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HP Desktop PCs - Upgrading Memory (RAM)

This document pertains to HP and Compaq desktop computers.
Upgrading memory helps improve system performance. By following the step-by-step instructions in this document, you can successfully upgrade random-access memory (RAM) for all HP and Compaq desktop and Slimline computers. While the graphics might not match your specific computer model, the steps will work.
Read all instructions carefully before attempting memory installation.
 note:
Do not purchase memory modules until you know the type of memory used by the computer, the maximum amount of memory the computer can use, and the memory slot configuration.
Finding memory information for your computer model (amount installed, maximum allowed, and type of memory)
Important memory upgrade information is in the specifications document for your HP computer. To find product specifications, browse to the Product Information category on the support page for your computer model. Alternatively, you can search for your product specifications by doing the following:
  1. In the Search field (or Questions or keywords field) at the top of this page, type your computer model number, a space, and the word specifications.
    For example, if you owned an HP Pavilion p6-2003w Desktop PC, you would type:
    p6-2003w specifications
  2. Click the link on the search results page that matches the product specifications for your computer model.
  3. Refer to the Memory section within the product specifications document for memory information specific to your computer.
  4. Among the information listed, take note of the following items. This information will be useful when purchasing memory and when performing the next steps.
    This information may be listed under Memory Upgrade Information.
    • Amount of memory installed - The current amount of memory installed on your computer. Go to Verifying how much memory can be added to verify the amount of memory installed.
    • Maximum memory allowed - Subtract the amount of memory already installed from the maximum amount supported by the system to determine how much memory to get. You can also buy the maximum amount allowed and replace the currently installed memory. Once you know the maximum for your system, check Maximum memory supported by operating system to see how much memory your version of Windows will support. Use the lower of these two numbers as your maximum memory.
    • Type of memory (including speed) - It is recommended to get the same type of memory (same size, same speed, same manufacturer) for each slot. For best performance, get the fastest memory that the motherboard supports.
     caution:
    Due to the variety of possible configurations, some motherboards might not be able to properly configure memory if the array of dual in-line memory modules (DIMMs) contains a DIMM that is not from the same manufacturer, has a different CAS latency value, or has a different density value (high and low used together). Make sure all DIMMs meet the requirements of for the motherboard (the information listed in product specifications), have the same part number, are from the same manufacturer, and meet the basic memory requirements for your motherboard. If not, make sure that you can return the memory if it is not recognized by the system after you install the new memory.
Verifying how much memory can be added to your computer model
Prior to upgrading memory, you need to verify how much memory you currently have installed to determine how much memory can be added. Use the steps for the BIOS version on your computer to find the exact memory configuration and how much memory can be purchased and installed.
Select the BIOS version for your computer. If you do not know which BIOS version your computer has, use the steps from one to see if the steps work. If not, use the other section.
Installing memory in your desktop computer
Use the following steps to install memory in an HP or Compaq desktop computer. After reviewing the following steps, if you are not confident in performing the installation yourself, contact an HP authorized distributor for technical assistance.
 note:
If someone other than HP installs or upgrades the memory, any damage caused by the memory and/or by a person trying to install or upgrade the memory is excluded from coverage under the product warranty. The customer assumes all risk and liability for damages for any such installation or upgrade.
 note:
Important! You might find that your HP or Compaq computer is able to support a physical installation of 4 GB or more memory. However, this maximum memory might be further limited by the operating system not being able to address the full range of physical memory. 32-bit operating systems, such as 32-bit types of Windows 7, Vista, and XP, can address approximately 3.3 GB. This limitation is present on all 32-bit hardware and 32-bit operating systems and is not limited to HP and Compaq PC systems or Microsoft software operating systems. See Maximum memory supported by operating system for more information.
Step 1: Opening the access panel to install memory in your desktop computer
Use the following steps to open the case:
Show me how
 warning:
The edges of metal panels can cut skin. Be careful not to slide skin along any interior metal edge of the computer.
 caution:
This product contains components that can be damaged by electrostatic discharge (ESD). To reduce the chance of ESD damage, work over a noncarpeted floor, use a static dissipative work surface (such as a conductive foam pad), and wear an ESD wrist strap connected to a grounded surface.
 note:
If you need product model specific graphics and instructions for opening the PC, search for a support article that specifically pertains to your computer. In the Search field (or Questions or keywords field) at the top of this page, type your computer model number, a space, and the words "opening the case."
  1. Turn off the computer and unplug all cables, except for power, and write down each cable location.
  2. Unplug the power cable and press the Power button.
  3. If possible, move the computer to a clear, flat, stable work surface over an uncarpeted floor.
  4. Remove the panel retaining screws.
    Figure : Screw location (your model might look different)
    Image of panel screw
  5. Slide off the panel to expose the inside of the computer.
    Figure : Panel removal (your model might look different)
    Image of panel removal
  6. If opening the case is difficult, search for a support article that specifically pertains to your computer. In the Search field (or Questions or keywords field) at the top of this page, type your computer model number, a space, and the words "opening the case."
Step 2: Determine if memory needs to be removed before installing additional memory in your desktop computer
Use the following steps to locate the memory sockets:
  1. Look inside the computer and locate the memory modules on the motherboard. Memory modules are long thin boards, short in height, that stick up from the motherboard at a 90-degree angle.
     note:
    On many Slimline computers, you may have to temporarily remove a case fan and/or slide out the CD/DVD drive in order to view the memory slots.
