If you’re a beginner, you may be confused about where you should install your RAM sticks, luckily it isn’t as complicated as it seems. You have to ensure you’re installing the RAM in the right slot to get the most performance out of your PC. If you have more than one RAM stick, then this guide is perfect for you as you’ll be able to benefit from dual-channel memory.
Dual-Channel is a configuration where your system memory will work in pairs which will significantly boost system performance. This is because dual-channel memory will provide double the data rate compared to single-channel memory, you will experience a huge performance boost using this config.
Answer: Dual-channel memory will work in pairs such as 2x4GB, 2x8GB, and 4x4GB, if you only have two RAM sticks, the general rule of thumb is to install them in the furthest apart slots, this will ensure that they’re running in dual channel. But always consult with your motherboard manufacturer or manual for the correct answer.
What Are DIMM Slots?
DIMM slots are the slots that will house your system memory, they’re located on the motherboard, and most motherboards will have around 4 DIMM slots. But it generally varies with the motherboards form factor, larger motherboards such as EATX boards can have up to 8 DIMM slots. And smaller motherboards may only have around 2 DIMM slots.
While the DIMM slots on your motherboard may look the same, they technically aren’t. DIMM slots are color-coded for a reason, it’s letting you know where to install your RAM modules. If you have two identical RAM sticks, your goal is to install them in different color slots.
Not all DIMM/RAM slots are the same, for example, DDR4 DIMM slots are only able to house DDR4 RAM modules. You can’t install DDR3 RAM into DDR4 slots as they’re not cross-compatible. DDR3 memory modules won’t line up as the notch is in a completely different place
Tips When Installing RAM
The first and most important tip when installing RAM is to actually make sure it’s installed. When you install RAM listen to for an audible click, this means the RAM is properly seated in the slot. If you don’t heat a click, then try reinstalling it. RAM that isn’t installed properly will cause your system not to boot, this is one of the most annoying issues when building a PC.
If you’re using more than one RAM stick, ensure that you’re installing the RAM into the right slot for dual-channel support. This will result in performance gains which is measurable across the board. In games, you may experience more FPS, and for video editing, you may experience faster rendering times.
If you’re upgrading your RAM, ensure you purchase identical modules if you’re not looking to completely replace them. This is because identical modules are necessary for Dual-channel performance.
|12GB||1X4 + 1X8GB||No|
Why Is Dual-Channel Better Than Single-Channel?
Dual-Channel is able to double the amount of data being transferred between the RAM and the memory controller, this will half the latency. This improvement in performance will have a noticeable impact on most memory-intensive applications. If you’re a video editor, you will definitely want your RAM installed in the right slot for Dual-Channel benefits.
Even if you are not a hardcore gamer or video editor, using the dual-channel configuration is a great practice that will boost the performance of your system without any extra hardware. Keep in mind, that dual-channel only works if you have more than one memory stick installed, and they have to be identical in capacity.
Although you can mix and match RAM of different capacities and speeds, it’s best practice to use identical memory sticks. Mixing and matching RAM can have negative effects such as system instability and crashes.
- Increased memory bandwidth.
- More stable overclocks.
- Lower latencies.
- Increased stability when using multiple graphics cards.
- Potentially higher frame rates in games.
- Ability to use all four slots on a motherboard with quad-channel memory support.
- You can’t take advantage of dual-channel if your RAM sticks are of different capacities
- If one stick fails, then you lose dual-channel benefits.
- It’s more expensive to use more than one RAM stick.
Why You Shouldn’t Mix RAM
When you mix unidentical RAM sticks together, you run the risk of compatibility and stability issues. When you mix RAM, you can throw the memory controller off which can lead to issues such as BSODS and system crashes. So it’s best to ensure that the capacity, RAM speed, and timings are all identical.
Also, mixing RAM capacities can result in weird 12GB configs which on paper seem good, but don’t support the full dual-channel bandwidth. When you run a 12GB setup, it will run in Asynchronous dual channel which is slower than dual-channel, this is usually due to one stick being different in size.
- You can usually get away with it
- If one RAM stick fails, you still have a backup
- It’s cheaper than buying all new RAM
- Mixing RAM can sometimes cause compatibility issues
- It can be more difficult to troubleshoot if something goes wrong
- You may not get the full speed potential from your RAM
In conclusion, you need to be careful of what DIMM slots you use as you can end up running your memory in an inefficient configuration. If you’re using more than one RAM stick, it’s best to install your RAM sticks in the furthest apart slots. The slots should be color-coded so you know what slots to install them in.
Dual-channel is the ideal configuration you’re looking for, this is because it increases the memory bandwidth by double effectively halving the latency. you will experience performance gains across the board whether it’s in video editing or gaming.
And finally, mixing RAM capacities does not work in dual channel, your RAM sticks need to be identical in size at least.