If you are thinking of spending some money to upgrade your computer, you are probably wondering what you have to trade in to get more for your money.
In most cases, except for adding a solid-state drive, increasing the RAM will help you increase the speed of your computer more than any other improvement you can think of.
Why? Because Microsoft Windows and many other popular applications that run on it are resources hungry.
If you run two or three applications simultaneously, they must dance around each other as Windows constantly “swaps” some of its code and information between RAM and the hard drive, often slowing the computer to a crawl. Adding more RAM means making fewer “swaps”, improving system performance.
Fortunately for us, adding RAM is one of the quickest and easiest upgrades to do yourself. It’s so easy. In fact, virtually anyone can do it. With that said, here are a couple of things to consider before buying more RAM for your PC:
1 – Make sure you buy the correct type of memory card. Most recent computers use DDR4 or DDR3 RAM modules.
If your system is already old enough to use DDR2 or even DDR RAM, it will most likely not make sense to invest money to upgrade it.
A quick way to find out what type of RAM your PC uses is to Google your computer’s model number, along with the word “RAM,” and visit a couple of sites until you find the information. You can usually also find the type of RAM printed on the side of the box the computer came in if you still have it lying around.
Important: You will also need to know the maximum amount of memory supported by your computer. On my Gateway desktop, the maximum is 8GB. Your computer may support more or support less. Note that you can only add RAM until the total amount installed is the same as the maximum amount allowed.
Another quick and easy way to find out what type of RAM your computer requires is by visiting www.crucial.com and running their “System Scanner” tool. You will see the link to this tool right on its home page.
This tool is 100% safe and works extremely well. Besides the type of RAM you need to buy, the scanner will also tell you how many empty ports you have available. Sometimes there will be two or more, sometimes there will be none.
If your PC does not have empty ports available, remove some of the existing RAM modules and replace them with the new ones, so be sure to take this into consideration when deciding how much RAM to buy.
For example, if your PC currently has 2GB of RAM installed as two 1GB modules and you also have two empty ports, you will need to purchase two 4GB modules and place them in the empty ports to increase your RAM to 10GB.
However, if your PC has four 1GB modules installed, giving you 4GB with no empty ports, you will need to remove two of the existing modules and replace them with 4GB drives. This will still result in 10GB because you had to remove 2GB of the existing RAM to install the new modules.
2 – Install new memory modules in corresponding pairs. Although it is usually possible on most computers to add a single RAM module, adding two or four at the same time could make the system run faster, preventing fewer random “stumbles” from occurring.
3 – Always buy RAM with the same technical specifications as the memory cards you already have installed, especially at its speed. Mixing RAM modules with different memory specs regularly causes problems with system stability.
If the memory you want to install is faster than the existing one in your PC, consider removing all old memory cards and replacing them with new ones, especially if the motherboard can support faster speeds. In the long run, you will be happy you did.
4 – Even some not-so-recent computers can benefit from upgrades to their RAM, but you may not find the old type of memory cards that your computer needs at your local Amazon or some other retail store. If that’s your case, don’t be discouraged. You will most likely find exactly what you need on eBay.
5 – If you don’t feel comfortable working with the components inside your PC, you can probably hire your computer-savvy neighbor (most likely some tech-savvy teenager) to install your memory for you.
Alternatively, you can take your computer to the nearest Best Buy Geek Squad or repair center to have it installed for you.
Or if you want to install your new RAM modules yourself, here are a couple of short videos that show you how to do it, step by step.
First, if your computer is a laptop …
And if your computer is a desktop model …
Note: Your laptop or desktop computer may differ from what you see in the videos, but once you remove the cover, the procedure for adding/replacing RAM will be more or less the same.
However, note that some laptop models do not have removable covers over their RAM ports. That means the entire chassis will need to be disassembled, at least partially, to get closer to the RAM ports.
If your laptop falls into this category, you might pay a computer technician to install the new memory cards for you.
Bottom line: A RAM upgrade can often breathe new life into a computer, making it run faster and with fewer rare glitches.
Extra Tip: This post explains how to increase the speed of your computer even more by replacing its hard drive with a super-fast SSD!