RAM Upgrade Guide – 4 Tips You Need to Know

9 out of 10 people do not know this trick. I’m going to show you the one thing that electronics stores would hate for you know. You won’t believe how quickly you can double your RAM (computer’s memory capacity). Below are 4 tips for upgrading your computer memory. Let’s answer all of them today! We’ll be focusing on desktop computers and the principles are basically the same for notebooks with main difference being that instead a full-sized DIMM (133mm), it will be a SODIMM (67mm).

Common questions when it comes to upgrading RAM

1. What kind do I need? (DDR1 / DDR2 / DDR3 / DDR4)
2. Can I mix brand? (Corsair / G.Skill / HyperX / Kingston)
3. What about different speeds? (1333MHz / 1600 MHz / 2133 MHz)
4. Should I get two smaller sticks or one larger stick? (2x4GB / 1x8GB)

RAM Questions and Answers

1. What kind do I need?

There are two ways to figure this out easily.

  1. You can download a diagnostic tool like CPU-Z which can help you identify your exact motherboard model where you can look up a memory that is compatible with.
  2. If you prefer you can just open up the side panel and take a look at what’s in there. On the side your memory, you will usually find a little sticker that says model number part number and specs.
  3. If you have a computer from 2007 onward, odds are you’ll need DDR3 memory. Anything before that probably DDR2. If you look up the model number you’ll be okay.
  4. Now about very new system with an X99 motherboard or anything after early 2015 that supports DDR4 RAM, then you will need to get DDR4 Memory Sticks. DDR4 for most folks out there with a reasonably modern system but not like super hyper bleeding-edge, DDR3 and you’re good to go.

2. What about memory brands?

So what about brands? If you have two RAM with the same specifications from two different manufactures, then their performance will be pretty well the same. So pick a brand based on warranty, design, reliability or based on your experiences in the past and prices of course. You can’t really go wrong with big names like Corsair, G.SKILL or HyperX. Let us know in the comments below which brand is your favorite. One thing to watch out for though, is that sometimes aside from the primary timings is the sub timings. When set automatically, it can be handled differently from one brand or another brand, one stick to another stick. For the best possible experience, it’s recommended to get the same brand with the same model and even bought at the same time for perfection.

3. Can I mix and match memory sticks that has different speeds?

It’s a yes and no. It will technically work but you can run into compatibility issues and crashes. We recommend you stick with the same model memory whenever possible. As you get into a larger capacities like even up to 8GB or 16GB RAM sticks, the problems get worse and the worst with mismatched memories because being on the bleeding edge mean sometimes compatibility takes a little bit up a nosedive. Ideally, you would like to get all your memory at the same speed grade as well. I mean it doesn’t make a huge difference in terms of performance what speed you run your memory at. However, if you use multiple memory sticks with different memory speeds, then your motherboard will automatically run at the lowest commons speed available. For instance, we install DDR3 1600MHz memory and a DDR3 1333Mhz memory. So even though there is a 1600Mhz memory in there, it will perform at the speed capped at 1333MHz.

4. Should I get 1 large stick or 2 smaller sticks?

If you want 8GB RAM, traditionally people recommend 2 sticks of 4GB RAM instead of 1 stick of 8GB RAM to take advantage of dual-channel speeds which is an effective doubling of bandwidth.

  1. If you’re using it an integrated graphics solution like an AMD APU system, then yes a dual channel kit will dramatically improve your gaming performance.
  2. For others with dedicated graphics cards, the real-life benefits dual-channel is not that noticeable.
  3. If you’re already buying high-capacity sticks, then get 2 of them in order to get the right amount of memory for your system.
  4. If you’re just buying one stick with the intention of upgrading it later, just buy one high-capacity stick instead of 2 lower capacity ones. This will provide you with more room to expand in the future as you discover yourself needing 16GB or even 32GB of memory.

Other Questions

Question: My friend just upgraded his system and has an extra stick of memory for me to use. Can I add that into my PC? Answer: Well, if you’re using an AMD system on-board graphics, the answer is yes the performance gain from the additional RAM can often outweigh the negatives of running in single-channel mode. A good way to know whether it will, check out your task manager. Find out if your actually running out of RAM or not. Memory will not affect the performance of your system unless you have a need for the additional capacity.

I hope that covers all the questions you have about upgrading the RAM. If you have any more questions, leave a comment below!

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