Increasing the amount of RAM on a Windows 10 computer

Published: October 16, 2022

Last Modified: March 15, 2023

Increasing the amount of RAM on a Windows 10 computer

Method 1: Swap files

To increase the amount of RAM on a Windows 10 computer, you can enable the paging file, that is, a virtual addition to the RAM in the form of a separate file that is located on the drive. It copies unused data from RAM, which increases the performance of RAM and the computer as a whole.

To enable the paging file, it is best to first calculate its optimal size, which depends on the loads on the PC and the current amount of RAM. You can determine the volume of the virtual add-on based on the size of the RAM as well as by using special software. In our separate material, the author described in detail the methods for this.

You can activate the paging file and manually set its size through the section with the properties of the Windows 10 system. This does not require any additional programs, and virtual memory is borrowed from the amount of information storage on the hard drive. On our site, the author examined in more detail how to enable the swap file using standard tools.

At any time, the paging file can be increased or decreased, according to personal needs.

This method allows you to increase the RAM virtually, which is suitable for those users who are not going to buy additional RAM sticks or completely change the component to a more powerful one.

Method 2: ReadyBoost Technology

ReadyBoost technology is similar in principle to the previous method-virtual RAM is activated. Only in this case, a flash drive is used instead of a hard disk or SSD. But unlike turning on the swap file, system performance will not be increased much since the bandwidth of the flash drive is an order of magnitude lower than the same characteristic of the HDD/SSD or the RAM itself.

This method is suitable if you need to increase the RAM to perform a specific task, for example, for a short period of time to process a photo if the internal memory is not enough. With regular use of ReadyBoost technology with a flash drive, the device may become unusable; such drives have a certain resource for the number of records.

If there are no other options than using ReadyBoost technology, then in our separate guide at the link below you will find instructions on how to use a flash drive as additional RAM for your computer. Despite the fact that the instruction is written using the example of Windows 7, it is also suitable for Windows 10.

Method 3: Purchase new RAM or an additional stick

The most effective way to increase the amount of RAM on your computer is to install an additional module, if there are free slots, or completely new brackets.

You can add a RAM module not only to many PCs but also to some laptops. Sometimes they also have a free slot, but for this you need to open the case of the device. In general, it is best if the laptop itself is new (they have almost monolithic cases). In such a situation, contact a specialist or carefully watch the video instructions for your model so as not to damage the bottom cover.

RAM replacement in its entirety

First, let’s say a few words about the fact that if you have one RAM bar installed on your computer but there are free slots, it is more convenient to change the RAM as a whole, since you do not need to select exactly the same bar for the existing one. In addition, in this way you can achieve the maximum increase by changing, for example, one current 4 GB to two sticks of 8 GB, as a result of which you will get 16 GB. In a similar case, when adding a bar instead of a complete replacement to the existing one, it will be possible to get only 8 GB.

The action plan for selecting completely new RAM modules is as follows:

  1. Find out the maximum amount of RAM your motherboard can support (see Step 3 below).
  2. In addition to the form factor and volume, the component has other features that should be taken into account: frequency, timings, multi-channel or single-channel modes, the presence or absence of heat exchangers designed to cool the bar. On our website, the author analyzed the main selection criteria for RAM, taking into account important technical characteristics.

Remember that when replacing all RAM sticks (in the event that you plan to buy the maximum amount supported by the motherboard), buy the number of them that will correspond to the number of slots on the motherboard. In other words, if the motherboard only supports 16 GB of RAM and that’s exactly the amount you want to install, then you can’t buy one 16 GB bar. Instead, you will need to purchase two sticks of 8 GB each. The same applies to newer configurations where, say, 32 GB of RAM is supported, and there are 4 slots. You cannot fill them with two 16 GB sticks. Instead, you need to purchase four 8 GB sticks.

Adding a bracket to a free slot

This option is more budgetary but more difficult to implement since it is impossible to set any bar to the already standing one: they need to be selected according to compatibility with each other.

Step 1: Find out the number of free slots.

First of all, you need to find out if there are slots for another stick of RAM:

  1. Launch “Task Manager” . The easiest way to do this is to left-click on the bottom workbar and select the desired item.
  2. In the new window, go to the “Performance” tab and select the “Memory” section . At the bottom of the line “Slots used”, it should be displayed how many slots are not yet occupied, where you can install an additional bar.

If you don’t see the value, then stretch the dispatch window to the width.

Step 2: Determine the memory’s type, frequency, and voltage.

