Can I mix different brands of RAM if they both have the same speed and voltage?

Blog

Your Answer

Sign up or log in Sign up using Google Sign up using Facebook Sign up using Email and Password

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Mixing RAM capacities

What if your PC has 8GB, comprised of a pair of 4GB chips? If you have a pair of spare memory slots, can you add two more 8GB chips to get to 24GB?

Generally, this should be OK, subject to sticking to one brand and spec. If sticking to one brand isn’t possible – I’d suggest pulling the memory that’s already there and adding new memory from scratch.

For example, rather than keep the pair of 4GB sticks, I’d replace them with a pair of 8GB and get my system up to 16GB or 32GB that way.

It’s worth noting, before you upgrade that different Windows 10 versions can use different amounts of memory.

The 32-bit version of Windows 10 can only use 4GB of memory.

With the various 64-bit versions

  • Windows 10 Home – 128 GB
  • Windows 10 Pro – 2TB
  • Windows 10 Pro for Workstations – 6TB
  • Windows 10 Enterprise – 6TB
  • Windows 10 Education – 2TB

Video

How to Minimize the Performance Loss When Pairing Ram of Different Size Clock Speed

The only thing that can minimize the performance loss (not eliminating it) is the voltage. Now as you have ram modules with different brands and sizes, it’s better to find a sweet spot between both so that you get the most out of them.

Another factor to look for is the CAS Latency of your ram module. CAS or Column Address Strobe is related to the number of cycles it takes for a ram module to access in one of its columns.

Overall, it’s better if you look for CAS Latency and Voltage two different ram modules from the same brand. Ram modules from different brands can have a minute difference in CAS Latency and voltage even if they look similar.

Risks of mixing RAMs

So we saw that this is something that we can do. We saw how to do it and what should we keep in mind while we are doing it. Now let’s see whether or not mixing RAMs is worth the entire effort. What are the risks and failures waiting for us if we fail to do it and what can we actually lose in the process.

If you do not consider the factors that have been described above, like voltage or brands of the RAM and eventually, the DIMMs fail to work with each other, the PC may face BSoD.

Blue Screen of Death is a state of the computer or evidently a state of error of the computer which has existed since Windows 1.0. When Windows faces this error, it means that the Windows have crashed due to a fatal system error. In this condition, it can not operate safely any longer.

This can happen if the motherboard of your computer is not very fond of one of the newly installed RAM disks on your system.

I would suggest that if you are bent on changing the RAM and mixing it for that matter, do not do it just because the computer guy next door made it look so cool.

It is not as easy as it sounds. Unless you are sure of matching the RAM brands, the voltage, the size, the CAS, and the other factors that I have discussed above, do not try this. If you blatantly go out and mix the RAMs then you will risk losing your entire system to the Blue Screen of Death error. Unless of course if you are sure you have all the details accurate.

Can you Mix Different Speeds of RAM?

Different speeds of RAM can be mixed but it’s not recommended for optimal performance.

This is because the speed of two different sticks don’t match. The memory controller generally runs all attached RAM at the same speed and timing, so if one stick runs at 1600mhz and has a faster speed but the other is slower at 1333mhz, it has to run them all at the slower speed of 1333mhz.

Additionally, it may or may not run due to the difference in timing. Using the exact same speed of sticks is ideal to prevent running into any other problems and slower RAM speed.

Understanding RAM Specifications

While you could theoretically use any RAM stick that loosely matches the specifications of your current RAM module or modules, you would most likely compromise the performance and stability of your system. That’s because there are quite a few specifications you need to pay attention to, so let’s take a closer look at them in the order of their importance.

DISCLAIMER

DISCLAIMER: Do NOT attempt to fix any electrical appliance or component yourself. Always consult with a trained electrician or technician. The information on this website should only be used for educational purposes. The information and guides on this website have been sourced from various forums and other unverified sources. The author of Voltfixer.com is not a trained electrician or technician. The webmaster of Voltfixer.com and the author(s) is not responsible for any loss in damages, financial loss and/or personal injury. By using the content on this website, you agree to these terms.

Frequently Asked Questions About RAMs

1. How Many RAM Slots Does A Motherboard Have?

Most modern motherboards support four slots or two dual-channel slots.

However, the maximum supported RAM may differ.

For instance, one motherboard may support up to 4x 8GB sticks, while another can handle 4x 16GB sticks.

High-end servers may come with more slots, often supporting up to 128 GB of RAM, which isn’t unusual for intensive computations.

Finally, supercomputers are designed to have dozens of slots and support multiple terabytes of temporary memory.

2. How Do I Know How Many RAM Sticks I Have?

Although opening up your computer may seem like the easiest way to count the number of sticks, you don’t actually have to do any physical work or risk damaging your computer.

