Determining RAM compatibility for a new motherboard?

harddud

Limp Gawd
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Jul 29, 2005
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Backstory: I am building my first system in 5 years. I am a fanboy on neither OEM so this time I decided to go with a Ryzen build. I have purchased a Gigabyte Aorus Pro AC MB (B550), a new power supply (Corsair), and just received my new processor. I plan to use a 3060 Ti that my son graciously gifted me for Christmas. I purchased a Gigabyte MB and downloaded the Qualified Vendor List (QVL) for MB/Vermeer CPU. The list of "qualified" RAM is overwhelming. I am having a difficult time finding a RAM kit listed on the QVL that is both available and within budget. On a lark, I visited a few memory OEM websites to check out their own compatibility tools. What I find so strange (but not totally unexpected) is that while the Gigabyte QVL is quite extensive, it is very limited in the RAM kits/models that it lists as compatible within a certain RAM speed, and I am having a difficult time finding them for sale. On the other hand, the memory OEMs provide their own extensive compatibility tool that lists their own RAM kits that they explicitly state are compatible with and run on the target motherboard. Which one do you trust?

My question is this: For your builds, how do you determine if ANY RAM is compatible with and will run (at least at stock) on your motherboard? Do you go with the QVL exclusively, the memory OEM's compatibility tool, or (I cringe) both? If I cannot soon determine (and purchase) what memory is compatible with (will run at least at stock), then I will be unable to complete the build.

I would appreciate any input/advice system builders here can provide. Thank you!
 
D

Deleted member 289973

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I would think your CPU would be a more limiting factor as for RAM speed and amount than the motherboard. That Gigabyte board looks like it'll accept pretty much any DDR4 RAM up to 128GB, so I wouldn't sweat it and just get what you like.
 

pitingres

Limp Gawd
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My question is this: For your builds, how do you determine if ANY RAM is compatible with and will run (at least at stock) on your motherboard?

The motherboard isn't the key part regarding RAM compatibility, the CPU is. The memory controller on all of today's desktop CPU's is integrated into the CPU package. The motherboard can make things worse (with poor trace layout or by screwing up the BIOS somehow), but it can't make things better.

You don't state what your processor is, but I assume it's a Zen 3 (Ryzen 5000 series), or just possibly a Zen 2 (Ryzen 3000 series). The memory controller in both Zen 2 and Zen 3 is reasonably forgiving, and you can buy pretty much any RAM that is rated at 3600 MT/s or less, and isn't some no-name basement stuff, and it will likely work at or close to rated speed. The name brand stuff that's been around (G.skill, Crucial, Team, Corsair, I'm surely forgetting a few)) you can generally count on. If you have a just barely passing CPU sample, you might have to downclock a bit, or add a smidge of voltage, or RMA for a different set. Them's the breaks.

Motherboard QVL's for memory are close to useless. There are so many possible combinations, and some memory vendors tend to update their sticks with minimal (or even no) update to the part number. No mobo maker can keep up.
 

lopoetve

Fully [H]
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G.Skill works the kindest, especially for Ryzen and XMP (which you want). Corsair is a good second choice, but you may need to bump the SoC voltage slightly to get it to work at XMP speeds (not unusual). Crucial is the same. Easiest path - Pick up 2 sticks G.Skill Trident Z Neo, and party on. You'll be up and running in no time. Avoid 4 sticks, and ask here if it's not stable- we'll walk you through the voltage change :)
 

Dan_D

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I would think your CPU would be a more limiting factor as for RAM speed and amount than the motherboard. That Gigabyte board looks like it'll accept pretty much any DDR4 RAM up to 128GB, so I wouldn't sweat it and just get what you like.
It isn't. All RAM will work at JEDEC spec speeds with virtually any motherboard. However, XMP is a crapshoot on AM4 motherboards. Newer generations of Ryzen CPU's are better than older ones as new chipsets are better than older ones. That being said, you can make most modules work on most motherboards but there are some exceptions here and there.
The motherboard isn't the key part regarding RAM compatibility, the CPU is.
This is completely false beyond supporting the basic technology. The motherboard and how it reads and sets the timings for the modules is key in determining whether or not the RAM will work as intended. Some brands are more aggressive about what "auto" settings are and sometimes they flat ignore memory makers values almost entirely beyond the basic settings. That's before you get into trace design and memory topology which are massively important when determining how well certain modules work. If you are below 3600MHz on X570, almost anything will do but that changes the higher your frequencies get or if you plan on running more than two modules.

