How to identify and install RAM

This document will teach you how to install RAM into a Motherboard.

There are a few things to take into consideration when installing RAM into your motherboard;

  • Speeds and Timings
  • The type of RAM you have
  • Compatibility of the motherboard DIMM slots
  • Memory IS RAM

Figure 1

There are various forms of RAM that differ in speeds, form factors and designs. This can be confusing when you are buying new RAM, or getting ready to install it. This guide will briefly explain RAM, and show you how to install DDR4 Memory into a DDR4 compatible motherboard for workstations. We will be covering RAM, circled in blue on the right, and DIMM slots, circled in red on the motherboard.

Note: It is important to know, that you cannot install DDR3 or older sticks into a DDR4 motherboard and vice versa. This is section explained with ‘figure 3’. SO-DIMM cannot be installed into a standard DIMM slot. SO-DIMM will not be used for this guide, but procedure shouldn’t change.

Figure 2

Knowing what RAM to use is the most important thing to know when acquiring or inserting RAM. Using RAM modules that utilize different speeds and timings can cause your computer to BSOD and other unwanted errors. When buying multiple sticks. Knowledge of this, even at a basic level, can prevent future problems or issues.

  1. Clock Speeds & Transfer Speed – RAM can be referred by two sets of numbers like the following; DDR4-2666 or DDR3-1866. The first set refers to the generation and the second set refers to the transfer speed.
  2. Timing & Latency – RAM will feature numbers like, 9-9-9-10 or 9-10-9-28. These are referred to as timings. Timing is a measurement of the performance of the RAM stick in nanoseconds. Simply, the lower the numbers, the quicker RAM will perform.

Figure 3

As you can see in ‘figure 3’, both sticks of DDR3 & DDR4, by design, look different. However, the bottom both modules are also different. The red modules underneath are DDR3, whereas the Black modules are DDR4 in ‘figure 3’. It is important to know the difference between DDR modules to prevent accidental RAM insertions that could break the module or DIMM slot. You can see in ‘figure 3’ that the bottoms of the RAM modules are different, and are a guarantee that DDR3 will not fit in a DDR4 DIMM slot.

Figure 4

When installing RAM, many motherboards will feature codes near the DIMM slots (some do not and you may need to refer to the manufacturer’s manual). It is optimal to insert the RAM modules in order shown in ‘figure 4’, from DDR4_1 (furthest from the CPU) to DDR4_4 (Closest to CPU). These DIMM slots can be colour coded, or ordered differently, but this can vary with different manufacturers.

Figure 5 & 6

It is important to install RAM correctly, as not following the proper process can damage both the RAM and the DIMM slot. To insert RAM safely, follow the correct procedure in ‘figure 6’, by lining up the gap in the ram with the line in the DIMM slot. Then press down firmly on the RAM stick until you hear a click.

Hearing the click means the RAM is inserted correctly. If you are unsure check the clips that hold the RAM in place on the motherboard’s DIMM slots. If you followed the guide correctly, your RAM should look like ‘figure 7’.

Figure 7

If your motherboard has issues reading the RAM, run into BSODs or other issues after following this guide attempt the following tricks that may help;

  • Re-seating RAM into their appropriate DIMM slots.
  • Cleaning the gold on the bottom of the module with Isopropyl alcohol and cotton tips.
  • Refer to the manufacturer’s motherboard manual for compatibility.
  • Test the RAM using software such as MemTest86.
  • Lastly, return the RAM to the seller/manufacturer for further testing.



RAM - Random Access Memory. Type of computer memory, that all common devices use.

DIMM - Dual In-Line Memory Module. The slot that you insert RAM into.

DDR - Double Data Rate. It is a type of computer memory.

SO-DIMM - Small Out-Line Dual In-Line Memory Module. The same as DIMM but used for small devices like laptops.

BSOD - Blue Screen of Death. There are a variety of issues that cause these. They most commonly caused by issues with RAM, CPU or System file corruptions.

CPU - Central Processing Unit. Primary component of a computer that processes instructions.

Tags: memory, motherboard, Ram
Last update:
28-05-2020 07:03
Hugh Young
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