YouTuber prototypes way to use DDR4 memory on DDR5 motherboards

Daniel Sims

Posts: 453   +18
Staff
Why it matters: This week, a Taipei YouTuber who may be part of the Asus ROG motherboard team prototyped an adapter for using DDR4 memory sticks on motherboards designed only for DDR5. This trick may alleviate a dilemma facing those building or buying new computers with Intel’s new Alder Lake processors.

When Intel launched its Alder Lake CPUs in November, it let users finally take the plunge into DDR5 RAM--if they can find any. Supply chain shortage has affected DDR5 production as well, so users may want to stick with DDR4 for the time being. However, upgrading from DDR4 to DDR5 at a later date means replacing your entire motherboard, as motherboards can currently only support one or the other.

YouTuber Bing—an Asus employee according to machine translation of his profile page—posted a video Thursday of his prototype adapter, which lets him use DDR4 RAM on an Asus Z690 DDR5 motherboard. We've embedded the video above, but it is in Chinese, so change the closed caption settings to auto-translate.

The challenge lies in the fundamental differences between DDR4 and DDR5 modules. From the looks of the video, Bing’s prototype is still in an early phase and might not turn into something you can buy for a while. If it turns into an actual product, users could go ahead and purchase DDR5 motherboards even before they can get their hands on DDR5 RAM and simply upgrade to it whenever it becomes more available and cost-effective.

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hahahanoobs

Posts: 4,447   +2,417
Using a brand new type of adapter for RAM I never even seen before would bother me if I ever had any computer glitches, because I wouldn't feel confident being able to diagnose it as the problem. And if I killed my RAM using then I'd be upset.

If it's made I can see it as a very short-term solution. Like for a month or two.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 2,206   +4,245
You know it occurs to me, if the motherboard already has a ddr4 controller on board to make this even plausible, Asus could manufacture a board with ddr5 on the front and a couple of ddr4 sodimm slots on the back (So you are still not compromising and have 4 ddr5 dimm slots for later upgrades) kinda like how itx boards sneak in a second m.2 on the back but this one would sneak in sodimm slots just to make sure you can use *something* while ddr5 becomes obtainable.

Not something Asus would ever do but I bet Asrock with their crazy scientists vibes would try it: They're the ones that gave us things like AM4 boards with thunderbolt, massive TR4 socket on a tiny itx board, etc.
 

yRaz

Posts: 4,413   +5,144
DDR5 just isn't good enough aside from in very specific applications. It shows very little benefit in gaming, if at all. Games sensitive to latency actually show worse performance
 

umbala

Posts: 603   +1,007
DDR5 just isn't good enough aside from in very specific applications. It shows very little benefit in gaming, if at all. Games sensitive to latency actually show worse performance
This is exactly the same thing people were saying (probably including you) when DDR4 first came out and it wasn't "as good" as DDR3 at the time. You can't compare early samples and first generation sticks of memory to an earlier version that's been around for several years and has had time to mature. Also, not EVERYTHING revolves around gaming.
 

yRaz

Posts: 4,413   +5,144
This is exactly the same thing people were saying (probably including you) when DDR4 first came out and it wasn't "as good" as DDR3 at the time. You can't compare early samples and first generation sticks of memory to an earlier version that's been around for several years and has had time to mature. Also, not EVERYTHING revolves around gaming.
Currently, DDR4 is as good as it's ever going to be and DDR5 is as bad as it's ever going to be. It took a couple years for DDR4 to surpass DDR3 and I don't see why DDR5 will be any different. By the time DDR5 is better than DDR4 intel will probably be another 2 generations ahead with a new socket.

And while you are correct that things don't revolve around gaming, I spend under 100 hours a year gaming now, very few applications can take advantage can take advantage of the extra bandwidth that DDR5 to show any actual performance gains. And, frankly, if I was building an intel workstation for that type of application I'd likely have to go with a Xeon system with ECC memory. DDR5 has "built in" ECC memory but that's because it runs so fast that it's basically a requirement to prevent errors under normal use. It isn't true ECC memory.