Almost all operating systems come with a tool or setting to tell you about your RAM configuration.

On Windows 10, press the Windows key and type in Task Manager.

Alternatively, you can press Ctrl + Shift + Esc.

Once you’re in the Task Manager, go to the Performance tab and then Memory.

You can see the number of slots on your motherboard, and how many of them are being used.

If you’re on a Mac, go to About This Mac and click on More Information.

The screen will give you a basic graphical representation of the number of available slots and how they’re occupied.

Finally, for Linux users, you can use a command-line tool (like almost everything else in Linux!).

Fire up your terminal by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T, type sudo dmidecode -t 17, and hit enter.

If you’re prompted to enter your admin password, type it in and hit enter again.

The command will give you a list of your physical cards as well as a host of other useful information about each stick’s characteristics.

3. Can I Use All RAM Slots On My Motherboard?

The ultimate answer depends on your motherboard, but it’s almost always better to have an even number of identical sticks.

If your motherboard comes with four slots, preferably leave two of them empty.

If you need a large amount of RAM, use all four as leaving one slot empty can cause performance issues.

RAM Size

RAM sticks are sold with 4 GB to 32 GB of memory. You can freely mix RAM sizes, but there’s one reason why you shouldn’t: dual-channel memory configuration.

You see, your CPU doesn’t communicate with your RAM sticks directly. Instead, it passes information through the so-called memory controller, which has two 64-bit (total 128-bit) channels at least on most motherboards.

If you buy a RAM kit that consists of two identical RAM sticks, your computer will almost certainly automatically default to a dual-channel configuration, essentially doubling the memory bandwidth. If you add a mismatched RAM stick, it will run in the single-channel (asymmetric) mode, which provides single-channel bandwidth and uses the slowest supported memory timing.

Can You Mix RAM Sticks of Different Sizes?

When upgrading RAM, it’s recommended that you upgrade in pairs of equal size, frequency, and manufacturer. Also, ensure that you verify your PC model to ensure that the RAM is compatible with your system using the manufacturer’s website or user manual of the motherboard.

If you install one single 16GB DDR4-3200MHz module in your system, it will only run at 1600MHz, known as (single-data rate). Also, if you install two or more RAM modules, such as one 16GB DDR4-3200 and one 8GB DDR4-3200, the dual-channel mode will be disabled, which can seriously reduce your PC’s performance.

On Intel motherboards, that support Intel Flex mode, however, the extra portion of the larger RAM module will run in single-channel mode, and the first chunk of matching 8GB on the mis-sized modules will run in dual channel mode. AMD motherboards are more sensitive to mismatched RAM sizes and usually throw instability issues.

Another issue with mixing RAM is latency. Latency is the number of clock cycles (measured in nanoseconds) it takes to access data in one of the RAM modules columns.

If you install an 8GB Module of RAM with an 18 CAS latency and one 8GB module with a 16 latency, the modules will operate at the slowest CAS latency. Meaning both modules installed will run at 18 CAS latency.

Although these methods have been tested, it serves to mention that there are reports of people receiving a BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death) on occasion due to incompatible RAM sizes in their PCs. Intel offers FlexMode that allows greater flexibility when installing different RAM varieties.

To enable a PC without Intel FlexMode, such as an AMD-powered machine to get the most out of your RAM, install two identical RAM modules (sold as kits in pairs) such as (2) 16 DDR-3200 into your motherboard in the correct slots.

Look to your motherboard’s manual or manufacturer’s website for more information.

Typically, the arrangement is properly drawn in the motherboard’s user guide or manual, and also found on the respective manufacturer’s website. This arrangement shows the sequence of filling multiple RAM slots, for the proper dual-channel mode, and is especially critical for boards with more than 2 RAM slots.

Can You Mix Different CAS Latency And Timings?

The story is the same for latency and timing.

It’s possible to mix two RAM sticks with different latencies, but your system will automatically force the one with the faster timing to work at the lowest level, which may cause performance issues.

If you know your way around the BIOS settings, you might be able to get RAMs with varied latencies and frequencies to work smoothly together, but it’ll take a lot of time and effort, and it’ll still be a coin toss.

Conclusion

At last, there isn’t any harm in pairing ram modules from two different brands, but there aren’t any expectations of high performance as well. It’s recommended to install DIMMs from the same brands and with the same specs if you want to enhance the performance of your system.

Also, read about the Best Ram for Gaming Laptops

 

About Isaac Atia

View all posts by Isaac AtiaAs an avid gamer for 20+ years, I spend hours researching custom PC builds and parts. I review various CPUs, motherboards, RAM, and gaming peripherals. I often test parts in my home office in New York City. To ensure the highest level of accuracy, I often consult with other experts and industry professionals.

View all posts by Isaac Atia

Tags