If you want to add more RAM to your PC, then first you must learn how to check how much RAM your motherboard can support – total and per slot.
The only definitive and the by far the easiest way to check how much RAM your motherboard can support is to read the motherboard’s specsheet.
If you have a laptop, however, then you must check the laptop’s specsheet to determine its RAM configuration.
In the following text I will talk in detail about how to check the max supported RAM by your motherboard as well as talk about other important details that you must take note of particularly if you are upgrading your RAM.
How To Check How Much RAM My Motherboard Can Support?
As mentioned earlier, the best way to check how much RAM your motherboard can support is to read the specsheet.
The motherboard’s specsheet can highlight several aspects regarding the RAM supported:
- The total amount of RAM it can support
- The max amount of RAM per stick/slot it can support
- The type of RAM it can support
- The frequency of RAM supported
- Whether it supports Single, or Multichannel memory (Dual Channel is most common).
- Whether it supports Error Correction Code (ECC) Memory (Used by Servers)
And plenty of other stuff like whether it can be overclocked, whether it support XMP profiles etc.
All this can only be determined conclusively by the specsheet. Hence, this is my only recommended method.
Reading The Motherboard/PC’s Specsheet for RAM
Above is the specification sheet for a high end gaming motherboard by ASUS designed for AMD. It has the premium X570 chipset.
In the memory section of the specsheet, there is a plethora of information that you can find regarding the RAM.
For starters, marked in RED is the maximum amount of RAM it can support i.e 128 GBs.
Another very important bit of information it gives is the type of memory it supports. In the case of this motherboard it is DDR4.
It also tells you that it has 4 x DIMM or 4 memory slots. Given the fact that it can support a maximum of 128 GBs of RAM, we can ascertain that each slot would be able to occupy a single stick worth 32 GB each.
Additionally, you can see that if you have newer AMD CPU, then the maximum RAM frequency the motherboard can support is 4600 MHz (overclocked).
However, if you have an older 2000 series AMD CPU, then the max frequency it can support is 3600 MHz (Overclocked).
Of course for this method to work, you need to know the motherboard make and model. Otherwise you will not be able to search it up online especially if you have misplaced the manual.
Also Read: How to Check RAM Model and Brand?
Figuring Out The Make and Model of your Motherboard
Again, you have to know the make and model of your motherboard in order to look up its specs online.
There are plenty of ways to figure this out.
1. Physically Checking the Motherboard
In the case of desktops, almost all motherboards have the motherboard make and model labelled clearly on it.
2. Using the System Information Utility
Another very simple way is to run the System Information utility from Windows.
For this, type System Information in the search bar or type msinfo32.exe
Then in the System Summary section, look for the field labelled as System Manufacturer and System Model.
I am using a laptop hence the information it shows is relevant. If you have desktop, then these two fields will show the make and model of your motherboard.
You can use that information to search it up online and read its specsheet for figuring out the maximum RAM it can support.
3. Using Trusted FREE Third Party Software Such as CPU-Z
CPU-Z is one of the most popular utility for checking your system information.
With CPU-Z open, head over to the “Mainboard” tab and look for the fields marked as Manufacturer and Model.
This should highlight what motherboard you have which can then be used to look it up online for specsheet.
Also Read: Can You Use Laptop RAM in Desktop?
Checking the Operating System Architecture You Have
Whether you have a 32-bit or a 64-bit operating system makes a huge difference on how much total RAM your system can have.
If you have a 32 bit operating system (x86 architecture) then the maximum amount of RAM your system can support is 2^32 or 4,294.267,296 bytes of RAM (~4.0 GB of RAM) Theoretically. Practically the maximum amount of RAM supported is about 3,5 GB.
If you have a 64 -bit operating system, then the maximum amount of RAM your system can potentially support is 2^64 or 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 bytes of RAM (~18,446,744,073 GB of RAM)!
In other words, if you want to install more than 4 GB of RAM on your system, you must have a 64 bit operating system.
How to Check Your Operating System Architecture?
There are several easy ways to check if you have a 32-bit or a 64-bit operating system installed on your PC.
Heading over to your System Details is perhaps the easiest way to check your OS architecture.
To do his. head over to control panel -> System and Security -> System Option.
The window that opens would clearly indicate not just the architecture of your OS, but also of your processor (x86 or x64).
There are also several others ways which you can read about in this detailed article: How to Check What is My Processor Architecture
Also Read: Why RAM is Called Volatile Memory?
Determining the TYPE of RAM Your Motherboard Can Support
Before upgrading the RAM, it is very important to figure which type of RAM your motherboard can support i.e DDR1, DDR2, DDR3 or DDR4.
Newer systems feature DDR4 RAM, slightly older may have DDR3 RAM. Very old and obsolete systems still feature DDR2 or DDR1 sticks.
One very important point to note is that DDR RAM are NOT Cross Compatible.
Meaning a DDR4 RAM stick will not work on a motherboard designed for DDR3 RAM stick and vice versa.
Different DDR RAM version not only have a different pin count, but also different physical notches.
Desktop Based (DIMM)
- DDR5 has 288 Pins
- DDR4 has 288 Pins
- DDR 3 has 240 Pins
Laptop Based (SO-DIMMS)
- DDR4 has 260 pins
- DDR3 has 204 pins
Checking The TOTAL RAM Capacity on a Laptop
In order to determine the TOTAL RAM your laptop can support, you will still need to refer to Laptop’s spechsheet. For this you will need to determine the make and model of your laptop.
The exact model of the laptop is often written or labelled on the bottom cover of the laptop.
For example, the make of my Laptop is HP Omen but its exact model is written below i.e HP OMEN 15ax200.
However, to figure out the rest of the details i.e the amount of RAM slots your laptop has, the type of RAM installed in your laptop, its frequency, CAS latency etc, you can use the CPU-Z Free third party utility.
With CPU-Z open, head over to the “Memory” tab.
Here you can find out information regarding the total RAM currently installed as well as its Type, current Frequency, and CAS Latency.
Another important TAB is the “SPD” Tab. Here you can find out the module size for each RAM stick, as well as the amount of RAM slots your laptop/motherboard has:
SPD TAB shows important parameters regarding your RAM sticks including their module size, their operating voltage, and their make and model etc
Here I talked in detail about how to check how much RAM your motherboard can support. The simplest answer to this question is to check the motherboard specsheet online.
However, you must know and understand all the parameters, jargon and characteristics of the RAM your motherboard supports before you decide to upgrade or install more.
Also Read: How to Check What Motherboard You Have?