Thursday, August 03, 2017

Get More Video Card RAM Without Buying a New One

Robust video cards, also known as graphics cards, are important to a far wider audience than just gamers. High end video cards are critical components to many types of software. As such, they are important to a variety of people in different fields. The following are examples of fields using software requiring higher end video cards:
  • Architectural design
  • Graphic design
  • Medical industry including dental
  • Photography and videography
  • Film industry
When we purchase items we plan to use for years, like computers and vehicles, it can be challenging to plan for every possible future need without overspending. We are often unaware of what life-changes may happen, and paying for items we do not yet need can be wasteful. For example, high end video cards can cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Luckily, there is a way to get more RAM for a video card without needing to buy a new video card. Before adding new RAM, be sure to:
  • Verify there is room for more memory
  • Verify the device supports more RAM than is installed
  • Document how much RAM the video card currently has available

Get More Video Card RAM Without Buying a New One

If you try installing software and receive an error that the device does not meet the minimum video card requirements, adding RAM should fix this issue. Sometimes installed software may not display graphics correctly, and adding RAM to the computer may fix this issue as well because adding RAM to the computer also provides RAM for the video card. 

Be sure to check the following before purchasing additional RAM for the device so that effort is not wasted:

Verify there is room for more memory

Verify the device has a memory slot available. Memory slots are called DIMM slots (SO-DIMM in laptops). They almost always come in pairs, and are easy to locate because memory sticks are long, narrow and not very tall. Memory is locked into the motherboard with tabs that can be pushed down and away to allow the memory to be removed or replaced.

On a computer, simply open the case and check to see if there are any DIMM slots available. On a laptop or ultrabook, check the back of the case. It is common for laptops to have RAM installed on the top side of the motherboard with a second slot available on the back side. Usually you can find this area by the memory icon located next to a panel that can be opened by removing a single screw. 

NOTE: Do not attempt this if you are uncomfortable with the process. Also, some devices require half of the case to be removed and this can be more difficult. Consult a professional for help if this is not something you have done before.

An example of DIMM slots on a motherboard (SO-DIMM slots are half this length):

Verify the device supports more RAM than is installed

If there are no available memory slots, verify the device supports more RAM than is already installed. This can be verified by checking the product guide or manual. While product guides rarely ship with devices anymore, they can be found on the manufacturer's website. Go to the support section and enter the device's product number to locate informative materials specific to that device.

When all DIMM slots are being used, memory can still be increased if the existing memory is replaced with larger capacity memory. For example, a computer with two DIMM slots that supports 16GB of RAM, currently housing two 4GB sticks of RAM, could be upgraded by replacing the existing memory with two 8GB sticks of RAM. 

If you are unsure how much RAM is already installed on the computer, check to be sure the computer is not already running at maximum capacity:
  • Open Windows Explorer.
  • Right-click "This Computer" and select "Properties".
  • The amount of memory is listed under the System section.

Document how much RAM the video card currently has available

Before adding additional RAM to the device, verify how much RAM the video card currently has available compared to its maximum. The maximum amount supported can be found in the same product guide reference above. The process for finding out how much RAM is really available to your video card is covered in this post.

Adding RAM to the device

Once you have determined additional memory can be added to a device, purchase and install the memory. Be sure you know which version of RAM the device is capable of using as the connections for DDR3 and DDR4 are not interchangeable. 
  • Power off the machine before installing or removing memory. 
  • Once the device boots up for the first time after installing memory, you will hear a beep and be prompted by a BIOS screen acknowledging the change to the system hardware.
  • Accept the change and the device will boot normally.
  • Check the RAM available to the video card again and compare it against the original number. The available RAM should be higher than what was originally available.
  • Install additional programs as necessary or try using programs that were not running correctly.

Adding RAM to a device provides additional memory to the video card. This is in addition to providing more memory to the device itself. Installing additional system RAM is beneficial to the device and the video card, making it a more comprehensive upgrade than simply updating the video card. Another benefit of installing additional RAM is that system RAM is almost always cheaper than a new video card.

As always when it comes to tech, there are more ways than one to accomplish the same task. In this example, the additional way meets more needs and saves money!

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