We get many questions when it comes to RAM upgrade guide. What kind of RAM do I need? Can I mix brands or about different sizes? Should I get two smaller sticks or one larger stick? Let’s answer all of them today. We’ll be focusing on the desktop computer, and the principles are the same for notebooks.
Upgrade Process: What kind of RAM do I need?
There is a couple of ways to figure this out easily. You can download a diagnostic tool like CPU-Z, which can help you identify your exact motherboard model where you can look a memory that is compatible with it. Or if you prefer, you can open up the side panel and take out your memory RAM. On the side of your memory, you’ll usually find a little sticker that says a model number, part number and specs.
If you have a computer from 2007 onwards, you’ll need DDR3 or DDR4 memory, anything before that probably DDR2. The new system with X99 motherboard or really anything that comes out after I write this post that also supports DDR4, then you’ll need DDR4.
RAM Upgrade: Mixing and Matching Speeds
What about the differences between speeds? Can I mix and match them? The answer is YES and NO. It technically works, but you can run into compatibility issues and crashes. We recommend you to stick with the same model of memory whenever possible. As you get into larger capacities like even up to 8 or 16 gigabytes sticks, the problems get worse and worse with mismatched memories. Ideally, you’d like to get all of your memory at the same speed grade as well. It’s doesn’t make a huge difference in terms of performance what speed you run on your memory. Still, if you use multiple sticks of memory at lower speeds, then your motherboard automatically run at the lowest common speed available.
What About Brands?
On a certain level, memory is memory. If you have two kits with the same specifications from two different manufacturers, then their performance is pretty well the same. So you pick a brand based on warranty, design, reliability or your experiences in the past and prices of course. You can’t go wrong with big names like Corsair, G.Skill or HyperX. Let us know in the comments below which brand is your favourite.
Two Small Sticks vs One Larger Stick
If you want eight gigs of ram, traditionally people recommend two sticks of four gigs instead of one stick of eight gigs to take advantage of dual-channel speeds which are an effective doubling of bandwidth. If you’re using an integrated graphics solution like an AMD APU system, then yes. A dual-channel kit dramatically improves your gaming performance. But, for others with dedicated graphics, the real-life benefits of dual-channel is not that noticeable.
If you’re already buying high capacity sticks, get two of them to get the right amount of memory for your system. However, if you’re buying one stick intending to upgrade it later, buy one high capacity stick instead of two lower capacity. Because then you’ll have more room to expand in the future as you discover yourself needing 16 or even 32 gigs of memory.
Talk about RAM upgrade guide, and there has another common question we always get. For example “Hey!, my friend just upgraded his system and has an extra stick of memory. Can I add it into like my system?”
Well, if you’re not using an AMD APU system, we’re onboard graphics, and the answer is yes. The performance gained from the additional RAM can often outweigh the negatives of running in single-channel mode. But an excellent way to know whether it will or not, check out your task manager. Find out if you’re running out of RAM or not, because memory not affect the performance of your system unless you need the additional capacity. I hope that covers all the questions you had about upgrading your RAM. If you have any more questions or want to get our Laptop Repair service, leave a comment down below or shoot an email to [email protected]