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How much does dual channel memory matter?


kylejwx
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It seems that 2x 4GB of ram is about the same price as 1x 8GB of ram.  Would it not be smarter to buy one 8GB stick now and then add another when budget allowed?  It seems that the 2x 4GB modules are almost throwing you money away if the plan is to have 16 or 32 in the future.

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That's a tough one. Dual-channel is definitely a performance booster. However, if you really are planning to upgrade the RAM, then a 1x8 might be better. The downside to doing it piecemeal is that you won't have matched RAM sticks. That can matter.

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It depends on how soon you'll need the extra memory capacity. If you're working on a limited budget now but intend to upgrade the memory size within the next couple of paydays, then go with the larger, single stick memory.

 

It will take some performance hit (roughly 18-20% slower) but it's a small price to pay to buy you some scalability.

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Oh, I see. I had not considered that the matching 8gn stick may be discontinued by the time one is ready to make the upgrade.

 

Let's assume that the same module is available in the future. Do two modules , sold separately, become dual channel when added together? Or do they have to be sold as part of a 'dual channel kit?'

It depends on how soon you'll need the extra memory capacity. If you're working on a limited budget now but intend to upgrade the memory size within the next couple of paydays, then go with the larger, single stick memory.

 

It will take some performance hit (roughly 18-20% slower) but it's a small price to pay to buy you some scalability.

 

I am thinking like one year later.

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Server? Personally, I'd cough up some more cash and get 2x 8GB matching sticks now. You can always figure out different ways to fill those up with workloads (ie. VMs) now and not wait for another year.

 

If you still feel it's overkill, 2x 4GB sticks should suffice and just sell them later or put them in a future PC/server build or to upgrade an existing desktop.

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Actually, it's a bit more complicated. It's not only a matter of the same 8GB module being available a year later, it is also a matter of whether they're sold as a matching set.

 

Two DIMMS of the same part number are not identical. There are manufacturing tolerances involved. That's why manufacturers sell DIMMS in matching sets. They're not only the same part number; they have also been tested at the factory to be very close matches in tolerance, so they will perform better together than 2 randomly selected single DIMMS of the same part number.

 

So, will 2 DIMMS of the same part number do dual-channel if bought separately as single sticks (not part of a matched set). Sure, they will. Will they perform as well as a matched set? Perhaps, if you happen to get lucky and get 2 single sticks that are close matches to each other, but the odds aren't all that good.

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All good advice. It's been my experience that piecemeal-ing your RAM over a period of time is a bad idea. If your buying RAM, either buy and use only 1 stick, or buy your sticks in pairs that are matched, and place those matched sticks into the dual channel slots that are paired together. Refer to your motherboard's manual to make sure your putting them in correctly. Sometimes RAM slots are color coded (or numbered) to show the pairs.

 

If you want to upgrade in the future, sell or toss all the old RAM sticks and do a proper upgrade....don't add to older sticks...it's not worth it.

Edited by Diligent
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Since most motherboards support 4 x DIMMs anyway, why not go 2x4GB now and buy 2 x 8GB when you have the funds. Then use all four? I know, I know, all four won't "match" and some motherboards have issues with four DIMMs. But if it works, then you have even more RAM for VM use. 

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As long as the modules in each pair match each other, the odds of success go up in my experience. IOW, the 2 pairs don't have to match as long as the members of each pair do.

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