Mixing RAM brands and XP's RAM usage Questions

By Will_m ยท 26 replies
Mar 1, 2008
  1. Hi there people, I'm looking to upgrade my RAM to something a bit more hard hitting. I currently have 1GB (2x512) of Elixir and I'm using XP. I was considering an upgrade to either Crucial, Kingston or Corsair. My first question would be which of these brands is considered the best? I work with a lot of multimedia, audio and video apps and such, no gaming at all. My second question is how reliable is mixing ram brands? I shall be buying the same speed but the make will be different, will this cause instability?

    I am considering getting the Corsair XMS DDR2 4GB kit as this seems to be good value, my only concern is a friend told me XP can only make use of 3GB max, is this true? If so that's a shame as 4GB represents better value for money for me, although if mixing brands is ok then I shall just get another 2GB to accompany the 1GB already in there. If anyone has any suggests I would be most grateful!


  2. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,333   +101

    Some people will claim that mixing RAM brands will cause havoc, this may be true, however, I've never really had a seriously negative experience in doing so. The best I can say is go for it, and if it doesn't work, return the RAM.

    It's too hard to say what company is the "best" per-say. Overall, there are companies that have a general history/reputation of producing higher quality RAM. These are usually companies which would be considered "first party".

    First party companies are those which manufacture both the memory chip and module, as well as sell the finished product. Second party companies will generally manufacture the RAM module and buy the chips in bulk through another source, put them together and market the finished product. Third party companies purchase both the modules and chips.

    Obviously the overall consensus would be that First>Second>Third but I'd say it's safe to assume there are acceptions as with anything else.

    Windows XP 32bit will indeed only recognize around 3GB of RAM. It will not detect the full 4GB. Do not waste your money.

    Be aware that if you mix RAM modules with multiple clock frequencies, your motherboard will force them all to run at the lowest of the bunch.
  3. Will_m

    Will_m TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 77

    Thanks! Very useful info, do you happen to know if any of the manufactures I mentioned are first party? Also I was considering upgrading to XP-64 or possibly Vista although it seems to have limit support for some of my audio hardware, would these make use of 4GB of RAM? Also does anyone know of any U.K companies that would allow me to return the RAM if it didn't work?


  4. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,002   +15

  5. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,333   +101

    I believe Micron (Crucial), Infineon, Samsung, Mitsubishi, Toshiba, and NEC are first party but I don't know if any of them apart from Crucial sell the desktop RAM you are looking for. I am sure there are others, those are just a few I know off of the top of my head.

    Some second party companies are Kingston, Viking, PNY, Simple Tech, Smart, Mushkin, and OCZ Technologies. Most of these do, however, sell the desktop RAM you are looking for :).
  6. Will_m

    Will_m TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 77

    Thanks, I've had a read but can't see much concerning my issue of brand mixing other than it saying don't. I know it's not advisable but I've heard of many people doing it with success and if I could it would save me some cash.

    Thanks again,

  7. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,002   +15

    While it may work, it is never recommended. Remember the old maxim: "You get what you pay for." or "Penny wise, pound foolish."
  8. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,333   +101

    It really comes down to your specific hardware. I am sure some motherboards are finicky with mixing RAM brands, I guess I'm just lucky enough not to of experienced it yet. Worth trying though if it will save you some cash.

    No problem and good luck with everything, I hope it turns out well :).
  9. Will_m

    Will_m TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 77

    Thanks, very true and I shall bear it in mind! I also found this regarding XP's usage of RAM which seems to go against what has been said here before although I don't fully understand it all....

  10. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,333   +101

    :) Well, follow that page then if you care to. I will read it in a little while, I'm not sitting in front of the PC for long enough intervals to read it as I am at work.
  11. Will_m

    Will_m TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 77

    I'm not saying I trust it or anything but just thought you guys would find it interesting and if anyone understands more than I do please let me know.


  12. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,002   +15

    As my guide clearly states, some motherboards are very finicky. ASUS and DELL are notorious for this. Others are more flexible.
  13. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,333   +101

    I read your guide Tedster, but I failed to see the legitimacy because I've primarily used Asus boards in my own systems for years and I've never had a problem mixing RAM brands.

    This is nothing more than my own experience with Asus boards of course, but my history with Asus boards contradicts your own, thus I didn't support your guide.

    So, clearly stated or not, I disagree.
  14. Will_m

    Will_m TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 77

    Hey guys I'm thinking of going for this Corsair RAM but it says the speed is 675 MHz and not the 677 MHz that my Mobo apparently needs, will this matter and is there any difference? Also it's listed as PC5400 not PC5300 will this matter?



  15. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,443   +38

    That is an excellent choice and highly recommended. Don't worry about the speed, your motherboard will automatically downclock the RAM if it's of a frequency higher than the maximum frequency RAM that's supported.
  16. Will_m

    Will_m TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 77

    Thanks that's great will it matter that my current RAM is 667MHz though? I am hoping to use both this new 2GB and my old 1GB of Elixir.


