HP TECH TAKES /...

Exploring today's technology for tomorrow's possibilities
How to Install RAM on a Motherboard

How to Install RAM on a Motherboard

Dwight Pavlovic
|
Installing more RAM on your computer can be incredibly simple sometimes. All you may need to do is turn off your device, access the interior, and line up the new memory stick on the motherboard. Adding RAM to your PC isn’t some kind of cure-all for every problem, but it can vastly improve your computing experience.
These days, the need for RAM can be great, with users packing more and more software onto their PCs. That need is even stronger if you notice any slowdown when using an older computer or when running complex applications. Fortunately, the solution can be as simple as adding more RAM. It’s one of the classic and still most-accessible DIY computer hacks, and one that just about any knowledgeable user can tackle on their own with the right info.

What is RAM?

Short for “random access memory,” RAM is how your computer stores temporary information related to the applications you run. Similar components do essentially the same thing for a variety of devices, from smartphones to consoles, so you can enjoy seamless use from task to task. To do this, RAM stores short-term information about the programs you’re using and their requirements. This is what makes your overall operation smooth and efficient.

Different types of RAM

Historically speaking, there are many different types of RAM. Looking at a list of them could give you the impression that you have a lot to keep straight. Between static RAM (SRAM) and dynamic RAM (DRAM), with different generations and speeds, it can get confusing.
Fortunately, the reality is fairly simple. Static RAM and dynamic RAM are catchall terms used for different applications: static RAM is used by core components to store information continuously, while dynamic RAM is focused on managing system memory from session to session.
The specific type of RAM that most modern computers use for their system memory, and the type you’ll primarily deal with as a user, is called “synchronous dynamic random-access memory.” As the name implies, SDRAM is synchronized with the rest of your PC hardware by an external clocking system that improves overall efficiency.

The difference between memory, RAM, and storage

Terms like “memory” and “RAM” are frequently used interchangeably. While memory is sometimes used to describe features of conventional storage, “memory” and “RAM” are generally the same thing: your device’s short-term storage.
Your PC uses RAM to maintain consistent performance from moment to moment. For example, when playing a resource-intensive video game or using heavy-duty software, your PC uses RAM to budget its effort accordingly. That’s why some software ends up consuming more energy than others.
In the context of PCs, “storage” almost always refers to your long-term storage solution, which includes several formats. The traditional format for PC storage is a hard-disk drive (HDD), which reads information from an internal disk, but there’s also solid-state drive (SSD) storage that is much more efficient.

How to choose the correct RAM for your motherboard

Not all RAM and motherboards are compatible. You should always ask questions like “What RAM will work with my motherboard?” when you aren’t sure about the specifications.
Matching the generation of RAM and motherboard is crucial, but it’s not the only thing you should remember. It’s best to have all your RAM working at the same speed, which you can typically see in “MHz” after the product name. You’ll also want to make sure that any additional memory will fit alongside your PC’s other components, especially if you’re using a heavily customized build.
You’ll recognize the latest generation of RAM components through the addition of “DDR4” (double data rate generation 4) to their name. If your RAM has DDR3 in the product name, you need to find the same generation of component because your motherboard is not compatible with components outside its generation.

How do I know if I can upgrade my RAM?

In order to upgrade your RAM, you need to have enough room on your motherboard to support new components. Or if you’re replacing an old RAM stick to get performance, you want to make sure that any new component your purchase offers better specs than whatever you’re replacing.
To make sure you know everything about your device beforehand, we highly recommend visiting your device’s product support page at the manufacturer or consulting a user guide for detailed information. In this situation, you’ll want to look for your device’s original RAM specifications, then check to see how many additional memory or DIMM slots are available.
Your needs may vary and upgrading to your full RAM capacity isn’t always necessary, but DIY upgrades like this can be an economical way to get more out of your computer.

A checklist for RAM installation

Remember that each device is different, which means you need to follow the guidance of your user manual and product support. That said, here’s a simple checklist you can follow when adding new RAM:
  1. Turn off your device and disconnect any cables. If possible, find the cleanest and clearest space to work in
  2. Open your device’s access panel, which may require a screwdriver. On a conventional desktop PC, your access panel is usually on the side. For a laptop, access is usually via the underside of the device
  3. After taking a moment to make sure the space is clear of dust, line up your RAM stick with the corresponding slots on your motherboard and slide it into place
  4. Make sure the RAM stick is secure and resecure your access panel
  5. Close the access panel, plug your regular connections back in, and power up your computer
If you need a more thorough rundown with extra details and notes on each stage, take a look at HP Customer Support’s supplemental guide to memory installation.

