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Laptop Memory Upgrades: A Brief Guide

Looking for a quick and affordable way to improve the performance of your laptop? One easy way to do this is to upgrade the Random Access Memory (or RAM) in your laptop, which could significantly improve your performance in many cases and give you a lot more leeway when it comes to multitasking. Most laptops today have 8GB of either DDR3 or DDR4 RAM installed by default. 8GB is perfectly fine, and is more than enough for most users, but if you plan on multitasking a lot or performing more demanding tasks (or, in some cases, even simply using multiple Google Chrome tabs!) then an upgrade will likely improve performance.

Laptop Memory Upgrades: A Brief Guide

Less than 8GB of RAM is generally inadvisable, and anything more than 16GB is overkill for most users. As a result, you would probably want to keep your RAM from 8GB to 16GB. In terms of RAM, quantity has a stronger impact than frequency- higher frequency memory can improve performance in some cases but this depends heavily upon workload and the application in question. In general, however, frequency and latency have very little impact on performance, so it’s better to spend less money to get more RAM than to spend more money for less RAM that is faster. For compatibility’s sake, it’s recommended to make sure that the RAM you are using has the same latency and frequency.

Something specific to consider is the type of memory supported by your laptop.  If you are unsure of this, it is always a good idea to check the laptop’s included documentation or to check online for your laptop specifications on the manufacturer’s website. Most Windows laptops use the SODIMM form factor, which is the acronym for Small Outline Dual In-Line Memory Module. SODIMM is a smaller version of the technology used in the full-size DIMM sticks used in desktop machines.

Since form factor is relatively simple, the main thing you need to consider when shopping for laptop RAM is the type of RAM used in your laptop. This is usually either DDR3 or DDR4 RAM. The two are not interchangeable, and you must get the type of RAM that is used by your laptop. DDR4 is the newer standard, but both can be affordable, fast, and easy to obtain.

Installing RAM upgrades for laptops is extremely simple- all you need is a static-free environment, a screwdriver, the replacement RAM, and optionally an ESD wrist strap. Make sure the laptop is powered off, unplugged, and remove the battery if it is removable. Next, make sure you ground yourself on an unpainted metal surface- this can be something like the edge of a desk or a nearby lamp, or even an unpainted metal surface within the laptop. Flip the laptop over and locate the removable plate that protects the RAM and remove this plate. Inside, you should see at least one SODIMM chip- if you need to remove one, pull the side clips away from the module to release it, which should pop up. Remove this module and insert the new module(s) by inserting them in the same way, holding the module by the sides and lining the notch in the module up with the “tooth” in the laptop’s SODIMM slot. Next, apply pressure evenly on both sides of the module and press it down firmly, and the module should lock in place. Put everything back together and you should be good to go!

Computer troubles and upgrades can be stressful and selecting parts can be a confusing process, but we are here to help! If you want to avoid the hassle and get help with part selection and installation from our professional technicians, contact us at one of our locations!

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Random Access Memory (or RAM for short) is one of the most important parts of your computer. RAM is the extremely fast memory that is used by your computer to temporarily store data, but how can you tell if you need more of it? Most operating systems today require a minimum of around 2 gigabytes (or GB for short), but unless you perform very light tasks you will often need at least 6GB or even more, with most computers on the market today using around 8GB. With RAM, the more memory you have, the better!

Troubleshooting: How To Tell if You Need More RAM

First, you should know how much RAM your machine currently has installed. There are a few ways you can do this, but in Windows the easiest way is by right clicking My Computer and selecting Properties. Here, you can see (in gigabytes) the amount of RAM you currently have installed. You can also find more information on your memory specifications by accessing the Task Manager from the CTRL+ALT+DEL menu and checking the Performance tab. From the Performance tab, click the graph box for “Memory,” and you can view a number of details about the specifications of your currently installed RAM, including the frequency, type (generally DDR3 or DDR4), and form factor of your RAM (DIMM for desktops or SODIMM for laptops).

