Random access memory stores data while the computer central processing unit controls it. Optimizing the memory capacity can increase processing efficiency and speed. On the Dell Latitude laptop series, the maximum capacity of RAM is between 1GB and 4GB depending on the model. Latitudes generally shipped from the factory with 256MB to 2GB of installed RAM. Upgrading the RAM improves a Latitude's performance noticeably.
Find the maximum capacity for the Dell Latitude model from the owner's manual or online before purchasing RAM chips. Determine how much RAM is installed already by opening the "Start" menu, right clicking on "computer," selecting "Properties" and looking under the "System" heading for the amount of installed RAM.
Find and download the BIOS update file from the Dell website for the Latitude model on which you are performing the memory upgrade. This is easily accomplished by searching "Dell Latitude (series and model number) BIOS Update." Save the file on a CD-ROM, DVD or thumb drive and set aside.
Determine the number of occupied slots in the Latitude; the method depends on the model of the Latitude. In earlier models the RAM bay is located under the keyboard. Make sure the laptop is unplugged and remove the battery before attempting. To reach the RAM bay, remove the clips and screws holding down the keyboard. These are in different locations in each model; consult the owner's manual to determine the proper order and procedure. Lift out the keyboard and examine the RAM chip located to the right center of the mother board. On later models, turn the laptop over and look for the memory hatch. This is generally located to the right-center of the unit and secured by one Phillips screw. Remove the screw and examine the RAM chip looking for the type and capacity.
Make note of the type and capacity before ordering new RAM. If, for example, one bay is empty and the other bay contains a 512MB RAM chip, and the maximum capacity of RAM for the unit is 2GB, then you will need to discard the 512MB RAM chip and purchase two 1GB RAM chips. If the maximum capacity is 4GB, you will purchase two 2GB chips.
Remove the old RAM chip by opening the locking gates on either side of the chip and pulling the chip up and out of its gated slot. Note the position of the groove on the bottom of chip towards the center of the connector tab. When installing the new chip, make certain the groove is in the same position before pushing the chip into the gated slot.
Install the new RAM chip(s) into the gated memory slot making sure the groove is in the same location as the old memory chip. Push the chip gently into the slot until it feels firmly and evenly seated. Close the side gates to firmly secure the chip. There will be a slight clicking sound as the gate locks.
Close up the laptop and boot the computer. If the startup screen goes into the improper shutdown message page, start in safe mode with alternate drive support and run the BIOS update program from the USB port with the thumb drive, the CD-ROM or the DVD, and reboot. The BIOS update will be an executable (.exe) program. Double-click the file icon to run and install the updated BIOS automatically. Reboot the computer.
Confirm the RAM quantity by opening the "Start" menu, right-clicking on "Computer," selecting "Properties" and looking under the "System" heading for the total of installed RAM.
- Common RAM types for the Dell Latitude are: PC2100, DDR, PC2700, DDR2, PC2-3200, PC2-4200, PC2-5300, PC2-6400, SDRAM, and the like. Capacities range from 256MB to 4GB. Get the matching type of chip. Make certain RAM chips are firmly seated before closing the computer. Some RAM chips cost more than others. Bargain chips may not work as well or as long as the higher-priced, U.S.-made variety.
- Be mindful of dust. Even a tiny amount of dust on the motherboard can cause problems. Use a can of compressed air to blow away any bits of extrinsic material.
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