How to find out how much RAM your motherboard supports
One of the reasons why PC sales have slumped, at least in my opinion, is the fact that many users do not see the need to upgrade their systems as often as before.
Back in the days, upgrading the processor from a 486 to a Pentium, or a Pentium to a Pentium II, was a huge deal, as were upgrades to system RAM (128 Megabyte for the win), or the video card.
Today, upgrades do not yield those high performance gains anymore. Sure, it is nice if you install a new video card to get even more frame rates out of games you play, or a faster processor to convert those media files faster, but all in all, the gains are not as noticeable as before unless you are updating a very old system.
The mobile sector is currently were PCs were a decade ago. Innovation is fast and advancements in processing power, battery life and other technologies justify a faster upgrade cycle. This too will eventually slow down.
Back to PCs.
RAM is not expensive anymore, with 4 Gigabytes of RAM available for about $40 right now, 8 Gigabytes for $80, and 16 Gigabytes starting at $150.
Performance will jump if you have less than 4 Gigabytes in your PC while you won't notice such a visual jump in performance if you already have 4 or 8 Gigabytes and want to upgrade them to even more RAM. It may be worth it nevertheless, for instance if you do a lot of real-time work on the PC, or work with huge files all the time.
If you are like me, you do not know the model of the motherboard that has been built into your PC. I did assemble the PC myself, but it was some time ago and my memory is not the best anymore.
If you know the model, skip this step. If you do not know it, we need to find it out exactly as it will reveal to us what the motherboard supports.
Some motherboards may not support more RAM than is already installed, while others may limit the maximum memory or types that you can install, which you need to know before you head out and buy too much of it.
You can use Speccy or any other system information program to display the model of the Motherboard.
In my case -- the screenshot above -- it is a Gigabyte P55-USB3 motherboard.
Finding out how much RAM your PC supports
Now that we know the motherboard model, we can use it to look up information. What we need to know are the specs in regards to memory.
To be precise, how much RAM the motherboard supports and which types of RAM it supports.
You have two options for that:
1. Search for the model number
This is my preferred choice. I type the maker of the motherboard and the model of it in a search engine of choice. This should display the support page for that model on the manufacturer's website, where all relevant information about it are displayed.
To take my Gigabyte example: I landed on this page and had to click on Specification to find out about the memory specification of that motherboard.
- 4 x 1.5V DDR3 DIMM sockets supporting up to 16 GB of system memory (Note 1)
- Dual channel memory architecture
- Support for DDR3 2200/1333/1066/800 MHz memory modules
- Support for non-ECC memory modules
- Support for Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) memory modules
It told me that the board was supporting a maximum of 16 Gigabytes of DDR3 2200/1333/1066/800 MHz RAM.
If you cannot find such a page for the motherboard that you own, you may want to try Crucial's suggestion tool instead.
You need to enter the manufacturer, product line and model of the motherboard in a form on the main Crucial website to receive recommendations for memory, Solid State Drives and internal hard drives on the next page.
What may be interesting here -- besides the recommendation -- is the list of specs on the left. It displays the supported memory types, maximum memory and slots available to you, so that you end up with the same information that the manual search yielded.
You do not have to make a purchase here on the site though, as it makes sense to compare prices before you make any buying decision.