There are some easy ways to tell during use whether or not you need to upgrade your memory. The most common symptoms are if your computer performance is very slow or unstable, particularly when attempting to access files or programs. Sometimes, when you do not have enough memory, programs become inconsistent and may crash, and videos or video games may “stutter” and play sluggishly. Programs, directories, and internet browsers can take a very long time to load if you are low on memory, especially if you already have multiple programs or browsing windows open to begin with. Furthermore, some internet browsers like Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge can be very memory intensive, sometimes even using 4GB alone or more with numerous tabs open!

To help determine for certain that the issue is RAM and not another hardware or software problem that needs to be addressed, you can check the Task Manager to view some important statistics. In the Task Manager, you can view the programs and processes currently running on your computer. The Task Manager will show you how much each program is using the various resources, with the percentage of how much of each resource is utilized at the top. These resources include CPU usage, network bandwidth, disk usage, GPU usage, and memory. If the total percentage of memory currently used is 80% or higher, it is probably time to upgrade your memory!

Do you need more help troubleshooting your computer problems, or recommendations for upgrades? Do you want your upgrades professionally installed by our qualified technicians? Contact us today at one of our locations!

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Processor Upgrades: A Short Guide

Has your computer been performing poorly lately? Is it slow and unmanageable, to the point where it is sometimes practically unusable? Or, perhaps, is it too slow to run some of the programs you would like to use, like editing software and video games? If so, it might be time for a new Central Processing Unit- “CPU” or “processor” for short. A common allusion is that the CPU is the “brain” of the computer, because it is where the main calculations are performed. The motherboard is the central part of the computer and is designed to be compatible with a specific CPU brand and type through the use of a compatible “socket.”

Processor Upgrades: A Short Guide

There are three major aspects that you should consider before you can upgrade your computer’s processor. The first aspect is what CPU type is supported by your motherboard, the second is what you will be using the computer for, and the third is what your budget for the upgrade will be. What type of CPU you can select depends upon these three major factors!     Firstly, you must consider what your computer supports: this depends on the socket type of your motherboard, which is the specific type of interface between the processor and the rest of the computer. The two major PC CPU manufacturers are Intel and AMD, and these manufacturers use separate standards for CPU sockets. For example, if you are planning on getting an AMD Ryzen 5 2600X CPU, you would require a motherboard compatible with the Ryzen CPUs, which would mean one using the AM4 socket. On the other hand, if you were planning on using an Intel i7-8700, you would need a motherboard using the LGA1151 socket.

Second, you need to consider what the machine you are upgrading or building will be used for. For example, if the machine is going to be used for something relatively light, such as internet browsing, you could get by with a lower end, more inexpensive CPU, like an Intel i3 or an AMD Ryzen 3. However, if you are planning on using the computer for more demanding tasks like gaming or photo and video editing, you will need a more powerful, higher end CPU, such as an Intel i5 or higher or an AMD Ryzen 5 or higher.

Finally, you will need to consider what your budget is for the parts you need to replace. Lower end CPUs like the Intel i3 or AMD Ryzen 3 are typically around $150 or below, while higher end CPUs like the Intel i5 and i7 series or AMD Ryzen 5 and 7 series are usually upwards of $180. It is also important to note that these prices do not account for fluctuations in costs or the cost of a motherboard. Generally the CPU will be more expensive than the motherboard, but it is still a good idea to get the best motherboard option you can afford, as better motherboards are more effective, more reliable, and include more features. Furthermore, a CPU replacement and upgrade is relatively simple, but having to replace or upgrade a motherboard is more complicated and can require significantly more work!

Need Help?

Selecting upgrades for your computer can often be confusing and stressful, but we are here to help! Do you want advice on selecting a processor, or do you want your new upgrades installed professionally by our qualified technicians? Contact us at one of our locations!

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Memory Upgrades: What’s Right For You?

Has your computer performance been slow lately? If so, it may be time for an upgrade. The easiest part to upgrade that could boost your performance significantly is your RAM, or Random Access Memory. This acts as the temporary storage for applications that are currently running on your machine. Unlike your storage space, RAM is cleared when the computer loses power.

Memory Upgrades: What's Right For You?

What are the different types of RAM?

