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Upgrading the RAM of a Computer

Updated on April 11, 2015
DDR SDRAM for Desktop Computer
DDR SDRAM for Desktop Computer

Upgrading the RAM of a computer can become necessary when an existing memory becomes functionally inadequate. The RAM (Random Access Memory) is one of the most prolific components of the computer system. Therefore the need to make sure it is in proper shape as much as possible should not be treated with levity. This discourse would explore possible measures that could enhance an upgrade if the need be in terms of when and how to go about it.

The expectation of every computer user is an optimum performance especially with respect to speed which fosters timely delivery. But when the reverse is the case, the reason for it have to be probed and most likely the RAM could be responsible. There are two major components responsible for computer speed: The RAM and the Processor. Basically, the bigger a system memory is, the higher the system speed if compatible with the Central processing unit (CPU). Let put this discourse in perspective by approaching it from the following sub-topics:

Factors that determine when to Upgrade the RAM of a Computer

I believe the speed of a computer is relative to some extent. Two systems can be of the same configuration but with different speed. This may be as a result of the functions each is subjected to. One may be weighty, while the other just a simple use in terms of function. You can confirm the memory status via the Admin tools of your system.

If your system has Windows XP (other OS are similar) as the operating system, click on the control panel. Next, click on the administrative tools and then performance. You will see the memory space available and the performance metrics. If available space hovers around zero, you may need an upgrade. The following factors dictate when the RAM of a computer is due for an upgrade.

1. Increase in Computer Function: As the purpose for which the computer is employed moves from simple applications to more complex programs, the need may arise for a system upgrade and particularly the Random Access Memory. The first step is to find out the minimum requirements for such programs. If the existing memory cannot cope with demand, there would be a need for an upgrade when all necessary conditions are met. If for instance a computer is used for gaming, graphic designing and the like, the system may become very slow if the capacity of the RAM is to low for such activity.


2. The need for higher Operating System: Another possibility is the need to upgrade to a more superior operating system (OS). If the configuration of the system is low in terms of memory as required by the new OS, there will be a need for an upgrade. Every operating system has system requirements. So please find out before purchasing an OS for the purpose of an upgrade, because it is possible that your system may not be upgradable to the extent of such requirements.

3. An Upgrade of the CPU: Developments in Computing technology makes the RAM synchronizes with the processor when in use. By implication, greater processing speed will be optimized if commensurable with the system memory capacity. otherwise, the essence will be defeated. As much as possible, such computer memory should be upgraded.

4. Need for greater Speed: Good speed is the hallmark of any good computer system. If upgrading the RAM of the computer will bring about it, why not go ahead if possible. Although there could be other hardware and software issues that could inhibit speed such as the processor, hard disk, malicious spyware etc. But for the sake of this discourse, it is assumed that other components that may be responsible are in order.

5. Emergence of higher RAM Configuration: The RAM is one of the computer hardware that has seen a phenomenal advancement in technology over the years. Upgrading a RAM of a computer could amount to moving with the tide of the times. If a computer user ultimate desire is the highest computer speed possible due to the need for speedy delivery, Upgrading existing memory is a most, if possible.

6. Cost Effectiveness: Another very critical factor in determining when or whether to upgrade a computer memory is how cost effective it is. Logically, the cost of doing an upgrade should not be close to the cost of doing a replacement with a better and higher system. If upgrading a computer system is as costly as buying a new one, then it is not economical. Every system has a life span, so an upgrade of the memory when other components are close to exhausted capacity, is of no use with respect to longevity.

Computer Memory slots
Computer Memory slots

Pre-requisite for Upgrading the RAM of a Computer

For the sake of emphasis, a clear knowledge of the pros and cons of upgrading the RAM of a computer most be handy if the exercise will be successful. The first issue that comes to mind is that of compatibility.

Motherboard configurations are different so also the RAM form factor they work with. In order to have a clear knowledge of this, the manufacturer manual can be consulted or their website. This is the most authenticated means of resolving the issue of compatibility.

Some RAM manufacturers offers system scanning software for a token or free in some cases to determine the type of memory compatible with a computer. But make sure you download such software directly from the manufacturer website.

How to Upgrade the RAM of a Computer

Basically, there are two major types of memory upgrade. There could be the need to upgrade an existing memory in terms of capacity. For example, 512MB memory could be increased to 1GB by adding another 512MB memory, if there is additional memory slot with other conditions met. The additional slots in this sense refers to the connecting interface between the memory PCB and the motherboard as shown in the memory slots picture above. This is common with desktop computers. Thus, it implies making room for an upgrade if need be by the manufacturer.

The second type of upgrade is when the existing memory form factor is changed completely. Some system configuration makes provision for more than one memory form factor. Thus, you can upgrade from Single Inline Memory Module (SIMM) to Dual Inline Memory module (DIMM). From the example above, instead of employing additional 512MB, you can go for one Dual Inline Memory Module that is 1GB.

Ram of a Computer is recognizable especially for desktop systems. Unscrew the system housing to gain access to the motherboard with a degree of precaution because of sensitive components. You will see a PCB as shown in the diagram above erected on the circuit board close to each other if more than one. SIMM slots are usually white while DIMM are brown (it also depend on the type of system). You can then proceed to do your upgrade, it depends on what you wish to do.

The DDR SDRAM diagram shown is an example of a Desktop computer RAM. DDR3 SDRAM has been the market standard for almost a decade. A fair number of DDR4 SDRAM is now in the market. DDR4 is reputed to have low voltage requirement and relatively a higher clock speed which is in line with expectations since it developers started the process of its release.

In conclusion, upgrading the RAM of a Computer is an interesting subject and it could make a lot of difference. It is pertinent to state that for an individual who is not technically incline should always consult with a certified computer technician for optimum result. Although, this is not an uphill task, some degree of caution should be taken so that the process does not become moribund.

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      Celestino 2 years ago

      You do NOT leave it plugged in while doing this. It is not safe, if theers a problem with the power supply while you are attached to/touching the case you could get electrocuted by a a surge of power going thru it and into you.It is now advisable to just unplug it, because the I/O sheild plate will keep the motherboard grounded to the case. But the best solution now is to get RAM with heatsinks attached, so you can't damage the RAM by touching it.Check out my channel for more tips!