Should you use Laptop RAM in your Desktop PC?

Laptop RAM on left and Desktop RAM slot on the right

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If you have some laptop RAM collecting dust, we can’t blame you for thinking you can use it on your Desktop PC.


The truth is, you can use your laptop RAM in your Desktop PC with the help of a SO-DIMM to DIMM Adapter. However, this workaround may not work with your specific setup.


First off, if you have an AMD platform, you are out of luck. Ryzen is extremely picky when it comes to memory so it simply outright rejects these SODIMM converters. 


On the Intel side of things, it can work, but in certain conditions. We will go into detail about how it works later.


But if we were to give you a simple answer, we do not recommend using your laptop RAM as your primary RAM in your Desktop PC. Instead, just buy new Desktop RAM if you have to.


 This is because there are chances that you might have stability issues or some programs would just fail to function on this janky RAM config.


We only recommend going with this config if you already have Laptop RAM lying around and you are not scared to experiment around with something new.


As we move on forward, I would go on to explain the difference between the type of RAMs and what kind of issue you might face when trying out this workaround.


Difference between laptop RAM and Desktop RAM

Laptop RAM on the left and full size Desktop RAM on the right

It’s important to know the actual difference between the two types of RAM before we go into detail on how to adapt laptop RAM to desktop RAM.


The RAM we use these days in our computers is DIMM or Dual Inline Memory Module


This means that DIMM memory has circuits and contact pins located on both sides of the RAM module.


DIMM memory is further divided into two types:


  • SO-DIMM Memory | Mainly used for small and portable devices like laptops and mini PCs
  • DIMM Memory |  Mainly found in Desktop PCs



Simply put, SODIMM memory is DIMM memory shrunken down with fewer pins to fit in small and portable devices that are tight on space. So your laptops and Mini PCs will most likely have these.


Here’s how the pin count changed as the SO-DIMM RAM improved over the years:

  • SO-DIMM DDR 1: 200 Pins
  • SO-DIMM DDR 2: 200 Pins
  • SO-DIMM DDR 3: 204 Pins
  • SO-DIMM DDR 4: 260 Pins
  • SO-DIMM DDR 5: 262 Pins


As we mentioned earlier, SO-DIMM RAM is smaller compared to DIMM RAM.


The following are the dimensions of different SO-DIMM RAM sticks.


  • SO-DIMM DDR 1,2 and 3: 67.6 x 31.75 mm ( 2.66 x 1.25 inches)
  • SO-DIMM DDR 4 and 5: 69.6 x 30 mm (2.74 x 1.2 inches)


DIMM Memory

DIMM RAM is the standard size for RAM sticks found in desktops. Being bigger in size, they also have more contact pins than your SODIMM RAM.


  • DIMM DDR 1: 184 Pins
  • DIMM DDR 2 and 3: 240 Pins
  • DIMM DDR 4 and 5: 288 Pins


Though the industry standard for the physical dimension of DIMM RAM is: 133.35 x 30mm (5.25″ x 1.18″ inches), your DIMM RAM size could vary depending on the type of heatsink it has, or if it has fancy RGB lighting.


Can you directly install SODIMM RAM into a Desktop PC?

Well, the answer to that question is pretty straightforward, you can not install SODIMM Laptop RAM directly into a Desktop PC. 


And it’s quite clear seeing the size difference compared to a DIMM and a SODIMM slot.


The only way to install Laptop RAM in a Desktop PC is with the help of an adapter.


So can I use a Laptop SODIMM RAM in my Desktop PC?


With the help of a SODIMM to DIMM Adapters, yes, you can install your Laptop SODIMM RAM in your Desktop PC.


However, depending on your PC’s configuration, your mileage may vary.


I have gathered experience of different people who tried using the adapter to use their Laptop RAM into their Desktop PC and all of them had mixed results.


Experience of Linus Tech Tips with DIMM Adapters


Linus from Linus Tech Tips managed to get the passive adapter working with minimal issues. He managed to boot into Windows just fine. 


Though XMP wasn’t working properly on the RAM and he had to manually increase the RAM speeds to find that sweet spot where the RAM actually worked.


It was also quite apparent that mixing actual DIMM RAM with SODIMM RAM wouldn’t work but Linus tried it anyways, and his test bench straight up refused to boot.


Also, Linus didn’t run any intensive benchmarks or used the RAM adapter for an extended period.


We also need to note that Linus tested these adapters on a dated X299 platform, we have no data as to how will it perform on relatively newer platforms.


Experience of Gear Seekers with DIMM Adapters

Gear Seekers managed to test the SODIMM Adapter with various motherboards with different chipsets from AMD and Intel.


His test concluded that these adapters are most likely going to work with Intel CPUs. AMD, on the other hand, is out of the question. Especially the AM4 platform.


This didn’t come as a surprise to me considering that Ryzen has always been quite picky when it comes to RAM. And how faster RAM significantly affected the performance of a Ryzen processor.


