My three-year-old laptop has gotten sluggish. No biggie. That’s to be expected for its age. And business laptops have gotten so inexpensive, I could replace it for peanuts.
But why not breathe new life into it instead by expanding the RAM?
At 1/10th the cost of even a cheap, business laptop, it’s worth a shot. Then again, it’s only a slam dunk if I can install the RAM myself. Some laptop chassis make it impossible to access the RAM. If mine is that way, then having a professional do it ($80 in parts, $60 labor, PLUS a trip to the PC repair shop) would push this project into the $150+ range. For that money, I’d have to consider a new machine. Yes, big-box stores will do the install for forty bucks. But you have to leave the laptop overnight. So that’s two trips to the store.
To do it myself, the machine needs to have either (a) an access door over the memory compartment or (b) a back cover that comes off easily.
NOTE: if your laptop has neither one, STOP RIGHT NOW. Trying to open a machine without easy access is just asking for trouble.
Luckily for me, this laptop does have an access door. Most business machines do.
Next (and maybe I should’ve done this first), I determine how much RAM can be added. To do so, I answer some basic questions:
• Is the laptop 32-bit or 64-bit?
• How many memory slots are open?
• What type of RAM do we need, exactly?
A 32-bit machine can only use 4 GB memory. Maximum. You only waste money with more. This laptop is a business model, so I assume it to be 64-bit. Just to be sure, I check “system properties”:
Start menu > Settings > System > About
It tells me:
HP Envy 15 Notebook PC
Installed RAM: 8GB
Processor: Intel Core i7-4720HQ @ 2.60GHz
OS: Windows 10 Pro, 64-bit
If the model name doesn’t appear there, check the sticker on the bottom of your machine.
I then plug that info into an online tool (at Crucial.com) that tells me how many RAM slots the laptop has and exactly what type of RAM stick is compatible.
I order an 8 GB stick from Crucial for $34, including shipping.
For the actual mechanics of installing the RAM stick, I consult this excellent Laptop Magazine tutorial. (With pictures!)
Note: the Laptop Magazine writer could’ve done better with Step 4, “Remove Any Memory in the Upper Slot.” She says,
Chances are that any installed memory will be taking the upper slot, so you’ll need to remove it and put it in the other bank so you have space for your added memory.
She meant to say the existing RAM stick is in the way; it’s covering the open slot. But we would’ve understood that part once we opened the access door and had a look around.
And, voila! We enjoy significantly improved performance. More importantly, we save hundreds of dollars on the new laptop we don’t buy.