How to Identify Memory Slots


Upgrading memory is a common way of extending a computer's life. Adding a new RAM stick is not a difficult process. It doesn't require the installation of any drivers and only a basic understanding of how RAM works. However, there are a few different types of RAM available, and they are not physically compatible. Before buying RAM you'll want to see what kind of memory slots are on the motherboard of the computer receiving the upgrade.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Tape measure capable of measurements in centimeters

Identifying Memory Slots

  • Unplug the computer from the wall socket, turn off the power supply and move the computer case to a work desk or other clear, well lit area. Use a screwdriver to remove the screws on the back of the case and then attempt to slide the case's side panel open. On most computers the panel which is meant to open is on the left if you are looking at the case from the front. If the panel does not open, find and remove any additional screws on the bottom or side of the case. If the panel still refuses to budge, consult the case's manual.

  • Find the memory slots on your computer's motherboard. These are long, thin slots which are usually located to the right of the computer's processor. If the computer has a small case it may be necessary to remove hard drives or cables to access the memory slots. If this is required be sure to take careful note of what was removed so that everything can reassembled correctly.

  • Remove one RAM stick which is currently installed by unlocking the latches at the top and the bottom of the RAM stick. Once both latches are unlocked, pull upwards on the RAM stick with an even, gentle pressure. The RAM stick should come free easily. If it does not, check to make sure that the latches are not still in contact with any part of the RAM stick.

  • Hold the RAM in front of you with the edge containing the golden connecting pins towards the floor. There will be a notch in the edge of the RAM stock which contains the connecting pins. Use a tape measure to determine how far, in centimeters, this notch is from the left side of the RAM stick. If it is 5.5 centimeters it is DDR3 RAM. If it is 7 centimeters it is DDR2 RAM. If it is 7.25 centimeters it is DDR RAM. A motherboard can only accept one type of RAM, so determining the type of RAM stick installed also identifies the type of RAM slot your computer has.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use a flashlight to help light areas of the case which are difficult to see.
  • Be patient and move slowly so as not to accidentally disconnect any components.
  • Be absolutely certain that your computer is unplugged and the power supply turned off before opening the case.

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