Testing SODIMM to DIMM RAM adapters (laptop RAM in desktop?)

Can you put laptop RAM in a PC? Seeing is believing, so you should check out my video review! There are plenty of low-cost adapters available so let’s put them to a test. Spoiler: results are pretty mixed. Ultimately you have to try it for yourself.

Some theory first: we have DIMMs for PCs and SO-DIMM (Small Outline) for laptops. Fun fact, DIMM and SODIMM have different numbers of pins, so how could a passive adapter even work? Is it snake oil?

SODIMM DIMM adapter tested
SODIMM to DIMM passive adapter for 3€

Well, looking at schematics from Micron we can see that DDR3 DIMMs have 29 not connected pins (NC) for some reason. We also have multiple power and ground pins, so maybe a passive adapter can work? Search the internet for DDR RAM pin layout if you want to know more.

There are different models of adapters available, some have dip switches, but I bought the lowest cost model here for 3€ from China. There are no electronics on the adapters, just connectors and nine tiny capacitors.

Let’s try these 6 laptop SODIMM DDR3 sticks in a PC in dual channel each, so in three groups. The PC is an AMD AM3+ board MSI 760GA-P43 (FX) with an FX6300 CPU. The RAM modules tested are:

  •     Hynix 2x4GB PC3-12800 CL11
  •     Mushkin 2x4GB PC3-10666 CL9
  •     Samsung/Hynix 2x8GB PC3-12800/10600 CL9/11

We are using 5 stability tests here and let’s see how far we get.

  1.     Does the system post and does the BIOS recognize the RAM?
  2.     Does cpu-z in Windows recognize the RAM correctly?
  3.     Running Windows memory diagnostics
  4.     Running Prime95 stress test
  5.     Gaming

As we can see [in the video] some work perfectly, some crash, and some are unstable under high load. I suspect that might be caused by faster latency timings, so the slower CL11 timings helped compared to the faster CL9. Only the Hynix 2x4GB PC3-12800 did work with no problems whereas the Mushkin and Samsung RAM eventually crashed the system.

Mixed results

Effectively these adapters work like riser cards and they are unstable with faster timings. They did all post, so you can try to increase latency in BIOS but there is no guarantee for success.

Thanks for reading! You can check out more of this blog or my YouTube channel.


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