Over to you

26 Jul 2023

Lenovo Ideapad 3 15ALC6 RAM upgrade: ignore the official docs

In late 2021 I picked up a Lenovo Ideapad 3 (15ALC6), a Ryzen 7 5700U-based laptop with 16GB RAM and a nice 1TB SSD. It was surprisingly cheap for what it offered, and after it went out of stock I tried to find another but it was either unobtainable or the price had gone way up.

Anyway, eventually I decided more RAM would be nice, since I was starting to hammer the SSD as swap. The Radeon integrated graphics unit steals around 3GB of system RAM, so the remainder wasn’t enough to comfortably run Firefox, Chromium, Defold, Inkscape and a few other apps all at the same time.

When I looked for compatible RAM upgrades, it seemed that the maximum installed RAM would be 24GB — 8GB soldered RAM and one 16GB SODIMM. This felt like a bit of a weak upgrade given the cost. A bunch of discussions on the Lenovo site seemed to back this up, and the situation was worse for owners of the slightly lower-spec model with only 4GB soldered RAM. Additionally, Crucial and most other RAM shops that were aware of the 15ALC model would only offer a 16GB SODIMM.

Then I found a German company called CompuRAM who guaranteed that a 32GB SODIMM would work. I was a bit sus because of the .biz TLD, and felt the card was a bit expensive (€122.63 including VAT and shipping), but there didn’t seem to be many other options, so I pulled the trigger.

After a fairly unimpressive 9 day wait (nice one DHL), the SODIMM arrived and we installed it. The Ideapad sadly doesn’t have a convenient removable panel for the RAM slot, so the case needs to be opened. There are around 8 screws in two different sizes (why…​?) and some spudger action required to pop the bottom cover off, then a few more clips need to be prised out to get the SODIMM cover out of the way.

Before too long we had the new card installed and I was pleasantly surprised to see it boot back into Ubuntu immediately with no complaints. My system info reports 37.1GB total RAM, due to the aforementioned integrated graphics siphoning off 3GB for video memory.

Screenshot of the KDE Info Centre showing the total memory after SODIMM installation

I hope this is helpful to anyone wanting to upgrade one of these machines but were scared off by the official docs listing a really low installable RAM limit.