Do you need to expand the RAM of your laptop? In this article, we will show you how to know if you can do it and, if you can expand it, how to choose the right RAM for your purpose. It is a valid guide for all types of Windows laptops, so we are sure that you will find the answer to what you need. Let’s go there!
Index of contents
- Expanding a laptop’s RAM is easy, except when it’s soldered
- Do I have a laptop with soldered RAM or not?
- How do I know what RAM to buy to upgrade my laptop?
- How many modules to install?
- What type of memory is suitable?
- What if I am wrong and the memory is not compatible?
- How to open your laptop to expand its RAM
- Final words and conclusion
Expanding a laptop’s RAM is easy, except when it’s soldered
Laptop RAM memory module.
The first thing you should know is how is the RAM that is installed in your laptop. Basically, depending on how the equipment was manufactured, you can find it in two ways.
RAM slot not soldered.
The first way is through SO-DIMM memory slots. This means that the memory is installed in slots, which can be opened very easily, being able to replace the RAM with another. The format used is always the so-called SO-DIMM, but you will have to worry about choosing the right type of memory (DDR, DDR2, DDR3, DDR4, DDR5…) with the correct characteristics.
If you don’t use SO-DIMM slots, then it means that the RAM is soldered to the laptop’s motherboard. In this case, we are talking about a RAM memory that is not replaceable. Yes it is true that you can replace the entire motherboard, or try to desolder the memories. But we are talking about a first method that is too expensive, and a second method that is too difficult. and requires very special equipment.
We could even talk about a third quite common option, which are laptops that integrate SO-DIMM slots to expand the RAM, but at the same time include some soldered memories. We can consider this case to be equivalent to using only SO-DIMMs, as good expansion opportunities will remain.
Do I have a laptop with soldered RAM or not?
The fundamental point to expand the RAM of a laptop is to know if it is soldered or not. For this, we could ask you directly to open the laptop and discover it “by surprise”, but it is not necessary, at all. It is really easy to know, especially if you follow our steps, which work for any laptop.
Let’s start with a simple but unsophisticated method, for which you only have to open the Task Manager. You can do this by searching in the start menu, with the shortcut Ctrl + Alt + Del or, better yet, with the shortcut Ctrl + Shift + Esc.
Once inside, click (if necessary) on More details to see all the tabs, and enter the Performance tab . There, select Memory in the left column. At this point, you should look at two parts: Used Slots and Form Factor.
If in Form Factor it indicates “Row of chips”, then you have a fully soldered memory. In case it says “SO-DIMM” then it means there are slots present in which to upgrade the RAM. The point is that the task manager does not know if all the slots are SO-DIMM, or if instead we have a hybrid configuration of soldered RAM and an SO-DIMM slot.
Therefore, we are going to switch to a better method. It consists of using the CPU-Z program, which you can download from its official website . This is one of the most used in the world to get information about the hardware of a computer, and here it will give us everything we need to expand the RAM of the laptop.
Once you have installed and opened the program, go to the SPD tab . That is where you will find information on the memory occupied in each memory slot. Basically, when an SPD slot shows up with information, you can count on it being a busy SO-DIMM slot. On the other hand, for slots that appear empty, two things can happen:
- That there is not a replaceable physical slot, but a welded slot. CPU-Z detects them as slots, but without giving any information about them.
- That there is indeed a free slotin which we can install a memory module without any problem.
Come on, until now we can only come to one conclusion: if information appears in the two slots of the SPD, then we are talking about a memory with 2 SO-DIMM slots that we can replace without problems.
But what happens in the other two possible cases? That is, if there are two free slots or one free slot and another empty one. How do we know if they correspond to a slot in which to install RAM or it is a soldered memory?
- If no information appears in any case, then we may be dealing with 1 welded slot and 1 empty slot, or 2 welded slots. To discern this, check the “Memory” tab if “Dual” appears in “Channel #”. If “Single” appears, then it is probably a soldered slot and an available one. You can also take advantage of the task manager methodthat we indicated before, it is easier.
- If information appears in one slot of the SPD and not in another, it is very easy to know:
- Check the capacity of the slot for which information does appear. For example, 8GB. If it corresponds to the total memory of the notebook, then you have 1 SO-DIMM slot occupied and 1 free slot.
