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Old 13-08-2007, 13:23   #1
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Dual-channel, single-channel, 3 sticks memory - confused!

Hey guys,

I've just bought a new PC and equipped it with two 1GB sticks of 800MHz DDR2 memory, giving a total of (obviously) 2GB! I'm running Vista x86 (i.e. 32-bit), and for various reasons don't really want to upgrade to 64-bit.

However, I would like to have more than 2GB of memory in the system, and hence I'm looking for the optimal way to upgrade. I understand that 32-bit Vista (and other Windows OSes) have difficulty addressing more than the first 3GB of system memory, due to the way the system hardware also requires address-space under the 4GB limit. By all accounts, although it depends on BIOS and hardware slightly, most Vista systems can use 3GB, but not much more than that.

As such, I'm reluctant to buy another pair of 1GB sticks (making a total of 4GB) as I'll be wasting one stick. However, I'm confused about what will happen if I install a single 1GB stick into one of my two remaining memory slots.

My motherboard is currently configured to access the existing memory in dual-channel mode. As I see, I have three options:

1. Buy 2x1GB sticks and accept that one will be 'wasted', but have the entire memory running in dual-channel mode. Bad as it wastes money.
2. Buy 2x512MB sticks and install into the remaining two slots. How much memory is dual-channel?
3. Buy 1x1GB stick and install into one of the remaining slots. How much memory is dual-channel?

Any thoughts as to which would be the best option?
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Old 13-08-2007, 14:42   #2
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I'd guess it depends on the motherboard, mine allows you to mix the sizes so you could have 2 1 gig and 2 512 meg although the manual recommends using the same sizes though out.

It doesn't allow dual channel with 1 or 3 sticks, has to be 2 or 4 sticks.
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Old 13-08-2007, 15:54   #3
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Assuming you have a main stream computer, try www.crucial.com as their memory advisor is pretty good.

From your question it sounds like you have (at least) four RAM slots on the motherboard which is nice. I only have two, so I would have to buy a pair of 2 GB sticks to upgrade any further from my current pair of 1 GB sticks.
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Old 13-08-2007, 15:54   #4
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OK, motherboard manual says: 'You may install varying memory sizes in Channel A and Channel B. The system maps the total size of the lower-sized channel for the dual-channel configuration. Any excess memory from the higher-sized channel is then mapped for single-channel operation.'

So presumably I need 2 512mb sticks, which would give me 2GB in dual-channel mode and 1GB in single-channel mode?

The other question is, how worthwhile is dual-channel mode? I'm using this for relatively memory-intensive stuff (Photoshop mainly), so if I'm going to see a noticeable increase in performance by installing 4GB (and hence having all the memory dual-channel, even though I'd still only be able to use 3GB of it) I'd consider it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by maubp View Post
Assuming you have a main stream computer, try www.crucial.com as their memory advisor is pretty good.
Nah, I built it myself - I prefer to upgrade in bits to spread the cost, so I just upgraded to a Core 2 Quad processor, along with motherboard and memory. Motherboard is an ASUS P5B (nothing special, but perfectly adequate), and it does indeed have four RAM slots, which is nice

Last edited by snoopstah; 13-08-2007 at 15:59.
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Old 13-08-2007, 16:17   #5
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The P5B is a decent board, get another 2GB of ram since the prices are currently so cheap, might change in a few months time when the current over supply of DDR2 ram on the market dries up, DDR3 is not really needed yet.

I'm sure you can get hold of a copy of Vista x64 sometime in the future for little cost in maybe 12-18 months time when more apps are patched/updated for it.

Last edited by Bender; 13-08-2007 at 16:18.
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