What Is The Difference between DDR3 and DDR3L?

What is the difference between DDR3 and DDR3L? DDR3 Operates at a standard voltage of 1.5 volts (V) while DDR3L operates at a lower voltage of 1.35 volts (V) or 1.25 volts (V).DDR3L is often referred to as low-voltage DDR3.

DDR3 (Double Data Rate 3) and DDR3L (Double Data Rate 3 Low Voltage) are types of synchronous dynamic random-access memory (SDRAM) used in computer systems.

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Difference between DDR3 and DDR3L (With Table)

Basic Terms



Operating Voltage

1.5 volts

1.35 volts or 1.25 volts

Power Consumption

Consumes more power

More energy-efficient, lower power consumption


Standard 1.5V; used in older systems

Compatible with both 1.5V and 1.35V or 1.25V systems

Heat Generation

May generate more heat

Generates less heat, improved thermal performance

Use Cases

Found in older computers

Commonly used in laptops and mobile devices


Less flexible due to higher voltage

More flexible, compatible with different voltage requirements


Typically more cost-effective

May be slightly more expensive due to additional technology


Similar performance to DDR3

Comparable performance with lower power consumption


Older technology

Incorporates more recent energy-efficient technology


Widely available

Increasingly common in newer devices

What Is DDR3?

DDR3, or Double Data Rate 3, is a type of synchronous dynamic random-access memory (SDRAM) that is commonly used in computer systems. It is the third generation of the DDR SDRAM family, succeeding DDR2 and preceding DDR4. DDR3 memory modules provide faster data transfer rates, improved bandwidth, and higher capacities compared to DDR2.

Key features of DDR3 include:

  1. Higher Data Transfer Rates: DDR3 memory provides higher data transfer rates compared to DDR2. The transfer rates are typically specified in megatransfers per second (MT/s) and are denoted by the DDR3-XXXX notation, where “XXXX” represents the maximum data transfer rate.

  2. Increased Bandwidth: DDR3 offers increased bandwidth, allowing for more efficient data transmission between the memory and the processor. This contributes to improved overall system performance.

  3. Reduced Power Consumption: DDR3 operates at a lower voltage compared to DDR2, typically at 1.5 volts. This reduction in operating voltage helps decrease power consumption and heat generation, contributing to improved energy efficiency.

  4. Higher Capacities: DDR3 modules are available in higher capacities, allowing for the installation of larger amounts of RAM in a system. This is beneficial for memory-intensive applications and multitasking.

  5. Improved Signal Integrity: DDR3 incorporates improved signal integrity features, including on-die termination (ODT) and other technologies that enhance the reliability of data transmission.

  6. Backward Compatibility: DDR3 memory modules are not backward compatible with DDR2 slots due to differences in key parameters such as voltage and physical design. However, DDR3 slots are backward compatible with DDR2 modules, but at the lower data transfer rates of DDR2.

  7. Standardization: DDR3 has been widely adopted as a standard memory technology in desktops, laptops, and servers. It became the mainstream memory type for many computer systems during its usage peak.

What Is DDR3L?

DDR3L, or Double Data Rate 3 Low Voltage, is a variant of DDR3 memory designed to operate at lower voltages, specifically 1.35 volts or 1.25 volts. It was developed to address concerns about power consumption and heat generation in computing devices, particularly in mobile devices like laptops and ultrabooks.

Key features of DDR3L include:

  1. Low Operating Voltage: The most distinctive feature of DDR3L is its lower operating voltage compared to standard DDR3. DDR3L memory operates at 1.35 volts (L for “Low”) or, in some cases, at an even lower voltage of 1.25 volts. This lower voltage contributes to reduced power consumption and heat generation.

  2. Compatibility: DDR3L memory is designed to be backward compatible with standard DDR3 memory slots. This means that DDR3L modules can operate at the higher voltage of 1.5 volts when installed in DDR3 slots. However, DDR3 modules are not compatible with DDR3L slots due to the potential for overvoltage.

  3. Energy Efficiency: The lower operating voltage of DDR3L makes it well-suited for devices where energy efficiency is a critical factor. This is particularly important in laptops and other portable devices where battery life is a key consideration.

  4. Thermal Performance: DDR3L’s lower operating voltage contributes to improved thermal performance, helping to keep temperatures lower during memory-intensive tasks. This can be beneficial for the overall cooling efficiency of a device.

  5. Standardization: DDR3L has been widely adopted in laptops, ultrabooks, and other mobile devices, where the focus on energy efficiency and thermal management is crucial. It became a common memory type in systems designed for power-conscious users.

Main Difference between DDR3 and DDR3L

  1. Operating Voltage:

    • DDR3: Operates at 1.5 volts.
    • DDR3L: Operates at lower voltages of 1.35 volts or 1.25 volts.
  2. Power Consumption:

    • DDR3: Generally consumes more power.
    • DDR3L: Designed for lower power consumption.
  3. Compatibility:

    • DDR3: Standard voltage; not all systems support DDR3L.
    • DDR3L: Backward compatible with DDR3; operates at lower voltage.
  4. Energy Efficiency:

    • DDR3: May be less energy-efficient.
    • DDR3L: Specifically designed for enhanced energy efficiency.
  5. Thermal Performance:

    • DDR3: May generate more heat.
    • DDR3L: Improved thermal performance due to lower operating voltage.
  6. Common Usage:

    • DDR3: Common in older systems; widely used in desktops.
    • DDR3L: Common in laptops, ultrabooks, and power-efficient devices.
  7. Voltage Flexibility:

    • DDR3: Operates only at 1.5 volts.
    • DDR3L: Operates at both lower (1.35V or 1.25V) and standard (1.5V) voltages.
  8. Backward Compatibility:

    • DDR3: Not backward compatible with DDR2.
    • DDR3L: Backward compatible with DDR3, but not with DDR2.
  9. System Support:

    • DDR3: Used in a wide range of systems, especially older ones.
    • DDR3L: Commonly used in modern laptops and mobile devices.
  10. Market Availability:

    • DDR3: Widely available but being phased out.
    • DDR3L: Commonly available for devices requiring low power consumption.

Similarities between DDR3 and DDR3L

  1. DDR3L memory is backward compatible with DDR3 slots, allowing DDR3L modules to operate in DDR3 systems at the higher voltage.
  2. Both DDR3 and DDR3L memory modules may have similar CAS (Column Address Strobe) latency values, influencing memory access speed.
  3. Both DDR3 and DDR3L are available in various memory module types, including DIMM (Dual In-Line Memory Module) and SO-DIMM (Small Outline Dual In-Line Memory Module).
  4. Both DDR3 and DDR3L offer similar data transfer rates, as they are based on the same DDR3 technology.
  5. Both DDR3 and DDR3L modules share the same physical form factor and pin configuration.
  6. Both DDR3 and DDR3L are types of Double Data Rate 3 synchronous dynamic random-access memory (DDR3 SDRAM).


The difference between DDR3 and DDR3L lies predominantly in their operating voltages, with DDR3L designed for reduced power consumption and improved energy efficiency. While DDR3 operates at a standard voltage of 1.5 volts, DDR3L offers flexibility by functioning at lower voltages of 1.35 volts or 1.25 volts.

This distinction makes DDR3L well-suited for modern mobile devices, laptops, and other applications prioritizing power-conscious design. As technology advances, DDR3L’s specialized characteristics address the evolving demands of energy-efficient computing, while DDR3 remains a prevalent but less power-efficient option, particularly in older systems.

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