The motherboard is only compatible with certain types of RAM. At the moment, there are only 4 types: DDR1, DDR2, DDR3 and DDR4. The first is outdated and is used extremely rarely, only on very old devices, and the most modern type of DDR4 has a high bandwidth and is installed on new motherboards. DDR3 is already in the past, but many people still have it (both owners of outdated PC motherboards and relatively new but budget laptops), but DDR2 is almost nowhere to be found.

Not so long ago, a new generation appeared-DDR5, but it is rather experimental for now. And there are practically no motherboards that support such memory yet.

It should be noted that the form factor of the brackets for laptops and computers is very different—on laptop motherboards, the socket is smaller, and the module itself is more compact. 
To understand what kind of memory is needed, look through specialized software for its type. To do this, you can use the free utility CPU-Z. Download and run the tool. On the “SPD” tab, look at the type of RAM in the “Memory Slot Selection” line , selecting the slot used.

Download CPU-ZE Each type of RAM has its own design features. See the diagram below for more details. As you can see, a special recess is located in various places around the edge of the module. The picture corresponds only to the brackets for the computer motherboard.

When choosing a RAM module, read the sticker, which lists the main characteristics of the component. As a rule, you can see the type on it. 
If the type of RAM is not indicated on the sticker, then look for another parameter: throughput. It is designated as PC1-PC4. The number at the end of the abbreviation corresponds to the type of RAM; that is, PC4 means DDR4. 

Modules with different types of memory (this applies to DDR3 and DDR4) will work together, including in dual-channel mode, but the overall performance of the RAM will be lower than it could be with the same DDR.

Frequency is the second most important indicator. The frequency of the purchased bar should not be lower than the one that is currently set, but the indicator should be higher. Ideally, take the bar with the same frequency. You can also view this indicator through the CPU-Z program proposed above, on the tab “SPD” , with the selected RAM slot, in the line “Max Bandwidth” . The desired value will be in brackets. In our example, it is 1333 MHz. You can also have 1200 MHz, 2133 MHz, or 2400 MHz.

Another parameter that needs to be clarified is voltage. This indicator is different for each DDR: DDR2: 1.8V (maximum-2.2V), DDR3: 1.5V (maximum-1.7V), DDR4: 1.2V (maximum-1.4V).

And if everything is clear with this, then if you want to purchase a DDR3L or DDR4L bar, you will need to take something into account. They have a different voltage-1.35V and 1.5V, respectively. A 1.35V stick will be able to handle 1.5V, so in most cases, you can easily add a lower voltage module to a higher voltage module. But on the contrary, you don’t need to buy 1.5V for a motherboard that supports up to 1.35V. You will either get an error message when you try to turn on your PC or laptop, or you will just get a black screen.

However, in any case, if there is no exact information about this feature of the motherboard, it is always better to buy the bar whose voltage is identical to the existing bar.

Step 3: Determine the maximum amount of RAM that is supported.

After the type of RAM is determined, you can see how much total RAM the computer or laptop supports. This is also an important criterion, because if the motherboard does not provide for a large installation, then increasing the memory by hardware will not work.

There are several ways to view the maximum amount of RAM on your computer. If this is a laptop, then you must first find out the model of the device, and then go to the official website of the manufacturer to study the technical specifications. This information, by the way, can also be found in the laptop documentation. In the case of a computer, you need a motherboard model. In addition, specialized software can be used to determine the maximum amount of memory. Our separate article has information on how to view the amount of RAM supported.

Step 4: Select a RAM Bar

Selecting an additional RAM bar for an existing one is more difficult than buying one from scratch. Ideally, you need to pick up exactly the same model, but it will not always be possible to find it on sale. In such a situation, you can purchase any other bar with identical characteristics (DDR type, frequency, and voltage), while the manufacturer does not matter.

But as for the volume, it is not at all necessary that it coincide with the current one. In other words, for a 4 GB bar, you can buy exactly the same bar in terms of characteristics, but with a capacity of 8 GB. True, there is one feature here: it will not work in dual-channel mode. And, while this is usually imperceptible, in some cases the overall performance of the RAM may be slightly lower than it would be in dual-channel mode.

Step 5: Install the module

Installing a RAM module requires certain skills, because you will need to disassemble the computer system unit or laptop case. The installation guide for RAM strips is also available on our website. Moreover, the article briefly describes the memory standards and a way to test them for performance after installation.

Read more: Installing RAM modules 
Immediately after installing the component, the system properties section will display the volume, taking into account the additional bar. The easiest way is to use the Windows 10 My Computer shortcut . Right-click on it and select “Properties” from the context menu . 

In a new window, look at the characteristics of the RAM in the “System” section .

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