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16GB RAM Modules for Broadwell ThinkPads

Shortly after the Haswell ThinkPads were launched, Lenovo faced some harsh criticism from the ThinkPad community for not offering 2 SO-DIMM slots on their Ultrabook line-up, most notably the X240 and even the T440s. This limited the maximum RAM capacity to 8GB on the X240 and 12GB on the T440s. Most of the criticism derived from the fact that the previous generation of ThinkPads, such as the X230 and T430s, were configurable with up to 16GB of RAM.

A glimpse of hope arose when the company I’M Intelligent Memory announced the production of 16GB SO-DIMM modules in 2014. Towards the end of the year, these modules became available to the general public, albeit at exorbitant prices. However, the euphoria soon died as daring upgraders promptly discovered that these modules did not work with Intel Haswell notebooks. Interestingly, these modules are fully supported by recent notebooks based on an AMD platform.

Luckily, the situation has changed on the current line-up of ThinkPads. According to Intel, all Broadwell CPU’s will support 16GB RAM modules. Lenovo has also claimed that Broadwell ThinkPads will work with these RAM modules. This has indeed been confirmed by some users who got their hands on these new modules. As such, the X250 supports up to 16GB of RAM and thus closes the gap to the X230, while the T450s will top out at 20GB. The T450 and T550/W550s now offer an impressive maximum of 32GB of RAM.

So what’s the downside? As previously mentioned, they are rather pricy, coming in at 345€ per module. Nevertheless, there seem to be enough power users out there willing to pay such prices in order to get the maximum performance out of their machines. Over time, these modules should also become cheaper. Another disadvantage is that they are only available as DDR3L 1333MHz SO-DIMM’s so far. As a result, the full potential of Broadwell Notebooks is not yet reached, since they can handle 1600MHz SO-DIMM’s. At this point, it is unclear if I’M Intelligent Memory is planning on offering faster modules in future.

If you are situated in Europe, you can pick one of these 16GB SO-DIMM’s up at this shop. In the US, you can find them on eBay for a list price of 380$, order them from Memphis Electronic Inc. or request them from the Intelligent Memory Homepage.

UPDATE 3/25/2015: 1600MHz modules have become available. However, preliminary reports suggest that these modules do not work with Intel Broadwell notebooks.