You just need a screwdriver, a new stick of RAM and 20 minutes to upgrade your HP Chromebox
Chromeboxes are a great inexpensive way to get another computer in the house, and with how often they go on sale you could get one for less than $150. Unfortunately if you go with the HP Chromebox you're getting a desktop machine with just 2GB of RAM, and depending on what your plans are for it that's not going to be enough.
Now this little micro-sized desktop isn't made to be upgraded per se, but thankfully at least the RAM slot is easily accessible. If you've picked up an HP Chromebox and want to make the move from 2GB to 4GB of RAM, we have the guide for you. Read along and see our step-by-step instructions for the upgrade process.
What you need before you begin
This is a pretty simple project, requiring just a couple tools. You'll need a small phillips head screwdriver, a small flat prying device (a flat head screwdriver will suffice) and a new stick of RAM that you'll be using to upgrade the machine with.
Now the type of screwdriver you use isn't particularly important, but the type of RAM you choose to put in this machine really is. Because of its size and power draw you'll need a specific kind of RAM called DDR3L PC3-12800. The L at the end is important, as it denotes that it's low power RAM compatible with this device. It's a small module that you'd normally see in a laptop — larger high power RAM just won't work.
You'll also want to get RAM that's 4GB in size, as the HP Chromebox will only accept one RAM module so you can't just add 2GB to the existing 2GB. The machine also won't accept more than 4GB, so don't bother buying a larger stick. Once you've followed the requirements and picked up the proper RAM, you're ready to upgrade.
Now, go grab your tools — we'll wait.
Let's replace the RAM in your Chromebox
Unplug your Chromebox and flip it over on a table. At first glance you won't see any screws, and that's because they're cleverly hidden underneath the rubber feet on the machine.
With a fingernail, plastic prying tool or flat head screwdriver, lift up the feet until they separate from the bottom of the machine. They're just stuck on there with a little glue, and will go back on, so don't toss them aside too far.
Each rubber foot has a small notched pattern on the underside that makes it fit specifically in one of the four slots. As you take the feet off, put them aside in the same order they're on the bottom to ease the process of replacing them when we're done.
Once the feet are gone, remove the four screws in the slots. Each screw is the same size, so don't worry about having them separated. The tiny screws can be a tad annoying to remove, but a magnetic screwdriver makes life much easier.
With the screws removed, you can lift off the back plate. I was able to grab at the slots where the screws went to lift it off, but a pry tool on the side or a suction cup in the middle will do the job if you have trouble.
Once the bottom plate is removed, set it aside and you're onto the next step.
You'll notice a metal frame protecting the internals of the computer that's again secured by a variety of screws. There's just one screw in three of the corners, with the fourth corner using two screws. Remove all of the screws, careful not to drop them on the sensitive electronics inside, and set them in a safe place. Again, all of the screws are the same size.
With the screws removed, we now have one more step before the metal plate can be removed. You'll notice two pieces of strong conductive tape on the sides holding the panel in. You'll want to lift off one of the two pieces so that the plate can hinge off. I found the thicker piece easier to remove, but it still took a bit of prying.
Be patient removing the tape, as you don't want to damage it dramatically. We'll be putting the tape back on the plate when we seal up the computer. You just want to separate the tape from the plate, leaving the other end attached to the inside wall.
With one piece of tape removed, hinge back the metal plate so that it's completely out of the way and the computer's internals are exposed. You'll be able to easily see the RAM module — it's a big blue stick of RAM on the main board separate from the other big components.
To remove the existing stick of RAM, push the small clips on the sides outward away from the center of the module until the RAM pops up out of its slot. Grab it by the sides (not the circuits) and pull away firmly — no need to wiggle it back and forth — until it separates from the slot.
With the stock RAM removed, repeat the process in reverse with the new module. Place it back in the slot at the same angle until it's firmly in, then push downward until the clips on the sides hold it down securely.
With the new RAM in place, you can flip the metal plate back onto the machine and re-apply the tape that you removed. Press down firmly to get it holding things in order, then replace the five screws that you removed. Remember that one corner has two screws, while the other three corners have just one screw each.
With that set of screws back in place, toss the white plastic bottom plate back on and replace the four screws — one in each corner — to secure it firmly. Put the rubber feet back in each slot, remembering which foot went to which slot (they're slot-specific).
And you're done!
Plug your Chromebox back in, hook up your monitor, keyboard and mouse and hit the power button. If all went well, you should be booted up into Chrome OS and experiencing it at an even faster pace thanks to your new RAM. To double check that the RAM is installed properly and all 4GB is accessible, you can check with a handy Chrome app called "System." If it reports back that you have a full 4GB of RAM and your Chromebox is running well, you're all done! Enjoy your new, faster Chromebox.