Buying Used RAM, is it Okay? What to Consider First?

Mehak Sohail | Last Updated On February 20th, 2022

No doubt about it, you can’t skimp out on the RAM when it comes to gaming and performing any other intensive task. Nowadays, you would need at least 16 gigs of RAM to play any AAA game with ease.

Because of recent events, it has become almost impossible for any entry-level budget builder to get into the PC game because of the GPU crisis. Parts would clear the shelves as soon as they are up for sale, with scalpers grabbing up most of these components even before others could click on “Add to Cart.”

Fortunately, the only respite that many budget-level PC builders have is to rely on used parts to get their first PC going. However, not all used parts are reliable, and some components – such as CPUs and GPUs – can be old and will not perform very well.

But what about RAM? Is it okay to buy used RAM?

As luck would have it, RAM is the most reliable PC part that you can get second-hand. They are cheap, have no moving parts, and have a lifetime warranty. So if there’s anything you need to cheap out on, RAM is your best bet. However, you should be careful and avoid defective RAM sticks.

To help you get a better idea about the second-hand RAM market, I’ll discuss topics such as:

  • Is it okay to buy used RAM?
  • What are the compatibility issues when it comes to RAM?
  • What do I have to consider first when buying used RAM?

RAM looks simple on the outside, yet it has a lot of factors you need to consider. So let’s get into it.

Is it Okay to Buy Used RAM?

Random Access Memory (RAM) is an integral part of any PC. It stores data on a short-term basis for the CPU to process faster, but unlike any of the other storage devices used on PCs – devices such as Hard drives and SSDs – RAM cannot store data after the computer has shut down. Therefore, it is a temporary yet much faster storage device.

So, we understand that RAM is essential and that in modern computers, you need at least 8 GB of RAM to play games or use any other CPU-intensive software. Unfortunately, RAM is not cheap, and although they do not look as imposing as a GPU, a couple of high-quality RAM sticks can take up a significant portion of your budget.

Luckily — for many budget gamers out there — it is possible to rely on used parts if you are desperate enough.

So when it comes to RAM, there is no exception, and used RAM is considered the most reliable second-hand PC component out there on the market. Used RAM sticks are more reliable than second-hand CPUs, GPUs, and storage devices.

If you are out looking for some RAM sticks for your high-end PC, here’s a list of the

So if you are considering buying used RAM, whether you fell short on your budget or building a used PC, there’s nothing to worry about. Although I do not recommend you install used RAM sticks on a brand new PC(always try to use new components on a new PC,) you can buy used RAM, and it will be okay.

However, before you splurge on a couple of cheap second-hand RAM sticks on eBay, you need to consider the compatibility and the other specs of a second-hand product.

What are the Compatibility Issues When it Comes to RAM?

The only hardware spec that’s going to raise a concern regarding compatibility is going to be the RAM’s DDR version.

DDR stands for Double Data Rate and it represents the generation to which a RAM stick belongs. Its predecessor was SDRAM (Synchronous Dynamic RAM) which got replaced in the 2000s by the current DDR generation.

As the newer generation, the DDR standard was faster and consisted of higher bandwidth. With time, many versions of DDR were introduced, and with each new version, the speed and bandwidth were improved significantly.

As of right now, DDR4 is the mainstream standard and soon we might experience DDR5 with even better specs. Fortunately, DDR4 has been out since 2014 and it’s highly unlikely that you will find a DDR3 RAM stick. Even if you do, you cannot install them into the motherboard slot since the slots and notches are different.

Therefore, you will be fine as long as you shop for DDR4 RAM and a motherboard that has a DDR4 compatible socket.

If you are looking for a low-end motherboard, check out this article on “How much does a Motherboard cost?

What do I have to Consider First When Buying Used RAM?

There are four major aspects that you need to consider before you buy used RAM sticks. In this section, I’ll list them out and show you how to identify an original functioning RAM stick.

DDR Version

As I mentioned previously, DDR compatibility is crucial if you want to install new RAM sticks. Fortunately, most of the RAM sticks you would come across are DDR4.

But, if you would ever need to confirm, you can look up the DDR version on the RAM stick’s spec sheet or even by the name of the RAM stick itself. For example: consider these RAM sticks which are also some I recommend:

As you can see from the name, you can gather information regarding the DDR version of a particular RAM stick.

But what about the motherboards? Is it easy to identify which DDR version a motherboard supports? Yes, you can, but you need to do a little more digging.

So if you are looking up a motherboard on Amazon (or any other store) you can easily find the number of DIMM slots and the DDR version that this motherboard supports on its spec page, whether it’s looking online or reading the manual.

Also, if you don’t have the manual or any idea on what motherboard you are using right now, you can use freeware such as CPU-Z to display information on your current devices.

Look For a Trusted Seller

Looking up trusted sellers is common sense, but many newbies shopping online can make this mistake. So if you are shopping from eBay or a similar website (that deals with second-hand parts) you have to consider the seller’s reputation.

First, you can gather some information regarding the seller from their reviews. However, even reviews can be faked. Therefore, if you feel like something is off, walk away and look for someone else.

Test RAM with MemTest86

Although it does not apply to every second-hand device, running the RAM under software like MemTest86 will help decide if the RAM stick performs up to standard.

If you are buying from a seller who you can meet face-to-face, you can perform this test yourself or ask them to do the test and provide you with video proof. Using tools such as these will aid you in your decisions.

On top of that, if you are ever a seller yourself, you can use this test to prove the parts you are selling are in good condition.

Don’t Mix Frequencies and Brands.

Something fairly obvious for the veterans, but newbies might try to mix and match as they want. Although it seems tempting to slap on whichever RAM stick you could get your hands on, it is not very efficient and reliable to do so.

So if you are ever in the market, always look for a second-hand pair from the same brand and manufacturer.

Always remember: “Your RAM sticks are only as strong as their weakest stick.”

Conclusion

Buying used components is becoming more commonplace now since PC builders are willing to lower their standards for a better price. There’s nothing wrong with buying second-hand RAM sticks, and in some cases, it may be the most feasible thing to do. However, PC builders should always find second-hand components from trusted sellers and avoid fake/faulty products.

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