How to Upgrade RAM on a Laptop

Boost your laptop's performance by upgrading the RAM—If you can

What to Know

  • Remove the access panel on the underside of your laptop.
  • Install additional sticks of memory, or remove old ones and replace them.
  • Only select laptops let you upgrade your RAM.

This guide will walk you through the process of checking whether you can upgrade your laptop's RAM and, if possible, how to do it.

The process is similar to upgrading RAM on your desktop computer.

Check if You Can Upgrade Your Laptop's RAM

The first step in upgrading your laptop's memory is finding out if you can do it. Checking the bottom of your notebook for a dedicated memory access panel is an excellent first step. Although it's not strictly necessary, if you have one, then your laptop should be upgradeable.

You can also use the Crucial Memory Tool to determine whether your memory is removable or not (I.E., Whether it's soldered to the motherboard and cannot be replaced). Input your laptop manufacturer and model number. If it suggests that your memory is removable and recommends some specific modules, you're in luck: you can upgrade your laptop's RAM.

Crucial Memory Tool
In the case of this Alienware laptop, it can be upgraded to as much as 64GB of RAM.

The Crucial tool will also tell you what your laptop's maximum memory is in terms of its Gigabyte (GB) capacity. To find out whether your existing RAM is less than that and therefore worth upgrading, you can look at Task Manager's performance tab.

Task Manager Performance

If your memory is less than the maximum amount your laptop supports, you can upgrade it. You can also use Task Manager when you're working your computer hard to see if you are using most of your memory. If that's the case, then an upgrade could improve your system performance.

How to Perform a Laptop Memory Upgrade

The first step in upgrading your laptop is buying it. The RAM that is right for your computer depends on the model, your RAM needs, and your budget. Check with your laptop manufacturer to find out what memory capacities and speeds are supported, and opt for what suits your needs the most.

As a general rule of thumb, 16GB is more than enough for most users unless you're doing heavy video editing or other intensive tasks.

Laptop RAM also comes in SO-DIMM size, not DIMM, so make sure to buy laptop memory.

It's a good idea to ground yourself when performing any system upgrade with computer components. You can touch a grounded object near you or wear an anti-static wristband.

  1. Remove your laptop's power cord and battery (if possible).

  2. Remove the screw(s) on the RAM access panel. Some laptops will allow you to upgrade the memory after removing the entire underside panel, but this can be highly labor and time-intensive, as well as risky. If you decide to do so, be sure to consult a detailed teardown guide of your laptop model before doing so, and even then, proceed with extreme caution.

    Accessing RAM in a laptop

    Sol de Zuasnabar Brebbia

  3. If you remove the old sticks to make room for the new ones, then unclip the retention arm(s) holding them in place, gently slide them out of their RAM slot. Experts recommended doing this since mismatched memory can reduce your memory's overall performance.

    Clips that hold a DIMM onto the motherboard of a laptop.
  4. Making sure to line up the SO-DIMM sticks in the correct orientation with the RAM slot, carefully insert them into it. Press down gently to hold them in place, then press the retention arm(s) back into place to hold them down.

Replace your laptop's panels and boot it up. Use Task Manager again to confirm whether your RAM upgrade has been successful.

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