    Figure : Typical memory location (your computer might look different)
    Callout showing DIMM location inside a Slimline computer
  2. Do one of the following, depending on the socket configuration.
    • If the computer has an open socket, continue to Step 4 to add an additional memory module into the open socket.
    • If the computer does not have an empty socket, use Step 3 to remove a memory or continuity module. This has to be done before adding a new memory module. Account for how much memory will be removed before purchasing your upgraded memory module(s).
Step 3: Remove a memory or continuity module in your desktop computer
Continuity modules do not contain memory, but are placeholders to close the memory circuit. Use the following steps to remove a memory or continuity module:
  1. Pull out, and then press down on the holding clips that retain the memory modules. The memory modules should rise up slightly out of the socket.
    Figure : Opening memory module tabs
    Releasing the memory module
  2. Pull out the memory and place it in a static-safe container.
Step 4: Add a memory module in your desktop computer
Use the following steps to insert a memory module into an empty socket:
Show me how
  1. Align the slots in the memory module to the notches in the memory socket.
    Figure : Memory module installation
    Image of memory module being installed
  2. Push straight down on top ends of the memory module until the memory module is fully seated in the socket. The retaining clips on the ends of the socket lock into place when properly seated.
Step 5: Replace the cover after installing memory in your desktop computer
Use the following steps to replace the cover:
Show me how
  1. Slide movable bays and sections back into their original positions and secure with screws.
  2. Align the panel or cover with the respective slots in the sides of the computer case.
  3. Slide the panel or cover into place and tighten screws.
    Figure : Panel replacement (your model might look different)
    Replacing a side panel
  4. Reinstall cables. Plug the power cord in last.
  5. Turn on the computer.
    If the computer does not start or a beep code sounds, use the next section to troubleshoot the problem.
What to do if problems occur after installing memory
If the computer does not start properly after replacing the memory (the screen will remain black and the computer will turn itself off within a few seconds), or if there are memory errors (including beeps) after the computer starts, try the following steps:
  • Reseat the new memory module by following the steps in the Installing memory section.
  • Remove the new memory module and clean the groove in the socket that the module sits in. Use a can of compressed air with a straw-type extender and safety glasses.
  • Check other cable connections inside the computer. Reseat any cables that were disconnected or partially unseated.
  • Remove the new memory module and try starting the computer again. If the computer starts, make sure you purchased the right type and compatible size of memory (see Finding memory information for your computer model and Verifying how much memory can be added). You can remove and reference from the memory module that originally came installed in the computer.
  • If possible, make sure all memory modules in your configuration are from the same manufacturer and share the same model number.
  • If the computer still does not restart properly, remove the replacement memory, reinstall the original memory, and verify that the computer can operate in its original configuration.
Maximum memory supported by operating system
Use the tables below to determine the amount of memory supported by the version of Windows installed on your HP desktop PC.
  • Memory upgrades for Windows 8 Editions
    Windows 8 has a minimum memory requirement of 1 GB RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit). Information about the maximum amount of memory is not available at this time.
  • Memory upgrades for Windows 7 Editions
    Windows 7 has a minimum memory requirement of 1 gigabyte (GB) RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit). The maximum amount of memory depends on the edition used:
    Edition of Windows 7
    Maximum memory
    Starter (32-bit or 64-bit)
    2 GB
    Any 32-bit version of 7 (except Starter)
    4 GB (approximately 3.3 GB available for use)
    Home Basic 64-bit
    8 GB
    Home Premium 64-bit
    16 GB
    Enterprise 64-bit
    192 GB
    Business 64-bit
    192 GB
    Ultimate 64-bit
    192 GB
  • Memory upgrades for Windows Vista Editions
    Windows Vista comes in a variety of editions. All versions of Vista have a minimum memory requirement of 512 MB (1 GB to take advantage of certain premium features, such as Aero graphics). The maximum amount of memory depends on the edition used:
    Edition of Windows Vista
    Maximum addressable memory
    Starter (32-bit)
    1 GB
    Any 32-bit version of Vista
    4 GB (approximately 3.3 GB available for use)
    Home Basic 64-bit
    8 GB
    Home Premium 64-bit
    16 GB
    Business 64-bit
    128 GB
    Ultimate 64-bit
    128 GB
  • Memory upgrades for Windows XP
    Windows XP comes in 32-bit or 64-bit versions. The maximum amount of memory depends on the version used:
    Version of Windows XP
    Maximum addressable memory
    32-bit
    4 GB (approximately 3.3 GB available for use)
    64-bit
    128 GB
Memory module frequently asked questions
Select a question to learn more about memory modules and their requirements:
Buying computer memory
HP recommends purchasing memory directly from HP, an authorized HP dealer, or from a reputable computer parts supplier.
You can buy computer memory from most local electronic stores or online shopping sites. Many online site, such as www.crucial.com (for Europe and Americas), partner with HP to automatically suggest the correct type of memory based on the model of your computer. Before purchasing memory, make sure you know how much memory you need and what type of memory is compatible with your computer as shown in the other sections of this support document.

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