Intel vs AMD RAM – Are RAMs for Intel and AMD CPUs Different?

Let me make it clear from the get go. There is no such thing as Intel or AMD RAM. People new to PC building and components often get confused regarding whether an AMD RAM would be compatible on an Intel PC and vice versa, and whether there is a comparison between Intel vs AMD RAM.

The bottom line is no. There is NO difference between an Intel vs AMD RAM. They both are the same. Therefore, you CAN use a RAM installed on your AMD PC on an Intel PC and vice versa.

RAMs for Intel or AMD processors are NOT different. There is no such thing as Intel compatible or AMD compatible RAM.

RAM is differentiated by their type and frequency. Type includes the DDR generation and frequency indicates the speed.

While the CPU brand DOES NOT require a proprietary RAM or a brand specific RAM, there are certain specifications for RAM that may differ between the choice of Intel or AMD CPU you have.

When it comes to determining what RAM is compatible with your PC, the motherboard specifications are generally the more important consideration as compared to the CPU. 

Both Intel and AMD CPUs Utilize the Same RAM

In order to determine what type of RAM your PC in general and your CPU in particular can support, you can have a look at the specifications for the processor and the motherboard you have.

Take for instance, the specification for the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X:

AMD Ryzen 5 5600X ram specifications
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X Specifications. Source: AMD

You can see here that this CPU supports DDR4 RAM with a frequency upto 3200 MHz (base frequency NOT overclocked).

Similarly, have a look at the specification for Intel Core i7-11700

Intel Core i7 11700 ram specification
Intel Core i7 11700 memory specification. Source: Intel

This too supports DDR4 RAM with max BASE frequency support for 3200 MHz.

Nowhere in the specifications for these two AMD and Intel CPUs can you see that they require a separate brand specific RAM.

In fact, they both clearly make mention of the TYPE and FREQUENCY of the RAM sticks they support.

What this means is that if you were switching your RAM installed in the AMD Ryzen 5 5600x over to the PC with the Intel Core i7 11700, it would be a 100% compatible.

Also Read: Which Intel and AMD CPUs Support DDR5 RAM?

CPUs Can Have Different Frequency Specifications for RAMs Sticks

Now have a look at the specifications for the Intel Core i3-10100.

Intel Core i3 10100
Intel Core i3 10100 RAM specifications. Source: Intel.

You can see here that while it does support DDR4 RAM, it would support a stick with base frequency of only 2666 MHz.

Therefore, if you were to install a DDR4-3200 stick on this CPU, it would work, but it will clock down its performance to 2666 MHz.

The Type of RAM is Not Backwards Compatible

In addition to that, within the CPU specifications, you can also determine the TYPE of RAM that it would support.

This is important because RAM sticks are NOT backwards or forward compatible

Meaning a DDR5 RAM stick will NOT work with a CPU designed for DDR4 RAM modules and vice versa.

You can find out the comprehensive details regarding the RAM your PC supports through the motherboard’s specifications.

In fact, I cannot stress enough on the fact that you must ALWAYS refer to the motherboard specsheet to determine what RAM it support and whether it supports overclocked RAM sticks through XMP or not (more on this below).

I have written a guide on this:

RAM Standard for Both Intel and AMD is Determined by JEDEC

It should be clear from the discussion above that the specification for both AMD and Intel DO NOT stipulate that they require a proprietary or a brand specific RAM module.

As such, there is no such thing as Intel vs AMD RAM comparison. 

This is because, the RAM standards are NOT designed by either Intel or AMD. They are instead designed by JEDEC.

In addition to Intel and AMD, there are 342 major companies that follows the JEDEC standards for RAM. This include Apple, ARM, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, IBM, Western Digital.

Name any large tech company, and it will most certainly be following the JEDEC standards for their memory. 

Also Read: How to Check if RAM is Dual Chanel?

Intel XMP – Does It Work With AMD Boards

You may have heard of the term called XMP whenever RAM is mentioned.

XMP stands for Extreme Memory Profiles. This is an Intel technology that allows you to install RAM sticks that operate at a higher than their standard base frequencies.

Essentially, it allows you to not only overclock your RAM sticks, but also allows you to install RAM sticks that come FACTORY overclocked.

What is RAM Overclocking?

When you increase the RAM’s frequency beyond its standard specification, then you have essentially overclocked it.

There are many RAM standards defined by JEDEC within the same generation.

For instance, within DDR4 generation you have:

  • DDR4-1600K – Operates at 1600 MHz
  • DDR4-2400R – Operates at 2400 MHz
  • DDR4-3200A – Operates at 3200 MHz 

As such, the standard RAM frequency defined by JEDEC for DDR4 is between 1600 to 3200 MHz.

Similarly, the standard RAM frequency defined by JEDEC for DDR5 is between 4800 to 7200.

If you were to overclock a DDR4-3200 RAM stick to 4000 MHz, then you have gone beyond the JEDEC standard. This is generally done through the XMP profiles.

Basically, brands test and overclock their RAM sticks. The profiles for these are saved over on to the RAM in a small chip.

Crucial RAM
Chip where the XMP profiles are saved.

The overclocked profiles can then be accessed through the BIOS.

Your Motherboard needs to have the right BIOS in order for you to enable and set the XMP profiles.

Your motherboard also needs to have the support for overclocked frequency you are aiming for.

Take for instance, the following Gigabyte X570 Gaming X motherboard, this supports a maximum of 4733 MHz DDR4 overclocked RAM as well as XMP profiles.

gigabyte gaming x570 memory
Gigabyte X570 Gaming X motherboard memory specifications. It supports upto 4733 MHz overclocked RAM and XMP profile. Source: Gigabyte

Now XMP is an Intel technology BUT it also works with the AMD motherboards without any issues. 

Older AMD motherboards did have compatibility issues with XMP, however, with the newer boards, that is rarely the case.

AMD does have its answer for XMP in the form for AMP, however, AMP isn’t nearly as popular as XMP. However, the are certainly rumors that with AMD’s next gen AM5 platform, AMP may once again pick up pace.

Also Read: What to Do After Upgrading RAM?

FAQ

RAM Listing Says Intel RAM – Would it Work With AMD?

If a RAM listing ever states or alludes to the fact that it is specific to Intel or AMD, then understand that it is just a marketing gimmick.

Again, there is no such thing as Intel vs AMD RAM.

Also Read: Which RAM Slot to Use?

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Author:

Atif Qazi
Atif Qazi is the founder of PCGuide101. He is a digital nomad who loves everything PC. He is a PC builder, tech enthusiast, engineer, and a lover of single player lore-rich RPG games.

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