Question: Is there any logic in installing PC3-10600 DDR3 if my laptop states support for PC3-8500 DDR3?

Read our answer below:

The answer to the above question can be twofold and which best applies to you really depends on your own circumstances. Let's take a look at each in turn and help you decide.

By definition if the memory controller within your laptop, regardless whether it's located within the northbridge chipset (external) or as part of the CPU die (internal) limits the specification of memory you can run within your laptop. If it's limited to PC3-8500 DDR3 (1066MHz effective) then it won't run DDR3 memory at anything faster than that. In such case while there's no harm in installing PC3-10600 DDR3 you will not get the benefit from the faster specified DDR3 memory.

While the above paints a somewhat grim picture of one's hopes to install faster DDR3 memory and benefit from it too, there's still some logic behind why it's not all a bad idea after all. On the negative side you won't benefit from it now due to your laptop's inner constraints but what if you plan to change to a newer laptop down the line, which also uses DDR3 memory and might even support the faster standard? Moving the PC3-10600 DDR3 memory over to the new laptop might be a cost effective way to ramp up its memory capacity. The only caveat that might hamper your joy is if your newer laptop supports even faster DDR3 memory, i.e. PC3-12800. Either way, it's something you want to keep in mind.

Just to rap up this question let's also do a quick recap of what happens if you install PC3-10600 DDR3 memory in a laptop that officially only supports PC3-8500 DDR3 maximum. As briefly stated above, the faster memory will not run at anything faster than PC3-8500 DDR3. What this means in practise are two things. On one side your laptop's BIOS (Basic Input Out System) will detect that you have installed a SODIMM memory module(s) rated at PC3-10600. Next, it will compare this information, which it reads from a SPD (Serial Presence Detect) chip located on each SODIMM memory module with the system's memory controller capabilities encoded within the BIOS to decide the specification at which to run the memory.

Once it completes the above step is will automatically configure the memory controller to run at optimum settings. The two most common settings involved in this last step are the memory frequency and memory timings. There are of course other settings (such as operating voltage) which also play a vital role, needless to say these are also automatically setup and configured for you. And what is the final result you might ask? The PC3-10600 DDR3 memory you install in your PC3-8500 DDR3 capable laptop will down clock from 1333MHz effective to 1066MHz effective and from 9-9-9-24 (most common for PC3-10600 SODIMM modules) timings to 7-7-7-20 timings (most common for PC3-8500 SODIMM modules).

Continue to part 3 of the Laptop Memory Upgrades Guide to learn more about laptop memory modules.

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