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2 DIMMs vs 4 DIMMs - 4GB Dual Channel Memory

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January 18, 2008 3:23:57 PM

Hi all,

I'll be buying 4GB of Dual Channel memory soon. There are two options: 2 x 2GB Dual Channel Kit (4 sticks of 1GB in total), or 1 x 4GB Dual Channel Kit (2 sticks of 2GB in total).

Assume timing and quality are exactly the same, is there any "Performance" difference between these configuration? In another word, is one config "faster" than the other? if so, how is it faster?

I've seen arguement on both sides. I would like to hear expert opinion on this matter. Thanks so much!

Yours,
TigersUnlimited
January 18, 2008 4:02:49 PM

Until we do get a real expert in here, I will give it a shot as I have been looking into this matter myself for the past few weeks.

Most reviews and forums I've read say that using only 2 Dimms is more stable than using all 4. This also allows for easier overclocking if that is necessary. In addition, less heat is produced.

2x2gb Modules at timings and frequencies on par with 2x1gb modules are few and far between, and come at a high premium.

For stability and overclocking purposes, I myself will be purchasing a 2x2gb. I just cant decide on which brand! Pobably Mushkin.

You can of course still go with 4x1gbmodules and use all 4 Dimms, but some Mobos will require you to tweak some settings in order to cooperate.

I've never had anyone suggest 4x1gb over 2x2gb unless EXTREMELY tight timings and high frequencies were required. You won't see much of a difference, IF ANY, from 4-4-4-12 to 5-5-5-15, especially on an intel.

I hope that helps, even though I'm not an expert!

Good luck.
January 18, 2008 4:12:22 PM

Thank you Beurling, for your analysis on this. From what I can gather if I understand you correctly, it sounds like there is NO significant performance difference between 4 x 1GB and 2 x 2GB, despite other issues (like heat or tight timings). Did I get that right?

Thanks!

Comments from others are welcome too!!! Thank you!

Yours,
Leo Yeung
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January 18, 2008 4:44:36 PM

beurling is correct I believe also...

To my understanding the main issue with 4*1 modules is OC...Any case should dissipate the heat easily...

I personally went with 4*1 due to price, I don’t care about the milliseconds difference in speed ill gain... its not worth the $ more you need to spend.
a b } Memory
January 18, 2008 7:30:48 PM

Yah - Buerling has the gist of it: From an electronics point of view, 4 chips are harder to drive than two and it is common to find Mobos who don't like to run 4 (high performance, anyhow) modules without at least som extra attention.

Also, if you decide to make the leap to a 64 bit OS, then upgrading to 8GB of RAM is also a possibility.
February 4, 2008 2:00:41 AM

I would have to agree but I would like to see some hard info on the topic. Most motherboards will not offer the settings in bios to deal with the 4 dimm and overclocking also. Like right now I have my 2x1gb Firestix DDR800@1000 with 4-5-4-9-12 timings but if the bios didn't offer various drive strength settings in dram menu then this would be impossible, but boy do they fly. 10800 in sandra and around 10000 in everest.
February 4, 2008 5:45:30 PM

Im going 4x1 Gb of better quality ram because I prefered the lower timings. As for heat, you can get a corsair memory fan to keep them cool. But motherboards tend to throw fits with all four ram slots filled in, hopefully any problems will be ironed out with future drivers.
February 4, 2008 6:11:44 PM

I heard that these 2 are probably some of the best out there:

OCZ Gold 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400)

G.SKILL 4GB(2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400)
February 4, 2008 6:31:10 PM

-Not really. It depends on your mobo.
Some will have the same speed and be true D.C. w/4 sticks of D.C. mem. Get the next fastest RAM in 4x1GB configs. than you would in a 2x2GB kit.(1,066x4sticks)(800x2sticks) for O.C.ing. Solves all the messy problems. Timings are not that important anymore, in the 4GB+ world. Esp. when you have Dual and Quad CPUs @3GB involved. Unless you really care if the game loads 2sec. faster or not. Frame rate differences in games are negligible in the ddr2/3 timing race anyways. Everything is better and faster w/4GB though, I must admit.
* Hope I helped some.
February 4, 2008 6:37:45 PM

This question has come up before in several other forums but there has never been a good clear answer. Overclocking, upgrdability, and temp. aside, I would suspect that 4x1 would be slightly faster than 2x2 because there would be more interleaving. Interleaving means that the data is spread out across more memory chips. While some chips are waiting for their CAS timing cycle to complete, data access can occur from the other chips.

The thing is, it really depends on the the northbridge implementation. The NB must be able to take advantage of interleaving across 4 DIMMs and I don't know which NBs do and which don't. I suspect the most of the Xeon NBs can interleave across 4 DIMMs, in fact most of those NBs require DIMMs to be installed in groups of four. I'm not sure about the consumer NB lines such as P35, 965, and nForce 680i, the answer could be different for each chipset...

I know this does not directly answer your question. I am quite certain that 4x1 will never be slower than 2x2, it will either be the same or faster if the NB supports 4 way interleave.
February 4, 2008 6:48:58 PM

I think david714 is right on there. In my experiences with the 4x1GB solution vs. the 2x2GB solution, I've had much better experiences overclocking the 4x1GB solution.

