Nowadays, almost all notebook computers allow you to expand their RAM memory capacity. This is possible because they use memory modules just like desktops, but in a different form factor, called SO-DIMM (Small Outline Dual in Line Memory Module). The memory modules used on desktops cannot be used in notebooks and vice-versa.
The first thing you need to know is the memory type (SDRAM or DDR-SDRAM) and the speed your notebook needs. In addition, it is good to know how many memory modules your notebook currently has in order to correctly plan the capacity of the module you need to buy. Other information that you will need to know is the maximum capacity per module your notebook accepts. This information is found in its manual.
You can do this in two ways: by either opening your notebook and taking a look at the memory modules already installed (we will explain more about this later), or running a program such as Sandra or Hwinfo. We ran Everest (which has been discontinued since we posted this tutorial) on our notebook and found that it was using two 256 MB DDR-SDRAM PC2700 (“DDR333”) modules, for a total of 512 MB.
If your notebook has an empty memory slot, just go to the computer store and buy a new SO-DIMM module with the same technology (SDRAM or DDR-SDRAM) and speed of any capacity you want. Of course, you need to know the capacity limit of your notebook. You cannot install a 1 GB module in a notebook that only accepts modules up to 512 MB, for example. Our notebook, a Sony Vaio PCG-V505ECP, accepts modules up to 1 GB, for a total of 2 GB RAM since it has two memory slots.
For example, if your notebook has one 256 MB module and an empty memory slot, if you buy and install another 256 MB module, it will have 512 MB RAM. If you buy and install a 512 MB module, your notebook will have 768 MB.
If your notebook already has two memory modules, you will need to remove one of the installed modules in order to install the new one. If the two modules have the same capacity, it doesn’t matter which one you will take away, but if they have different capacities, remove the one with smaller capacity. The new RAM capacity of your notebook will be of the capacity of the remaining module plus the capacity of the new module.
In our case, our notebook has two 256 MB modules. We will remove one of these modules and install a new one in its place. We bought a 1 GB-module, so after installing it, our notebook will have 1,280 MB RAM installed (memory math is tricky, since 1 GB equals to 1,024 MB not 1,000; so 1,024 MB + 256 MB = 1,280 MB).
Let’s now see a step-by-step guide on how to install your new memory module.
[nextpage title=”Opening Your Notebook”]
You need to check in your notebook manual where the memory modules are located. They can be in two different places, depending on your notebook model: on its bottom or below its keyboard.
If the modules are located on the bottom of the notebook, you will need to unscrew and remove the cover that covers the memory module area. In the notebook manual you will find instructions regarding which cover should be unscrewed and removed.
If the modules are located under the keyboard, you will need to remove a screw located on the bottom of the notebook, and then remove the keyboard. In our notebook, the memory modules were located below the keyboard; therefore, we will show you how to remove the keyboard.
Of course, all the procedures described from now on should be performed with the power cord detached from your notebook and also with its battery removed. Furthermore, it should be performed when your notebook is cool. If you were using your computer, please let it cool down first. This is necessary because all the parts inside your notebook can be very hot.
First locate the keyboard screw on the bottom of the notebook. You should check in its manual which screw releases the keyboard.
After removing the screw, pull the keyboard forward with your hands, like we show in Figure 3. The keyboard won’t get out; this is done only to unlock it.
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Next, pull the keyboard up with your fingertips in the manner we show in Figure 4. Be careful not to break the keyboard locks.
Keep pulling the keyboard very slowly. Since the keyboard is connected to the computer through a flat-cable, you must be careful not to break this cable.
[nextpage title=”Checking Your Current Modules”]
Even though you have already run Everest software, it is always a good idea to visually check the type of SO-DIMM modules your notebook has as well as their speeds, since you need to buy a SO-DIMM memory module with the same technology and speed. In our case, our notebook had two DDR PC2700 256 MB modules from Samsung, so we bought a 1 GB PC2700 (“DDR333”) module.
Below is a cross-reference table that may be useful.
|Module Type||Chip Type||Technology||Clock|
One interesting thing is that you can install modules with a higher speed grade than the one currently installed in your notebook. But if you must “mix” modules, it is ideal to have them all with the same speed grade. We could buy a DDR400 (PC3200) module for our notebook, but since we were willing to use one of the 256 MB original modules, which were DDR333 (PC2700), we bought a DDR333 (PC2700) module. We could buy and install a DDR400 (PC3200) module; it would have worked just fine.
When mixing modules with different speed grades, the system will access the modules at the slower speed available. For example, if we mixed our DDR333 module with a DDR400 part, the system would access the DDR400 part at 333 MHz even though this module could run faster because of the other module installed on the system. (This is a generic explanation; some systems can overcome this limitation.)
[nextpage title=”Removing the Module”]
If your system has an empty memory slot, you don’t need to remove the only memory module available. As we explained before, you can keep it in order to have more RAM memory available. If this is your case, skip this page.
If your notebook has two memory slots and both of them are filled with a memory module, you will need to remove one of them (the one with smaller capacity).
To do that, release the side locks located on the memory slot with your fingers, as shown in Figure 8. As you release the locks, the module will automatically pop up and stay in a 45º angle position, as you can see in Figure 9.
Next, simply pull the module with you hand; it is already released.
[nextpage title=”Installing the New Module”]
Installing the new module is relatively easy. Insert the new module in the open memory slot at a 45° angle, paying attention to match the notch located on the memory module with the notch located on the memory slot.
After inserting the memory module, you need to push it until it reaches the end of the slot, as we show in Figure 13.
Then push the module down until you hear the click from the module locks, which means that the module is locked in the slot.
After that your new module will be installed. Close your notebook following in reverse the way you used to open it. In our case, putting the keyboard back in place, pushing it forward, and screwing it back to the notebook.
Turn your notebook on, and run Everest once again to check if the new module is being correctly recognized and if it is working well. As you can see in Figure 16, our new 1 GB module is being recognized correctly, and our computer now has 1,280 MB.
If your new memory module is not being recognized at all, you should remove it and install it again. You probably didn’t push it until it reached the end of the slot (Figure 13).
If your computer is not recognizing the full capacity of your new memory module (for example, a 1 GB module being recognized as 512 MB or less) this means that you installed a module with a capacity greater than your notebook is capable of handling.