RAM

Laptop RAM vs Desktop RAM – Head to Head Comparison

Now that both laptops and desktops come with  RAM, you may be wondering if laptop RAM and desktop RAM are the same or different. To begin with, laptop RAM is smaller in size, while desktop RAM is extensively larger in size. The major difference between desktop and laptop RAM lies in the number of pins. While the laptop RAM has 204 pins, desktop RAM comes with 240 pins. The desktop RAM has a length of 4.5 inches, and the laptop RAM comes with a length of 3 inches. 

That apart, there are a few other differences between laptop RAM and desktop RAM. Let us explore a few more details on the desktop RAM and laptop RAM. That is something we want to focus on. 

Desktop RAM & Laptop RAM – The Complete Overview


Laptop and desktop RAMs have their own properties. We will try to understand the differences between laptop RAM and Desktop RAM.

Desktop RAM

Desktops use Dual In-line Memory Modules (DIMM). The DIMM type of memory module has several memory chips installed on a single circuit board. The DIMMs are the standard memory types used on a desktop. Desktop computers come with better performance. 

The DIMM memory modules provide you access to 64-bit data speeds. They are generally compatible with almost all computer systems. These RAM modules have replaced the older generation of SIM (Single In-Line Memory) modules. They used the 32-bit memory path. 

Desktop RAM

The DIMMs are also known as dynamic RAM or DRAM. These memory modules use a transistor and capacitor pair. The memory does keep refreshing the content to avoid the possibility of losing the data. 

Laptop RAM

Laptops use SO-DIMM or Small Outline Dual In-Line Memory Module. It can be considered to be the skimmed down version of the DIMM modules. The SO-DIMMs are available as integrated circuits. Today’s laptops use SO-DIMM as their primary memory source.  

Laptop RAM

The size of the SO-DIMMs is almost half of that of DIMM modules. They are thus relatively smaller in size and can be a good choice for use in a compact machine. 

Desktop RAM Vs Laptop RAM – The Key Differences


Both desktop RAM and laptop RAM come with a similar function that they would perform, but they do come with a few key differences. 

The Size 

The physical size of the desktop RAM is larger than the laptop RAM. The laptop RAM has lengths of up to 3 inches. The corresponding number for the desktop RAM is 4.5 inches. The laptop RAM has  204 pins, and the desktop RAM is equipped with 240 pins. 

Compatibility

The DIMMs are used in a desktop system, while the laptops come with SO-DIMMs. They are entirely different and are not compatible with the other respective motherboards. The desktop RAM and laptop RAM could be installed interchangeably during the initial phase of development. However, the newer versions of RAM do not work with each other. 

Upgradeability

There may be other factors that would impact your choice of RAM for a laptop or desktop. However, if you are a PC enthusiast, upgradeability is definitely an important factor to consider. Many laptop manufacturers do not provide upgradability through a soldered RAM module. However, there are several laptops that Provide options for RAM upgradeability. In the case of desktops, you always have the option for upgradation as most of the desktops let you choose the RAM as per your preferences. 

Voltages

The voltage requirements are one of the areas that would differentiate a laptop RAM from desktop RAM. The voltages required for a desktop RAM would be between 1.5 to 2.5 V. this will be helpful for using the memory modules used by different manufacturers on a single system. The laptop modules have a voltage of between 1.2 to 1.65 V. Since the laptop modules are smaller in size as they tend to have a lower voltage. Desktop computers come with better voltage handling capability. 

Capacity

The capacity of the RAM is one of the factors that assume a lot of essence in deciding the differences between desktop RAM and laptop RAM. Desktop RAM holds more data than laptop RAM. This can be useful in handling larger files and resource-hungry applications. However, in recent times, the difference between the two is thinning considerably. 

Slots

The slots on the RAM module are yet another minor but essential difference between laptop RAM and desktop TRAM. The laptop RAM is generally installed in one slot or one bank. The desktop RAM, on the other hand, is designed in such a way that you are allowed to install much larger memory simultaneously. Since the laptop has lesser space, it will be possible to install only one or two RAM modules. 

BIOS support 

The desktop RAM is more likely to run into issues with the BIOS utility. Since BIOS needs to recognize all the memory modules installed, it is expected to encounter many compatibility issues. If there are incompatible memory modules, you are likely to end up with boot issues. The laptop RAM, on the other hand, has a lesser possibility of running into problems. The laptop RAM bank is much smaller, and it has a lower possibility of incompatibility errors. 