The 128x8, even though catching up to a 64x8 chip solution, cannot overclock as well. Certain motherboards have problems with the 128x8 800Mhz line (965, P35, X38), while a 64x8 solution has a little bit more stability. The 680i, the best for overclocking memory in my opinion, is pretty stable at both the 4x1GB and the 2x2GB. So depending on the board (and northbridge), I would give a slight edge to the 64x8 (given price and performance).

Of course, this is all opinion based :) .
February 4, 2008 7:22:39 PM

I was having some issues with my 4*1 ram config in Vista64.

Two days ago I discovered there was a BIOS update that addresses the issue. After flashing the BIOS all 4 sticks run beautifully together.

LONG story short… make sure you have an up to date BIOS, which is pretty much general knowledge.
February 5, 2008 5:42:11 AM

My question is this. I currently have 2x1g of Crucial Ballistix 1066. I was going to get Vista 64bit here in a few months and was wondering if I was to get two more 2x2g sticks if they would be compatible with the other 2x1 sticks? Or if I would have to get the same 2x1g sticks to match the others?

February 5, 2008 6:24:48 AM

Quote:
Intel claims better performance using 4 smaller dimms than 2 larger ones with C2d's. However I think its bs and you would never notice the difference.


Thats only for FB-DIMM's, desktop ram is different.

General rule of thumb - least sticks, and most matching/matched.

2x2gb will give you your 4gb, Intels FSB and Cache design makes lower latency ram less necicary (not as much of a gain as an AMD based system) and 2x2gb will also give you the option later down the track to add more ram to your rig.
February 6, 2008 4:31:45 PM

I wish they sold 2x2GB kits for 939 boards.
February 6, 2008 4:56:48 PM

The big question is, are you overclocking?

4x1GB is better value, but 2x2Gb is easier to OC and provides a path for future RAM upgrades. If you want to overclock I would make sure you get memory with Micron D9 modules http://ramlist.ath.cx/ddr2/. There aren't many Micron based 2x2GB kits, and they are more expensive.

I picked up my 2 sets of Crucial Ballistix 2x1GB PC2-6400 for ~ $90 after shipping (4GB total). Crucial is Micron's memory brand, so you always get Micron. When going from 2x1GB to 4X1GB, the only settings I had to tweak for overclocking were NB and VTT voltages.


P.S. - Just saw that there is a Mushkin set of 2x2GB w/ D9s for $144, that seems reasonable http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
February 11, 2008 3:43:01 PM



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July 10, 2012 12:21:28 PM

Why would anyone want to overclock a RAM, 1600Mhz RAM is more than enough for the i7 3770k, even when it's overclocked to maximum. Unless of course you're trying to break the world record that is!

The question was if there are any performance advantages to fill all 4 slots over filling the 2 slots.

And the answer is: NO THERE IS NOT!!!! IF THERE WERE IT WOULD'VE BEEN CALLED QUAD CHANNEL MEMORY!!!

IF YOU DON'T BELIEVE ME, BUY A MOBO WITH 2 MEMORY SLOTS AND THE 4 SLOT VERSION OF IT AND INSTALL EXACTLY SAME ITEMS ON BOTH OF THEM AND FILL THE 4 SLOTS TO MATCH THE CAPACITY OF THE 2 SLOT MEMORY MOBO AND RUN A TEST, BENCHMARK OR A VERY HIGH MEMORY REQUIRED GAMES OR TASK!

YOU WON'T SEE ANY DIFFERENCE OR PERFORMANCE ADVANTAGE FROM THE 4 SLOT MOBO
July 10, 2012 10:12:02 PM

muujig612 said:
Why would anyone want to overclock a RAM, 1600Mhz RAM is more than enough for the i7 3770k, even when it's overclocked to maximum. Unless of course you're trying to break the world record that is!

The question was if there are any performance advantages to fill all 4 slots over filling the 2 slots.

And the answer is: NO THERE IS NOT!!!! IF THERE WERE IT WOULD'VE BEEN CALLED QUAD CHANNEL MEMORY!!!

IF YOU DON'T BELIEVE ME, BUY A MOBO WITH 2 MEMORY SLOTS AND THE 4 SLOT VERSION OF IT AND INSTALL EXACTLY SAME ITEMS ON BOTH OF THEM AND FILL THE 4 SLOTS TO MATCH THE CAPACITY OF THE 2 SLOT MEMORY MOBO AND RUN A TEST, BENCHMARK OR A VERY HIGH MEMORY REQUIRED GAMES OR TASK!

YOU WON'T SEE ANY DIFFERENCE OR PERFORMANCE ADVANTAGE FROM THE 4 SLOT MOBO



4 sticks of ram doesnt equal quad channel

maybe for what YOU use a system for 2 slots will do, for me? IT WILL NOT

4 slot board = upgrade options and usually a higher maximum memory support = good thing

DONT assume your requirements are the same as others

more memory doesnt equal better benchmark performance that doesnt mean squat why dont you benchmark 512mb vs 16gb if its the same on the benchmarks why dont you use 512mb or less?
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