What to Do If Your RAM Isn’t Detected By Your PC

RAM is one of the most essential parts of your desktop computer, and it’s also one of the quickest and easiest parts to upgrade. Modern RAM modules are incredibly simple to use, so it’s rare that something goes wrong in installation…but then when something does go wrong, it gets frustrating quickly. If your computer or operating system doesn’t recognize the RAM you’re using, here’s what you need to do to find the problem.

Step One: Check The Seating

On a desktop, installing RAM is simple: fold back both the clips on the RAM slot, then insert the stick firmly straight down. The pressure from your insertion should force both clips to snap back into a locked position with an audible “click,” but sometimes it does require you to snap them back down on the DIMM manually. If the DIMM isn’t exactly perpendicular to the slot and the motherboard, or the clips can’t be completely snapped, it’s not fully inserted. Remove the DIMM and try again.

Laptop designs, due to their lower tolerances for space and volume, are a little trickier. Assuming your laptop allows access to a RAM DIMM slot at all (many newer, smaller designs don’t), the DIMM is generally inserted at an angle, then pushed down towards the laptop frame until it clicks into place. Even a properly-inserted DIMM might not be seated properly; be sure to put as much pressure on the stick as you can without risking damage to the circuit board itself.

Step Two: Check Your Motherboard’s Compatibility

RAM DIMM sticks are fairly standard and well-designed: they can only be inserted one way on both desktops and laptops, desktop and laptop RAM isn’t interchangeable, and different generations of RAM won’t fit in the wrong socket (so a motherboard that only supports DDR4 RAM can’t physically fit DDR3).

That being said, it’s rare but possible that RAM might not be compatible with a motherboard, even if it’s the right type. RAM speed should dynamically shift down if it’s faster than the slot itself can handle, and timings shouldn’t have an impact on the compatibility at all. But it’s possible the RAM DIMM’s capacity is higher than the motherboard is rated for.

Your motherboard has a maximum amount of supported RAM, which includes all the slots on the board taken together. This might be as few as…