The capacity of your RAM is extremely important as it determines what applications can run on your system, if you do not have enough RAM then it’s likely you will have a very laggy experience especially when gaming. The thought of mixing RAM capacities together is quite common, especially in the process of upgrading an already built, people try to do this if their current RAM modules are not in stocks.
It’s common to mix RAM speeds and RAM latencies, this is indeed possible and it can often be quite successful, so it’s natural to wonder whether you can mix different RAM capacities together. Well, in this post, we’re going to go over whether it’s possible to do so, and what are the consequences. By the end of the post, you will hopefully know what the best move is in terms of your PC.
Answer: If you have 8GB of RAM currently installed on your PC, and you want to install a 16GB stick or a 4GB stick, technically speaking it is possible. You will have to check your motherboard’s manual to see if your motherboard will accept this configuration. There is a reason why memory kits all come with the same capacity of RAM, this is to minimize the chances of system errors and glitches that come with mixing different sized memory modules.
What Happens If I Use Different Sizes Of RAM Together?
Mixing different sized memory modules is definitely possible, and it has been done, but there are consequences you will likely face. Just like mixing different RAM speeds together, you may run into errors and there are no guarantees if it works. If you manage to get it to work, then that’s great, if it works glitch-free then consider yourself lucky. The only way to find out is to try, but ensure your motherboard allows for it.
Generally, it is best practice to use identical RAM modules together, this is to prevent system anomalies from occurring. To increase your chances of mixing two different-sized RAM modules together, it is best to ensure that their timings and speeds are identical. If not, then you may be able to manually set it in the BIOS. If you cannot set the speeds and timings to be the same, then the system will try to find an equilibrium to get them working together.
When attempting this configuration, to increase the chances of mismatched RAM capacities working together, you will need to ensure they’re of the same generation being DDR4 with DDR4. If you currently have DDR4 RAM installed in your computer, do not waste your time purchasing or attempting to use any other generation because it will be physically incompatible. Also, find out the total capacity of RAM you’re trying to achieve, and check if your motherboard supports this number, if you’re going for 12GB of total RAM, ensure your motherboard can support that.
Can I Use Different Brands Of RAM Together?
Mixing different brands of RAM together is possible, but again it isn’t recommended and it’s generally best practice to use identical RAM modules together. For example, if you try to mix different brands of RAM together, there are many variables you will need to consider such as the size of the RAM, the Clock speeds of the RAM, and the timing. If all these variables are the same, then you should have no problem mixing two different brands of RAM together.
Like always, mixing RAM with different variables together can work, but it won’t always work perfectly. Sometimes your system may not even boot, or you will run into random crashes such as BSODS and freezes. Before attempting to mix different brands of RAM together, it’s worth checking if other people have a similar configuration to the one you’re trying to achieve to ensure that you do not run into any issues.
But, if you’re going to mix different brands of RAM together, ensure the speeds, capacity, and timings are the same. For example, mixing 1x8GB crucial with 1x8GB ballistic, also ensure that the clock speeds are the same for example 3200MHz with 3200MHz. finally, ensure that the CAS latencies are the same, once you’ve achieved all this, then the chances of you running into system glitches are low.
Can You Use 3 Sticks Of RAM?
It is possible to mix 3 sticks of RAM together but ensure that your motherboard will be able to support the capacity you’re trying to achieve. However, it won’t run particularly fast as memory works best in dual-channel, and the third module will not be part of the dual-channel configuration. For example, 3x4GB(12GB) will lose to 2x6GB(12GB) due to the memory working in the dual-channel config.
Always aim for a dual-channel configuration as it’s the best setup for performance. Dual-channel memory means each RAM stick will work independently from each other essentially doubling the transfer speed, this is due to there being two separate RAM controllers. Due to this double throughput, the performance in games and other applications will be drastically improved compared to a non-dual-channel config.
However, 3x4GB(12GB) is still better than 2×4(8GB) due to the extra RAM capacity. Having more RAM is generally better than having faster RAM, this is because the capacity of RAM has the CPU relying on it. When you do not have enough RAM, it’ll force the CPU to retrieve instructions from the permanent storage. So, even though the 2x4GB configuration is working in dual-channel, the 3x4GB config will be superior due to the extra capacity.
Can You Mix RAM Speeds?
Just like mixing different capacity RAM, mixing RAM speeds is possible, and the system will often try to find a balance so these modules can work together. For example, mixing DDR4 2400MHz, and DDR4 3200MHz will cause the faster RAM stick to clock down to match the speed of the slower RAM module. If you can manually overclock the slower RAM module to minimize this effect, that would be a great idea. Just ensure both sticks are of the same generation before buying.
Just like mixing RAM clock speeds together, it is possible to mix RAM of different voltages, this will cause the RAM with the higher voltage to clock down, which will have a knock-on effect of increasing the undervolted RAM sticks lifespan. The undervolted RAM module will have to be underclocked too to maintain system stability. Motherboards are becoming smarter and better as with RAM with their newer generations, so mixing RAM sticks are more common than before.
When talking about RAM speed, we cannot forget the RAMs CAS latency, when mixing RAM you will often mix RAM of different CAS latencies. This usually isn’t a problem if the motherboard can handle it, the motherboard will increase the CAS latency of the fastest module so it meets the specifications of the slower ones. This isn’t ideal as slower RAM can potentially bottleneck the CPU.
The final word is that RAM is willing to work with unidentical RAM modules if the motherboard allows for it, but this does not mean you won’t run into issues. Mixing RAM can cause many issues such as frequent system crashes, overall instability, and failure to boot. If you happen to have a glitch-free experience then you’re pretty lucky.
As well as mixing RAM capacities, you can mix RAM speeds, RAM voltages, RAM Brands, RAM CAS latencies, it’s all about your system’s capability of finding a balance between these modules so your system is able to work. You are also able to use 3 RAM sticks at the same time but they won’t work in dual-channel which isn’t ideal.