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How to install RAM: It's not as simple as downloading more RAM

Fill those RAM slots

Computer RAM sticks
(Image: © Shutterstock)

You're about to complete one of the easiest installations/upgrades to your computer. It doesn't get much simpler than installing RAM, and we're going to guide you through each step. We'll also provide some additional information to make sure you're getting the most out of even the best RAM

1. Consult your motherboard's manual 

As easy as it is to pop RAM sticks into your motherboard, You want to make sure you're putting the RAM into the correct slots to get the full performance out of them. Which slots you go with will also depend on how many RAM sticks you have.

In a motherboard with two RAM slots, you'll just put your first stick of RAM into Slot 1 and a second stick into Slot 2. If you just have one stick, you don't have to fill Slot 2.

In the case of a motherboard with four RAM slots, it's probable you'll want to install your first RAM stick into the slot labeled 1. A second stick should go into Slot 2, which isn't next to Slot 1.  If you have a third stick, it would go into Slot 3, which will actually be between Slot 1 and Slot 2. Finally, a fourth stick would go into Slot 4.

But, like we've said, consult your motherboard manual. Some motherboards may suggest installing RAM in a different order, such as Slot 2 > Slot 4 > Slot 1 > Slot 3. It all depends on your motherboard. 

Don't worry, though. Your computer should still work if you mix up the order. But, you may miss out on multi-channel capabilities and not get optimal performance if you don't follow your motherboard's guidance.

Desktop RAM installation

Notice the difference between the tab's open and closed positions (Image credit: Future)

2. Open your RAM slots

Once you know where your RAM needs to go, you're ready to start installing. Each RAM slot will have two small clips at either side. Press these down to open them. They don't need to move very far, so don't use too much force.

Desktop RAM installation

(Image credit: Future)

3. Line up your RAM

RAM sticks are keyed, which means they have a gap in the connector that will ensure you can only insert them one way. Line up your RAM so that the gap on the connector corresponds with the RAM slot. 

Desktop RAM installation

(Image credit: Future)

4. Insert the RAM

With your RAM lined up, gently press it down into the slot. When the RAM stick is fully depressed, the locking tabs at each side should click back into place. Once they have, you're all set.

Mark Knapp

Over the last several years, Mark has been tasked as a writer, an editor, and a manager, interacting with published content from all angles. He is intimately familiar with the editorial process from the inception of an article idea, through the iterative process, past publishing, and down the road into performance analysis.