Upgrading the RAM in Your Dell Inspiron 20 All-in-One Computer
Credit: Angela Parker


For years I have been a "laptop only" girl, but since I have been getting deeper and deeper into working with graphics, my husband fixed me up with an upgrade. The one thing this upgrade needed to be the perfect tool for the job was an additional upgrade, only because I was fussy about paying the extra $100+ dollars for the same computer with more RAM when my husband is an electronics guy. He was kind enough to slow down for me so that I could document the whole experience and share the process with the world.


Credit: Image by geralt

Not Liable for Damages

Before we get started here I would like to take the time to proclaim myself, my husband, my relatives both immediate and extended... my associates, our dogs, our guinea pig, the stray cats that live nearby and anyone else connected to me NOT responsible if you break open your computer and screw it up. If you aren't comfortable doing this stuff yourself, please pay someone else to do it and make sure that they don't hold me responsible either.

If you have completely released me of all liability, then it is time for some prep work. Get out some small containers so that you are able to keep the screws separated and with their intended components. Clear off your workspace and pick a cross-tip (a.k.a. Phillips Head) screwdriver that is NOT magnetic. In fact, keep all magnets well away from your hard drive. Plastic electronics tools are the best option for this job, but we used a regular small screwdriver without the magnetic tip.

Project ToolsCredit: Photo by Angela Parker


Super Important Tips

A couple of must know tidbits before working on the internals of anything electronic, never touch the pins… not on the RAM or wireless card or motherboard, or anything that has electronic pins. You will usually be able to identify the pins by their golden and pointy appearance.

PinsCredit: Image Photo and Edits by Angela Parker

Before you handle any of the electronic internals, touch something metal to make sure you are discharged. The delicate innards of electronics do not handle a shocking experience well at all. Make sure that you do this at intervals while you are working as well. In the long run, it will  hurt your bank account worse than your finger if you don’t make sure you aren’t sparky.


Removing the Hard Drive

The first thing is removing the hard drive, which is in a very easy location. Carefully pop the cover off, then disconnect the cable using the handy dandy little flap of tape provided for your pulling needs and then remove the screws from their locations. Carefully lift it out and set it aside along with the screws. We put the screws into a plastic container and labeled it HD for "hard drive".


Removing the Hard DriveCredit: Photo and Image edits by Angela Parker

Separating the Screen from the Back Cover

After you get the hard drive out of there, it will be time to move on to the removal of the back cover. This will be a little bit tricky and nerve wrecking, but once you're in... it only gets worse. Hang in there, it does get better eventually.

Be sure to replace the hard drive cover, and then move on to removing the screws that secure the back cover. Once you remove the screws you will notice that the back cover does not move... at all. There are tiny "teeth" on the inside holding it in place, so you must pry it off very delicately with a plastic tool so as not to damage the seams. Begin prying at the notch in the center of the bottom of the back cover and work outward from there, while avoiding the two rubber parts. Once you have dislodged the bottom, carefully move up the sides until the back cover releases its hold on the screen. Turn the cover over away from you; it will still be attached by a tiny cable so be careful not to tear it.


Removing the Back CoverCredit: Photo and Edits by Angela Parker

Un-plugging and Removing Components

From here you must remove the board that handles the control buttons, which is also keeping the cover hanging on by a thread. Carefully remove the screws that hold the board in place, label them, and set them aside. Next, carefully remove the wireless card by disconnecting the tiny antenna cables and removing the screw that holds it in place, then gently pulling it out without disturbing the pins.


Disconnecting SeriesCredit: Photos and edits by Angela Parker

Getting Through the Layers

Now that everything that would be in the way is now out of the way, carefully unhook all of the weensy cables that are currently attached to the motherboard. After the cables are disconnected it is time to remove the screws that secure the armor that protects the motherboard from something unknown yet surely horrifying. This armor is taped down rather well, so carefully peel it off once you get all the screws out.


Silver ArmorCredit: Photo and edits by Angela Parker

Turn it over like a turtle to expose the softer green underbelly, then remove the screws that hold the green underbelly part to the silver armor part. Turn the freed green board over and Ta-da!  You can now see the RAM.

Green UnderbellyCredit: Photo and edits by Angela Parker

After basking in the glory that is quite possibly the most well-hidden component in this entire computer, use your fingers to spread the clips that secure the elusive RAM in place. It will pop up when it is ready, and you can slip it out and slip the replacement in. You may then push the newly replaced RAM down so that it clicks into place, thus beginning the process of putting everything back together.

There It IsCredit: Photo and edits by Angela Parker

Putting it all Back Together

Now in reverse order we are going to repeat everything we did before putting our new RAM in, so flip that green board back over and screw it back into its silver armor. Screw the silver armor back into place and plug all those itsy-bitsy cables back in. Press the tape firmly yet gently back down and slip the wireless card back into its proper place. Replace the screw and antenna cables where they belong in the wireless card, then move on to screwing the control button board to the back cover.

Pluggin it All Back InCredit: Photos and Edits by Angela Parker

Carefully align the outer cover back onto the screen and apply gentle even pressure to snap the cover back into place. Replace the screws in the cover as if those little "teeth" weren't holding that cover down with a vengeance. Pop the hard drive cover back off and carefully set the hard drive back into its little nest secure it tightly with its screws and plug it back in, then pop the cover back on. 



Put the Hard Drive Back
Credit: Photo and edits by Angela Parker
Credit: Photo and edits by Angela Parker

And now for that "better" part that I promised... you have more RAM!


Troubleshooting tips: Be absolutely certain that you get it right on your first try because if something goes wrong I've got no idea how to help.