorting the components with static electricity.
  3. When you install the memory modules, make sure they "click" and are pushed all the way down into the slots.
  4. After installing the RAM, check your computer's system information to make sure your PC recognizes the new RAM.

Once you have installed additional memory, you should be able to run more applications simultaneously without your computer slowing down. Additionally, the operating system will have more free memory to allocate to system processes and open programs. This can speed up all operations and is why adding more memory is a great way to increase the performance of your system.

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