CPU & motherboard compatibility explained

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RAM, or Random Access Memory, is often misunderstood and can be confusing when it comes to speeds and what it’s compatible with.

Capacity

A lot of casual users won’t need to worry about maxing out their RAM, but maybe you want to build a beast of a machine and max everything out. If this is the case, then pay close attention to what your motherboard’s max memory is.

Typically, a modern motherboard will support up to 64GB of RAM, but some support more or less than this.

Speed

When looking at what RAM is capable of, your biggest concern is speed. For DDR4 (the current generation of RAM), the stock speed is maxed out at 2133Mhz. Anything after this is technically an overclock.

When RAM is rated over 2133Mhz, it’s not a stock speed. In that case, it’s letting you know it’s rated to be overclocked to that specified speed. When buying RAM with speeds higher than 2133Mhz, ensure your motherboard supports it.

Processor Compatibility

When searching for RAM, you may see mention of it being compatible with either AMD or Intel processors. Don’t worry, they are still compatible with either, and this is usually just marketing for an overclocked speed.

Often RAM will come with two “XMP” profiles set by the manufacturer that’s optimized for a specific processor. Most processors of either brand will usually work with these profiles, although sometimes may need a little tweaking for higher rated speeds.

Channels: Double, Quadruple

RAM also commonly comes in double or quadruple channel kits, allowing more bandwidth. While double and quadruple channel RAM is mostly standard, double-check which your motherboard supports.

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