Laptop Computer Memory Installation Guide

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Laptop Computer Memory  Laptop Computer Memory Guide

Laptop Computer Memory: It's said that you can never have enough, especially if you do a lot of graphics-intensive work or gaming. Next to the CPU itself, RAM is the most important factor in computer performance. If you don't have enough, adding RAM can make more of a difference than getting a new CPU! If your system responds slowly or accesses the hard drive constantly, then you need to add more laptop computer memory. If you are running Windows 95/98, you need a bare minimum of 64 MB, and your computer will work much better with 128 MB. Windows NT/2000 needs at least 128 MB. If you're running Windows XP, don't settle for less than 256 MB; preferably 512 MB.

The amount of laptop computer memory listed for each system is estimated for normal usage-- accessing the Internet, word processing, standard home/office applications and light entertainment. If you do computer-aided design (CAD), 3-D modeling/animation or heavy data processing, or if you are a serious gamer, then you will most likely need more RAM. I recommend 128MB for most home/office apps, with 256MB preferred for heavy graphics work. For gaming, I'd go with 256MB minimum, 512MB preferred.

Another question is how much VRAM (video RAM) you want on your video card. Almost all cards that you can buy today have at least 8 MB of RAM. This is normally enough to operate in a typical office environment. You should probably invest in a 32-MB graphics card (dedicated memory; not shared) if you want to do any of the following:

  • Use demanding software applications
  • Run heavy 3-D gaming programs
  • Create 3-D graphics
  • Work in a high-resolution, full-color environment. (Video-editing)
  • Design full-color illustrations
  • Do extensive photo editing

When shopping for video cards, remember that your monitor and computer must be capable of supporting the card you choose.

 How To Install Laptop Computer Memory





 Memory Compatibility



Compatibility of laptop computer memory components with your computer system is arguably the most important factor to consider when upgrading memory. This section can get you started. As a side note, one of the premier laptop computer memory manufacturers' is Crucial.com. Their site can be a big help in your decision-making process. Just use their free memory finder.

 What Kind Of Laptop Computer Memory is Compatible With My System?



The easiest way to determine what type of memory goes with your system is to consult with your system documentation. In most cases, the manual will provide basic specifications such as the speed and technology of the memory you need. This information is usually enough to choose a module by specification. If you don't feel you have enough information, you can call your system manufacturers' toll-free technical support number for assistance.

Most of the time, installing laptop computer memory is a very simple and straightforward procedure. The key is to do your research. Here's what you need to know:

  • How much RAM you have?
  • What is your RAM speed: (PC100, PC133, PC2100, PC2700 etc.)
  • How much RAM you wish to add: check your owners manual or with the manufacturer to determine the maximum amount you can install.
  • RAM type: (SODIMM SD RAM for Pentium 2, Pentium 3, and AMD processors. Pentium 4 uses DDR RAM.)

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In the previous section, we discussed how much RAM is needed in most situations. RAM is usually sold in quantities such as: 128MB, 256MB, 512MB, 1GB and so on. This means that if you currently have a system with 512MB RAM and you want at least 1GB RAM total, then you will probably need to add another 512MB module. Once you know how much RAM you want, check to see what form factor (card type) you need to buy. You can find this in the manual that came with your computer, or you cancontact the manufacturer. An important thing to realize is that your options will depend on the design of your computer. Most computers sold today for normal home/office use have DIMM slots. High-end systems are moving to RIMM technology, which will eventually take over in standard desktop computers as well. Since DIMM and RIMM slots look a lot alike, be very careful to make sure you know which type your computer uses. Putting the wrong type of card in a slot can cause damage to your system and ruin the card.

You will also need to know what type of laptop computer memory is required. Laptops require a specific type of RAM called SODIMM to operate. For optimal performance, the RAM you add to your computer must also match the existing RAM in speed and type.

 Laptop Computer Memory Step by Step Instructions



For additional information about installing computer memory into your computer system, it is recommended that you read any user manuals that came with your computer for specific procedures that may be required.

  • Turn off the computer and remove all power cords from the computer system. Locate the panel used for access to the memory modules. (See the photograph above.) This is generally located on the bottom of the laptop computer. Refer to your laptop instruction manuals for locating the panel.
  • Remove any screws that hold the panel in place and place it somewhere safe to prevent losing it.
  • Remove the panel from the laptop and set aside.
  • Most laptops have two chip slots. You may have only one in use or you may have a combination of chips. Two 512MB=1GB or a 256MB and a 256MB chip=512MB. If replacing or upgrading an existing memory module, remove the memory modules by undoing and module clamps and gently lifting the edge of the module to a 45-degreeangle and then pulling the module out of the slot. Handle them by the edges only. DO NOT touch the flat surface of the chip.




  • Align the notch of the memory module with that of the memory slot and gently insert the module into the slot at a 45-degree angle.
  • Once all the pins are in the slot, gently rotate the module down flat until the clamps lock the module into place. Make sure your chip is lying flat.
  • Replace the memory access panel onto the laptop computer.
  • Replace any screws or fasteners that hold the panel in place.
  • Replace the power cord and power up your computer system. Once the memory has been installed into the computer, the physical process is complete.

Windows will automatically detect the new RAM. If the new laptop computer memory doesn't show up on startup, go back, carefully re-install the chip, and test it again. If your new memory still does not show on startup, or your computer does not boot-up this could indicate a defective chip (it happens sometimes). Return the chip to the vendor for replacement.

Laptop RAM is easy to upgrade and these days it is very inexpensive. It will make a huge difference in how your laptop performs. Be sure to verify the type and speed of RAM your laptop uses with the owners manual or a vendor before purchasing.

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