Make sure your RAM is compatible with your motherboard

For successful system upgrades, compatibility matters

Without a doubt, compatibility is the most important factor in buying a memory upgrade for your laptop or computer. Your RAM must be compatible with your system — or your system just won't work.

What type of memory?
Depending on the age and the price point of your computer, your RAM will fall into one of several categories.

  • Single data rate (SDR) SDRAM is an older RAM type, commonly used in computers prior to 2002.
  • Double data rate (DDR) SDRAM hit the mainstream computer market around 2002.
  • Systems implementing DDR2, the follow-on technology to DDR, began to appear in mid-2004.
  • The latest generation of memory technology, DDR3, began to appear in systems in late 2007.

Generally speaking, motherboards can not support different memory types — you can't mix or match — so knowing what your computer needs is essential.

What speed?
In addition to memory types, memory is also categorized by speed. The speed of RAM determines the rate at which your CPU processes data. All versions of DDR memory are referred to by the clock rating. And more recently, memory manufacturers began referring to the bandwidth of the memory as part of the speed rating. Understanding this will also help ensure compatibility.

Ensuring compatiblity
With so many variations in memory, it's important to understand just exactly what will work — and what won't — in your system. That's why Crucial offers two innovative tools to make finding compatible RAM easy. And when you use our tools to determine which RAM will work, we guarantee its compatibility.

  • The Crucial System Scanner is a downloadable tool that makes finding compatibility memory effortless. This tool analyzes your PC's configuration and automatically recommends a list of compatible upgrades in a matter of seconds.
  • The Crucial Memory Selector is another tool available on the Crucial.com site. Just choose your computer's manufacturer, product line, and model, and we'll tell you which memory upgrades are guaranteed to be compatible.

Keep in mind that base parts or spec parts are NOT guaranteed compatible—only parts that are determined by our online tools.

Take the guesswork out of finding the right memory by letting Crucial do the legwork for you.