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2018-07-05T10:50:49+00:00

RAM Installation Guide & FAQ

RAM Installation Guide & FAQ

A cost effective way of speeding up your computer is to upgrade the RAM (Random Access Memory). Some may find this daunting, but the reality is that it is in-fact one of the simplest procedures even novices can use to drastically improve system performance.

Checking your Operating System

To avoid any unnecessary overspending, you need to determine whether your OS is 32-bit or 64-bit.The reason for this is 32-bit OS’s can only utilize a maximum of 4GB of RAM (3.6GB to be exact).

The following table specifies the limits on physical memory for Windows 7.

Version Limit on 32-bit Limit on 64-bit
Windows 7 Ultimate 4 GB

192 GB

Windows 7 Enterprise

4 GB

192 GB

Windows 7 Professional

4 GB

192 GB

Windows 7 Home Premium

4 GB

16 GB

Windows 7 Home Basic

4 GB

8 GB

Windows 7 Starter

2 GB

N/A

The following table specifies the limits on physical memory for Windows Vista.

Version Limit on 32-bit Limit on 64-bit
Windows Vista Ultimate 4 GB

128 GB

Windows Vista Enterprise

4 GB

128 GB

Windows Vista Business

4 GB

128 GB

Windows Vista Home Premium

4 GB

16 GB

Windows Vista Home Basic

4 GB

8 GB

Windows Vista Starter

1 GB

N/A

The following table specifies the limits on physical memory for Windows XP.

Version Limit on 32-bit Limit on 64-bit
Windows XP 4 GB 128 GB
Windows XP Starter Edition 512 MB N/A

Checking your Motherboard

Once you have deduced what operating system you have, you will need to check which type of RAM your motherboard is compatible with and the maximum capacity supported. There are Three main types of DDR (Double Data Rate) RAM available in today’s market.
  • DDR SDRAM – The first in the series of DDR that super-seeded standard SDRAM
  • DDR2 SDRAM – The second edition that has much higher clock speeds.
  • DDR3 SDRAM – The Third and most current edition, again much higher clock speeds, up to double those of DDR2.

You will also need to bear in mind that all the memory modules above come in Two distinct types. DIMM and SODIMM.

  • DIMM – Dual In-line Memory Module, used for desktop computers. Much larger in comparison to SODIMM’s.
  • SODIMM – Small Outline Dual In-line Memory Module, used for laptops/notebooks and netbooks.

The reason for the two types is due to space constraints and cooling limits with notebook/netbook style computers.

SODIMM’s are generally more expensive than their DIMM counterparts due to manufacture costs, nevertheless you can still buy laptop memory that will reach the same clock speeds as desktop memory.

The easiest way to find out which version of DDR RAM you require is, to look in the user manual that came with your computer. If you do not have the manual or you have lost it, some of the major memory vendors have all the information available on their websites. Visit Crucial or Kingston to use their memory advisor tools.

These tools will also allow you to find out the maximum bandwidth (Clock Speed) supported by your mother board. For example, if you have a DDR2 motherboard, you are more than likely going to be buying DDR2 PC-6400 RAM (800mhz Clock speed with DDR). More importantly they will make sure that the components you buy will be compatible with each other.

The higher the FSB (Front Side Bus) running on your system, the faster your machine will process data. The FSB is the “Communication pipe” between the CPU (Central Processing Unit) and the memory modules.

The other factor in the speed of RAM is the CAS (Column Access Strobe) Latency, this is the actual speed at which the memory processes data. The “Latency” is the time delay between the initial data input to final output. Latencies only need to be worried about if you consider yourself an advanced user, as they are the only people who would notice any significant difference.

Removing/Installing RAM

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, this procedure is surprisingly simple, commonly only taking up to 15 minutes from start to finish.

Desktop Memory installation – DIMM

Note: Never apply pressure or handle the memory module on or around the Integrated Circuit (IC)! Always handle the memory with both hands positioned at the upper-most corners of the Printed Circuit Board (PCB).
  1. 1. Unplug the computer from the electrical socket. Remove the computer’s side casing/cover making sure you follow any manufacturer guidelines.
  2. 2. Before handling the memory module, touch an unpainted and grounded metal object (like a tap or door handle) or use a grounded antistatic wrist strap.
  3. 3. Remove pre-existing memory (If it is obsolete) by pressing down on the ejector tabs. The tabs are located at either end of the memory socket.
  4. 4. Make sure that you align the notch on the module with the notch on the socket, it can only fit in one way so don’t force it.
  5. 5. Press the memory module into the socket so the tabs snap into place and secure firmly in place. Don’t use excessive force otherwise you may damage the motherboard.
  6. 6. Replace the computer side casing/cover and reconnect the power.

Laptop Memory installation – SODIMM

Note: Never apply pressure or handle the memory module on or around the Integrated Circuit (IC)! Always handle the memory with both hands positioned at the upper-most corners of the Printed Circuit Board (PCB).

  1. 1. Unplug the Laptop from the electrical socket and remove the battery.
  2. 2. Before handling the memory module, touch an unpainted and grounded metal object (like a tap or door handle) or use a grounded antistatic wrist strap.
  3. 3. Remove pre-existing memory (If it is obsolete) by very gently pulling the ejector tabs away from the SODIMM. The module will pop up ready for removal.
  4. 4. Make sure that you align the notch on the module with the notch on the socket, it can only fit in one way so don’t force it.
  5. 5. Gently press the memory down until the lock tabs engage and click into place.
  6. 6. Replace the battery and reconnect the power.

You can now boot up your computer and reap the benefits of your new RAM. I hope this guide was helpful and maybe even saved you some money in the process.

Please let us know in the comments below if you have anything to add or any questions.


About the author

Chris is the director of Refresh eCommerce and founded the company in 1999. He has worked with computers and printers all of his working life and has in-depth technical knowledge on a variety of subjects.

Refresh Cartridges

1 comment

  1. lauren Anne

    thank you. you help me for school!

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