GuidesWikiCan You Mix RAM Brands, Sticks, & Types?

Can You Mix RAM Brands, Sticks, & Types?

You can mix RAM brands, even if they differ in speed, size, or brand, but this may result in a performance loss, which may be minor or major.

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If you’re building a new PC or upgrading from your old one, a question may arise concerning the system’s memory: Can you mix RAM brands? This is a common question many people ask when building PCs for the first time or upgrading from an existing one, as it’s crucial to know whether you need to buy new RAM or use your current RAM sticks in combination with others.

Memory Configuration
Memory Configuration – Image Credit (ASUS ROG Forum)
Key Takeaways
  • You can mix RAM brands, whether they differ by speed, size, or brand.
  • Mixing RAM brands will not harm the component but lead to performance loss, which may be minor or major.
  • To prevent stability issues, you must check the storage capacity, voltage, timings, latency, and speed of the RAMs before mixing them.

Is It Possible To Mix RAM Sticks?

Yes, you can use RAM modules with different brand names in conjunction with other modules of the same type.[1] Contrary to popular opinion, mixing up two memory modules is fine for various brands and labels. You can’t get a DDR4 RAM stick to work with a DDR3 or DDR2 module, but running it with the same DDR4 RAM under a different label will give some interesting results.

The newer DDR4 and DDR5 RAM modules, which are faster and more compatible with other titles, will work with excellent synchronization even when mixing brands.

Two XPG Lancer RAM Sticks Being Showcased
Two XPG Lancer RAM Sticks Of Similar Size (Image By Tech4Gamers)

These RAM modules under four gigs are highly compatible with most motherboards, offering excellent performance. Differences in performance are negligible for smaller sizes but become more noticeable with larger modules. DDR3 RAM may pose compatibility and performance issues, DDR1 and DDR2 might encounter similar problems.

WARNING: If a RAM stick doesn’t fit in the slot, don’t apply force as it can damage it. Instead, check if the RAM can physically fit in the slot.

What Happens When You Mix And Match RAM Brands?

If you want to run two different types of RAM together, you must know that you’ll be compromising the speed of the better DDR4 module by pairing it up with the slower ones. This means that the memory of the smaller DDR4 RAM has a higher priority and will dictate your PC’s overall memory speed.[2]

Different RAM Sticks Sharing A Single Motherboard
Two Different RAM Sticks Installed On The Same Motherboard (Image By Technewstoday)

Mixing RAM sticks of different frequencies and latencies causes compatibility issues.[3] The dual-channel mode can be used with both memories, but the faster one will operate at the speed of the slower stick.[2] Ensure matched RAM modules have identical voltage, frequencies, and latency for compatibility.

Things To Consider When Mixing RAM Brands

Kingston Fury RAM On A Black Motherboard
Kingston Fury RAM Installed On A Motherboard (Image By Tech4Gamers)

Now that you have learned if you can mix RAM brands let’s discuss the criteria. When mixing and matching different RAM brands, you should ensure that the factors listed here are as close as possible between your existing RAM and the new RAM you want to buy. Doing so will help minimize performance loss and BIOS errors that might hinder your system’s performance. Here are those factors:

  1. Generation: Never buy different generations of RAM for the same system, as motherboards can only support a single generation of RAM (the generation they are designed for).[4] For example, if your PC uses DDR2 memory, you can’t run a DDR3 module on one of its free slots.
  2. Size: Mixing RAM of different sizes can work, but we would not recommend it, as doing so can sometimes cause BIOS issues. Furthermore, the performance may also decrease compared to using two similar-sized RAM sticks as the system will not be able to use dual-channel mode because this mode is exclusive to same-sized RAMs.
  3. Voltage: The voltage requirements for different brands’ RAM sticks may differ. If such RAM sticks are installed on the same motherboard, the performance of the RAM stick that requires more volts can be affected. The motherboard automatically assigns a lower voltage to match its processing speed with less power-hungry RAM.[5]
  4. Frequency: As you combine RAM modules of two different frequencies, the motherboard will automatically underclock the faster RAM to accommodate the slower RAM and keep it running in dual-channel mode. This will limit your system’s performance and won’t allow your higher-performance memory to function to its maximum ability.
  5. CAS Latency: When two RAM sticks of different CAS latency are installed on the same motherboard, the slower module will be favored more, slowing down the performance of the better module.[4]

Gaming Benchmarks

We tested a pair of similar-sized RAMs clocked at the same speed and a pair of differently-sized RAMs clocked at dissimilar speeds. The graphs for both benchmarks have also been attached.

Gaming Rig

Before moving on to the benchmarks, let’s take a look at our gaming rig for this test:

We first took two 8 GB sticks clocked at 3200 MT/s for the benchmarks. This resulted in the following results in frame rates:

Average FPS Across 3 Gamses
Average FPS On Two 8 GB 3200 MT/s RAM Sticks (Image By Tech4Gamers)

After swapping out one of these sticks with an 8 GB 4000 MT/s stick, we got these results:

Average FPS Across 3 Games
Average FPS On Two 8 GB RAM Sticks With Different Clock Speeds (Image By Tech4Gamers)

These results are very similar to our baseline tests because DDR4 memory has no problem clocking itself slightly lower to match the speed of the sticks. In this instance, our reference kit runs at the same speed, whereas the new module introduced runs at the same speed as our reference kit, i.e., about 800 MHz slower.

Should You Mix And Match RAM Brands?

While you could mix and match RAM modules of different brands, it’s not recommended because it may cause unforeseen problems and slow performance. While the newer DDR4 and DDR5 RAM modules are much more compatible with different brands, they’re still much behind RAM modules of the same brand.

G Skill RipJaws RAM Installed On A Motherboard
Two G Skill RipJaws RAM Sticks (Image By Tech4Gamers)

We will always recommend buying RAM kits and RAM modules of the same brand to get maximum performance and compatibility. It will make your life much easier as you won’t waste time comparing specs and other stuff only to get mediocre performance.

Tip: However, if you still have to mix RAM brands, try to get the specifications as close as possible. With CAS latency, speed, and timing are the most important factors for mixing memory. 

Final Words

Mixing RAM brands, speeds, or sizes can lead to performance loss and potential compatibility issues. Pairing faster RAM with slower modules limits their performance. While mixing is possible, it’s best to match factors like capacity, voltage, timings, latency, and speed for fewer problems. Purchasing a single RAM kit or identical modules maximizes system performance and stability. Avoid mixing different RAM kits to optimize your system’s RAM utilization.

More Helpful Articles By Tech4Gamers:

References:

  1. TrueNAS Community. Different-sized RAM. Retrieved from https://www.truenas.com/community/threads/different-sized-ram.57059/

  2. Thinkpads.com Support Community. Does Slower RAM Stick Slow Down Faster One? Retrieved from https://forum.thinkpads.com/viewtopic.php?t=121924

  3. Linux.org. Some memory RAM compatibility issues. Is this bad? Retrieved from https://www.linux.org/threads/some-memory-ram-compatibility-issue-is-this-bad.47970/

  4. Crucial By Micron. What happens when you mix and match DRAM? Retrieved from https://www.crucial.com/blog/memory/mix-and-match-dram

  5. Super User. Using RAM stick with different voltage? Retrieved from https://superuser.com/questions/1032150/using-ram-stick-with-different-voltage

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I mix different RAM brands?

You can mix different RAM brands, which may cause performance issues.

Can I damage my RAM by mixing it with other brands?

While the component is not damaged, you will face stability issues.

Can my motherboard support different RAM generations?

No, your motherboard will only run that generation of RAM for which it is designed.

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