Last Updated on January 31, 2021
RAM is a computer’s essential component, but it can raise queries and doubts among the minds of people.
When it comes to upgrading or replacing memory, a common question that’s being often asked is as follows: can I mix different RAM brands?
As there are different versions or generations of DDR memory (i.e. DDR3 and DDR4), it’s impossible to mix them even of a different brand. To minimize the risks and errors, you can mix RAMs of different brands as long as they have the same specifications. Mixing RAMs of different specifications and brands can also be done but the chances of issues and incompatibility are more.
We also talk about a possible solution that would help you to make the memory modules work in stable condition.
Can I Mix Different RAM Brands?
Understanding RAM can be complicated and that’s why many misconceptions exist about mixing RAM brands. We try to remove them and provide you the answer in simple terms.
No doubt you can mix modules of different manufacturers and brands. They would work but the risk of errors is there along with the modules not being compatible with each other when installed.
The best approach for mixing different RAM brands and stable working is to make sure that the modules have the same specifications.
We will cover these aspects in the following sections:
Can I Mix RAM Generations of Different or Same Brands?
Many users wonder regarding mixing modules of DDR RAM generations whether they are of the same or different brands.
There are different versions or generations of DDR memory i.e. DDR1, DDR2, DDR3, and DDR4. Each generation brought improvements with it concerning speed, latency, and voltage. You may know that today the most used generations of these RAMs are DDR3 and the DDR4.
This implies that all DDR generations are mutually incompatible with each other. As DDR RAMs have differences in shape and number of pins, you can’t mix sticks of different DDR generations irrespective of brand.
It means that if you have DDR4 slots on your motherboard, you can’t fit DDR3 modules into it. If you have DDR3 slots on your motherboard, you can put DDR4 modules into it. You should put modules of the supporting generation into the motherboards, and this applies to both desktop and laptop computers.
For this purpose, you can check the motherboard specifications to find out which generation it supports.
Mixing RAMs of Brands with Same Specifications
Now that you know that you can’t mix generations of DDR RAM, we will talk about mixing the memory of different brands coming with the same specifications.
In our opinion, the best approach to mixing RAM brands that could be described is to make sure that the modules have the same specifications i.e. generation, size, speed, voltage, and timings including CAS latency. This will result in fewer chances of problems such as Blue Screen of Death, computer not booting, or random errors.
Suppose you have an 8GB DDR4 module with 2133MHz speed, 1.2V voltage, and a CAS latency of 15. You want to add another 8GB DDR4 module of a different brand in an empty slot and take your total RAM capacity to 16GB.
The second 8GB module must have the same specifications as the existing 8GB module. Then only there are the best chances that the two RAMs can work together without any issues.
However, we reiterate here that as not all RAMs are made equally, still you can run into issues and it’s not fully guaranteed that they will work stably.
Mixing RAMs of Brands with Different Specifications
Another aspect that needs to be understood is mixing RAMs of different brands and specifications. These specifications could range from size, speed, CAS timings, and voltage. This aspect is described as follows:
1. Mixing Different Speeds
Indeed, you can mix them but there are more chances of issues and instability here than using the modules with the same specifications. This is because there can be incompatibilities when working simultaneously.
In this case, the modules will work at the speed of the slowest one. It’s also important to note that you need to install the slowest memory in the lowest numbered RAM slot on your motherboard to avoid facing more conflicts and issues.
2. Mixing Different Timings and Voltages
The same instability risks are there if there are different timings (including CAS latency) or voltages. Note that in this case, the memory modules will work at the highest of the timings and voltages.
3. Mixing Different Sizes
With regards to mixing modules of different sizes, it can be done but you can lose the dual or quad-channel configuration that could provide better performance. T
his also depends on other components including motherboard, CPU, chipset, and BIOS.
There also exists a greater risk of incompatibility when using the memory of different sizes.
The Preferred Choice for RAM Upgrades
You may be building a new desktop computer or need to do a RAM upgrade for your existing desktop or laptop. Whatever the situation, it’s still preferred to buy a new RAM kit that contains identical RAM modules of the same brand and install it on your computer.
For many, it’s still the best choice rather than mixing RAM modules of different brands.
This ensures that every specification of the modules is identical. It also means the modules have been tested and are guaranteed they would work together ideally without causing any problem.
However, you may have to discard or sell the old or existing RAM modules that are already installed on your computer. At just a slightly higher price, you can invest in a RAM kit rather than individual RAM sticks.
If you want to keep and use the existing modules, then in that case mixing of RAMs becomes somewhat necessary. Thus, we recommend you find modules having the same specifications as the existing ones and are also compatible with your motherboard.
By now you must have got a clear view and answer to what is often inquired: can I mix different RAM brands? We also suggested a practicable solution as to why you should invest in RAM kits rather than mixing up modules.
To conclude, you should exercise caution in mixing different RAM brands because many people make mistakes here and they come up with bad outcomes.
That’s why understanding RAM and its various parameters can be useful. The motive is to keep your computer running in stable condition for maximum utilization.