[REVIEW] : YouTuber prototypes a way to use DDR4 memory on DDR5 motherboards

Why it matters: This week, a YouTuber from Taipei who may be part of the Asus ROG motherboard team prototyped an adapter for using DDR4 USB sticks on motherboards designed only for DDR5. This trick may alleviate a dilemma faced by those building or purchasing new computers with Intel’s new Alder Lake processors.

When Intel launched its Alder Lake processors in November, it allowed users to finally dabble in DDR5 RAM, if they can find it. The supply chain shortage has also affected DDR5 production, so users may want to stick with DDR4 for now. However, upgrading from DDR4 to DDR5 at a later date means replacing your entire motherboard, as motherboards currently can only support one or the other.

YouTuber Bing – an Asus employee according to the machine translation of his profile page – posted a video of his prototype adapter on Thursday, which allows him to use DDR4 RAM on an Asus Z690 DDR5 motherboard. We’ve embedded the video above, but it’s in Chinese, so change the caption settings for automatic translation.

The challenge lies in the fundamental differences between DDR4 and DDR5 modules. From the looks of the video, Bing’s prototype is still in its early stages and might not turn into something you can buy for a while. If this turns into a real product, users may buy DDR5 motherboards before they can even get their hands on DDR5 RAM and simply upgrade it whenever it becomes more available and more cost-effective.

ASUS Introduces DDR5 to DDR4 Interface on Z690 APEX Motherboard

As we told you recently, DDR5 is strongly affected by the shortage. ASUS therefore developed a prototype interface that would allow the use of DDR4 memory on any DDR5 motherboard. This prototype was presented on the Z690 APEX motherboard from ASUS.

DDR5 to DDR4 interface featured on ASUS ROG MAXIMUS Z690 APEX motherboard

The new generation of RAM, namely DDR5, is terribly difficult to obtain in addition to being expensive. Indeed, it is experiencing a shortage of PMIC and VRM modules. Moreover, the situation will not improve in the near future. However, ASUS would have found a solution by developing an interface capable of accommodating any DDR4 kit on motherboards designed for DDR5 (remember that the standards are not backward compatible). In a video by Lin Dabing Bing, we can see the operation of this module as well as its startup.

This therefore limits compatibility with some fairly large coolers such as the be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4. In addition, its imposing size is explained by the fact that all the necessary power supply (PMIC and VRM modules) is directly housed in the DDR5 modules, unlike DDR4, for which power management was managed by the motherboard. .

The top of the interface takes the DDR4 DIMM slot while the bottom fits into any DDR5 DIMM slot. Towards the end of the video, we can see the interface in operation. We see that the ASUS Z690 APEX motherboard recognizes DDR4 RAM well, although it is only compatible with DDR5. The youtubeur also specifies that it is a prototype. ASUS is said to be still working on its improvement in order to reduce its imposing size. The test interface can also receive an external 4-pin power supply, in case the power supplied is not required.

Finally, there is no indication whether this interface will be offered on the consumer market or not. The motherboard used is also a test card specially designed for this use. In addition, this would be a significant solution to obtain RAM while waiting for a possible return to normal.

A DDR4-DDR5 adapter from ASUS (prototype inside)

What a very original product from ASUS, or rather from the R&D section ofASUS : a prototype of a DDR4-DDR5 adapter, or DDR5-DDR4 depending on the point of view, which allows you to install DDR4 memory on a DDR5 motherboard. The technical differences between the two memory standards being significant, it goes without saying that this adapter does more than move the polarizer. Memory power management must be integrated, as must modification of the bus. Without forgetting that the motherboard must have its BIOS modified. The result is a rather high PCB with very long lines which should not appeal to some high-end strips.

It does not make us any younger, but we immediately thought of the great era of signed socket adapters ASRock, which took the form of some pretty bonkers expansion cards. But for once, we are less convinced by this memory adapter, while DDR4 is compatible Intel Z690 through certain models. A way like any other to make a smoother transition?

Some Asus ROG Maximus Z690 Hero motherboards have a capacitor mounted backwards

Asus is launching a replacement program.

For the past few days, owners of Asus ROG Maximus Z690 Hero motherboards have been reporting anomalies ranging from simple failure to combustion. Our colleagues from Tom’s Hardware US contacted Asus; the company acknowledged the issue and responded with a statement.

We recently received crash reports regarding the ROG Maximus Z690 Hero motherboard. As part of our ongoing investigation, we have preliminary identified a potential backwards mounted memory capacitor issue during the manufacturing process of one of the production lines which may result in the error code of debug 53, missing code, or damage to motherboard components. The issue potentially affects units manufactured in 2021 with the part number 90MB18E0-MVAAY0 and the serial number starting with MA, MB or MC. You can identify your part number by referring to the product packaging”. The company has set up a replacement program. Apparently, most affected customers reside in North America.

Two blown MOSFETs

Following the incidents reported by users, the YouTube channel had conducted investigations and made the same diagnosis as Asus. All affected motherboards show the same symptom: two MOSFETs out of order (handling 5V for several CPU components). They are in fact the collateral victims of a capacitor placed right next to it, which turns out to be mounted upside down on defective models. According to the explanations of TH.US, this capacitor would reverse the polarity of the two MOSFETs. Like what, manufacturing defects do not spare motherboards sold for more than 600 euros either.

ASUS Introduces ROG DDR5 to DDR4 Adapter Board, Test Unit Working with Z690 APEX Motherboard

ASUS DDR5 to DDR4 adapter card shown with Z690 APEX motherboard

Getting DDR5 memory is really expensive, and that’s even if you can find some as there’s a looming shortage that won’t get better until late next year. As such, ASUS has created an interesting prototype board that allows you to use DDR4 memory cards on any DDR5 motherboard. In Lynn’s video Dabbing bing, you can not only see the test board, but you can also run the DDR4 module on the DDR5 motherboard.

The ASUS ROG-branded adapter card is a very tall unit, so you may experience issues with some air coolers. The adapter board would have all the necessary power circuitry on itself, since motherboard manufacturers have removed most of the power management from Intel 600 series boards that support DDR5. This is because power/voltage (PMIC) chips were ported to DDR5 modules while in DDR4 power was managed on motherboards.

The top of the adapter card features a standard DDR4 DIMM slot while the bottom slots are in any DDR5 DIMM slot. The YouTuber showed a demo of the Z690 motherboard running a DDR4 memory module and it was also detected in the BIOS even though the motherboard is officially DDR5 compatible. He also explains that this is an early prototype, which is why the height of the PCB is so tall, but this is something ASUS is focusing on to improve for future iterations. The breadboard also has a spare 4-pin connector in case the boot sequence power supply is insufficient.

It has not been said if the adapter card will make it to the retail sector as it is still a prototype and even the ROG Maximus Z690 APEX used in the demo was a test card designed specifically for testing DDR5 compatibility with DDR4 but it will certainly make things easier for users if DDR5 availability remains an issue. Throughout 2022.