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Adding memory (RAM) to your computer can make a world of difference, with results that you’ll see right away.
If you’re a streamer, gamer, content creator, or just want a faster performing PC, a RAM upgrade will be a total game changer – especially when upgrading from whatever amount came with your computer. Best of all, there’s no need for a trip to the repair shop or to pay a technician, as you can simply install these yourself on most modern machines.
How to Install New RAM
If you want to add RAM to your computer system, here’s how to do it.
Before getting started, be sure the power is off and your PC is unplugged. Open up the side panel, and as a safety precaution before proceeding, touch a metal part of your computer’s case: This equalizes the static electricity charge and prevents nasty shocks or damaging the components.
DIMM (dual in-line memory module) slots are the place on your motherboard where the RAM goes. Locate the current RAM modules, and remove them by unlocking the latches on the side, usually by pressing down until they pop out. Since RAM modules can only be installed in one direction, much like a USB plug, line it up with the little notch, and it should slide in with a slight and gentle push.
To install additional RAM on top of what’s already inside, the process is similar. Make sure your PC has some extra slots first. Motherboards commonly come with four, but sometimes contain only two or sometimes up to eight designated spaces. Simply repeat the process above for adding in the new sticks to the open spots in the socket until the latches snap it in.
While most motherboards with four slots let you use as many or few RAM slots as you want, be aware that using one or three sticks may put your RAM into what’s called Single Channel Mode, which results in half the memory bandwidth of dual channel. That’s why it’s better to stick to an even number of sticks, two or four, to run your RAM in Dual Channel Mode. This will literally double your memory bandwidth, and the performance is noticeable right away.
Not all slots can be used to achieve Dual Channel Mode either, as only certain ones are designated to handle it. This depends on the make, model and manufacturer of the motherboard you’re using, and the safest way to check is by consulting the manual or company website. But if these aren’t available, your best bet is to install one stick on the slot furthest to the edge, skip the next one, and install your other RAM stick in number three. If you’re only using one single stick of RAM, some boards let you install it in any slot you want, but it’s best to double check before you pop it in.
How to Install RAM Modules on Top of Already Existing Ones
If possible, we strongly recommend getting RAM sticks that are the exact same brand, speed and capacity as the ones already in your PC. Not that mixing and matching will break your machine — it won’t — but there’s a good chance it can create annoying compatibility issues like freezing or even crashing. Matching the megahertz (MHz) speed and compatibility of your current RAM is perhaps the most important, as the new RAM sticks – even if they’re significantly faster – will only run at the rated speed of the slowest module in there.
How to Add RAM to Older Computers
Double Data Rate 4 (DDR4) is the current standard for memory sticks, with a base speed of 2133 MHz, and this has been the case since around 2015. It’s faster and has a much larger capacity than its predecessor DDR3, which started to be used in about 2007, and is getting harder and harder to find as time progresses. For older PCs, it’s still available, but may not be for much longer, especially with DDR5 supposed to be released later in 2021.
To find out what DDR your sticks are, simply take a look at them – it should be printed right on there.
While these options here are primarily for PCs, many current laptops are a bit different when it comes to the installation process, and some manufacturers have started to prevent users from upgrading at all.
One final thought before buying: take a look at your motherboard manufacturer’s webpage, which should have a QVL, or Qualified Vendor List. This will show you what RAM kits are compatible, as they’ve been safely tested by the company to run with your machine.
1. Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB DDR4 DRAM
At just 34mm high, these powerful sticks are sure to fit in even a small PC.
The solid aluminum structure does a nice job of dissipating heat from each module, maintaining consistently reliable speed and performance. There’s plenty of headroom for overclocking, increased bandwidth and bus frequency (over 3200MHz), and less power consumption at just 1.20V.
Lagging and lockups and other odd behavior is kept to a minimum after installing, saving you a ton of troubleshooting headaches. It’s optimized for DDR4, and particularly for AMD and Intel X99 series motherboards, but available in a range of frequencies (and colors) to fit your customized build. And if you’ve got Intel XMP 2.0, installation is even simpler – just one setting and you’re all set up.
2. G.SKILL TridentZ RGB Series 16GB
G.SKILL is among the most well-known and trusted manufacturers of memory for all levels of PC builders, and this colorful kit will ramp up your RAM as well as your machine’s inner aesthetics.
Visually it’s dazzling, with customizable RGB colored lights, but there’s more than just pretty aesthetics here. G.SKILL’s engineering is on-point too, including a hairline finished aluminum, and an award-winning Trident Z heatspreader design.
The 16GB DDR4 dual channel kit includes two matched 8GB modules, ready to run at speeds up to 3200MHz and backed by a lifetime warranty.
3. HyperX Fury 16GB 3733MHz DDR4 RAM
If you’re starting to notice your machine being sluggish, or have just been putting off upgrading for too long, HyperX’s Fury is an easy fix.
With speeds up to 3773MHz, this high-performance DDR4 upgrade features an updated low-profile heat spreader design to stay cool under pressure. Slowdowns and annoying slideshow-effects in gaming are cut down tremendously, and those using creative suite software for editing will breathe easier when they see how much rendering speeds increase.
The set is compatible with the latest Intel and AMD CPUs, and backed by a lifetime warranty policy.
4. Crucial Ballistix RGB 3200 MHz DDR4 16GB
These colorful bars feature some cool aesthetic extras, like the opportunity to 3D print your own lightbar along the top, and 16 RGB LEDs that can be controlled and customized with software (including Crucial’s app). But performance is what matters, and these can still pull their weight.
They’re designed for overclocking, and built for users who frequently push the limits of what their machine can do. All while doing an excellent job of not overheating, thanks to the quality heat sinks that keep temps low.
They’ll work well with those users who prefer a Ryzen CPU, and look especially great for gamers or those just looking to get a high functioning upgrade while staying within a budget.