Your RAM is an integral part of your entire system. Responsible for acting as a buffer between your processor’s extremely fast cache and the relatively slower SSD, having good RAM on your system can severely impact your system’s performance.
Since the component is plugged directly into your motherboard, just like other pivotal components, does having faulty or bad RAM lead to your motherboard being damaged too?
Can A Bad RAM Damage Motherboard?
No, all voltage given to the RAM is produced by a converter present inside the motherboard with the help of your PSU. Therefore, when your system detects faulty RAM, all voltage given to the RAM will immediately be stopped, which will stop any harm from coming to your motherboard.
In essence, your motherboard has safeguards built to ensure there isn’t a chance of short circuits popping along anytime soon. With that said, though, external causes that originate from plugging in broken RAM may indeed lead to you damaging your motherboard. However, they aren’t your RAM’s fault per se.
Here are a few examples:
- Bending Pins:
Placing RAM into your motherboard can be extremely tedious, especially if you aren’t used to it. Sometimes, newcomers apply excessive force at the wrong spot and end up bending the pins of their motherboard in the process.
- Static Electricity;
Usually, broken RAM modules, especially ones that have gone through burn damage, are not in the best shape. So, you might end up inadvertently discharging an electrostatic force by plugging your module in.
- Wrong Insertion:
If you have a DDR4 memory kit and insert it into a DDR3 module, the pins simply won’t align, and you’ll end up damaging both your RAM and motherboard in the process.
All these examples expand on the fact that your faulty RAM in itself cannot harm your motherboard /system whatsoever. However, your application process (which can also be applied to a working memory kit) can harm your motherboard.
So, if you wanted to do a quick preliminary check on whether your burnt RAM is operating after an extreme overclocking session, plopping it back on your motherboard won’t lead to any harm.
How To Check If My RAM Is Bad?
You can plug your RAM into your motherboard and see if it boots up as a preliminary check. After that, running Window’s memtest or PassMark will help give you an accurate idea of whether your RAM is working at full capacity or if there are any issues.
Unlike a bad CPU, faulty RAM can still boot your PC up. However, you’ll experience tons of issues along the way, which are prime indicators of your RAM not working optimally. If you experience any of the following, there’s a chance that your RAM is to blame:
If when you play a game, you experience random crashes / stuttering where your computer simply freezes, the chances are that a bad memory module is at play.
- Bad Performance:
Another prime indicator is not handling more than 4 Chrome tabs or just plain not being able to cache programs that should cache.
Yes, factory overclocks are safe. However, increasing your module’s temperature to an extreme limit without being cautious can also be a major reason your RAM goes bad.
As of yet, Memtest remains the easiest way for you to check whether your RAM is in optimal condition or not. Here’s how you can use it:
- Open up Windows Memory Diagnostic on your Start Menu
- Click on Restart now and check for problems
- After doing so, your memory will be tested automatically by the system
- Once done, you will be redirected back to Windows, and a notification will display whether there was an issue with your system or not.
If you do find out a problem, your RAM is not completely bad right now (as your system is still able to boot up). However, you will not be able to have your system function at peak performance.
PassMark is used to check your memory if your PC cannot boot into Windows or if you have a Linux-based machine. Here’s how you can get it up and running:
- Download Passmark Memtest86
- Now, move the entire contents of the folder and run the executable
- Plug a USB stick or any compatible boot medium into your PC
- Now, boot PassMark from your BIOS’s boot order and run the software.
- If there are any errors, PassMark will stop, and you will find red error codes flashing on the progress bar.
Depending on your use case, you may be able to live with faulty RAM for a couple of weeks until it goes out completely. But, for most individuals – we recommend immediately changing your RAM. This is not because it will end up damaging other components. Rather, so you always get the best performance out of your system.
Can Using Extremely Fast RAM Damage My Motherboard?
Your CPU automatically clocks your RAM to the fastest speed it can handle. Any speed higher will be discarded. So your motherboard will simply not boot up until you lower the RAM’s speed to an amount your CPU can handle. The same logic applies to other features as well.
So, for example, if you plug in a module that uses buffer technology or ECC memory that your CPU / motherboard does not support – your PC will simply refuse to boot. So no harm will be caused to it in any case.
When it comes to performance, though – you will see a significant decrease when you use RAM that is slower or faster than your PC, as, for an optimal system, all components must remain synchronized. Therefore, having an extremely fast or slow module can intrinsically harm your system’s performance.
If you were worried about overall system damage, that isn’t a cause for concern. So, we always recommend purchasing memory modules compatible with your motherboard or vice versa.
Bad RAM is an extremely common occurrence, especially if you are into overclocking. However, if you were worried about damaging your system, that won’t happen due to internal safety methods used by both motherboard manufacturers and the module itself.
In terms of performance, even a relatively faulty memory module can have drastic implications on your overall performance. Therefore, running programs like Memtest whenever you notice the slightest hiccup is quite a safe practice.