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How To Upgrade Your RAM: Main Rules About Mixing Different Modules

Date January 28, 2019 16:52

Computers are incredibly complicated devices, that’s not a new thing. However, this doesn’t mean you have to be an expert to understand the basics. Today, we want to talk about RAMs: their main characteristics and how to mix different types. You can definitely upgrade your RAM without any additional help.

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What are the main rules on mixing two different types of RAM

Random-access memory (RAM) is a form of computer memory, which stores the data currently being used. That’s why this type of memory also called temporary. RAM is also called a memory module. To understand how to mix different types of RAM, you should learn the basic characteristics and a few simple rules.

1. SDRAM vs. DDR RAM

There are two types of RAMs, mainly determining the speed of the memory: SDRAM and DDR RAM. It is worthy to know that the latter one is much faster than the former. Additionally, the next generation offers much higher memory speed, meaning DDR4 is faster than DDR3 and so on. Important note: you simply cannot mix RAMs of different types – they are incompatible.

2. Speed

Depending on the RAM type, it will have different speed. There are two parameters that describe the speed of the memory. For example, DDR-1333 PC3200 stands for a clock speed of 666 MHz and a transfer rate of 3,200 MB/s. Mixing the RAMs of different speeds is possible, but you have to know that the overall speed would be topped by the lowest one, meaning that the faster RAM would be underclocked.

How To Upgrade Your RAM: Main Rules About Mixing Different ModulesFabrikaSimf / Shutterstock.com

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3. Voltage

Any RAM draws power from the motherboard, and the amount it needs to operate properly is indicated by the voltage rating. You can see something like 2.5V when examining the characteristics of your RAM. It is best to mix RAMs of the same voltage.

4. CAS Latency

Column Address Strobe Latency, also known as the CAS Latency, or simply “CL,” is basically the time your RAM needs to return the stored data to the CPU. The rule is simple: the lower the CAS Latency is, the faster it operates. It is definitely not recommended to mix two RAMs with different CAS Latencies.

5. Other timings

There are many other parameters that characterize the speed of several other processes, which are challenging to explain and usually are of interest to experts and advanced users. RAS to CAS delay, RAS Precharge, command rate, and other numbers do not have a serious impact the RAMs productivity. Typically, you should be able to mix two modules with the different timings.

How To Upgrade Your RAM: Main Rules About Mixing Different ModulesDmitri Ma/ Shutterstock.com

Unfortunately, none of the above can guarantee that two different RAMs are compatible. Even if you have followed the guidelines, the RAM upgrade can result in the infamous Blue Screen of Death. Although you could try matching two modules with different CAS Latency, timings and voltage in your BIOS settings, it is much more reasonable to buy the same model. Save your nerves and money!

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