How to install RAM

Upgrading RAM is always worth the money. Here's how to install it yourself

There are a number of different components that could be slowing your computer down and it’s important to identify and fix them to optimize performance. If you’re not sure if RAM is causing your current slowdown, here’s our guide on how much memory your PC really needs.

If you think your memory is the cause of your performance woes, upgrading is well worth it. Better yet, it’s easy to learn how to install RAM yourself for a quick DIY boost to your PC’s power. Before we get into the step-by-step instructions, here are a couple of important tips to consider before getting started.

A few important reminders

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You’ll want to make sure your motherboard is capable of supporting the speed, type, and size of the RAM you’ll be installing. Most modern motherboards support DDR4, ranging between 2,133MHz at the low end, to as high as 4,700MHz at the very top end. If your PC is a few years old, your system may be set up for DDR3 memory instead — you’ll need to check your manufacturer’s instructions to know for sure. Common manufacturers like MSI and Gigabyte list these with the specifications of your component on their sites.

Once you have the RAM you want to install, the actual process is one of the easiest upgrades you can make to a PC. Before you get started though, it’s important to protect against electric discharge. Static electricity will fry your RAM quickly, so make sure to use an anti-static wristband. Alternatively, periodically touch the bare metal of your case or the casing of your power supply to ground yourself. Wearing rubber-soled shoes doesn’t hurt either.

The Step-By-Step Guide

RAM

Step 1: Disconnect the power cable from your system and if needed, unplug other back-panel cables so that you can safely turn your system on to its side.

Step 2: Remove the side panel (usually left) to give you full access to the interior and locate the RAM slots. They’re most commonly found next to the processor and its chunky cooler. If there’s already RAM in your system, eject it by pressingly firmly on the tabs on the motherboard at either end of the slots. The memory sticks will pop out and you can remove them gently.

Step 3: To install the new RAM, line up the notches in the bottom of the sticks with the gaps in the slot on the motherboard. Make sure the wings at either end of the slot are pushed back, so they’re tilted away from the RAM. When you’re sure it’s lined up properly, push down firmly and evenly on the top of the stick at either end until it clicks into place. As it does, the wings will clamp in and hold the memory securely. If it doesn’t click into place relatively easily, double check you have the stick around the right way. Forcing RAM that’s not lined up correctly can damage your motherboard. If in doubt, double check.

Step 4: Once the sticks have clicked into place, confirm that the wing clips are locked in to hold the sticks firmly in their slots and then close the PC back up. Plug all of the cables back in and try to boot the system. The good news from here is that if something went wrong, you’ll know right away when your computer doesn’t start up. If that happens, repeat the above steps and make sure the new sticks are correctly seated in their socket.

And that’s it! Once the system does start up, make sure to check that you have the correct amount of RAM displayed in your system profile. If you see that your system only has 3.2GB after a much larger upgrade, you may be because you’re running a 32bit operating system. If this whole process has piqued your interest in building computers, here’s our guide on how to put together a whole PC all by yourself.

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