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How to Install RAM in a PC

Installing RAM in your PC is perhaps the easiest part of a PC build, and also a simple upgrade you can do to add performance later. More RAM allows you to smoothly run more software, edit video, open lots of browser tabs or play video games.

The RAM is effectively short-term memory, storing data that needs to be used in the programs you’re actively using. Having more memory lets your CPU access more data, which can improve performance. It’s a great way to increase performance on even the best gaming PCs. (If you’re not using a desktop, learn how to upgrade the RAM in your laptop.)

Whether you’re in the middle of building your PC, or making an upgrade, you’ll have to make sure you pick RAM that works with your motherboard and determine how many sticks you’ll need.

Determine what kind of memory you need (and how much)

The kind of RAM you’ll need depends on your motherboard. You’ll have to check if it uses the newest standard, DDR5, or the older DDR4 — both are still commonly found (you can tell from the manual, the product descriptions or Crucial’s Advisor Tool). The other thing to consider is whether your board has two or four slots for memory. Full-size ATX and micro ATX motherboards will usually have four slots, while mini ITX often have just two.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

So if you want 32GB of RAM, you could use two 16GB of sticks on any of those board types, or four 8GB sticks on the ones with four slots. Once you have the best RAM for you, move on to the next part of the guide.

Picking Your Slots for Dual Channel RAM


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