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Alternatives to Intel chipsets for Core 2 duo/quad?

Last response: in Motherboards
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June 24, 2009 12:32:26 AM

A friend says he's seen Duo and Quad desktops for sale with odd-amounts of memory (e.g., 3 GB). That sounds strange to me because I believe memory should be installed in equal-size pairs on motherboards using dual-channel chipsets (e.g., 2+2, or 2+2+2+2, but not 2+1). All Intel chipsets for Duo and Quad I know of are dual-channel, so I'm wondering: Are there compatible triple-channel chipsets available from other vendors?

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a b } Memory
a b V Motherboard
June 24, 2009 12:54:54 AM

Nope. All Core 2 compatible chipsets are dual channel. If you see something for sale with 3 GB, there are a couple of possibilities. First, they are running with 2 DIMMS in 1 channel, and 1 DIMM in the other channel (which usually forces it to run in single channel mode). Alternatively, if you install one matched set of 1GB sticks and one matched set of 512 MB sticks, you could get it to run dual channel at 3GB capacity.
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June 24, 2009 2:07:47 AM

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Nope. All Core 2 compatible chipsets are dual channel.

Are there alternatives to Intel's?
Quote:
Alternatively, if you install one matched set of 1GB sticks and one matched set of 512 MB sticks, you could get it to run dual channel at 3GB capacity.

Hadn't thought of this possibility, and I'd bet that's it. Thanks!
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a b } Memory
a b V Motherboard
June 24, 2009 3:41:58 AM

There are some Nvidia chipsets, though from my experience, they run hotter and are less stable and more difficult to overclock than Intel chipsets. The only good reason to get one that I can think of is if you want to run SLI.
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June 24, 2009 3:48:46 AM

Ok. Thanks again.
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June 24, 2009 5:22:07 AM

What would happen if a 2-GB module was placed in one channel and a 1-GB was placed in the other?
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a b } Memory
a b V Motherboard
June 24, 2009 6:45:09 AM

I don't think that it would run as dual channel. It would work, it would just drop to single channel mode.
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a b } Memory
a b V Motherboard
June 24, 2009 1:12:30 PM

Correct. If you mix memory modules of a different size in a bank, it will work, it just won't run in dual channel mode. This really does not mean much unless you are a gamer and need every ounce of performance your system can muster. If you are simply using the PC for office use, lots of multiple apps open, then adding memory helps even if it is in odd sized sticks and not running in dual channel. This is a case of it's better to have enough memory though it may not be dual channel, as opposed to having too little and running in dual channel.
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June 24, 2009 3:23:02 PM

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't your response assume that games are the only apps that are compute-bound for significant amounts of time? I can see what you mean if we're talking about word processing, email, etc., but some photo/video and music-production apps, for example, can get pretty compute-intensive, and it's hard to believe that doubling memory bandwidth doesn't yield a substantial speed-up.

Of course, those apps often benefit from more memory, too. So perhaps you're saying that, if forced to choose, your preference would usually be to add memory and suffer dropping to single-channel, rather than pull the (smaller) module to obtain dual-channel (?)
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a b } Memory
a b V Motherboard
June 24, 2009 5:28:27 PM

I'd usually stick with dual channel, honestly. It's so cheap to just get a pair of 2GB sticks and have 4GB of matched, dual channel memory that there's really no reason not to.
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June 24, 2009 6:06:00 PM

Agreed!

Getting back to my earlier question, and ensure I've understood all this: The only way to achieve dual-channel operation and 3 GB requires a 4-slot motherboard, populated with 2 x 1-GB and 2 x 512-MB modules, installed such that the ones in each bank are the same size. For example: bank 0, channels 0 & 1, 2 x 1-GB; bank 1, channels 0 & 1, 2 x 512-MB.
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June 24, 2009 10:04:02 PM

One reason to go to nVidia chipsets for Core 2 is that they have complete drivers for W2k, including Raid.

However, they all have big coolers and even fans, as compared to a small heatsink for Intel's P45, do consume a lot more power (benchmarks) and seem to runs less fast. Their Raid doesn't look brilliant neither and could well perform worse than a single disk on an Intel chipset.

So I stayed at the P45 even for W2k, and its host performs very well on non-Raid Sata2 even without a specific driver (only Infinst; no Ahci, no Raid driver installed).
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a b } Memory
a b V Motherboard
July 3, 2009 1:30:38 AM

dlp said:
Agreed!

Getting back to my earlier question, and ensure I've understood all this: The only way to achieve dual-channel operation and 3 GB requires a 4-slot motherboard, populated with 2 x 1-GB and 2 x 512-MB modules, installed such that the ones in each bank are the same size. For example: bank 0, channels 0 & 1, 2 x 1-GB; bank 1, channels 0 & 1, 2 x 512-MB.

Nope. You'd run it so that bank 0, channel 1 had 1GB, and bank 0 channel 0 had 512MB. You'd have the same setup in bank 1. You want each channel to have an identical capacity stick to the same channel in the other bank
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July 3, 2009 3:00:01 AM

The config you've described contradicts jitpublisher's statement: "If you mix memory modules of a different size in a bank, it will work, it just won't run in dual channel mode." You're recommending instead that the modules in a given channel be the same size. Don't wish to start an argument, but these recommendations can't both be correct.

Hoping to be crystal clear, I believe jitpublisher recommended either of the 2 following possibilities:

Bank Channel Capacity
0 0 1-GB
0 1 1-GB
1 0 512-MB
1 1 512-MB

0 0 512-MB
0 1 512-MB
1 0 1-GB
1 1 1-GB

whereas you've recommended:

0 0 512-MB
0 1 1-GB
1 0 512-MB
1 1 1-GB

0 0 1-GB
0 1 512-MB
1 0 1-GB
1 1 512-MB
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