You can mix & match, as long as the RAMs are of the same generation. But it will cost you your optimal performance, as the RAMs will work according to the lowest performance.
How Can I Mix and Match RAM | 5 Different Ways
There’s a ton of misconception surrounding mix & match RAM sticks for your system. While it might not be the best for your system, let’s take a deeper look at what’s okay & what’s not about these myths.
1. Different Generations
Even if you are not a computer nerd, you have seen how RAMs are classified. As DDR3 or DDR4 or DDR5. These are different generations of RAM that surpass their predecessor in terms of processing, memory capacity, lower power consumption & speed.
Let’s say that you have two RAMs now with one being DDR3 & the other being DDR4. Now you are thinking about whether they would work. The shortest is “Nooo”. You can not mix different generations of RAM & expect them to work.
Motherboards manufactured these days are built to process only a single generation of memory. Each pin of the RAM has different placements of pins. So you need to have a matching generation for your RAMs for them to work together. This is a must.
2. Different Voltages
Voltage refers to the power consumed by a module. Let’s clear one thing, having a lower voltage means the RAM is better. That’s why you would see the default voltage for DDR3 is 1.5V & DDR4 is 1.2V.
Now there are two generations of DDR3. One is DDR3 & the other is DDR3L. DDR3 uses a default voltage of 1.5V but the DDR3L uses a default voltage of 1.35V. Now you already know you can’t use different generations of RAM, but what if you use both DDR3 & DDR3L with different voltages.
You can use low voltage & high voltage RAM, but for both modules, the system would run at a higher voltage. That means for DDR3 & DDR4, the modules would run at 1.5V. If you want them to run at 1.35V then you would need both RAMs to be DDR3L.
This is the only case you can use a DDR3L on a DDR3 mainboard. All other generations have different voltage levels that they operate at & they don’t have a low voltage type like DDR3L. The L represents lower voltage operation.
3. Different Speed & Latency
Now let’s discuss what would happen if you mix different speeds. Any computer store you go to, you have heard that you need matching speeds for your RAM sticks. How true is that?
Well, you can run RAMs with mixed speeds. But the downside is that the system module will be running at the lowest speed. Suppose you have DDR4 RAM with 2400MHz speed & you install another RAM at 2600 MHz. Both the modules would run at 2400Mhz Speed.
That’s why most people suggest using the same speed or frequency RAM as you will not be getting the most out of your RAM. Another thing to note is that your motherboard has a specific limit of speed that it can handle. If your motherboard can handle 2400Mhz, then would limit your 2600MHz RAM to run at 2400MHz.
4. Different RAM Sizes
Suppose you have 4GB RAM & 8GB RAM, now you want to use them together in the system. Is it possible? Yes, it is possible. But the odd size RAM is the system would operate at single-channel mode.
This can slow down your whole system. If you had identical RAMs for your system then the whole system would run at dusk channel mode. This doubles your memory bandwidth. There is also the question of RAM timings.
There is a variation in how the timings work with different brands & different sizes. If you have matched timings then it would optimize your system. But different sized RAMs usually have different timings, so it is not optimal for your system to do so.
5. RAM for Best Performance
To put it straight, when matching capabilities of RAM is put together, it works the best. There are many other factors that manufacturers put into consideration when making RAM. So having the two identical RAMs of the same brand is the best way to go.
What if I mix RAM with different brands but the same specs?
Yes, you can do so, but there might still be some performance issues. There are a lot of inside factors like primary timing & auxiliary timing for this issue. Even motherboard manufacturers suggest you use the same identical brand.
There are a lot of options for you & the system will work except for different generations. But for the most part, it will cost you your optimal performance. It’s best to match your RAM sticks to receive the best performance you can get out of your system & components.