RAM stands for Random Access Memory which is the memory that your computer uses to store the data from the running programs. Most of the time, the more RAM you have installed in your computer, the more programs you can run on your computer at one time.

The amount of RAM that you are able to install in a computer is limited by your hardware and operating system on your computer. To find out how much RAM you can install on your computer, you will have to look at both of these things.

1. Checking Your Operating System

check operating system

1. First you need to find out if your Windows is 32-bit or 64-bit. Your Windows operating system will only allow a certain amount of RAM based on which one of these you have. Even if you install more RAM, it will not use more than its maximum allowed amount.

  • A 32-bit can support only 4 GB of RAM on all versions of Windows
  • A 64-bit can support 128 GB of RAM on the Windows 10 Home version and all the way up to 2 TB for Windows 10 Education, Enterprise, and Pro versions

2. If you have a Mac, the amount of RAM you can have is different depending on which model of Mac you have. Macs vary on amount of supported memory and you will have to check your Macs documents for the exact amount your individual computer can hold. Here are a few popular models’ numbers.

  • iMac (2006-09) 4GB
  • iMac (2009-2012) 16GB
  • iMac (27in, Late 2013) 32GB

3. If you run Linux system, it matters if you are running 32-bit or 64-bit.

  • 32-bit Linux system may only support 4GB or RAM if it is an older version, but most newer versions allow you to have 64GB of RAM and be fully supported
  • 64-bit Linux system can run up to 17 billion GB of RAM if your computer could handle it, but that’s not usually the case. Most can support between 1 and 256 TB of RAM
  • You can press Ctrl+Alt+T to open your Terminal and type “sudo dmidecode -t 16” you will have to enter your administrator password here and then search for the maximum capacity section

2. Checking Your Computers Motherboard Capacity

1. You want to see what Motherboard you have because even if your operating system will let you run a large amount of RAM, your motherboard might have a lower amount or vice versa.

If you have your computers documentation you might be able to find the model number for your motherboard but if not, you can open your computer up and find the model number on your motherboard directly and look up the documentation online

2. You should be able to find the maximum amount of RAM towards the beginning of your motherboards’ documentation. You will also see how many slots are available for the sticks of RAM to be placed.

  • RAM has to be installed in pairs and not as single sticks. Say your motherboard will support 16GB of RAM, that means you could use 4 sticks of 4GB RAM, or you could use 2 sticks of 8GB RAM

3. If you don’t have the skill or know-how to open your computer up and see what your computer can take, you can use a System Scanning Tool. You can find these tools online. These will scan your system and tell you what kind of RAM and how much RAM your computer can hold

After you find out what kind and how much RAM your computer can hold, you can add more to maximize your computers capabilities. If you do this, make sure that the new and old RAM both match in clock speed otherwise you will run in to issues.