How do I buy RAM for my laptop

A windows update maxed out my RAM and made my laptop a useless lump of metal. So I was able to (very slowly) do a system restore to an earlier version and now it works again.

I have 6GB of RAM on my laptop right now, a 4GB stick and a 2GB stick. That was stock.

I went to crucial and used their system scanner. I can get an 8GB stick for $40. I figure I can replace the 2GB stick and that’ll give me 12GB (my laptop maxes out at 16GB).

However, with black friday coming up I’m wondering if there will be deals better than what crucial is offering. Problem is I have no idea what specs I need to look for when buying RAM. On crucial the RAM they showed me have the following specs

up to 8GB per slot
PC3-12800 or PC3L-12800

Here is a compatible stick.

Of those factors, I’m not sure what they all mean or which ones I’d need to take into account. All are 1.35V and CL=11, but some are DDR3 and some are DDR3L. Does everything need to be compatible for it to work (what if I find a black friday stick with a CL of 9).

I’m wondering if it is better to just buy a $40 stick at crucial rather than risk buying a $20 or $25 stick on black friday and having it not work.

Well I know that I wouldn’t risk screwing up my computer just to save twenty bucks. I’d go with the Crucial solution, and have many times.

As long as everything matches, you should be fine. I believe what absolutely must match are DDR, CAS latency, timings, and voltage.

DDR3L is backwards compatible with DDR3 but not vice-versa, so if your motherboard requires DDR3L, DDR3 memory might not work.

Crucial offered me both DDR3 and DDR3L memory sticks, so I’m assuming I have DDR3.

Get a matched pair of 8 GB sticks for 16 GB. And do get them from Crucial: their customer service has been excellent.

Yeah but I already have a 4GB and 2GB stick. If I spend $40 then I have 12GB, I need to spend $80 to get 16GB.

My laptop was bought refurbished and I got it 5 years ago. So I will probably upgrade in the next year or two. So I don’t know if I need 16GB.

It came with 6GB when I bought it, and 6GB has always worked fine up until windows tried to install an update last week and maxed out my RAM (it was consistently running at 96% until I did system restore, now it is at 65%). Going from 6GB to 12GB is half the price of going from 12 to 16.

A big reason to upgrade to 16 GB is that you will see increased battery life through reduced disk usage.

Since you are going to upgrade in the next year or two why not just stick with what you have and the older operating system?

I bought an off-brand RAM once and it had errors so now I just use Crucial (which is maybe once every 5 years or so).

Can Windows even address 16 GB? It couldn’t before, but I don’t know about the latest version.

32-bit Windows computers are stuck with a sub-4GB limit. For 64-bit Windows, the lowest editions of 8.X and 10 support 128GB. It’s Windows 7 64-bit you have to pay attention. It could be as little as 8GB or 16GB for the low end editions. Vista also has odd limits. OTOH, XP 64-bit supports 128GB for all versions. I.e., MS is deliberately crippling some versions.

Spend the money to upgrade to 16GB and then sell your old memory on Craigslist.

Some points in no particular order:

  1. You need to know what types of memory the motherboard on your laptop supports. In some cases, your laptop manufacturer can provide details on what memory module specs are supported. When in doubt, look at the specs on your existing memory modules, and then choose a memory module with the same specs, but a higher GB capacity.
  2. Relevant specs relating compatibility:
  • Voltage (1.35V vs 1.50V vs …). You must use the correct voltage memory modules for your motherboard.
  • CL latency. Smaller numbers are faster and more compatible… A CL9 stick will work in a slot running at CL11; it will just run at slower CL11 speeds. A CL11 stick may generate errors in a memory slot running at CL9.
  • MHz (-1600, -2133, etc…). Bigger numbers are faster and more compatible. A faster stick will run is a slower slot, it will just run at a slower speed. A slower stick may generate errors if put in a faster memory slot.
  1. Single-channel versus dual-channel memory sockets in your laptop. If your laptop memory sockets support dual channel capabilities, you should buy two of the same module as you will get performance gains. If your laptop memory slots are single-channel only, then you can install two different modules, since the two sockets will operate independently. If you install two different sticks in a dual-channel-capable memory slots, that will still work, but you will lose the dual-channel benefit and the system with downshift to single-channel operations.