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Laptop RAM vs Desktop RAM: Brief Comparison

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Random Access Memory (RAM), or system memory, is a familiar term for computer users. To put it simply, RAM is like a computer’s short-term memory. It holds the information that a computer is currently using for quick access. When you run more programs on your computer, it needs more memory to store that information. Various types of RAM and memory modules are used in different devices. RAM is a crucial part of both computers and laptops, so it’s essential to understand how these different memory modules work.

In this article, we have discussed what is laptop RAM and desktop RAM and the key differences between laptop RAM and desktop RAM.

What is Laptop RAM?

Laptops use a type of system memory called Small Outline Dual In-Line Memory Module (SO-DIMM). It’s like a slimmed-down version of the memory used in regular computers, known as DIMMs. Most modern laptops use SO-DIMMs as their main memory.

These SO-DIMMs are quite small, making them perfect for mobile computers like laptops. They’re about half the size of the memory modules used in desktop computers. SO-DIMMs took over from regular DIMMs in laptops because fitting a large desktop memory module into a compact laptop would be challenging.

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What is Desktop RAM?

Desktop computers use a type of system memory called Dual In-line Memory Module (DIMM). DIMM modules comprise multiple memory chips on a single circuit board and are the standard memory used in most desktop computers.

These DIMM modules work well with modern desktop PCs with 64-bit data speeds. They have replaced the older SIM (Single In-Line Memory) modules, which used a 32-bit memory path. DIMM falls under the dynamic RAM (DRAM) category, which involves using a pair of transistors and capacitors. As the name suggests, this memory regularly refreshes itself to prevent losing its stored information.

A brief difference between Laptop RAM and Desktop RAM

Below we have explained the key differences between laptop RAM and desktop RAM.


In terms of size, desktop RAM is bigger in size compared to Laptop RAM. In today’s PCs, DDR4 Memory modules have 240 pins, while laptops use memory modules with 204 pins. A typical desktop RAM module is about 4.5 inches long, whereas a laptop memory module is approximately 3 inches in length.

So, the main difference in size is the physical length and the pin configuration. Laptop RAM modules are approximately half the size of desktop RAM modules.

Bios Support

RAM is crucial for running desktop and laptop operating systems, especially for handling high-end software. Desktop computers typically have RAM ranging from 1GB to 8GB, which can be upgraded or expanded later. Laptops usually come with 16GB of built-in RAM, which can be expanded if necessary. However, the laptop’s performance may suffer once the maximum supported RAM is reached.

Memory Slot

Desktop computers usually have between 2 and 4 RAM slots, allowing users to add more RAM for tasks like video editing, gaming, or multitasking. In contrast, laptops typically have only 2 RAM slots due to their compact size, making it impossible to increase their RAM capacity.


Laptop and desktop RAM are not interchangeable because they require different types of motherboards that support specific RAM sizes. While it was possible to swap RAM between older laptop and desktop models, it’s not recommended. Laptop RAM is designed for use in laptops only.


For gaming enthusiasts and software engineers who work on resource-intensive tasks, desktop RAM is the better choice. It offers more flexibility for upgrades and can support demanding applications. On the other hand, laptop RAM is smaller and cannot be expanded or upgraded like desktop RAM. However, it still performs well for basic tasks and video rendering.


Many laptop makers are soldering RAM modules to the motherboard, making it impossible to upgrade. While not all laptops do this, the trend is growing. In contrast, desktop computers offer more opportunities for upgrades, giving you the freedom to choose your RAM capacity as needed. Laptop manufacturers are moving towards limiting user’s control over their machines, which affects upgrade options. This is something to think about when comparing the two.

AspectDesktop RAMLaptop RAM
LengthAbout 4.5 inchesAround 3 inches
Pin Configuration240 pins204 pins
BIOS SupportTypically 1GB to 8GB, upgradableUsually 16GB, can be upgraded
Memory Slots2 to 4 slots in most casesUsually 2 slots
CompatibilityNot interchangeable with laptopsNot interchangeable with desktops
UtilityGreat for gaming and resource-intensive tasksSuitable for basic tasks and video rendering
UpgradabilityOften more upgradable, with additional slotsOften more upgradeable, with additional slots

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Akash Singh

Akash Singh

Akash is a law graduate who likes to go for bike rides on the weekends soul-searching for answers to his many existential questions. You can contact him here: