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Expand And Activate RAM: Here’s How To Step By Step

Upgrading the working memory is done quickly as far as installation is concerned. In advance, however, you should check exactly what memory you have and what you need. RAM has long been expensive. Now the prices are in the basement! So the ideal time for a memory upgrade. It is not difficult to increase the memory of a PC. The correct memory modules must be used. We guide you step by step to your goal.

Determine Requirements

The primary memory size depends heavily on the applications you want to run with it. Microsoft recommends a memory size of at least 4 GB for the current Windows 10 operating system. Graphics-intensive applications currently place the highest demands on the hardware. This includes programs for image and video editing as well as recent games. Here you should have at least 8 GB or, even better, 16 GB of RAM available. 

Determine Existing Hardware

Other factors for upgrading your RAM are the existing RAM and the expandability of your PC. You can determine the current memory by opening your computer or notebook and checking it. Alternatively, you can use hardware analysis software such as the freeware CPU-Z. This carries out a complete system diagnosis and shows you the hardware used. On the “Memory” tab, you will find all the data you need about the existing memory, including the frequencies and clock rates. The information is divided into two categories:

Within “General”, the type of memory and the number of channels is essential in addition to the current memory size. The frequency of the DRAMs, in particular, plays a vital role in timing. The memory we examined is of the DDR3 type (1) and has a frequency of 798.7 MHz (2), as shown in the CPU-Z figure. There is a second tab for the performance data of your memory with “SPD” (Serial Presence Detect). On the one hand, how many memory modules are currently installed is noted. You see this when selecting the relevant memory bank from the “Memory Slot Selection” field.

For a later interaction with other modules, the value “Max. Bandwidth” is crucial. This is the maximum frequency specified by the manufacturer for your memory to operate. In the previous picture, you have already seen the current operating frequency of 798.7 MHz. This corresponds accordingly with the information provided by the manufacturer. In the table below, you can also see the possible timings for the later Bios settings.

The Appropriate Memory

This gives you the correct information about the memory available on your PC. In the next step, a few factors are still decisive for upgrading your computer or notebook. At this point, you will not get any further without opening the housing.

  1. How many free slots are still available on your mainboard? Especially with notebooks, there are often only two memory slots, of which at least one is installed.
  2. Are all memory banks freely accessible, or are some covered by other components, such as long graphics cards or processor coolers?
  3. Are there manufacturer restrictions on the maximum memory size per bank or total? At this point, a look at the manual will help you.

Manufacturers keep delivering new Bios versions. In some cases, the compatibility list for memory modules is also expanded. For this reason, it is worth checking whether you are using the latest Bios version. Newer versions are available on the manufacturer’s website. You will usually also find the most recent version of the manual there.

Notes On Purchasing

There are two scenarios for upgrading the memory: If you already use memory modules with the maximum permissible parameters, you can expand them with identical ones. Suppose they are no longer available because the mainboard is already one or two years old. In that case, it is best to look for modules that are as identical as possible with similar performance values ​​for clock rate/frequency, capacity, voltage and timings.

If there are no more memory banks or the existing memory is far below the performance limits of your mainboard, you should consider a complete replacement. It is best to always buy your memory in manufacturer-packaged pairs. You will almost certainly receive two modules with precisely the same performance values. A look at the shelves of the online retailers shows the necessary information you need to buy: the type, the clock speed, CAS latency and the voltage.

Removing And Installing The Accumulator

Before starting the conversion, you should completely disconnect your computer or notebook from the power supply. It is best to remove the battery from your laptop as well. Then open the case. If you plan to replace the memory modules, draw them in the first step. To do this, press down the retaining clips on both ends of the memory bank. The memory module is automatically pushed upwards and can be removed.

For installation, insert the memory module into the memory bank – the notch must be in the right place. Then gently push it down until it clicks into place. If this does not work, please check whether you have inserted the memory module correctly. If you have a more up-to-date mainboard, this usually supports two-channel operation, with which you can mathematically double the bandwidth for data throughput. The memory modules must be placed in the right banks to achieve this. To succeed, the manufacturers have usually provided the associated memory banks with the same color.

You can check whether Windows uses the total amount of memory by clicking on “Control Panel ➞ System and Security ➞ System” in the Start menu. In the “Basic Information” window, in the “System” area, you can find out how much RAM is installed. If you have about 8GB of RAM installed and the Installed Memory line says 8.00GB, you’re fine. However, if it says “8.00 GB (3.99 GB usable)”, the total capacity is not used. In the example, just half.

Enable Unused Memory

The problem is that the PC did not correctly recognize the built-in memory in all parameters. Then it sometimes helps to swap the memory modules in the memory banks or put them into operation step by step. To do this, shut down the PC again, switch it off and remove all modules except for a single memory block. Then switch the PC on again, start Windows and check the memory capacity in the Control Panel as described.

The power of the built-in memory bar should now appear here, such as “Installed main memory (RAM): 4.00 GB”. If this information is correct, shut down the PC again, replace the memory module and check this as described. After you have tested all modules in this way:

  1. Insert one module after the other.
  2. Start the PC after each one.
  3. Check whether the main memory capacity increases accordingly.


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