DDR memory for laptops - quick tips for an easier upgrade

Could you looking for DDR memory for a laptop but are rather overwhelmed by the display of information and half-truths out there making your laptop memory upgrade just that extra bit more burdensome? If true, hereís an overview of useful facts of DDR laptop memory to straighten out the score in your favour.

Just what is DDR memory for a laptop?

DDR (Double Data Rate) laptop memory is an older memory technology that succeeded its predecessor, SDRAM (Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory) memory. Sometimes it is referred to as DDR1 memory though the official name is DDR and is an evolution to synchronous memory.

DDR laptop memory was introduced to help reduce the disparity between memory and processor speeds at the time, i.e. processors had at that point advanced many-fold in terms of raw performance, however memory performance over the years only evolved several fold. This created an inequality that artificially slowed processors thus computers down.

DDR laptop memory doubles the bandwidth of its predecessor, SDRAM memory. DDR memory for a laptop achieves this by transferring data over both the rising and falling parts of a clock cycle. Since this means a doubling of the number of processed transfers for each clock cycle, the net result in a two-fold gain in memory throughput.

Learn more about the different types of laptop memory.

Does my laptop really require DDR memory?

DDR memory was very common in the years 2002 to 2004. The type of memory for a laptop your own laptop requires primarily depends on the year it was manufactured. The build date (very often closely related to the purchase date and typically found on a sticker on its base or within its documentation) is a further indication.

Perhaps the best indicator for deducting the type of laptop RAM your system requires is to run some diagnostic software.

A usually trouble-free way to find this out is to download and run software such as CPU-Z - it's a free application, you can download CPU-Z here. Once downloaded and launched, click on its 'Memory' tab and subsequently also the 'SPD' tab. This will validate whether your laptop uses DDR memory, its specification and timings. If you notice it stating DDR then write down the type of DDR, examples include PC1600, PC2100, PC2700 and PC3200. Once done keep track that this is the type of DDR memory for a laptop you need to buy.

Great, I need DDR memory for a laptop, but how much can I install?

DDR laptops support between 1GB and 2GB of RAM. The exact amount depends on the featured memory controller but 2GB is the absolute maximum for two reasons: a) generally speaking laptops only feature two memory slots for expansion and b) the highest capacity of DDR SODIMM memory module ever made available was 1GB.

Find out how much memory your laptop requires for different types of software.

Iím ready to buy, so itís i.e. PC2700 DDR I need and the rest will be problem free?

Prior to you leaving to go and purchase your laptop memory upgrade let us just clarify things a little. The specification of DDR memory for a laptop you need is whatever was reported by CPU-Z as noted above. If it stated PC2700 then yes, you will require DDR memory otherwise known as PC2700 DDR. If it depicted PC1600 or PC2100 then you can still purchase PC2700 DDR in view of the fact that DDR computer memory is inherently backwards compatible. If CPU-Z reported PC3200 then while you can buy and install a lower DDR specification (PC1600, PC2100 or PC2700) this is not recommended. Doing so will cause your system to down clock the frequency at which the memory runs, namely 200MHz for PC1600, 266MHz for PC2100 or 333MHz for PC2700. A slower memory frequency will yield a lower memory bandwidth, which translates into slower computer performance.

In the case of DDR memory for a laptop, you need to buy 200pin SODIMM memory modules. A SODIMM (Small Outline Dual Inline Memory Module) is a smaller variant of a DIMM used in desktop computers. Consequently, if youíve seen a DIMM before then a SODIMM will normally be around 50% of the length of a desktop DIMM module.

For DDR laptops you only need to install a single SODIMM memory module. This is because most do not support what is known as dual channel mode Ė a memory configuration that uses two identical SODIMM memory modules to boost bandwidth. Only a small amount of DDR laptops that shipped supported dual channel mode, namely those that utilised a desktop chipset (thus memory controller), i.e. an Intel 865P chipset. The latter might be the case, especially if you have an older Alienware, Voodoo PC or Origin PC branded laptop.

Read about the various types of laptop memory modules.

I just have to ask - can my DDR laptop memory upgrade go wrong?

It can but this is not typical. In fact, upgrading a DDR memory laptop is far less prone to cause troubles than earlier SDRAM memory based laptops. The main thing to keep the back of your mind is the seldom issue of single and double-sided 200pin SODIMM memory modules.

In simple words, single and double-sided refers to the memory arrangement on the actual SODIMM memory module. Technically speaking, this is the number of ranks the memory chips soldered onto the SODIMM are allocated to. Some DDR memory controllers lose their pace when both types are installed at the same time.

In order to be on the safe side, itís best to not mix dissimilar brands of SODIMM memory modules within the same laptop at any one time. If you plan to add an additional SODIMM memory module to your laptop then look on the sticker of the currently installed laptop RAM and attempt to purchase a matching brand. If the opposite is true, remove the present laptop RAM entirely and purchase a larger capacity DDR memory for a laptop SODIMM memory module, which you will then install independently.

Having doubts? Discover answers to your laptop memory questions by reading the laptop memory FAQ's.

Would you be interested in viewing other general laptop memory articles? If so simply click the button below and choose your desired topic by clicking its title.

Read the Laptop Memory Upgrades Guide to learn about all the aspects you should know when buying laptop memory...

...alternatively discover Where to buy 100% compatible SDRAM, DDR, DDR2 and DDR3 SODIMM memory.

PC2-6400 800MHz DDR2 200-pin SODIMM's

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