And briefly going back to gaming, I'm sure there are more people running games on these systems than being used as workstations. Now that I think about it, I'd like to see some compiling benchmarks of DDR5 over DDR4.
 

captaincranky

Posts: 18,739   +7,680
YouTubers are constantly trying to impress, aren't they?
Why not just buy an Alder Lake board that takes DDR4 to begin with?
Which will give you an excuse to make an "upgrade video", at some later date.
 

captaincranky

Posts: 18,739   +7,680
The royal goat already owns plenty of meme NFTs. It needs a new gold head dress. Although I suppose I could get it an NFT nemes in the metaverse🤔
I thought you Nigerian princes had founded the "Metaverse", and Facebook stole the idea. Speaking for myself, I'd be willing to pay almost any amount of money for an NFT of your goat's birth certificate.
 

Faelan

Posts: 145   +157
The motherboard manufacturers created the dilemma because they decided to bet on DDR5 and make all the high end boards use DDR5. The solution? Let those overpriced boards rot on the shelves. It shouldn’t be the job of tech enthusiasts to fix that problem by creating various hacks!

Edit: Just noticed that the article says he is an Asus employee. That explains a lot lol. They’re probably sitting on a pile of boards they can’t get rid of.

Personally, I ended up with an Asus Strix Z690-A Gaming WIFI D4. I had a loftier goal in mind, but the lack of DDR5 forced me to look elsewhere (I refuse to pay a scalper). A Black Friday sale and a 100 Euro cash-back promotion later turned it into a much more reasonably priced product and the board runs well and has what I need. It handles my 12900K like a champ, so no complaints here.
 
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They need to come out with a motherboard that takes DDR4 and DDR5 like the ASRock B150M Combo-G did with DDR3 and DDR4
 

SethNW

Posts: 28   +32
You know it occurs to me, if the motherboard already has a ddr4 controller on board to make this even plausible, Asus could manufacture a board with ddr5 on the front and a couple of ddr4 sodimm slots on the back (So you are still not compromising and have 4 ddr5 dimm slots for later upgrades) kinda like how itx boards sneak in a second m.2 on the back but this one would sneak in sodimm slots just to make sure you can use *something* while ddr5 becomes obtainable.

Not something Asus would ever do but I bet Asrock with their crazy scientists vibes would try it: They're the ones that gave us things like AM4 boards with thunderbolt, massive TR4 socket on a tiny itx board, etc.

I would be cool if they went for hybrid design. But I think your idea has maybe a bit if an issue with clearance behind the board, like RAM modules don't have as thin design with heatsinks on the sides as most SSDs that don't come with beffy heatsink. So they might need extra big standoffs.

How I would personally resolve it is to try making it 6 slot system, 2 DDR5, which should be plenty due to bigger amount of RAM per stick and 4 DDR4, or maybe even just 2 plus 2. Though either way, it would complicate design and I got feeling the reason why they didn't do it is because it would add to cost, effecting profit margins of everything not in "give ne best, money is not an issue" territory. And selling what is 200USD motherboard for a tier higher price due to dual memory support would make it very niche product, driving price further up to compensate for lower sold volume. Since most people would just pick one, DDR4 or less likely DDR5 and run with it.

I do think best solution is to just keep using DDR4, dfir Alder/Raptor Lake generations and once you upgrade beyond that, DDR5 will be way more affordable, possibly make better performance difference and also you will get more premium version. Similar as I did with DDR4. DDR5 won't make 4 obsolete in year or two, so you will be fine.

Also minor correction, memory controller is on CPU. Alder and Raptor Lame have two memory controllers, so they can support DDR4 and 5. Similar to Skylake and Kaby Lake before that for DDR3L and 4.
 

SethNW

Posts: 28   +32
Using a brand new type of adapter for RAM I never even seen before would bother me if I ever had any computer glitches, because I wouldn't feel confident being able to diagnose it as the problem. And if I killed my RAM using then I'd be upset.

If it's made I can see it as a very short-term solution. Like for a month or two.

I think if it will have those major issues, it will never become a product. Just one if interesting things they worked on. You can imagine whole research and development thing as iceberg, on top we see what comes out, but below the sea there is way bigger chunk of things we never knew they were trying. But abandoned because it either didn't work, wasn't cost effective, didn't have market,... Hence why sometimes some leaks might actually be true, because they are based on prototype someone actually saw, but turn out like lies or fake leaks, because that protptrype was either canceled or they decided that silicon lottery just doesn't make it viable to produce bug enough volume of it or clock it as high,... Bit if it gets released it will be tested, no doubt and we will see if it us viable to use. It is not like you got to adopt it day one or never, one can also wait and see.