SDRAM memory for laptops - quick tips for an easier upgrade

Might you be out searching for SDRAM memory for a laptop but somewhat dazzled by the display of information and misinformation out there making your laptop memory upgrade just that little bit more cumbersome? If weíve caught you red handed then before we let you go, hereís a quick rundown on key facts of SDRAM laptop memory to settle the score in your favour.

Just what is SDRAM memory for a laptop?

SDRAM (Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory) laptop memory is a type of synchronous RAM and operates in tune with the data bus of the processor. The latter is what interlinks an older generation processor (as used in systems that use SDRAM memory) to the memory controller.

Since SDRAM runs in line with the processor's data bus, the result is a lesser delay between both clock signals aligning - this in turn is the latency between one being ready while the other still executing a current clock cycle. As SDRAM memory is a form of synchronous RAM, itís far superior to older types of memory such as FPM (Fast Page Mode) and EDO (Enhanced Data Output), which are both types of asynchronous RAM.

Learn more about the different types of laptop memory.

Does my laptop really require SDRAM memory?

SDRAM memory was very common in the years 1997 to 2001. 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.

An easy 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 the 'Memory' tab and subsequently also the 'SPD' tab. This will confirm whether your laptop uses SDRAM memory, its specification and timings. If you see it reporting SDRAM then note down the type of SDRAM, examples include PC66, PC100 and PC133. Once done, keep note that this is the type of SDRAM memory for a laptop you need to buy.

Okay, I need SDRAM memory for a laptop, but how much can I install?

Because laptops that make use of SDRAM memory are old by todayís standards, itís a good idea to immediately get your mind off thinking in gigabytes (GBís) and instead in megabytes (MBís). Most SDRAM laptops support between 512MB to 1024MB (1GB), however this isnít to say you should go cramming in this much, at least not before you cast your eyes on why. While the more laptop RAM the merrier one could comment, life isnít as jolly if youíre using an older Operating Systems such as Windows 95, 98 (including 98SE) or Me (including any non-Microsoft 32bit equivalents). All these Microsoft Operating Systems do not work favourably with more than 512MB of RAM installed, in fact Windows 95 would rather you only have 64-128MB maximum, and unless a trick is implemented, they wonít even report you have 512MB (in the case of Windows 98, 98SE or Me) or more memory installed. All in all, try and avoid more than 512MB memory for your SDRAM laptop.

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

Iím ready to buy, so itís i.e. PC133 SDRAM I need and the rest will be downhill?

Before starting your mouse clicking frenzy (should you be shopping online) let us just clarify things somewhat. The specification of SDRAM memory for a laptop you need is whatever was reported by CPU-Z as explained above. If it stated PC133 then yes, you will need SDRAM memory known as PC133 SDRAM. If it stated PC100 or PC66 then itís usually okay to buy PC133 SDRAM since computer memory is intrinsically backwards compatible. In as far as SDRAM goes there were marginal cases where memory conflicts would occur. Because SDRAM laptops are somewhat old and these problems werenít fixed until later memory technologies, itís perhaps easiest if you just stick to buying whatever type of SDRAM was reported by CPU-Z.

As for the rest, simply keep in mind that all types of RAM come on their own specific memory modules. In the case of SDRAM memory for a laptop, you need to go and sharpen your eyes for 144pin SODIMM memory modules. A SODIMM (Small Outline Dual Inline Memory Module) is a smaller version of a DIMM. As a result, if youíve seen a DIMM before used in desktop computers then a SODIMM will generally be about 50% of the length of a DIMM module.

For a SDRAM laptop you only ever need to install a single SODIMM memory module.

Read about the various types of laptop memory modules.

I got to ask - can my SDRAM laptop memory upgrade go wrong?

Theoretically no, practically yes, but thatís not to say it will. The most common problem is related to laptops in which memory controllers have issues with single and double-sided 144pin SODIMM memory modules. For simplicity sake, single and double-sided refers to the memory configuration on the actual SODIMM memory module, otherwise known as how many ranks the memory chips soldered onto the SODIMM are assigned to. Several SDRAM memory controllers are bemused when both types are installed simultaneously.

In order to avoid any such potential problem, the most straightforward advice is to not mix different brands of SODIMM memory modules within the same laptop. Therefore, it might be easiest to look on the sticker of the currently installed laptop RAM and try to buy the same make if you plan on having more than one SODIMM memory module. Alternatively, remove the current laptop RAM completely and buy a larger capacity SDRAM memory for a laptop SODIMM memory module, which you will later install individually.

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.

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