Can I combine Old RAM with New RAM? Answered

Can I combine Old RAM with New RAM?

If you plan to purchase a new RAM kit or wish to upgrade your existing RAM, a question that might arise would be whether it is okay to mix two RAM modules.

To ensure that memory compatibility and synchronicity are not compromised upon in system up-gradation, there are a few caveats that users need to take into account. Considering these steps is a way to ensure that the operating system would continue to operate at an optimal level.

Can I combine Old RAM with New RAM?

While RAMs can be used simultaneously, the system can boot if the user is fortunate enough. Still, the risk is quite high. It is discouraged because of the same reason. The system’s motherboard is supposed to manage all the RAM with the same specs of voltage and speed. Despite RAM belonging to the same vendor, the part number is made of different manufacturing components – thus resulting in different outcomes.

Can you mix different RAM brands?

You can opt for using a mix of different brands, irrespective of the RAM’s brand, speed, and size. However, it may prove to be problematic in the long run. Contingent on the setup and the workload involved, there might also be a subtle dip in the system’s performance.

Furthermore, incompatibility issues are primarily fueled by differences in the memory type of the two RAMs. For instance, different generation RAM sticks are most likely not to work together.

Therefore, while it may work for some, mixing different brands of RAM might not always be fruitful for others. More often than not, it is a trial and error that eventually provides clarity on the outcome. Hence, it is ill-advised to use two different RAM It brands in one unit.

But why is mixing different RAM brands problematic?

The underlying reason behind this is the difference between manufacturers and their capabilities to produce RAMs differently. Different brands use different memory controllers, dies, materials, and circuits.

While, at times, these differences have proven to be benign, there are also shreds of evidence where a conflict in these customizations lead to system crashes or boot failure altogether.

It is primarily because RAM kits are tested for compatibility and performance at work and not with other RAM brands or models. Mixing different kinds of RAM kits is an issue for system up-gradation. This issue implies that multiple DIMM (Dual Inline Memory Module) slots are utilized when the RAM is replaced. Factually, it can be seen that the more slots that are occupied, the higher the chances relating to inter-brand hardware conflict.

Is it okay to mix different-sized RAMs?

It’s not advisable to use different-sized RAMs. If users opt for mixing RAM sizes, it is important to note that the new RAMs should have the same voltage to perform at optimal levels.  If this does not happen, the voltage will be set to default.

The respective controller is also supposed to be compatible and the required compatibility with the motherboard of the system. Therefore, the best course of action is to use similar sizes and brands for RAMs in different slots.

However, when RAM sizes are mixed, users should use them simultaneously. In other words, if hypothetically, one RAM stick is installed equivalent to 3 GB, and the other one is installed equivalent to 6 GB, the RAM will perform conjointly, with 3 GB each, to optimize performance.

In other words, when both slots are filled to the 3 GB level, the remaining 3 GB is likely to be used in a single-channel mode. Single-Channel mode might result in slowing to an extent (or the new 6 GB RAM not performing as expected), but it will still be faster than a singular 3 GB slot.

Is it okay to mix different speed RAMs?

RAMs with different speeds can be used together. However, users are supposed to be extra careful regarding a couple of parameters when doing so. They include timings, voltage, and CAS Latency. If these factors are ignored, the performance will be performing as per the speed of the slower RAM.

The motherboard is likely to underclock the faster one. However, this does not act as a precursor to system damage or malfunction. There is a very good chance that neither of the issues would exist. The best way around it is to ensure that it is beneficial to purchase a RAM that is compatible with the existing system when purchasing. Doing so reduces any chance of any system malfunction and further improves the system.

But what about RAMs that have already been installed in other computers?

RAMs are perfectly functional in systems that have other issues, because of which they are no longer functional. However, before reusing the RAM of a previous computer, some important points need to be kept in consideration:

  • It is important to ensure that the slots match, i.e., the RAM has the same module and size. In case the computer does not start or beep, it is an indication of the RAM not being compatible and hence, should be retracted immediately.
  • It passes the memory tests – ideally, the memory size of the RAM should be equivalent to the support offered by the system.
  • When the computer boots, there is an increase in memory reflected in the Control Panel.

Mixing two different RAMs comes with its fair share of trial and error and risks. The outcome, however, can never be formally predicted unless it occurs. Therefore, it is best to make sure that users purchase RAM sticks in an identical kit. Doing so is perhaps the best strategy to ensure optimal performance.

However, this does not make memory issues altogether invincible. Users might need to upgrade the system’s memory at some point. Hence, eventually, they will need to increase RAM’s storage size or speed. The best strategy to avoid these up-gradation issues is to plan out and purchase memory depending on the system configuration and the underlying needs of the user.

Other Factors to Consider when mixing RAMs

  • Voltage:
    Different RAMs might have different voltage demands. In the case of multiple voltage requirements in a single RAM kit, there is a probability that RAM kits with higher power requirements are given less voltage than the optimal required. The RAM module will continue to operate, but it might not do so at its peak frequency and stability.
  • Single Vs. Dual Channel Memory:
    Another factor that impacts the performance of multiple RAMs is the memory configuration. Single and Multi-channel memory platforms operate in different ways, which might impact certain types of memory systems. However, this is also highly dependent on the type of system usage and the memory requirements.
  • Storage Capacity:
    Different sized RAMs create issues relating to memory configuration. If larger RAMs (i.e., larger storage capacity) are paired with small storage units, the memory channels are configured in the ‘Flex Mode.’ Flex Mode means that memory channels are paired asynchronously.
  • Speed (Frequency and Latency):
    The biggest issue caused by mixing two different RAMs is the impact on speed. Even though mixing RAMs of varying speeds is possible, the outcome is entirely probabilistic. There is no definitive way of predicting if it will work or not.

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