Furthermore, in this case, what was actually the issue with the AMD processors is that their memory controllers are integrated into the CPU. And these memory controllers do not support laptop RAM’s SPD data.


So if you are on AM4 and you were planning to try this workaround, you are out of luck.


Experience of PanoramaCircle with DIMM Adapters

PanoramaCircle experimented with AMD’s AM3+ platform by trying different SODIMM DDR3 RAMs. 


He managed to boot the system with the RAM adapter, however, it wasn’t without any issues.


He tried SODDIM RAM from different manufacturers. With two 4GB sticks of Hynix DDR3 RAM, he successfully managed to boot and run the system.


But that is the only stable config he managed to run on the AM3+ platform. After this, he tried two 4GB sticks of Mushkin RAM which resulted in crashes and BSOD. 


The unstable behavior carried on when he tried two 8GB sticks of Samsung RAM. Where he experienced unstable system behavior and frequent crashes. 


What about SODIMM DDR5 RAM Adapters?

You must have noticed that up till now we have only discussed DDR3 and DDR4 RAM here.   


And that we didn’t share any data regarding the performance of SODIMM DDR5 RAM on a Desktop PC.


Apart from the fact that DDR5 is fairly new, there are a number of reasons why I think we won’t see any DDR5 to SODIMM adapters anytime soon.


First, DDR5 function a bit differently compared to DDR4. For instance, the power management board has been moved from the motherboard to the RAM itself. 


This along with other things that affect the signal integrity of the RAM would make this complex for manufacturers to make such adapters.


Speaking of signal integrity, Dell is trying to introduce a new RAM mounting standard called CAMM that would allow DDR5 laptop RAM to run at faster speeds.


This is because the traces on a laptop motherboard that goes to the DIMM slots are long which affects signal integrity and hampers performance.


My final thoughts on using SODIMM RAM Adapters

Considering that DDR5 is the way to go and DDR4 is on its way out, I won’t recommend using this SODDIM adapter when building a brand-new PC. Even if the motherboard you plan to buy for your new build supports DDR4 RAM. 


It’s simply not worth the hassle.


However, if you already have some laptop RAM lying around in your drawer and you plan to experiment with in a secondary build, then go ahead and try these adapters out.


Here’s how to install Laptop RAM on your Desktop

After knowing everything that we have discussed before, if you still plan to use a SODIMM adapter in your PC then I would like to help you out.


Step 1: Buy a SODIMM to DIMM Adapter.

This one is pretty straightforward. There are various models available on Amazon. However, we recommend that you first check the reviews and then pull the trigger on your purchase.


You can buy this Mustpoint SODIMM DDR4 RAM Adapter that has decent reviews on Amazon.


Step 2: Shutdown your Computer

To install your SODIMM Adapter, shut down your computer. Make sure you save all necessary work you have opened in the background before you do so. Also, turn off the power supply switch from the back but keep it plugged in so your case is grounded.


Step 3: Open the side panel of your case

Unless you are comfortable working on your Desktop PC in its standing position, I advise you to lay your Desktop PC down on its side as it’s generally easier to work on it that way. 


Also if your case does not have thumb screws or any other easier way to remove the case, you might need a Phillips screwdriver.


Step 4: Remove your old RAM sticks

RAM sticks are usually installed on the right side of your CPU. You can release them by pushing on the latches on the side The RAM should pop out and you can just remove them.


Step 5: Install your SODIMM RAM into the adapter

Now you need to be a bit careful with this step. Align the notch around contact pins on the SODIMM RAM with the adapter’s slot and slide the RAM into the adapter by having it in 45 degrees.


Once you feel like you have inserted the SODIMM RAM into the adapter, gently push and lower the RAM into the slot until you hear a satisfying click. 


This satisfying click would result from the locking mechanism on the side of the adapter.


For further clarification, you can watch the following video on how to install a RAM stick into the SODIMM slot.

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Step 6: Don’t close your PC case yet, check if it works

Before you get all excited and close your PC case and put it back in place, turn your PC on first and check if everything works or not. If anything, closing up everything only to find out that you have to open up your PC case again to troubleshoot issues.

Step 7: Turn on your Computer

Now flip the power supply switch on and press the power button, You should be greeted by the POST screen that shows the current specs of your PC. Check if your PC is showing the correct amount of RAM you have installed. If you see nothing wrong, then boot into Windows.


If your PC fails to POST, then go back to your motherboard and check if your RAM is inserted properly. Try removing the RAM and inserting it back again and make sure the locking mechanism is in place and it’s doing its job. After doing that, try to boot your PC again.


Step 8: Check your RAM status in Task Manager

Open task manager by right-clicking on the taskbar and then clicking on more details, After that click on performance and then click on RAM. See once again if your RAM is showing properly.


Step 9: Put back your PC side panel and you are done!

If everything seems fine then just put back your side panel and close everything up. And that’s it!  You are done! 


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