Can You Mix RAM Brands?

Using a PC is something different than making changes to its interior. Most people don’t know about the system’s specs, hardware, software, and the complications that come with them. That’s why when they find some kind of speed issues or limited RAM, they get advice from others and try to fix the problem by adding more RAM (upgrading the system). And at this point, they fall into big issues, even damage to the whole system.

Do you need to buy new RAM? Can you mix RAM Brands? Can you combine RAM sticks? These questions come and are stuck in the minds of everyone who is upgrading or building a new PC. 

Though the simple answer is yes, you can buy new RAM, mix RAM brands, and combine RAM sticks of similar type from different brands. However, problems will arise doing so if you don’t know about the complications. 

Despite the detailed answers to these questions, this article has solved every query related to mixing RAM brands. So, continue reading to make a wise decision. 

Can You Mix RAM Brands?

The answer is yes; you can mix brands but keep in mind your system’s compatibility, specs, needs, and the possible issues which can arise. Let’s discuss this in detail. 

Why Do You Need To Upgrade Your RAM?

Random access memory (RAM), a form of computer memory, is used to store data momentarily while a computer is in operation. A software or file is loaded into RAM when it is opened so your computer can access it quickly. Your computer utilizes more RAM when more applications or files are open. Your computer can begin to sluggish down or freeze when the RAM is depleted.

By providing extra capacity for your computer, upgrading your RAM can help it operate better. And this can be particularly useful if you routinely run many apps at once or if you use resource-demanding software like games or video editing tools. Your system can access the data it needs more rapidly with more RAM, leading to quicker load times and more sprightly performance.

Another benefit of RAM upgrades is the potential to increase the lifespan of your computer. Your computer may struggle as it becomes older to match the specifications needed to run newer software or accomplish tasks that it used to be able to do with no problems. By increasing your RAM, you may extend the time your computer will continue to function effectively, whether using it for work or leisure.

Is Mixing RAM Brands Create a Problem?

Fundamental problems occur when you mix brands rather than using the memory of the same brand. The reason is various: 

  • The brand manufacturers’ development methods are different.
  • They employ different materials, dies, PCBs, and custom circuits.
  • Different brands’ CPU has different in-built memory controllers.
  • Each brand’s RAM sticks vary in latency, size, frequency, clock speed, and voltage. 
  • Manufacturers of the brand make and factory-tested RAM kits that are compatible with one another but not with other brands’ kits.
  • If the RAM kit is compatible with other brands’ kits, it still causes problems.
  • Utilizing more DIMM (Dual In-line Memory Module) slots also causes an issue.

What Problems do Mixing RAM Brands Will Cause?

Mixing RAM brands or incompatibility issues between the system and upgraded RAM can cause several problems. The possible issues include:

  • Performance drop
  • Crashes
  • Stuttering
  • Slow speed
  • Failure to boot the entire system 

Things To Consider While Mixing RAM Brands

The experts highly recommended using RAM sticks from the same brand rather than mixing RAM brands. But if you need to mix brands, keep in mind the below-discussed things because any incompatibility will lead to performance loss, money wastage, and BIOs errors. 

Generation 

Find a RAM that is compatible with your system’s motherboard. As there are five DDR generations, keep in mind that each contains different physical characteristics, like the number of pins and their sizes. 

Each motherboard is compatible with only one DDR generation, so you can’t mix the 2 DDR generations, like DDR2 and DDR3, which will cause the crashing of the system. 

If you have a DDR3 module, then you can’t purchase any DDR module like DDR5 to run on the free slot of the DDR3 module. So, find the DDR generation or type which is compatible with your system, or in other words, your motherboard is designed to be compatible with. 

Storage capacity / Size

Storage capacity and size of the RAM module are the same things. When you try to mix RAM brands or buy a similar brand RAM kit, remember that the RAM size matters a lot. 

Purchasing a similar size RAM module is better, like adding an 8GB RAM stick in the RAM module of a similar size stick rather than less or more. 

Some people need 12GB RAM, and for that, they try to add 8 GB RAM to 4 GB RAM. In such a case, as the pairing is asynchronous, you will encounter low performance and BIOs issues. The reason is that your system will not be able to use dual-channel or flex mode, despite the higher price and good quality 8 GB RAM module. 

Because the problem is not with RAM but with its size, when the two RAM modules differ in size, the RAM size compatible with the motherboard will work and use the bigger RAM module’s (8 GB) half storage capacity.

  • 4 GB RAM + 4 GB RAM of 8 GB RAM Module will work in dual channel mode
  • The rest of the RAM of the 8 GB will work in single-channel mode.

In such cases, if you are doing simple tasks like searching on a web browser or watching videos doesn’t cause any performance problems, but your experience will be ruined during high-end tasks.

