Expanding PC memory, is it as easy as buying more RAM?
There is a popular belief that if you want to expand the memory of your PC, you must buy the same brand and model of RAM that you already have installed. Actually, if you buy exactly the same brand and model, you can be sure that you won’t have any compatibility or configuration problems, although the easiest thing to do is remove the RAM you have installed and assemble a completely new kit, instead of adding the new one that you have installed. buy what you already have.
However, not everyone has the opportunity to buy the exact same make and model of memory that they already have installed, and not everyone wants or can buy a new high-capacity kit to replace the RAM they already have in the pc. The easiest and cheapest for most is to buy a memory kit to add to what you already have and thus expand the memory of the PC, but if you intend to do this there are some considerations that you should take into account before:
- Same make and model: although it is the ideal and most recommended to avoid problems, it is not really mandatory. Normally, you can mix different brands and models of RAM without too many problems, as long as they are compatible with your motherboard. For example, don’t jump into buying DDR5 memory if your current memory is DDR4, you won’t be able to do that (plus you won’t be able to physically mount the new memory modules anyway). The RAM must be of the same type.
- Same speed and latencies: Likewise, the ideal is that the new RAM memory that you buy to expand the PC is of the same speed as the one you currently have, as long as what you are doing is adding more modules to the ones you already have, of course. This will prevent compatibility issues, but if it doesn’t, you don’t have to worry either: the system will run at the speed of the slowest RAM. For example, suppose you currently have 8 GB of 3200 MHz DDR4 RAM and you buy another 8 GB at 3600 MHz: if you do, all four modules will run at 3200 MHz (although you could manually set 3600 MHz in the BIOS, but you’ll be doing it). overclock to 3,200 MHz). The exact same thing happens with latencies.
- Do they have to be of the same capacity?: This question is the easiest to answer: definitely not. You can have 2×4 GB installed in your system and install 2×8 GB, totaling 24 GB of RAM, without any problem (as long as your motherboard supports 8 GB modules, of course).
- Don’t use odd modules: This is really important. If your PC has a dual-channel memory architecture (which is most common in desktop PCs), the modules should be paired for best performance. In other words, if you had 2 modules of 4 GB each, do not install a single additional module to expand the memory but two, so that there are four in total. If not, you will have two modules working in dual-channel and one in single-channel, hindering the performance of the system. It will work without a problem, but it is not recommended for this reason.
Add RAM or replace with a new one, which is better?
Everything that we have explained to you in the previous section is pure theory, because in practice you can come across a very different situation. As you know, we have tested and analyzed dozens of RAM memory kits and we can speak to you based on that experience: the reality is that everything depends on the motherboard and its compatibility, there have been times when we have mixed kits of the same capacity and speed but with different latencies and there has been no way for the PC to boot, because the motherboard was not able to match the latencies of the installed memories.
In the past, many people chose to buy more RAM to expand the overall capacity of the PC and have had no problems, but as memory technology has evolved and faster and faster kits have emerged, compatibility issues have become more common. been increasing, which means that all the premises that we have explained to you before, are not always fulfilled for this very reason.
In short, and answering the question in this section, today and especially with the new DDR5 generation, it is best to completely change the memory for a new one and discard the old one, since adding modules of different speeds and, above all, , latencies, often give problems. This, again, we will tell you based on our own experience, because it will always depend on each individual case since not all memories or motherboards are the same, and they do not work the same with one processor as with another. As always, it all depends.