I've tested dozens of AM4 boards. The only one that would run 4x16GB modules at DDR4 3600MHz speeds without a bunch of tuning and tweaking was the MSI MEG X570 GODLIKE. Others were far less forgiving if they would even do it at all. It can be the CPU that determines all this if the same kits work differently on every board you try. Anyone who thinks that probably hasn't tried that many boards. The CPU literally has very little to do with it. IMC limitations are absolutely a real thing but you won't find those on the AM4 platform under most circumstances. The board or your modules will hit their limits first.
The memory controller on all of today's desktop CPU's is integrated into the CPU package.
It's true the memory controller is integrated into the CPU, but its just one aspect of memory compatibility.
The motherboard can make things worse (with poor trace layout or by screwing up the BIOS somehow), but it can't make things better.
I think you are looking at this the wrong way. The motherboard limits your memory compatibility and even performance before the CPU does. AMD is actually fairly conservative with what it supports on even the Ryzen 5000 series in terms of DIMM configurations. Good motherboards can exceed what AMD supports, bad ones can't. The bare minimum is pretty much what AMD says it is. That is to say, they can all do roughly DDR4 3600MHz or so in a 2x DIMM arrangement but bad ones will not exceed 2666MHz or 2933MHz using 4x DIMMs depending on whether they are dual or single ranked.
You don't state what your processor is, but I assume it's a Zen 3 (Ryzen 5000 series), or just possibly a Zen 2 (Ryzen 3000 series). The memory controller in both Zen 2 and Zen 3 is reasonably forgiving, and you can buy pretty much any RAM that is rated at 3600 MT/s or less, and isn't some no-name basement stuff, and it will likely work at or close to rated speed. The name brand stuff that's been around (G.skill, Crucial, Team, Corsair, I'm surely forgetting a few)) you can generally count on. If you have a just barely passing CPU sample, you might have to downclock a bit, or add a smidge of voltage, or RMA for a different set. Them's the breaks.
Pretty much, although comparatively the Ryzen 3000 and 5000 series aren't nearly as forgiving as Intel CPU's are.
Motherboard QVL's for memory are close to useless. There are so many possible combinations, and some memory vendors tend to update their sticks with minimal (or even no) update to the part number. No mobo maker can keep up.
Motherboard QVL's aren't useless. If you can get ahold of the specific RAM you need, you will know what to expect. However, it is true that the QVL testing can't be kept up with as RAM makers continue to evolve their part numbers and different batches of IC's behave differently even on the same designs. QVL testing is also expensive, and some brands invest more in it than others.
G.Skill works the kindest, especially for Ryzen and XMP (which you want). Corsair is a good second choice, but you may need to bump the SoC voltage slightly to get it to work at XMP speeds (not unusual). Crucial is the same. Easiest path - Pick up 2 sticks G.Skill Trident Z Neo, and party on. You'll be up and running in no time. Avoid 4 sticks, and ask here if it's not stable- we'll walk you through the voltage change :)
G.Skill does generally work the best but I've also seen motherboards that won't take G.Skill kits that literally every other board I've ever tested will take and run with. Corsair RAM generally needs a bump in voltage, not SoC voltage or sometimes both. Usually, you need to set to 1.385v on most motherboards or sometimes go as high as 1.45v for Corsair modules to behave.
 

harddud

Limp Gawd
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Thank you for the wonderful replies so far. Sorry I did not provide more specifics. I am using a 5600X and am hoping to use 32 GB of DDR4 3600, or perhaps 3200 CL16 with faster timings.
 

vegeta535

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G.skill 3600 c16 are the best option for you. They are typically the cheapest for those specs out of the big brands.
 
D

Deleted member 289973

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It isn't. All RAM will work at JEDEC spec speeds with virtually any motherboard. However, XMP is a crapshoot on AM4 motherboards. Newer generations of Ryzen CPU's are better than older ones as new chipsets are better than older ones. That being said, you can make most modules work on most motherboards but there are some exceptions here and there.
Thanks for this. Good info.

Thank you for the wonderful replies so far. Sorry I did not provide more specifics. I am using a 5600X and am hoping to use 32 GB of DDR4 3600, or perhaps 3200 CL16 with faster timings.
3600 should be a good option unless you plan to overclock the CPU's 'infinity fabric', in which case you could get 4000 and underclock that if necessary due to instability. (Based on my limited knowledge of how that works.)
 

pitingres

Limp Gawd
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My experience with Zen 1 and Zen+ was that any sort of memory speed limitation or compatibility issue followed the CPU and not the motherboard. Admittedly, I was playing with a trio of 1600's and a few relatively low-end B450's. I guess II'm willing to believe that the IMC in the later generations is good enough that motherboard defaults and trace layout might become more of the limiting factor.
 
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