Question: Is it true that practically all laptops work with generic SODIMM's?

Read our answer below:

You'll be glad to know the answer to this question is a rather simple 'yes' and indeed, you are right in thinking a generic SODIMM(s) will function in virtually all laptops, providing of course you match the appropriate specification for which the generic SODIMM is intended. By specification we mean that for example, if your laptop supports PC2-5300 DDR2 SODIMM's you buy generic PC2-5300 DDR2 SODIMM's and don't go trying to force in by way of brute-force installation a PC3200 DDR SODIMM. You may also want to read up on SPD (Serial Presence Detect) as again, by way of our PC2-5300 DDR2 SODIMM example, if your laptop requires such SODIMM's then you may also succeed in installing PC2-6400 DDR2 SODIMM's instead. The latter may even save you some money since older specification SODIMM's usually become more expensive as demand for them falls, by being a smart buyer you stand a chance of not falling in this trap!


What exactly is a generic SODIMM? Think of it as a laptop memory module that is manufactured to meet key industry standards, the same standards supported by give or take almost all laptops. In such case why are laptops so technologically similar, and perhaps more important still, why do laptop OEM's seem to push sales of their 'proprietary' SODIMM's when generic ones will do? First of all it's unfeasible to manufacture mainstram laptops based on proprietary technologies that don't blend together, not only are manufacturing costs prohibitive but also service complexity rises and unless there is a very sound argument (i.e. laptops for military purposes) then it just doesn't make business sense. As an example, even Apple MacBooks since 2006 use the same Intel technologies as your everyday Dell, HP, Lenovo etc. laptop. Secondly, laptop OEM's, usually the big players sell their own branded laptop memory modules and classify it 'proprietary' foremost for additional revenue and ultimately profit purposes. By attempting to sell you their proprietary SODIMM's, usually at a price premium, they can offset tighter profit margins in selling the laptops themselves. This usually involves adding their own SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) and/or part number and attaching their own logo sticker, but underneath all that these SODIMM's are in the vast majority of cases generic SODIMM's that have simply been tested (as generic SODIMM's are anyway) to function properly when installed in a specific laptop model, which if we recall what as stated above, are built around the same mainstream components as many other laptops. That's the long answer, the short answer is simply that there are far fewer different memory controllers out there than there are laptop models, since generic SODIMM's get tested to function with these memory controllers it's 99% safe to assume they'll work in practically all laptop models (specification pending). Last but not least, laptop OEM's do not manufacture memory themselves (with the exception of Samsung), they buy it from key industry players such as Micron (also sold under the Crucial brand), Hynix, Samsung, Kingmax, Infineon, Nanya etc.


In conclusion, if you don't own a proprietary laptop (i.e. one specifically designed for use in the army) then simply buy generic SODIMM's. Instead, focus on a brand name you can trust such as generic SODIMM's from the likes of Crucial, Kingston, Corsair etc.


Learn more about laptop memory SODIMM's in part 3 of the Laptop Memory Upgrades Guide.


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