How to Upgrade Laptop Memory

How to Upgrade Laptop Memory - Introduction

We show you how to upgrade laptop memory simply, giving your laptop PC a new lease of life.

Installing more memory in any PC, laptop or desktop, will give a great boost to its performance.

It should be reasonably cheap and easy to upgrade laptop memory on any laptop built after around 2003 giving you a significant performance increase and allowing you to run multiple applications smoothly with less lag.

Many laptops will come with only a small amount of RAM installed and this can significantly drag down performance, especially if your laptop does not have a dedicated graphics card with its own separate memory.

Acer Laptop cover removed showing stacked memory

You see most laptops will use an integrated ‘on-board’ graphic adapter and will share the system memory, thereby reducing the memory available for Windows to run programs and applications.

Windows will then have to use the laptops hard disk drive for temporary storage which, especially in a laptop with slower running hard disk drives, slows down your performance even further.

Another consequence of this is battery life – your hard disk drive spinning up and down all the time will unnecessarily drain that battery of yours far more quickly!

So, now the benefits of performing a laptop memory upgrade are threefold – smoother running, able to open and run more applications at the same time and extended battery life!

Is all this going to be expensive? Not at all – a memory upgrade is one of the best ‘bang for your buck’ upgrades you can perform – laptop or desktop PC.

Laptop memory modules have a smaller footprint than their desktop counterparts due to the space constraints of a laptop but basically they use the same technology.

How to Upgrade Laptop Memory – RAM types

Most laptops in use today use DDR type memory in a variety of bus speeds such as PC2100, PC2700 & PC3200.

There are three main types of laptop memory in circulation, SDRAM, DDR RAM and DDR2 RAM. You will need to find out which type your laptop uses before you can proceed any further.

To determine which type of memory module your laptop requires you should refer to your user manual or go to the manufacturer’s website which should detail the type of memory you require.

Failing that, a quick search on Google should get you pointed in the right direction.

The latest laptops will use the DDR2 type of memory available in PC2-3200 speed and upwards.

You will find the simplest way to get information regarding the correct type of memory to use will be by visiting one of the major memory manufacturer’s websites and using their configuration tools.

Visit and use their ‘configuration tool’ or try their ‘System Scanner tool’ if your laptop isn’t listed.

Don’t worry if the only memory available is a bit faster than you need – as long as it’s the correct type, i.e. SDRAM, DDR or DDR2 you should be fine.

Some laptops and desktop PCs gain extra performance by configuring their memory to run in ‘dual-channel’ mode which requires two identical memory modules to be used so remember that to take advantage of this you will need to replace both modules as a pair when upgrading.

Check that you don’t overdo the laptop memory upgrade beyond that which your operating system can cope with!

Windows XP and Vista will handle up to 4GB but older operating systems will not.

How to Upgrade Laptop Memory – Installing Your Memory

Where exactly is your laptop memory located?

Most laptops will locate the memory under a cover in the base of the laptop but some have the memory hidden away under the keyboard.

Dell Laptop Memory Cover

Refer to your user manual for help in determining access to your laptops memory.

Remember – laptop memory is extremely sensitive to electrostatic discharge and should be handled accordingly.

Use an anti-static wrist strap or at the very least ensure that you ‘ground’ yourself to a good earth connection to discharge any built up charge on your body before handling your memory modules for your laptop.

Handle the modules by the edge of the circuit board and do not touch the chips or edge connector strips.

Make sure that your laptop is completely shutdown and as a precaution remove the power adaptor and battery pack before removing your old memory and replacing it with new memory.

If your laptops memory modules are located under a cover on the underside of your laptop carefully place your closed laptop upside down on a soft surface covered table top and locate the screw or screws which lock the access panel in place.

Acer Laptop cover removal

Once removed you will be able to pull or slide the cover open.

You may need to slide the cover over small plastic catches but there shouldn’t be any great resistance.

How to Upgrade Laptop Memory – Keyboard Removal

Laptop memory located under the keyboard will require removal of the keyboard first – check your manual for details on this.

Usually there will be some screws hidden under small plastic covers which will need to be removed first before gaining access.

Removal of the keyboard must be undertaken very carefully and you should take extra care not to damage the delicate ribbon cable attached between your laptop and keyboard when removing it.

Carefully rest the keyboard on the laptop hand rest area ensuring that you do not pull, twist or tear the ribbon cable.

Now locate your laptop memory which again may be hidden under a cover of some sort.

How to Upgrade Laptop Memory – Swapping Out the Memory

Release the old memory modules if already fitted to your laptop by releasing them from the small catches at either side of your memory modules.

Dell Laptop Release Memory

The module will spring upwards and you will then be able to remove it, taking care to ensure that you hold the module by the edges only.

Dell Laptop Module released

Now to install your new modules – take care to align the slot in the connector edge up carefully with the laptop memory slot.

Slot carefully in to place and then push the outer edge of the module down slowly until it clicks into place with the small catches – the module will start at an angle then end up flat, held in place by the catches.

Dell laptop metal clip release

If you have more than one module you should now install the second module which is usually installed above the first in a similar arrangement.

Acer Laptop memory removed

How to Upgrade Laptop Memory – Powering Up

Now to fire up! – replace your access cover and keyboard if you had to remove it and ensure that you refit all of the screws that you removed – we don’t want any left inside either now do we!

Now you can replace the laptop battery pack and AC adapter if required and turn on your laptop.

Enter the BIOS during boot up and confirm that the memory is recognised and that the correct amount is displayed.

If your laptop fails to power up correctly or doesn’t recognise all of your RAM then turn off immediately and carefully check over all that you have done.

More than likely one or both sticks of RAM are not located correctly.

If this fails you will need to double check that you have bought the correct type of memory – compare it against the old memory that you have removed earlier.

If this fails try one module at a time – if this works replace the working module with the other module in the same slot and confirm that this module also works.

Make sure you haven’t installed more memory than your laptop can support.

For users of laptops with older operating systems prior to Windows XP (Windows 95, 98 or ME) you will only be able to install a maximum of 512MB due to the limitations of the Windows operating system you are using.

Once you are up and running a very useful facility for checking memory operation is the Memtest 86+ program which gives your memory a thorough workout and ensures that your memory is running correctly.

It’s a free utility and can be downloaded from

Download the utility which you can then install onto a CD-ROM as a bootable CD that you can boot your laptop up from and use to confirm correct operation of your memory.

If all else fails replace your old memory and check that the laptop is working correctly before repeating the above.

Hopefully with your new laptop memory upgrade you can now feel the benefits with a super fast, smooth running machine :)

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