Can I upgrade the RAM and storage on the Dell XPS 17? Here’s how

Can I upgrade the RAM and storage on the Dell XPS 17? Here’s how

When you buy a Dell XPS 17, you can already configure it with some very out-there specs. Just like the rest of this powerful laptop, the RAM can be configured with up to a whopping 64GB, which is more than almost anyone will need. The storage too can go as high as 4TB. With that kind of power, you might think there’s no reason to upgrade the RAM on the Dell XPS 17, but that’s not necessarily true.

Dell sells this laptop in multiple configurations, but you can’t exactly pick and choose any part you want. Some component upgrades require other upgrades, which makes the price increase that much more. For example, the Dell XPS 17 starts at $1,599 with 8GB of RAM and an Intel Core i5-11400H processor. You can upgrade to 16GB of RAM, but that requires you also upgrade to an Intel Core i7-11800H, plus you also have to get discrete NVIDIA graphics. That adds a total of $500 to the base price, which is a lot if you just want more RAM. Similarly, if you want 64GB of RAM, you need to upgrade all the way to an Intel Core i9-11900H, as well as an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060. Because of that, going from 32GB to 64GB can cost you as much as $700 extra.

This isn’t as much of a problem with the storage, though it still happens. Upgrading from a 512GB SSD to 1TB also requires getting 16GB of RAM and upgrading to an Intel Core i7, which adds quite a bit to the price.

Still, you might not want 4TB right off the bat, and you might want to upgrade later. Thankfully, Dell gives you that option, which isn’t always a guarantee with premium laptops like this. If you need help upgrading either of these, you can follow this tutorial.

Dell XPS 17 exploded view

Preparing to upgrade

As always when working inside an electrical device like this, the first thing you need to do is make sure the Dell XPS 17 is turned off completely and unplugged from the power adapter. You should also make sure you’ve grounded yourself by touching another metallic surface to discharge any electricity. Also, avoid working on fabric or near pets that might cause static.

In terms of tools for the upgrade, you’re going to need a Torx T5 screwdriver to remove the screws from the bottom of the base, as well as a Philips screwdriver to remove the SSD covers. You may also want a spudger or a non-conductive prying tool to help you open up the laptop.

Finally, you’re going to need the actual RAM and/or SSD you want to install in the laptop. When it comes to RAM, it usually helps to ensure that whatever you buy matches the same specs as the RAM included in the laptop, The Dell XPS 17 comes with 3200MHz DDR4 RAM, so that’s what you should look for. For the SSD, as long as it’s an M.2 2280 form factor, you should be good. You can use the links below to find what you need for the upgrade. Remember, the Dell XPS 17 has two SODIMM slots for RAM and two M.2 SSD slots, and you can upgrade just one or both.

    Crucial SODIMM DDR4 RAM 16GB
    A stick of SODIMM DDR4 RAM for the Dell XPS 17. It's also available in other capacities.
    Samsung 980 PRO PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD
    The Samsung 980 PRO is an incredibly fast SSD capable of read speeds up to 7,000MB/s thanks to support for PCIe 4.0.

Upgrading the RAM on the Dell XPS 17

Now we’re fully prepared, let’s get into the actual upgrade process. Once again, make sure you’ve turned off the computer completely and it’s not plugged into an outlet before starting.

  • With the laptop closed, flip it over to see the eight screws on the bottom of the base. So our directions are clear, make sure the hinge of the laptop (where the display is connected to the base) is away from you.
  • Use the Torx T5 screwdriver to remove all the screws, then separate the base. Using a spudger or prying tool here may help with this.
  • All the upgradeable components are easily accessible from here. First, disconnect the battery from the motherboard using a spudger. The battery’s connector is on the far left of the laptop, right next to the copper bracket for the SSD.
  • The RAM slots are hidden behind two black flaps in the middle, just above the battery. Gently lift the flaps, then use your fingertips to pull apart the metal brackets holding the RAM stick in place. The stick will pop out and you can safely remove it.
  • Carefully align the new RAM stick with the SODIMM slot, making sure it’s in the same position as the previous one. The notch on the memory stick’s connectors should align with the one on the SODIMM slot.
  • Gently slide in the RAM stick at a 45 degree angle until the connector pins are mostly invisible.
  • Press down on the RAM stick until it clicks into place.
  • Repeat the process (steps 4 through 7) for the other RAM stick if you want to upgrade both.

If you followed all these steps correctly, your RAM is now installed and you should be good to go. This upgrade should improve your multi-tasking performance, as well as other workloads that use large amounts of RAM.

Upgrading the storage on the Dell XPS 17

With the RAM upgrade out of the way, let’s talk about storage on the Dell XPS 17. This upgrade requires an extra tool, which is a Philips screwdriver to remove the screws holding the SSD drives in place, but it’s still fairly simple.

One thing to keep in mind is if you’re removing one of your existing SSDs, it might contain important files (or even your operating system), so make sure you know which one you’re removing. The operating system is usually installed in SSD 1, which is labeled as such on the copper heat plate.

With that out of the way, here’s what you need to do for the upgrade:

  • Follow steps 1 through 3 above to open up the computer safely.
  • The SSD slots are covered by a copper heat plate, one on each side of the laptop, just above the battery. Using a Philips screwdriver, remove the screws holding the copper plates down. Each SSD has two screws holding it down, one on each end of the plate.
  • Carefully slide out the copper plate.
  • If an SSD is already installed in the slot you’re upgrading, pull it out.
  • Get the SSD stick you want to install, and align the metallic connectors with the slot covered by black plastic. There’s a notch in the SSD connector pins that should align with a similar notch on the slot, closer to the battery.
  • Carefully push the SSD module in until the metallic connectors are no longer visible.
  • Place the copper heat plate on top of the SSD module, aligning the screw holes on it with the holes on the motherboard.
  • Tighten the screws using the screwdriver until it’s held firmly, but make sure you don’t overtighten. Excessive pressure can damage the motherboard and other components.
  • Repeat the process for the other SSD slot if necessary.

With that done, you’ve now installed your brand-new SSD (or SSDs) and you’re ready to enjoy the extra storage.

That’s all you need to know about upgrading the RAM and storage on the Dell XPS 17. It’s not all that common that premium laptops like this give you upgrade options like this, so this is great to see. Being able to change out your storage or RAM means you can not only upgrade your storage, but also replace it for other reasons. For businesses that deal with sensitive data, for instance, this means you can remove the old SSD, destroy it, and install a new one.

Aside from that, the Dell XPS 17 is simply a powerhouse of a laptop. You can configure it with up to an Intel Core i9-9980HK and a 70W NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060, which makes for an incredibly capable machine. From professional creative workloads to gaming, you can do almost anything with this laptop, and that’s why it’s one of Dell’s best laptops. You can buy it from the link below, but if you don’t fancy buying online, you may want to take a look at the best laptops you can find at Best Buy.

    Dell XPS 17
    The Dell XPS 17 is a powerful laptop, featuring high-end specs such 11th-generation 45W Intel processors and GeForce RTX graphics from Nvidia. Plus, the RAM and storage are upgradeable. You can also get it with up to a 4K touchscreen display.

About author

João Carrasqueira
João Carrasqueira

Writer at XDA Computing. I've been covering the world of technology since 2018, but I've loved the field for a lot longer. And I have a weird affinity for Nintendo videogames, which I'm always happy to talk about.