External RAM for Laptop – Here’s Everything You Need to Know

Today, people are looking for a way to use the RAM externally and boost their PC’s performance. Well, to put it simply, it’s just not possible. There is no way you can use RAM externally for your laptop. 

However, there are certain devices that can act as ReadyBoost and improve the performance of your PC but only by a bit. You can’t use any means to use the RAM externally and boost your system’s performance. 

Before we get into details of reasons why you can’t use RAM externally, let us first tell you what would happen if you get the relevant connectors and connect RAM externally to your laptop or computer. 

If you do so, you have just created a new SSD for your system, you will be able to open it as a drive-through USB interface, and it won’t boost the performance of your system. 

Why Can’t I Use External RAM to Boost Laptop’s Performance?

This is a question that has been bothering most of the modern generation. Well, the clear reasons are in the technicalities. First, let’s discuss how RAM actually works. 

RAM or Random Access Memory is a crucial and most important hardware component of your laptop or computer that is used by the processor to store vital data temporarily. Hence, it needs to be as close to your processor as possible.

There are many who might argue that the electronic signals that transfer the information between RAM and processor are lightning-fast and won’t notice the difference of a few inches. Well, that might be true, but then it all comes to power supply and interfaces.

The power supply to your USB ports is divided and varies across different ports that allow you to connect multiple devices at the same time. However, RAM is a volatile memory and hence requires an optimum amount of power supply. Any fluctuations in that will hinder the performance of your system. Hence, it isn’t feasible for RAM to be connected through a USB port. 

Adding to this, the interface that RAM and USB ports use are very different. RAM on a motherboard slot is directly connected to the CPU, while on the other hand there are several hardware and software layers when it comes to the USB interface. 

Hardware and Software Layers 

Let’s go into more detail so that you can see it clearly for yourself. 

Here are the hardware layers between RAM and CPU, when RAM is connected directly to the motherboard. 

[ CPU <-> CPU cache <-> MMU ] <-> RAM

The CPU cache and MMU are both parts of the processor and you can clearly see that RAM is directly connected to the processor. 

Now, let’s take a look at the hardware and software layers that would exist between your laptop and RAM if you connect it through a USB port. 

Hardware layers: CPU <-> PCIe bus <-> USB controller <-> USB device (RAM)

Software layers: Hardware (RAM) <-> OS Kernel <-> USB bus driver <-> Device-specific device driver <-> Application

Moreover, on the motherboard, RAM is directly in front of the CPU, and data is shared directly between them, while on a USB interface, RAM first has to deal with a controller before getting permission to deal with the processor. 

The Speed Difference:

Also, there is a difference in speed that will surely hinder and bottleneck the performance of your system even if it was possible to connect RAM through USB. As we have already mentioned above, that RAM prefers to be directly in front of the processor, so the speed it would get there is near 6400 MBs per second.

While on the other hand, the fastest transfer rate the latest USB port can offer is 640 MBs per second as per testing. So, it won’t be possible for RAM to boost your PC’s performance while retaining such low data transfer speeds.

ReadyBoost – External RAM USB:

One of the most common misconceptions is considering ReadyBoost an external RAM. Although the concept is pretty much similar, and the ReadyBoost does provide a performance spike to your system, but it is not as much as an actual RAM. 

ReadyBoost enables NAND memory mass storage CompactFlash, SD card, and USB flash drive devices to be used as a cache between the hard drive and random-access memory in an effort to increase computing performance.

Some of the faster SSDs can performance some non-sequential read operations faster than USB flash drives and hence may provide a significant performance gain in your system. However, not all hard disks will be able to do that. 

The process is harmful in two ways, neither of which will be harmful to your laptop. The first way is that your PC performance can be bottlenecked as it isn’t completely reliable, and may end up bottlenecking your system’s performance. 

The process is also harmful to the USB or storage device you will be using to boost the performance of your system. You might end up damaging the storage of the device which would leave it useless to be used as a storage device in the future. 

How To Turn Your USB Flash Drive into ReadyBoost in Windows 10

Turning your USB into a ReadyBoost is really simple. All you need to do is follow the below-mentioned step-by-step guide. 

  • Insert USB Flash Drive in the USB port. 
  • Open My Computer from your Desktop Screen. 
  • Right-Click on USB Drive. 
  • Select Properties. 
  • Click on ReadyBoost Tab.
  • Then, click on the Use this device button, and select the correct memory size you wish to use. 
  • Click on Apply and then on Ok. Your USB Device will now act as an external RAM or ReadyBoost. 

If you want to switch the USB back to a storage device, simply go to the same place and click on the “Don’t Use This Device” button.

What We Suggest

As we have proven through many of the above proofs, it isn’t possible to connect external RAM to your laptop or computer. Hence, RAM can only be inserted internally and you can’t use cables or a USB slot to connect it externally. 

That being said, there are still plenty of ways you can improve your laptop’s performance. First of all, there are always 2 or more DIMMs in your laptop, and the laptop’s max memory capacity is always larger than the one it comes in with. 

So, you can simply open the back panel and switch the memory sticks with larger, faster, and more efficient ones. The processes are pretty simple, so you can do it yourself easily at home. 

Once you upgrade your memory, you will see a significant boost in performance on your laptop. We wouldn’t recommend using ReadyBoost or Virtual Memory to boost your performance as the method isn’t as effective as you might think. 

Alternatively, you can switch out your HDDs and replace them with SSDs. This will also improve your laptop’s performance by a lot. SSDs are much faster and provide faster bootups and data transfer rates. 

Don’t want to lose your HDD and have no additional slot for SSD, well no worries, you can also take your CD/DVD ROM out of your laptop and use the bay for expanding your laptop’s storage with an SSD. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is external RAM?

RAM can’t be added externally. There is a misconception that is related to external RAM. The internal RAM of onboard RAM is the one that is already integrated into the motherboard. So, the external RAM is the normal RAM that you insert into your laptop. 

Can I add RAM to my laptop externally?

No, you can’t add RAM to your laptop externally. RAM requires to be directly connected to the processor, without any intervening hardware or software layers. Since it’s not possible to do that with external RAM, you can’t add it externally.

Can ReadyBoost be considered external RAM?

Well, sort of. You can convert your USB device or other fast storage devices like SSDs into ReadyBoost to boost the performance of your system and take some load of the RAM. However, the impact won’t be as significant as you might imagine.


So, we would conclude that you can’t add external RAM to your laptop. The problem is that RAM needs to be directly connected to the CPU and if you connect it through a USB interface, there are just too many interlaying hardware and software layers. So, you can’t upgrade RAM externally.

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