Voltage

Things are pretty similar to storage capacity in the case of the voltage consumption of the RAM module. Don’t use the RAM modules of different voltages; otherwise, the slow performance will ruin your work experience. 

If one RAM module consumes less voltage and the other more, the system will prefer the former due to its less power-hungry nature. For example,

  • DDR4 needs 1.2 V
  • DDR3 needs 1.5 V
  • The system prefers DDR4 over DDR3.
  • The power-hungry RAM will not get the required voltage due to mixing with the less-energy-demanding RAM module.
  • As DDR3 has to operate on 1.2 V, which is insufficient, thus causing performance problems and instability issues. 

Thus while mixing RAM brands, remember that RAM modules from different manufacturers demand different voltages. 

Single vs Dual Channel Memory

Single or dual-channel modes are two types of channel modes for transferring memory between the CPU and RAM. Though the market has a quad-channel mode, it is utilized by higher-end motherboards for significant tasks. 

These channels are also essential to consider while choosing a RAM module, so try to purchase one which runs according to your system’s channel mode. Dual-channel mode is the fastest way to transfer memory but keep in mind if you buy a RAM module with higher voltage, size, frequency, speed, etc., the dual-channel mode will not help in performance. Because as I mentioned earlier, the motherboard prefers the smaller size built-in RAM module and allows the bigger RAM module to run according to the smaller one. 

For example, if your system runs on a dual-channel mode and has 4 GB RAM and you purchase 8 GB RAM, then the motherboard allow

  • 4 GB RAM + 4 GB RAM of 8 GB RAM Module will work in dual-channel mode
  • The rest of the RAM of the 8 GB, which means 4 GB RAM, will work in single-channel mode

Thus how much bigger RAM you got to increase the performance, even dual-channel mode will not help you as the rest storage of the bigger module will only run in the single-channel and affect the performance of your system. 

Speed

You can mix RAM modules of different speeds if the other factors mentioned above are according to the suggested ones. Remember, your motherboard will always be on the side of the smaller module, and the same goes here in speed. 

The lower speed module gets preference, and the faster module will have to work according to the speed of the former one. In such cases, you will again find BSOD errors, and frequent system crashes. 

As the speed of the RAM module depends upon the frequency and latency, I’ll discuss them in the following headings. 

Frequency

While mixing RAM brands, if there is a vast difference in the frequency, you will encounter problems like performance gets lower, compatibility, and stability issues. 

Suppose you have two RAM sticks; one RAM module has a fast frequency, and the other has a slow one. In that case, the motherboard allows the system to operate at the lowest frequency to maintain compatibility (reduce the faster RAM’s speed to match the slower RAM to keep the system running in dual-channel mode). Consequently, the performance of your system as a whole may suffer.

If you try to overclock the slower RAM module, you will encounter lagging and freezing issues and even cause the system to crash. 

So the best way is to mix RAM modules with the same frequencies, but if you need to combine different brands, then try to use DDR4 and DDR5 because they are more compatible with other brands’ RAM modules. 

CAS Latency

Different CAS latency RAM modules used together might affect the performance and stability of the system. The time it takes the memory controller to access a particular column of data in a memory module is known as CAS latency or Column Address Strobe latency. The memory controller may have to wait for various lengths of time for each module to access the data if the modules have varied CAS latencies, which might result in delays and possible data corruption. 

The motherboard will favor the slower module if it has a shorter CAS delay than the other module, which might reduce the performance of the faster module.

The faster module could also be underclocked while operating in dual-channel mode to match the slower module’s latency. And this can significantly lower the system’s overall performance, restricting the use of faster RAM.

Different CAS latency and timings might impact performance as well as result in unforeseen PC issues. These problems may include jamming, crashing, or BIOS faults. To prevent these problems and get the most out of your computer’s memory, ensure that all RAM modules have the same CAS latency and timings.

Choose According to Your Memory Configuration

The tip which is most helpful while upgrading your memory is only one; first, check the memory configuration or your system’s specs and then purchase according to it. Keep all points in mind that I have mentioned above. 

Also, consider your workload, how much RAM you need, and what factors you think are essential. Moreover, it’s better to ask some professionals about this query to lower the chances of failure.  

Conclusion 

Finally, I’ll conclude with these words that it’s okay to mix RAM brands while upgrading your system; you will not find any significant problems if you keep the points mentioned earlier in mind, like speed, latency, frequency, size, generation, and voltage. 

It’s better to choose a similar RAM kit instead of a larger one because, in that case, some issues will hinder your system’s performance. Find the RAM with the same specs, and keep the difference as lower as possible for better performance. 

A highly driven individual with social responsibility. Searching a platform to contribute and give back to society through words. Interested in human minds. Always on the lookout for learning anything new in tech. Good academic and research skills. Love tech and anything related to it.

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