How to add RAM to a computer


1st Jan 2015 Technology

How to add RAM to a computer

Rather than spend a fortune on a new PC, why not upgrade the RAM on your existing system? A cheap upgrade can speed up performance and keep it running for years to come.

Older or cheaper computers tended to come with the minimum amount of memory (RAM) needed to run the operating system that it came with. This means that they can be very slow when trying to run a couple of applications or utilities. It also means that if you upgrade the operating system to a more recent version, say Windows 8 or the upcoming Windows 10, it will get slower still. 


Boost your memory easily

However, most desktop and notebook PCs can be easily upgraded, and the price of memory makes it a cheap way to upgrade a computer and keep it running, rather than having to spend lots of money on a new PC. To upgrade, you need to find out a few things first. What type of memory is installed in your system? Are there any free memory slots in your PC? And where will you get your new memory from?

If you have Windows 7, type "how much RAM is on this computer" in the Start Menu and it will show you a Control Panel page, under the system information is the amount of installed memory in gigabytes (GB). If this shows 1GB or 2GB, you really need to upgrade it to 4GB. Only if you need lots of applications open at once, like Microsoft Office or video or photo editing apps, would you need 8GB. 

Then you need to find out what type of memory your PC uses, this can be found out in the manual, if you have it to hand or you can use a website, such as memory supplier Crucial. This downloads a small tool that will check your system and show you what memory you need. It will also show you how many memory banks you have free, and what your options for upgrading are. 


There are many types of RAM

The terminology is rather scary but easy to break down. So, a "1GB DDR3 PC3-12800 Unbuffered NON-ECC 1.35V" RAM is simply a 1GB piece of memory, DDR3 is the type, PC3-12800 is the speed and "Unbuffered NON-ECC" refers to its features, while 1.35V is the voltage. As long as you buy memory that matches your existing type, you can upgrade. 

Common upgrades include adding 1GB to an existing 1GB to make 2GB, or you can add 2GB to 2GB to make 4GB. If your PC only has one memory slot, you will need to replace the original RAM with the new one - buying one 4GB piece of RAM would make sense. 

Of course, you don't have to buy your memory from Crucial, as there are many other sources, such as local PC stores, major PC retailers, or other online stores. Shop around and find the best deal for you. If you don't want to install the RAM yourself (it can be quite a fiddly process), a local computer repair store will happily do it for you, and test it to make sure it works.