Can You Mix RAM Brands, Speeds, and Sizes?
Ideally, when building a new computer or perhaps upgrading your old one you are using a RAM kit that has identical capacities and speed. What happens though if this is not an option for you? Can you mix RAM and still run fine?
The quick and short answer to this simple question is YES, but there are a lot of variables that need to be taken into account so you fully understand that the fact that you can mix RAM speeds does not mean this is an ideal situation that you should be aiming for.
Follow along and you will find out why!
Can You Mix RAM?
As we mentioned before, the short answer to this question is yes, but it is not ideal and should not be the situation you are aiming for.
The main thing to take into account is the fact that there are many types of RAM out in the wild. The main thing you need to look out for is that your RAM sticks are of the same generation.
For example, you cannot run DDR3 RAM and DDR4 RAM in your PC – they are not compatible.
Can you mix RAM brands then? Of course, as long as the sticks are from the same generation as we mentioned before.
Can you then mix RAM speeds? Yes, you can use RAM sticks with different speeds and timings but you need to understand that you will be sacrificing the performance of the better RAM stick.
This is due to the fact that the RAM will operate according to the lowest denominator, so your RAM sticks will operate according to the slowest stick in your build. This means that if you mix some gaming RAM that runs at high speeds and tight timings with some RAM that runs at slow speeds and loose timings, the faster better RAM will operate like its slower counterpart.
You can also mix RAM sizes without much trouble since the entire capacity will be read by your Windows. So yes, you can use a 16 GB RAM kit with an extra stick of 4 GB RAM to achieve 20 GB of total RAM BUT remember – all of the RAM you installed will run based on your lowest denominator!
With this in mind if the last stick of RAM you want to add is slower and old, maybe leaving it out will result in overall better performance.
In most cases, if you are willing to compromise according to your lowest denominator you will have no issues running mixed RAM. Occasionally people do report BSODs, but after a restart, and some RAM testing everything seems to be working fine.
So overall YES you can mix RAM speeds, sizes, brands (chips manufactured by different companies) without any issues as long as you understand the downsides of doing so. Should you be doing this if you are a regular user that games and usually does not need big RAM capacity? NO!
This situation only makes sense if you do a lot of video editing or other tasks that benefit more from the amount of RAM instead of its speed and timings, therefore the average user should just buy a RAM kit and use it as intended.
That is all! Peace!
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