- In the event that the capacity of that slot is not the total capacity, it means that you have 1 SO-DIMM slot occupied and the rest is soldered memory.
Now we just need to remember that, wherever there is an SO-DIMM slot, we can replace it.But wherever there is a soldered memory slot we cannot do it.
We know that this process is quite messy. Therefore, we are going to prepare a small infographic so that you can clarify yourself.
How do I know what RAM to buy to upgrade my laptop?
Let’s now see the most important keys to know how to choose a compatible RAM to expand your laptop. We are not going to cover the doubts about the capacity: if you wonder, for example, if 8GB of RAM is enough in a laptop , we recommend reading our article dedicated to it. The summary is that 8GB is normal for basic use, but for gaming and more demanding uses it is recommended at least 16GB.
How many modules to install?
The first question is how many RAM memory modules should we buy? for the expansion. All this depends on two things: the type of update you want to make and how many are free on your computer.
For example, if you have both memory slots occupied, it might be worth buying a new 2-memory kit, and selling or dedicating the ones you currently have in your laptop for another purpose. This way you will ensure maximum compatibility, that the dual channel works well, etc.
On the other hand, if you have a slot available, a good idea is to buy only 1 more module to install in the laptop. When it comes to expanding the RAM of a laptop, what we must always be clear about is that they should work under dual channel . That is, there should be two working memory slots, and not just one. This will improve performance.
What type of memory is suitable?
As we mentioned before, there are several types of Double Data Rate RAM memory on the market. You must choose modules of the appropriate type and, if possible, of a correct speed. In order not to get too complicated, we recommend that you consult the “Memory” section of CPU-Z, where the type of memory will be indicated under “Type”.
The most common today is DDR4, with DDR3 as the technology that is becoming obsolete, and DDR5 as the future of memory.
What if I am wrong and the memory is not compatible?
Of course, it can always be the case (unlikely if you choose properly, but hey) that the memories you install are not compatible. In that case, you shouldn’t worry as it won’t cause any irreversible problems on your computer. It just won’t boot with that new memory installed.
A very important point of incompatibility and where you really have to be careful is in the RAM capacity that we install. Just because a 16GB or 32GB module seems compatible with your laptop doesn’t mean it is. And it is that depending on the processor you have, you will have to face a memory limit or another.
To know this, it is best to check the RAM limits of your processor. Taking advantage of the fact that you have CPU-Z, consult the «Specification» section of the «CPU» tab, and look for the processor on the internet, on the official website of Intel or AMD as appropriate. There, you will be told the maximum amount of RAM to install.
With all these tips, we can choose the right memory module. Be careful, because there are even more ways to know what is necessary to expand the RAM of your laptop:
- Check the specifications of the laptop itselfon the manufacturer’s official website, in an official information PDF, etc. In our article on how to know what parts my PC has, we help you to know your exact laptop model. For example, many notebooks that combine soldered RAM and SO-DIMMs say something along the lines of “8GB RAM (ON BOARD) + 8GB RAM”, for example.
- Take advantage of RAM memory manufacturers’ tools to choose compatible modules. For example, the Crucial website allows us to scan our laptop currently or search based on the model.
The Crucial search engine is a very interesting tool to find out which RAM modules are compatible with your PC, automatically. Kingston also offers it.
How to open your laptop to expand its RAM
Now, all you have to do is open the laptop to install the RAM. This process can be more or less difficult depending on the laptop. Look at its bottom, because some incorporate a small specific part to change the RAM memory without complications. In many other cases, it will be necessary to unscrew the entire lower part of the equipment, and remove the entire casing.
RAM is very easy to locate inside the computer. You have already seen the DIMM slots several times in this article,
Final words and conclusion
Expanding the RAM of a laptop is a very simple process if we have things clear. In this article, we have explained in depth what you need to know to be able to update the memories of your laptop.
The main thing is to discern if your computer has soldered RAM or if, instead, it has SO-DIMM slots. If the latter is the case, you will be able to replace it, either by totally changing all the modules or only those you need. To verify this, we have shown you two very good methods, using the Task Manager and the free CPU-Z program.
We recommend reading the best RAM memories on the market.
Once you determine how many memory modules are to be installed, you have to decide on how many to buy, know what type the memory has to be (DDR3, DDR4, DDR5…) and make sure of its compatibility. We hope we have helped you in this article