RAM is crucial in any computer build as it stores information in short-term memory and helps your computer process tasks.
There are a few different types of RAM that are only compatible with certain motherboards, so we will show you how to check if your motherboard is compatible with your RAM.
Your motherboard most likely supports DDR4 RAM, but if you want to make sure you can check the motherboard manual to see the specifications or you can run a tool on your PC to determine if your RAM is compatible with your motherboard.
There are 5 main types of RAM that are all compatible with different motherboards these are DDR1, DDR2, DDR3, DDR4, and the most recent DDR5 RAM.
It is most likely that your motherboard supports DDR4 RAM as everything before it is out of date and the newer DDR5 RAM still hasn’t been fully released yet. However, there are a few more things to keep in mind when checking motherboard to RAM compatibility.
The Amount of Total RAM Storage Supported By Your Motherboard
To many people who are new and old at computer building, it is very common to believe that your motherboard can support an infinite number of RAM. However, after doing some extensive research I have found that that is not true.
Although most people won’t have a problem installing as much RAM as they want as most motherboards support more than enough RAM for daily use and gaming, every motherboard has its limits to the amount of RAM it can store.
To figure out the max amount of RAM memory your motherboard can store you have to find your motherboard’s spec sheet.
Once found, usually, on the top of the spec sheet, you can see how much RAM storage your motherboard supports. This number is usually in the hundreds or higher.
The reason why you don’t have to worry about this that much is that you only really need around 12GB of RAM storage and if you have more than that then it is considered to be a lot of storage and in some cases overkill.
The reality is you will most likely never reach the limit of the supported RAM storage of your motherboard.
Another thing to keep in mind is to physically look at your motherboard dim slots.
Some motherboards can support 2 RAM slots while others support 4 RAM slots.
If you want to have 16GB worth of RAM you are most likely going to want to have 8GB of RAM as this activates dual channel mode. More on that here.
If you want to upgrade to let’s say 32GB of RAM and your motherboard has 4 RAM slots then you can simply buy another 2 sticks of RAM and plug them into the extra slots.
However, if your motherboard only supports 2 slots, then you would need to buy and replace 2 new sticks of RAM which can be expensive.
The Reason Why DDR2, DDR3, and DDR4 Are Not Compatible
It might seem a bit ridiculous that the different generations of RAM are not compatible with each other.
There is actually a reason for this.
first thing is that every generation of RAM has a different pin count
DDR3 has 240 pins, while DDR4 has 288. Due to technological advances, DDR4 memory needs more pins in order to make it faster and store more information.
This makes these incompatible already.
Furthermore, if you look at your RAM sticks closely you can see that the sticks have a little notch on them.
This can help you determine whether it is DDR, DDR2, DDR3, or DDR4 memory as each notch for each generation of RAM is located in a different spot.
DDR, DDR2, and DDR4 all have a notch that is slightly off-center. These notches are also slightly off from each other so that if you try to plug them into a non-compatible motherboard it won’t even go in. This is used to prevent damaging the motherboard from using faulty hardware.
Then you have DDR3 where the notch is slightly over to the left. This type of RAM is very distinguishable from the others and easy to spot.
Does RAM Frequency Matter For Compatibility?
Motherboards can only support up to a certain max RAM frequency. If you have RAM that is lower than the max frequency a motherboard supports then your computer will run at the lower frequency of the two.
However, if your RAM has a higher frequency than your motherboard supports.
The motherboard will still support that RAM and be able to run programs even though the frequency is higher than its supported max. The programs will just run at the max frequency that the motherboard supports.
Therefore, the motherboard is backward compatible with the RAM frequency. Although if you already know that your motherboard doesn’t support a certain RAM frequency there is no point in buying a faster stick of RAM that your motherboard doesn’t support this will only be a waste of money.