Desktop RAM Vs Laptop RAM Comparison Table


Laptop RAM

Desktop RAM

Smaller in size, typically measuring around 260-pin SO-DIMMLarger in size, typically measuring around 240-pin DIMM
Lower voltage requirement, typically 1.35V or 1.5VHigher voltage requirement, typically 1.5V or 1.65V
Typically available in capacities up to 16GBTypically available in capacities up to 64GB or higher
More expensive per GB compared to desktop RAMLess expensive per GB compared to laptop RAM
Often sold in pairs (e.g. 2x4GB)Often sold in individual sticks
Can be upgraded by replacing existing RAM modulesCan be upgraded by adding additional RAM modules
Can be used in both laptops and some small form factor desktopsCan be used in desktops, servers and some workstations
Has lower heat dissipationHas higher heat dissipation
Has lower power consumptionHas higher power consumption

Why Won’t My RAM Work?


There are several reasons that cause your RAM to malfunction or stop working. You have several reasons that cause the errors and issues. Finding the exact reasons is the right step in understanding why won’t your RAM work. 

One of the possible reasons that can result in a non-working RAM can be RAM incompatibility with the motherboard. In such a scenario, you need to check for compatibility between the two components. Another possible cause for a non-working RAM can be dirty electrical contacts. If your RAM is not being detected, remove it and clean the contacts before reinstalling it. We recommend using a simple cotton swab dipped in alcohol to clean the electrical contacts. The laptop motherboard or desktop motherboard compatibility is a great option. 

What Can Damage the RAM?


A few of the reasons that can cause your RAM not to work can include:

  • Power surges can damage your RAM. Do note that power surges can kill even other components on your RAM
  • Issues with the grounding are one of the reasons for your RAM getting damaged
  • Excessive heat is yet another reason that can result in a non-working RAM. Check if your cooling system is working fine 
  • If you have been overclocking your system, you will end up with damaged RAM due to excess heat generation.

Can Laptop RAM be Used on Desktops?


A laptop RAM is specifically designed to work on laptops that do not have higher voltage or power requirements. Laptop RAM is designed to run at a lower voltage. It will not run efficiently in a desktop since it requires high voltage. It is more likely that the laptop memory installed on a desktop is more likely to fail sooner. 

However, technically, there is no issue with installing the laptop RAM on a desktop. It would work and can be an excellent option to go with if you are looking to install a cheaper computer memory on your desktop. The laptop RAM can work efficiently on a desktop if it is supported and compatible with the motherboard. 

You need to undertake research into whether your desktop motherboard supports the laptop RAM that you are planning to install on your device. It is necessary to ensure compatibility between laptop RAM and motherboard to avoid facing any issues. 

Is Laptop RAM Slower than Desktop RAM?


Laptop RAM is slower than desktop RAM. However, as far as my experience goes, the desktop RAM is definitely faster than the laptop RAM. The desktop is more powerful and also cheaper. However, portability is an added advantage on a laptop. 

Laptops can provide the same power, and performance if they can be adequately cooled. They will also be performing equally well if they can have enough power to sustain continuous usage. 

The Concluding Thoughts


Multiple types of RAM modules exist for different requirements. You will find that there are numerous options for laptop RAM and desktop RAM. Both laptop RAM and desktop RAM come with their own advantages and plus points. The information shared above should prove to be quite impressive. 

Frequently Asked Questions


Can I use desktop RAM on a laptop?

It is fine to use the desktop RAM on a laptop. But you need to meet a few requirements. Your motherboard should support the RAM module that you are planning to install on your laptop. Only some of the motherboards support every other RAM module. 

Is PC RAM less expensive than laptop RAM?

Yes, desktop RAM is definitely a pricier option than laptop RAM. It is designed to withstand more temperatures and can work better than RAM on a laptop. 

Are desktop RAM and laptop RAM the same?

The desktop and laptop RAM are quite different. They can have multiple differences in terms of price, compatibility, slots, power, and voltage requirements.

About the author

Timmappa Kamat

Timmappa Kamat is an expert in PC components with over 10 years of experience in the field. He has a deep understanding of the latest technologies and trends in the PC industry and is well-versed in the performance and capabilities of various components such as CPUs, GPUs, motherboards, and RAM. He has written extensively about computers online. He has a degree in computer science from One of the best universities in his city and continues to stay up-to-date on the latest advancements in the field.

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About the Author

Timmappa Kamat is an expert in PC components with over 10 years of experience in the field. He has a deep understanding of the latest technologies and trends in the PC industry and is well-versed in the performance and capabilities of various components such as CPUs, GPUs, motherboards, and RAM. He has written extensively about computers online. He has a degree in computer science from One of the best universities in his city and continues to stay up-to-date on the latest advancements in the field.