One of the easiest and most effective ways to get the most out of your laptop is too purchase and install additional RAM (random access memory). RAM is the hardware that, simplistically speaking, creates a ‘buffer’ between the applications you run and the temporary data that needs to be stored and processed by your processor and other components. If that all went over your head, the bottom line is that it is capable of vastly increasing your laptops performance and at a fraction of the cost of your original laptop. RAM is also measured in Gigabytes but, unlike hard drives, is exponentially faster, allowing the computer to access the temporary data it needs to run on the fly when it needs it.
RAM is by far the single biggest bottleneck for most laptops and computer systems. For under $50 one can buy a stick of RAM that can potentially increase your systems performance by %50 or more. Relative to a $500 purchase, it’s not hard to see the value in an extra $50 for a much needed boost especially considering the potential sluggishness of newer operating systems such as Windows 8. That said, many laptops will come with more than enough RAM on-board to allow for sufficent performance, and in some cases increases the RAM will only increase performance extremely marginally or only when doing serious multi-tasking or high level applications.
As a general rule in modern computing, 4GB is the absolute minimum we would suggest unless you are running a much older operating system such as Windows XP, and for Windows 7 and Windows 8 we recommend at least 8GB in order to squeeze the most juice out of your other components. Before you get too ambitious, below is everything you need to know before making any hasty purchasing decisions:
Does my laptop need additional RAM?
The chances are if your computer isn’t feeling like it has fresh legs and you find yourself waiting aimlessly for programs to load all the time or get bogged down by too many browser windows, you are in need of in upgrade. If you are a gamer or planning on using any hardware intensive apps such as photo or video editing software, then naturally you are going to need as much RAM as you can possibly get. At the end of the day this decision rests squarely on your shoulders – if you are happy with your laptops current performance, then you may see no need to upgrade at all. If you find yourself twiddling your thumbs waiting for things to load more often than not, then you may be a victim of memory loss. No pun intended.
Does my laptop have an additional RAM slot?
Most laptops that are on the lower end of the RAM scale will usually have two RAM slots. Laptops with more RAM may not have an extra slot (as they are already filling both) and these naturally won’t always need an upgrade. Most laptops with an extra slot will be pushing on the lower end of the RAM scale and are ripe for an upgrade.
To find out if your laptop has an additional RAM slot you’ll need to consulta the website where it’s on sale or the manufacturers website. We try and include this information as much as possible, but sometimes it may take a bit of digging just to be sure. If your laptop doesn’t have an additional slot and your performance is still sluggish not to fear – you can still replace one of the existing memory units, but then you’ll be left with spare RAM that you may or may not be bothered to sell to get your cash back. It is also important to ensure that the RAM you buy is compatible with your laptop as well as it’s current RAM. Ideally RAM often works best when the same RAM is used from the same manufacturer in order to prevent any potential anomalies.
Where can I get RAM for my laptops?
Online retailers include Amazon, NewEgg and BestBuy offer excellent deals on RAM with free shipping thanks to it’s small form factor. Depending on how much you need, you will be looking at spending roughly $30 to $100.
Note: In some cases you may need to ensure that the type of RAM you get is compatible with the type of RAM in your laptop, though in most cases the industry standard will prevail and anything you buy from the bestsellers lists above should do the trick. If you are unsure head to Crucial.com and scroll down for their Crucial Advisor tool or Crucial System Scanner.
How do I install the RAM I have purchase once I have it?
Now this is where things may get sticky for the faint of heart. While this is an extremely simple and easy procedure, many people will simply avoid it due to their deeply ingrained fear of technology. Contrary to popular belief, the inside of a computer is not capable of eating you. I would strongly suggest even basic computer users to read how this is done, and, if you feel confident enough, do the insertion yourself. Below is a video that will guide you through the process:
If videos are not your thing, below are a couple top notch article guides covering laptop RAM insertion:
If you are looking to squeeze the most performance out of your laptop then the addition of extra RAM (providing you have an available slot) is pretty much mandatory. If you aren’t happy with your laptops performance and find it being sluggish or unresponsive too often, you need look no further than this easy upgrade. As above, we strongly recommend attempting the upgrade yourself and getting your hands dirty, but, if you are too scared to mess it up, you can always take it in to your local IT shop where they can do the upgrade for you (and charge you an arm and a leg in the process!).
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LaptopNinja Editorial Team
Our dedicated editorial team spend countless hours every week scouring the best deals across the web to help save you time and money.