Why would I need extra RAM?

Ultimately, there are tons of reasons to add extra RAM to your PC. It gives you access to better performance from your device, which can be a big help as you add more files and software to your computer. Remember that having a lot of RAM may be more important to some users than others, but it’s still a critical part of your PC’s performance no matter how you use it.
It’s always important to gauge your needs before you buy or make a commitment to upgrade. Be sure to think about questions like “How much RAM do I need for my computer?” If you do choose to install more RAM, there’s no better - or easier - way to avoid slowdowns when you’ve got too many browser tabs open or too many applications running at once.
About the Author: Dwight Pavlovic is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Dwight is a music and technology writer based out of West Virginia.

Disclosure: Our site may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page.

More about these products
Disclaimer

Prices, specifications, availability and terms of offers may change without notice. Price protection, price matching or price guarantees do not apply to Intra-day, Daily Deals or limited-time promotions. Quantity limits may apply to orders, including orders for discounted and promotional items. Despite our best efforts, a small number of items may contain pricing, typography, or photography errors. Correct prices and promotions are validated at the time your order is placed. These terms apply only to products sold by HP.com; reseller offers may vary. Items sold by HP.com are not for immediate resale. Orders that do not comply with HP.com terms, conditions, and limitations may be cancelled. Contract and volume customers not eligible.

HP’s MSRP is subject to discount. HP’s MSRP price is shown as either a stand-alone price or as a strike-through price with a discounted or promotional price also listed. Discounted or promotional pricing is indicated by the presence of an additional higher MSRP strike-through price

The following applies to HP systems with Intel 6th Gen and other future-generation processors on systems shipping with Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 Pro systems downgraded to Windows 7 Professional, Windows 8 Pro, or Windows 8.1: This version of Windows running with the processor or chipsets used in this system has limited support from Microsoft. For more information about Microsoft’s support, please see Microsoft’s Support Lifecycle FAQ at https://support.microsoft.com/lifecycle

Ultrabook, Celeron, Celeron Inside, Core Inside, Intel, Intel Logo, Intel Atom, Intel Atom Inside, Intel Core, Intel Inside, Intel Inside Logo, Intel vPro, Itanium, Itanium Inside, Pentium, Pentium Inside, vPro Inside, Xeon, Xeon Phi, Xeon Inside, and Intel Optane are trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the U.S. and/or other countries.

In-home warranty is available only on select customizable HP desktop PCs. Need for in-home service is determined by HP support representative. Customer may be required to run system self-test programs or correct reported faults by following advice given over phone. On-site services provided only if issue can't be corrected remotely. Service not available holidays and weekends.

HP will transfer your name and address information, IP address, products ordered and associated costs and other personal information related to processing your application to Bill Me Later®. Bill Me Later will use that data under its privacy policy.

Microsoft Windows 10: Not all features are available in all editions or versions of Windows 10. Systems may require upgraded and/or separately purchased hardware, drivers, software or BIOS update to take full advantage of Windows 10 functionality. Windows 10 is automatically updated, which is always enabled. ISP fees may apply and additional requirements may apply over time for updates. See http://www.microsoft.com.

“Best All In One Printer” and “the easiest printer you’ve ever had to set up” from Wirecutter. ©2020 The Wirecutter, Inc.. All rights reserved. Used under license. https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-all-in-one-printer/

Get Marvel’s Avengers when you purchase HP gaming PCs with qualifying 9th gen or 10th gen Intel® Core™ i5, i7 and i9 processors. Redemption code will be sent out by email within 60 days of purchase. Limited quantities and while supply lasts. Offer valid thru 12/31/2020 only while supplies last. We reserve the right to replace titles in the offer for ones of equal or greater value. Certain titles may not be available to all consumers because of age restrictions. The Offer may be changed, cancelled, or suspended at any time, for any reason, without notice, at Intel’s reasonable discretion if its fairness or integrity affected whether due to human or technical error. The Offer sponsor is Intel Corporation, 2200 Mission College Blvd., Santa Clara, CA 95054, USA. To participate you must create an Intel Digital Hub Account, purchase a qualifying product during the redemption period, enter a valid Master Key, and respond to a brief survey. Information you submit is collected, stored, processed, and used on servers in the USA. For more information on offer details, eligibility, restrictions, and our privacy policy, visit https://softwareoffer.intel.com/offer/20Q3-19/terms.

© 2020 MARVEL. © Intel Corporation. Intel, the Intel logo, and other Intel marks are trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the U.S. and/or other countries. Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.

The personal information you provide will be used according to the HP Privacy Statement (https://www8.hp.com/us/en/privacy/ww-privacy.html)