How to Upgrade the System Memory or RAM in a Dell Computer

Summary: This article provides information about how to upgrade the system memory or RAM on a Dell computer. Identifying the correct memory type, number of modules supported on a computer, and See more

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What is RAM or System Memory?

Random Access Memory (RAM) also referred to as system memory, main memory, primary memory is a computer's temporary data storage device. It stores the information that the computer is actively using so that it can be accessed quickly. The more programs your computer is running, the more memory it will need to perform smoothly.


What is the benefit of upgrading the memory?

Upgrading the system memory or RAM helps improve the overall performance of the computer. Improve application performance while multi-tasking. Improve gaming performance, and so on.

To improve the performance of a computer, sometimes a RAM or system memory upgrade is recommended. An upgrade means adding memory modules along with the existing ones or replacing the old ones with a set of new modules with higher capacity.

NOTE: The system memory (RAM) cannot be upgraded on certain Dell laptops because the system memory (RAM) is integrated into the system board.

How to identify and upgrade the system memory (RAM) on a computer?

  1. What type of system memory (RAM) does the computer support?

    1. Desktop computers support DIMM modules and laptops support SODIMM. There is a significant physical size difference between these two types of memory modules. It is also important to understand which generation of system memory (RAM) your computer supports. For example - DDR2, DDR3, DDR4, DDR4L and so on. System boards are specifically designed to support only one generation of system memory (RAM). See the User Manual of your Dell computer for model specific information.
      WARNING: Installing an incorrect or unsupported type of system memory (RAM) on the computer may cause physical damage to either the module or the slot on the system board.
  2. What is the maximum capacity that is supported by the computer?

    1. Every computer is designed to work with a minimum and maximum capacity of memory. For example, a particular Dell desktop or laptop may support a minimum of 2GB and maximum 16GB of memory. See the User Manual of your Dell computer for model specific information.
    2. Every computer has a specific number of memory slots on the system board. Often laptops have 2 memory slots and desktops may have more than 2. For example, if your laptop with 2 memory slots supports a maximum of 16GB of memory, you can install 2 x 8GB memory modules. See the User Manual of your Dell computer for model specific information.
    3. If the computer is installed with a 32-bit version of Windows or other operating systems, the operating system can only recognize 4GB of memory. Adding a higher capacity memory in such cases does not improve the performance as the operating system cannot take advantage of the available memory. A 64-bit version of operating system can support system memory that is greater than 4GB.
  3. Purchase the new memory modules.

    1. Dell Memory Selector website helps easily identify and purchase a compatible memory module that is supported by your Dell computer.
      NOTE: Dell Memory Selector is available in select countries only.
  4. Install the modules in the computer.

    1. To install the memory modules in the computer, see the Service Manual of your Dell computer for model specific information.
      CAUTION: Dell recommends following the Safety Precautions when Working with Electrical Equipment.
Additional Information

How to Upgrade Memory or RAM on a Dell Computer

Duration: 03:23
Closed captions: Available in select languages.

Article Properties

Affected Product

Desktops & All-in-Ones, Laptops

Last Published Date

21 Feb 2021



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