Next up in our How to build a PC guide is installing your RAM. As you may well have seen in our Best DDR4 RAM article and buying guide, your PC’s RAM (or random access memory, to give it its full and proper name) is the middle ground between your CPU and your various storage devices, be they SSDs or more traditional HDDs. RAM can access data much, much quicker than SSDs, and so the stuff your PC needs to access quickly – like booting up Windows or loading a game – all gets stuffed in there.
Annoyingly, installing RAM isn’t as simple as just sticking them into any old DIMM slot on your motherboard. There’s always something, isn’t there?
Step 1: You’ll normally find your RAM’s DIMM slots up by the CPU socket. These long, thin jobs normally come in groups of four, but smaller motherboards may have just two of them. Regardless, you still need to make sure you install your RAM into the right slot(s), otherwise it won’t work as well as it should do.
Different motherboards arrange their DIMM slots in different ways, so it’s best to check your motherboard manual to see what it recommends, but nine times out of ten, groups of four work like this: 1 and 3 are a pair, as are 2 and 4.
Now, logic would suggest that those with two sticks of RAM to install should put them in slots 1 and 3. But listening to logic is silly when building a PC, because most motherboards will probably tell you you need to put them in slots 2 and 4 instead. I have no idea why, it’s just how RAM works apparently.
Step 2: Once you’ve identified which slots you need to stick your RAM into, it’s time to open their respective clasps. These hold the RAM in place when your PC’s back in its normal upright position and will automatically close with a nice, satisfying click when you’ve pushed each stick of RAM in properly.
Some motherboards will only have one clasp you can actually open, even if it looks like there should be another one at the other end. Don’t worry, though – this is perfectly normal.
Step 3: With the clasps open, you can now insert your RAM. Make sure you’ve lined it up correctly, matching the length of each section to the corresponding end of your RAM, and press down. As mentioned above, the clasps should lock into place automatically once each stick is in place, but you can always give it a small tug just to make sure it doesn’t suddenly pop out again. Even better, the great thing about RAM is that you don’t need to faff around with connecting up any additional cables, either. Rejoice.
Next, it’s time to hop aboard the how to install a graphics card bus.
How to build a PC guide
How to install a power supply
How to install a motherboard
How to install a case fan
How to install a CPU
How to install RAM
How to install a graphics card
How to install an SSD / HDD
How to connect your system panel connector and case cables
How to put your case back together again and connect your peripherals
How to install Windows 10