How to upgrade the RAM and storage on the Dell XPS 15

How to upgrade the RAM and storage on the Dell XPS 15

The Dell XPS 15 is a phenomenal laptop for many reasons. It comes with impressive specs like 11th-generation Intel Core processors and up to an NVIDIA GeForce 3050 Ti, plus it’s highly configurable. You can get the Dell XPS 15 with up to 64GB of RAM and 4TB of storage, which is probably more than you’ll need. But that’s just the thing — you may not need all that storage or RAM right away. So, what if you want to upgrade the RAM or storage on the Dell XPS 15 later on down the line?

Well, that’s another thing that’s great about this laptop. You can easily get to these components and upgrade them yourself. That means you can get your laptop with “just” 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD for now, and then upgrade later. It can also save you some money, since it’s usually more expensive to buy these upgrades pre-configured than to do it yourself. If you want to upgrade the storage and RAM on the XPS 15, here’s what you need to do.


Preparing to work inside your laptop

If you’re going to be working inside your laptop — or any electronic equipment, for that matter — there are some precautions you need to take. First off, make sure you unplug the computer from the outlet, unplug any peripherals, and turn the computer off completely. Also, make sure you’ve grounded yourself by touching a non-painted metal surface to discharge any static electricity, and make sure you’re not working on fabric or near pets that can cause static.

In terms of tools, you’re going to need a Torx T5 screwdriver to remove the screws on the base cover, and a Philips screwdriver to remove screws inside the laptop. You’re also going to want a spudger or a non-conductive prying tool to open up the base of the laptop.

Finally, you’re going to need the hardware you want to upgrade to. For RAM, you’re going to want sticks that match what’s already inside your laptop, and the Dell XPS 15 has 3200MHz memory.  One possible option is this RAM from Crucial, which is available in various sizes:

    A stick of SODIMM DDR4 RAM for the Dell XPS 15. It's also available in other capacities.

As for the SSD, Samsung makes some of the most popular ones, so we’d recommend the 970 EVO Plus if you want the best performance. This is a PCIe Gen 3 SSD, because the XPS 15 doesn’t support PCIe Gen 4. Still, it promises up to 3,500MB/s read speeds and 3,200MB/s writes, so it’s more than good enough.

    The Samsung 970 EVO Plus is a fast PCIe Gen 3 SSD, promising speeds up to 3,500MB/s and coming in capacities up to 2TB.

Opening the Dell XPS 15

Once you’re ready, the first thing you’re going to need to do is to open the laptop and disconnect the battery to prevent damage. To follow our steps, have the hinge of the laptop facing away from you. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Use the Torx T5 screwdriver to remove the eight screws on the base of the laptop, and set them aside.
  • Use a spudger or prying tool to separate the cover from the base of the laptop. Start from the lower corners and go in both directions from there.
  • Once the base cover is off, you’ll want to disconnect the battery from the motherboard. The battery connector is on the top right corner of the battery itself. To disconnect it, pull the connector up, not the cables.
  • Press and hold the power button on the top side of the laptop for 15 seconds to drain any charge still in the computer. This will prevent any discharges while you work.

Upgrading the RAM in the Dell XPS 15

With the laptop open, battery disconnected, and everything unplugged, you’re finally ready to upgrade the RAM and storage on your Dell XPS 15. We’ll start by helping you upgrade the RAM. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Locate the RAM sticks on the motherboard. They’ll be smack in the middle, between the lower corners of the cooling fans. If you only have one slot in use and you’re adding a new one, skip to step 4. To remove the RAM sticks, read on.
  • With your fingertips, gently pull apart the metal brackets on each side of the RAM module you want to remove. The module will pop out.
  • Carefully slide the memory module out of the slot.
  • Take your new RAM module and align the notch in its connector with the tab on the memory slot on the motherboard.
Inserting a RAM module in a SODIMM slot

Image credit: Dell

  • Slide the RAM module into the slot at an angle until the connectors are completely covered.
  • Push down on the RAM module until it clicks into place (you’ll see the metal brackets hold it in place again).

You can repeat this process for the other RAM slot if you’re upgrading both. Always make sure the memory modules you have run at the same speed.

Upgrading the storage on the Dell XPS 15

Next up, let’s upgrade the storage on the Dell XPS 15. This laptop comes with two M.2 2280 slots for storage, which may or may not be already populated depending on the configuration you bought. Here’s how to upgrade to a new SSD.

  • Locate the SSD slots on your motherboard. They’re located right above the battery and below the RAM modules, and covered by thermal brackets. SSD 1 is on the left, with SSD 2 on the right.
  • Use the Philips screwdriver to remove the screw holding the thermal bracket and SSD in place.
  • Slide the thermal bracket out from under the alignment post and remove it. Then slide out the SSD if there’s one installed.
  • Take the SSD you want to install and align the notch in the connector pins with the tab on the SSD slot on the motherboard.
  • Slide the SSD into the slot at a slight angle, making sure it aligns with the hole for the screw you removed earlier.
Aligning the SSD and thermal bracket inside the Dell XPS 15

Image credit: Dell

  • Slide the thermal bracket over the SSD and align it with the alignment post and the screw hole.
  • Using the screw to hold the SSD and thermal bracket in place again. Be careful not to overtighten, as the tension can cause damage to the computer.
  • Repeat the process for the other SSD slot if you want to upgrade both of them.

With that being done, you can now reconnect the battery cable to the motherboard and put the base cover back using the Torx T5 screwdriver to tighten the screws. Again, don’t overtighten, as it could cause extra tension on the motherboard resulting in damage.

That’s all you need to know about upgrading the RAM and storage on the Dell XPS 15. Having user-upgradeable components like this can help computers last longer, since you don’t need to buy a new one if your current one doesn’t fit your needs. It can also help you save money so you don’t have to buy the most expensive configuration right off the bat.

If you haven’t yet, you can buy the Dell XPS 15 below. Even without the top-tier configuration, this is a fantastic laptop with powerful specs and a 3.5K OLED display that makes it one of the best laptops you can use for video editing. If you’d like to see other options, check out our list of the best Dell laptops.

    The Dell XPS 15 is a powerful laptop, featuring high-end specs such as 11th-generation 45W Intel processors and NVIDIA RTX graphics. It also comes with a stunning 3.5K OLED display, plus user-upgradeable RAM and storage.

About author

João Carrasqueira
João Carrasqueira

Editor 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.

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