There are numerous types of RAM in use with consumer computers today that come in numerous form factors. For example, desktops typically use DIMM RAM, while laptops use a different, smaller form factor called SODIMM. These are merely changes in size, however- the real difference in speed comes from the version of RAM a machine uses. Consumer desktop RAM types include DDR, DDR2, DDR3, and DDR4- with DDR being the oldest and DDR4 being fairly new. Most machines today use DDR2 or DDR3, and DDR4 is typically used in high-end enthusiast computers. DDR is outdated and rarely used. The newer the memory type is, the faster and more power efficient it is. The type of RAM you use is limited by your processor and motherboard, however- for example, if a board is using DDR2 memory, you cannot use DDR3.

How do I know what type of RAM my computer needs?

Generally, this can be done in a number of ways. For example, on a Windows 10 machine, you could open the Task Manager (either by pressing Win+R and typing ‘taskmgr’ and running that or by using the CTRL+ALT+DEL Security Menu and running it from there) and navigate to the Performance tab. From there, click “Memory” and you should see both the type of RAM you are using as well as the capacity in the upper right-hand corner, while the form factor is in the lower right-hand corner underneath the speed and slots used. However, if for some reason that does not work, most RAM sticks have it indicated on a sticker on one of the sides. Make sure you use an anti-static wrist strap, however, to avoid damaging your parts with static electricity if you do this! One other alternative would be to identify the type of motherboard you are using and search online for the manual or specifications- that would help you find out what you need as well.

How do I replace or upgrade RAM?

If you want to upgrade your memory or replace the parts yourself, you could follow the above instructions to find what type of memory you are using and purchase the parts, either from a store locally or an online store. First things first, you should always make sure the computer is shut down and unplugged, and ensure you have either grounded yourself or used an anti-static wrist strap. Next, open the side panel. From there, if you are removing the RAM, you will want to release the clips on both sides of the RAM sticks you wish to remove and pull them from the machine. To insert a RAM stick, you must first press down those clips as if you were removing a memory stick and then line up the new memory’s notch with the raised “tooth” in the slot and press it down firmly and evenly across both sides. After that, replace the side panel and you should be good to go!

Of course, if you wanted to avoid the hassle and would rather have your new upgrades professionally installed by our qualified technicians, you could always contact us at one of our locations.

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Repair, Upgrade, or Replace?

It happens to every computer after a while. Something just isn’t right. It seems to be growing slower. It gets too many crashes. Is it time for a new machine?

A lot of times, the problem is something that’s easy and inexpensive to fix. Before you buy a new computer, you should think about these questions:

  • Do I want to spend that much money and disrupt my schedule right now?
  • Will it fix my problem?
  • Is there a less expensive way to fix it?

Repair, Upgrade, or Replace?

Alternatives to replacement

Some problems are easy to repair. A loose connector or an erratic power supply can account for unreliable computer behavior. If the computer sometimes doesn’t see devices that you plug in, or if it spontaneously reboots, that may be the reason. The fix costs much less than a new computer.

Software issues may be what’s slowing your computer down. If your browser has too many plugins, that could drag down its performance. Some out-of-date process might be running in the background, desperately trying to connect to a site that no longer exists.

Malicious software could be hiding on your machine, dragging down its performance as well as stealing your information. Scanning for malware or reinstalling your operating system may uncover and fix problems.

A hardware upgrade could provide the performance boost you need, for less money than a new machine. Adding memory can dramatically improve performance, especially if you switch between applications a lot. If you’ve nearly filled up your disk, a larger disk drive can speed up your machine.

Consider all the costs

When you move to a new machine, you have to migrate everything that you want to keep. Sometimes software won’t run on the newer hardware. You may need to re-enter a license key. If you can’t find it, you might need to buy the application again to use it. You may need to purchase an upgrade to let it run on the new machine.

The new computer may have a newer operating system version. That’s nice in a lot of ways, but it increases the chances of compatibility problems. At best, you’ll have to spend some time learning the ways it does things differently. It’s something we all do periodically, but the question is whether you want to do it right now.

Talk to us. We can help you to make an informed decision on whether repair, upgrading, or replacement is the best way to fix your computer issues.