Before we get to whether you can use 4GB and 8GB ram together, let’s talk about what RAM is, what it does and the misconceptions surrounding it.
What Is RAM?
Random access memory popularly known as RAM is the short-term memory that stores data in your system and processes it whenever the processor requests them.
It helps to load information quickly, which means that the more RAM a computer has, the faster it will process data.
RAM is one of the significant components of a smartphone or computer and there are many misconceptions around it like whether you can use 4GB and 8GB ram together among many others.
Let’s take a look at some of these RAM misconceptions and proffer solutions to them.
Common RAM Misconceptions
You can’t mix RAM sizes
The majority of the laptops out there are built with at least two RAM slots or more. However, the more modern motherboards have four RAM slots.
There is this misconception that you can’t use a mixture of RAM sizes like combining a 4GB and an 8GB simultaneously or going as far as mixing RAM brands.
Let’s put this in perspective
RAM only works best when it is paired with hardware that is in sync with it.
So, you should ensure that your RAM uses the same voltage as the hardware and is suitable for the motherboard
for best performance.
It’s recommended that your RAMs are of the same model to avoid any disagreement in their frequency.
However, that is not to say you can’t use different RAM sizes in one computer.
Here is an example
If your laptop came with one 4GB RAM stick, you could purchase an 8GB RAM stick to add to it.
However, by default, the two RAM sticks you have on your computer will both work at the frequency of the lower one.
In essence, the computer will be faster than when you had just one 4GB RAM stick, but it won’t be as fast as having two RAM sticks of equal size.
So, back to the “Can I use 4GB and 8GB ram together question”, yes you can, but a good school of thought recommends that you use two sticks of equal sizes.
I don’t need more RAM; my computer has enough
Every day, we hear people say; this amount of RAM is what I need to run my software or like many others will say, I don’t need extra RAM.
In reality, the amount of RAM that you have in your computer might be enough to run the software you have installed but that does not mean your computer can’t process information faster than it already does.
More RAM is better than less RAM even if they are not equal sizes and that’s due to the way programs are structured.
Here’s the best part
Some software developers programmed their applications to request a specific percentage of the RAM available on your computer.
So if you have more RAM on your computer, there will be more RAM allocated to such a program and you’ll have spare RAM capacity to multitask without lagging.
The general rule of thumb for Computer RAM
The minimum is 4GB ram for computers, while 8GB is the recommended RAM size for regular PC users.
However, for gamers, video editors, and other professionals that work with graphics, the recommended RAM size for best performance is between 16GB and 32GB of RAM.
Furthermore, this brings us to the question on everyone’s lips, which is, how much RAM do I need?
RAM Size Is All That Matters
Whenever someone tells you that they have more RAM in their computer, you automatically start assuming that their computer runs a lot faster.
However, that’s not entirely true because the size of the ram in a computer doesn’t paint the whole picture.
Some of the factors that determine RAM performance are frequency and speed.
Like a central processing unit (CPU), RAM possesses clock speeds and the higher the speed, the more the RAM can perform within a second.
RAM sticks run on various frequencies like 2400MHZ and 3000MHZ, while a majority of the high-end systems available today run on 3600MHZ and 3600MHZ frequencies.
One of the issues you can face here is incompatible RAM speeds which can affect you in many ways.
Firstly, If your RAM operates at 2000MHZ but your motherboard supports only 1333MHZ, then there’s a problem because your computer won’t be able to use the 700MHZ difference between both speeds.
Secondly, if you have a mixture of RAM sticks with different speed frequencies, both of them will function at the speed of the slowest one by default.
For instance, if you have a RAM stick that runs at 1333MHZ and another which runs at 3600MHZ, both of them will collectively operate at 1333MHZ thereby wasting the potential of the faster RAM.
To put this in a more explicit relatable context, if you use two RAM sticks of 8GB and 16GB on your system, it will be fast but not as fast as another system with two 8GB RAM sticks installed.
However, it all depends on what you want. For example, do you want more RAM or faster RAM?
Clear Your RAM To Boost Speed
This is one of the widely spread RAM myths of all time.
The idea that once you clear your RAM, it will become fast grew in popularity the same time memory optimizers and RAM booster software was being advertised.
Pay close attention to the following;
Do not clear your RAM. You need your RAM full of valuable data which in turn helps your computer to process data quickly.
The job description of your RAM isn’t to stay empty; to put this in proper context; your system software ought to make use of every available RAM space.
When you free up space in your RAM using some of the optimizers available, it has no positive effect on your system.
On the contrary, it might cause your system to lag because once you free up space in your RAM, you’re taking away certain computations from your RAM’s memory.
Also, it would help if you didn’t use RAM optimizers because it doesn’t work and could contain malware, ransomware or bugs that will slow your system.
Your RAM doesn’t work the same way as your hard drive. For example, if your hard drive is full, you can clean it by deleting files within. Whereas for RAM, it automatically manages the information within it.
For instance, if you have an 8GB RAM stick, your system will consistently write, erase, and rewrite frequently accessed data within it.
You should use an equal amount of RAM sticks
The misconception that you must always use an equal amount of RAM sticks is not valid. Remember the first misconception where we talked about mixing different RAM sizes?
There is no law anywhere that says you must use two, three, five or more RAM sticks.
Regardless of whether your computer has 2 RAM slots, three or six, you can decide to use just one RAM if you choose to.
It all depends on your budget and the level of performance you’re looking for.
If your system has two 8GB RAMs installed, they’ll operate in dual channel mode and offer you a fantastic experience.
However, let’s say your system has three 8GB RAMs installed, bringing your RAM to 24GB; this may not be productive.
Depending on the configuration of your system, RAM type and motherboard, the third RAM stick may restrict the dual-channel RAM support configured for the first two RAM sticks.
So, in essence, it is true that your computer has a larger RAM capacity. However, your system’s overall performance might be below par.
There are a lot of debates and arguments online regarding the usage of equal RAM sticks.
You are not mandated to use an equal number of RAM sticks but it can hurt your system’s performance if you fail to use equal sizes.
RAM Works Differently In iPhones And Macs
When it comes to Apple products, they are an exception to the rules above. Their approach to RAM is different from PCs and Android gadgets.
The iPhone structural base is far different from its Android counterpart.
This is why you’ll hardly hear an iPhone user complaining of RAM because an 8GB iPhone can be as fast as a 16GB Android.
Unfortunately, it isn’t all Mac systems that can be upgraded. However, for a lot of Mac users, this isn’t a problem.
Meanwhile, for the professionals rendering heavy graphical projects, running out of ram can be a huge problem.
The Bottom Line
To answer the question asked initially (Can I use 4GB and 8GB ram together?), yes, you can.
However, it is recommended that you use two RAM sticks of equal value for overall system performance.