Dual Channel vs Quad Channel: If you buy RAM, you’ll usually get two modules in a bundle for “dual channel” purposes, which essentially doubles the data transfer rate. On professional computers for workstation use, usually with an Intel Core X or AMD Threadripper processor, you’ll even get a quad-channel one.
How to Upgrade RAM on a Laptop
Jon Martindale has been a fiction writer for over 10 years. He has written for publications such as Digital Trends, KitGuru and ITProPortal.
Ryan Perian is a certified IT specialist with numerous IT certifications and over 12 years of experience in supporting and management positions in the IT industry.
What to Know
- Remove the access panel on the bottom of the laptop.
- Install additional memory cards, or remove old ones and replace them.
- Only selected laptops allow RAM expansion.
This guide will walk you through the process of checking if you can upgrade your laptop’s RAM and, if possible, how to do so.
Check if You Can Upgrade Your Laptop’s RAM
The first step in upgrading your laptop’s memory is to see if you can do it. Checking the bottom of your notebook for the dedicated memory access panel is an excellent first step. While it’s not absolutely necessary, if you have one, your laptop should be upgradeable.
You can also use the Crucial Memory Tool to determine if the memory is removable or not (i.e., is soldered to the motherboard and cannot be replaced). Enter the manufacturer and model number of the laptop. If it suggests your memory is removable and recommends some specific modules, you’re in luck: you can upgrade your laptop’s RAM.
Crucial will also tell you what the maximum memory of your laptop is in terms of gigabyte (GB) capacity. To find out if your existing RAM is less and therefore worth updating, you can take a look at the Task Manager performance tab.
If your memory is less than the maximum amount supported by your laptop, you can upgrade it. You can also use the Task Manager when you’re working hard on your computer to see if you’re using the most memory. In this case, upgrading may improve system performance.
While completing her PhD, Tina started writing about consumer technology in 2006 and has never stopped. Now also editor and SEO, you can find her on Twitter or by hiking nearby trail.
What Is Laptop RAM and Do You Need More?
RAM stands for Random Access Memory, but you’ll also see it as physical memory or just memory. Your operating system uses RAM to temporarily store information about running processes and tasks. More RAM means more processes can run simultaneously.
Full RAM can cause performance issues because the operating system has to store the overflow elsewhere. To free memory for active processes and tasks, the system starts writing redundant data, i.e information about inactive processes or tasks, to the hard disk (virtual memory). When the user returns to an idle process or job, the system must first free up RAM, then retrieve the requested item data from the hard disk and load it into RAM. Since hard disk read / write speeds are significantly slower than RAM read / write speeds, the user experiences lag.
If your laptop freezes frequently when you want to switch from one program to another, adding your laptop’s RAM will likely make your system much stronger.
With the advancement of solid state drives (SSDs), this latency has become much less of a problem. And while upgrading your RAM is probably the easiest way to fix the lag, upgrading your system disk from a hard disk drive (HDD) to an SSD will also boost your laptop’s performance.
How Much RAM Do You Need?
The amount of RAM you need depends on what you are doing with your computer. Moreover, the amount of RAM you can add is limited by the type of operating system you have.
How Much RAM Can You Have?
All Windows 32-bit operating systems, including Windows 10, support a maximum of 4 GB of RAM. If that’s you, don’t hold back and get as much as you can. If you’re running a 64-bit version of Windows, the amount of RAM you can add may actually be limited by your laptop’s motherboard.
Here is an overview of physical memory limitations for 64-bit versions of Windows:
- Windows 10 Home: 128 GB
- Windows 10 Pro and Education: 2 TB
- Windows Pro for Workstations and Enterprises: 6 TB
- Windows 8: 128 GB
- Windows 8 Professional and Enterprise: 512 GB
- Windows 7 Home Basic: 8 GB
- Windows 7 Home Premium: 16 GB
- Windows Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate: 192 GB
A complete overview can be found on this page Memory Limits for Windows Releases.
How Much RAM Do You Have Right Now?
Now that you know the maximum RAM supported by your operating system, let’s find out what you currently have.
In Windows, press the CTRL + SHIFT + ESC keyboard shortcut to open the Task Manager. Or, you can right-click on the taskbar and select Task Manager.
Go to the Performance tab and check what is written under Physical memory (MB) or Memory. The exact wording will vary depending on your Windows version. In Windows 7, the sum indicates the amount of RAM currently installed in the system.
On Windows 10, you’ll see the total amount of available memory in the upper-right corner of the Performance tab.
If the total RAM is less than what your system supports, you theoretically have room to upgrade. And if your RAM is exhausted, you also have a reason to upgrade. Leave the Task Manager open and see how your RAM is working while you continue to use your computer.
How Much Extra RAM Do You Need?
To find out how much information your system writes to virtual memory, use the Performance Monitor.
- Go to Start, type “do” in the search box
- Open the Performance Monitor
- In the Monitoring Tools section, click Performance Monitor
- Then click the green + symbol to add another variable
- Paging file from the list and click Add >>
- Click OK and watch
This will give you an idea of how much RAM you really need.