How to upgrade RAM on a laptop

Is your laptop slow to respond? Or are you looking for a smoother computing experience? If so, you may want to consider upgrading the RAM on your laptop. 

Random access memory (RAM) is the hardware in your computer that gives applications a place to store and access data on a short-term basis. Having more RAM means that more data can be accessed and read almost instantly. Simply put, adding RAM can make your laptop faster, increase your system responsiveness, and improve multitasking.

Looking to install memory in a desktop instead of a laptop? Use our quick guide to desktop memory installation.

Do you need more RAM?

On Windows 11, users with less than 8GB of RAM are likely to experience performance issues, while Windows 10 users can manage with slightly less. If your system has less than 4GB of RAM, it is likely to slow down or freeze up when you try and do more than one thing at a time. 

Both Windows 10 and Windows 11 are good at notifying users about low RAM conditions, with a message stating, “Your computer is low on memory.” This indicates either insufficient RAM (prompting the need for an upgrade) or the operation of resource-intensive applications (in which case you will need to consider discontinuing or closing some applications). 

If you’ve recently purchased a new system and notice sluggish performance right out of the box, upgrading the RAM may be your best course of action. The good news? RAM is not super expensive and you can easily replace it yourself.

Steps to increase memory in your laptop

Adding or upgrading RAM in a laptop doesn’t require any special computer skills, just a screwdriver and 10 easy steps.

1. How much laptop memory should I add?

First, you need to determine how much memory you’d like to add to your computer. This will depend on what you want to use the laptop for. As a rule of thumb, we recommend: 

  • Casual user (web browsing, apps/games and videos): at least 8GB
  • Intermediate user (web browsing, apps and videos, plus more gaming and/or productivity apps, such as MS Office): at least 16GB
  • Professional user/gamer/graphic designer: At least 32GB 

For more information, we have a full article on how much RAM do you need for your computer memory.

2. Should I also upgrade my laptop with an SSD?

Another instant way to improve laptop performance is to upgrade your hard disk drive (HDD) to a solid state drive (SSD). If you choose to install an SSD in a laptop, Crucial offers easy-to-follow tutorials to help you every step of the way.

3. Compatibility is critical – how can I check it?

Laptops are designed with specific RAM requirements. The number of modules, their configuration, memory technology, and storage size are all specific to each laptop. 

In less than 60 seconds, you can use the Crucial System Selector or System Scanner to access our database of more than 100,000 systems to find compatible upgrades, guaranteed.

4. Take the right precautions

Static electricity can damage the components in any home computer system. To protect your system’s components from static damage during installation, touch any of the unpainted metal surfaces on your computer’s frame or wear an ESD wrist strap before touching or handling internal components. Either method will safely discharge static electricity that’s naturally present in your body.

Avoid touching the gold pins or components image

To protect your memory module, avoid touching the gold pins or components (chips). It’s best to always hold the module by the top or side edges

Hold the module by the top or side edges - image

5. Gather supplies

Clear off a large installation space, and make sure you’re working in a static-safe environment by removing any plastic bags or papers from the area. Hard floors are recommended over carpeted areas to reduce static electricity as well.

Then collect:

  • Your laptop computer
  • Compatible Crucial laptop memory
  • Screwdriver
  • Owner’s manual

6. Shut down your laptop

Because your files, documents, and data are saved on your storage drive, they will remain unaffected when you install new RAM.

7. Remove all power sources

Unplug your laptop’s power cable and remove the battery. Consult your owner’s manual for specific instructions.

Press the power button for five seconds. This discharges any residual electricity still in the system. If your battery is not removable, you should still follow this step to ensure all residual power is discharged.

8. Open the case and ground yourself

For instructions about opening your specific system, consult its owner’s manual.

You should also take pictures with your phone to see where cables or screws are attached to make it easier to put them back together.

Now is the time to ground yourself to avoid static damage during the installation process.

9. Remove the old memory module and install the new RAM

Pull the side clips away from the module to release it. Then take the RAM modules out of the slots. Pull the side clips away from the module to release it.

Pull the side clips away from the module to release it - image

Holding the modules along the edges, align the notches on the module with the ridge in the slot, then apply even pressure and firmly press the module in. It usually takes about 30 pounds of pressure (about half the force needed to open up a tight jar) to fully install the module.

It takes about 30 pounds of pressure to fully install the module - image

10. Close the laptop case and reinstall the battery

Close the laptop case and reinstall the battery. Boot up and enjoy running more memory-intensive apps on your newly upgraded laptop! 

Review Crucial’s RAM installation guides for additional support on leveling up your RAM.

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