  17. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,333   +101

    It will force them all to run at the speed of the module with the lowest frequency.
  18. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,002   +15

    I am glad for you, but this is a common problem and widely reported. ASUS has been well known to be finicky with RAM, particularly in the past. Even it's own tech spot clearly specifies brands.... perhaps recently this has changed. So I guess you will have a different opinion based upon your experiences..... good luck!
  19. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,333   +101

    Can you give me a few credible sources that suggests mixing RAM brands is a big no-no with Asus boards (without being isolated to a specific motherboard model)?
  20. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    Don't be silly...

    I will agree that certain motherboards are picky, but to broaden that to an entire brand name - No, this is not true at all! To make generalizations like this, you need to produce testable, empirical evidence. I mean, give us a chart that has 50 different types of memory tested in a dozen different boards from each of several different manufacturers that clearly shows trends... Then and only then is this inference worth arguing.

    In fact, if you want to use personal experience, the whole "mixing RAM will [insert negative result]" is really overblown and mixing brands/speed is completely demonized. It isn't anywhere near as 'risky' or 'dangerous' as people have you believe. Things used to be different back in the 80s and 90s... But these days....

    The facts are:
    • Higher quality memory tends to be more compatible. Naturally, higher quality memory also tends to be more expensive; therefore, spending more money will increase your chances of getting RAM that works with your system. :)
    • To avoid compatibility issues, don't mix RAM that has a radically different chip layouts. For example, don't mix dual-rank and single-rank memories and avoid mixing single-sided and double-sided memory modules. Keep in mind, this stuff still CAN work together, but you've greatly decreased your chance of compatibility.
    • Mixing different speeds of RAM can work. System boards use SPD to recognize the rated speeds of memory and will work at your slowest memory module's rated speed.
    • Mixing brands, sizes and speeds has a minute effect on performance, if any. Benchmarks I've seen online show very little performance change. We're talking ~0-2%. I'm sure this will vary depending on the system, but unless you are a total benchmark junkie, the benefit of adding extra RAM for less $$$ outweighs a 1.1% drop in memory performance.
  21. Will_m

    Will_m TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 77

    Well I am pleased to have sparked such lively debate, I have gone ahead with the Corsair XMS RAM so I shall report my findings tomorrow when it arrives! Thanks for your post Rick, was very informative it seems there are a large amount of variables though if you include all the makes and speeds of everything!

    Cheers Guys, will report back soon!

  22. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,002   +15

    If I had the time to cite every source and evidence to support arguments here on techspot, I wouldn't be working, I would be doing research. Feel free to look for yourselves. In any case, I have stated my own findings, folks here are free to take it or leave it as they wish. Moreover, even with absolute, refutable proof, there will always be those that counter otherwise or simply refuse to buy into it.

    I am neither a programmer nor a researcher. I am a full time soldier and TS is just a part time hobby that keeps getting more part time as time goes by. As you can see, I have been on this site for 3 years with little to no thanks for my efforts.

    Please do not be offended and I am not snapping at anyone.... I am just venting at those that are constantly asking for a lot of help and advice with proof and research on a free volunteer site.

    take care and good luck. If your computer experiences are better and different,, then so be it. :) If you go through all the threads regarding Asus, and Dell, you will see a pattern. There are MANY people who have reported the RAM requirements and finickyness of these two brands in particular - not just myself.

    As for myself, I had one bad experience with Asus, and I probably won't use that brand of motherboards again. I have consistently used MSI boards with lots of good experiences.

    I am sure that over time many of these manufacturers have probably fixed some of their issues, perhaps. Some have deliberately sets their boards to be somewhat proprietary - that's the nature of the computing business.
  23. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,333   +101

    Something that is so "well known" shouldn't be hard to provide sources for. I have looked for myself. I searched around for some shred of solid proof that Asus boards are indeed finicky with mixing RAM brands (beyond an isolated model) and I couldn't find anything which suggests it to be so, nor can I even find an isolated model with such a problem.

    In one sentence you whine about not having been given "thanks" for your "efforts" here and yet in others you say this is just a part time hobby. Why should anyone have to thank you for doing something you are willfully selecting as your pass-time?

    This website is dedicated to a field which is commonly summed up in two words: "Information Technology". In a field that relies on primarily on information, it is logical to request sources when one believes something to be false. Having a plethora of information which is wrong deems you absolutely useless.

    Why is it that your personal experience with Asus motherboards makes you and your "guide" correct, however, my personal experience with Asus motherboards is irrelevant?

    All I am asking, is that in the future if you're going to label an entire company's product line either incapable of providing a service or otherwise being defective, have evidence. I want cold, hard, tangible, well documented proof. I will not hesitate to request such evidence in the future if I feel your information is questionable because it is unfair to me and anyone else that takes that information seriously.
  24. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,002   +15

    well then, take the time to do your own research. You'll find plenty of evidence here on TS. I've stated my 2 cents. Take it or leave it. It was free and cost you nothing.
  25. Will_m

    Will_m TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 77

    Good people the results are in and so far I've had no problems with the new RAM whatsoever, I am however a little disappointed in the overall improvement. I'm not sure what I was hoping for but last time I upgraded my RAM it was a drastic improvement! Anyway just though I'd let you all know how I got on. Thanks for everyone's input on this as well!

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