Last Updated on January 9, 2021
You may know that there are several variants of RAM that are available today. Knowing how to check if RAM is DDR3 or DDR4 can be beneficial especially in case of a RAM upgrade for your computer.
You can check what RAM type you have through means like in Windows Task Manager or making use of free software in Windows named CPU-Z. Concerning a Mac, you can identify the RAM type in the Overview section of About This Mac or through the System Information app. You can also identify it through the variations between DDR3 and DDR4 on close examination or by making use of the printed information on a module.
DDR3 RAM has more less been phased out and replaced by DDR4. However, DDR3 still exists in the older system and it’s always good to check the RAM type particularly if you want to replace or upgrade.
How to Check if RAM is DDR3 or DDR4?
There are many ways to check what RAM type you have. You can check via the operating system as well as through the hardware labels themselves.
The common methods are:
- Checking within the operating system using task manager
- Through third party software like CPU-Z
- Identifying RAM through physical examination
- Identifying through printed information on RAM
- Checking the Motherboard Specs
1. Checking Within the Operating System
One of the easiest way is to check the type of RAM you have is through the operating system.
Checking DDR3 or DDR4 in Windows
There are several way to check in the Windows Operating system.
While this method does not tell you exactly whether you have a DDR 3 or a DDR4 RAM, you can easily determine which variant of memory by looking at the Clockspeed number.
- Right-click the taskbar. Select Task Manager.
- If a small window appears, click More details.
- Go to the Performance tab and select the Memory section.
- Look over to the top-right where you can find how much RAM your computer has.
- To Find out the Type you have, you will have to do a bit of deduction by looking at the speed of the RAM.
For instance, in the example above, the speed of RAM is given as 2400 MHz.
A DDR3 RAM has a maximum STOCK clockspeed of 2133 MHz. Hence anything higher than this would technically fall in the DDR4 RAM category.
The RAM in the model above is thus 16 GB DDR 4 RAM.
Of course, if you have overclocked your DDR3 RAM you can take it higher than 1600 MHz, but for an average use that is not the case.
You can also find other essential information related to RAM in Windows Task Manager such as it usage, form factor etc.
Checking DDR 3 or DDR 4 on a Mac
Checking if the RAM is DDR3 or DDR4 is straightforward on a Mac computer. You can follow the steps for this purpose:
- Click the Apple logo on the screen’s top-left corner. Select About This Mac.
- In the Overview tab, you can find RAM information such as type (DDR3 or DDR4), amount, and speed.
- You can also check the RAM type by clicking on the System Report button that opens the System Information app. Navigate to the Memory section of the Hardware.
- Pay attention to the Type field for determining the RAM variant.
2. Through CPU-Z Free Software
In case if the Task Manager is not showing whether you have DDR3 or DDR4 RAM, you can make use of free software called CPU-Z to check it. Here’s how:
- Head over CPUID.com and download the CPU-Z software.
- Select the classic version of the software and download the executable (.exe) file.
- Install and run the software.
- Go to the Memory tab. Note the Type field that will show if your RAM is DDR3 or DDR4.
Note that this tab also provides other useful information related to your computer’s memory.
3. Identifying RAM Through Physical Examination
You will find subtle variations if you closely examine a DDR3 and DDR4 module. For instance, the key notch on a DDR3 module is in a different location from the key notch on a DDR4 module.
Also, a DDR4 module has a curved edge to facilitate insertion and is slightly thicker than a DDR3 module.
You may know that RAM comes in two form factors: DIMM (used in desktop computers and servers) and SO-DIMM (used in laptops and other small-sized computers). A SO-DIMM module is smaller than a DIMM module in terms of overall size and length.
There’s a marked difference in the number of pins concerning these form factors for both DDR3 and DDR4. DDR3 DIMMs have 240 pins whereas DDR3 SO-DIMMs have 204 pins. On the other hand, DDR4 DIMMs have 288 pins whereas DDR4 SO-DIMMs have 260 pins.
The above variations could help you to identify the type of RAM (DDR3 or DDR4) that’s installed on your computer.
4. Identifying through Printed Information on RAM
Moreover, most RAM modules have specifications printed on them like DDR type and more. This would easily help you to check whether it’s DDR3 or DDR4.
Note that it may be more appropriate for desktop computers but hard to inspect RAM in a laptop or an All-in-One PC as you need to open it up.
Therefore a less intrusive way to check laptop and AIO PC would be to follow a different method outlined above.
5. Checking the Motherboard Specs
Another handy way to check whether your computer supports DDR 3 or DDR 4 is to look at the motherboards specs. You will need to know the model and make of your motherboard for this.
But essentially, a motherboard tells you which RAM type it supports along with other information regarding memory like the maximum supported RAM, maximum support memory speed etc.
Since DDR3 and DDR4 are not cross compatible on motherboards, you can be certain that the RAM in your system conforms to the specifications mentioned in the motherboard spec sheet.
DDR3 or DDR4: Why It Matters?
The type of RAM matters in case if you want upgrade or replace a memory stick on to your computer.
Plus, a motherboard built for DDR4 cannot support DDR3 RAM at all even physically. And Vice Versa.
What are The Core Differences Between the Two?
Generally, each variant or generation of DDR RAM is faster and runs on lower voltages than the previous generation. This is also true for DDR3 and DDR4 where the latter has several advantages.
Firstly, the clock speed of DDR3 ranges from 800 MHz to 2133 MHz. On the other hand, the minimum clock speed of DDR4 is 2133 MHz and there’s no maximum clock speed for it that’s defined.
DDR3 has a maximum chip density of 8GB whereas DDR4 has no maximum capacity at the moment. You can find 32 GB sticks.
Also, DDR3 works on a 1.5V voltage which is higher than that of DDR4 (1.2V). This also means that DDR4 consumes less power even at high data rates.
A point to note is that even though DDR3 has lower latency than DDR4, the latter has a faster clock speed that results in better overall performance.
In this article we looked at the ways that answer the common query people have in their minds: how to check if RAM is DDR3 or DDR4 for both Windows and Mac computers.
We reiterate that average computer users won’t need to worry much about whether they have DDR3 or DDR4 memory modules in their computers. However, it will matter if you are running computer systems where the RAM is in heavy use like servers.
Furthermore, you should opt for the correct RAM that’s compatible with your motherboard in case of a memory upgrade.