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Triple channel ddr3 on dual channel mobo?

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January 3, 2011 11:24:37 PM

I'm building a computer for my girlfriends parents. It has been a while since my last build and I made a huge rookie mistake: I purchased triple channel DDR3 memory for a motherboard that supports dual channel memory. The memory purchased was 3x2Gb DDR3 1600. Would it still be OK to only use two of the 2 GB chips in the system, or should I return the purchased goods (the stuff hasn't come in yet, its coming in tomorrow. I realized the issue after it shipped).

Here is the build (All purchased from Newegg):

CPU: Phenom X4 965
Mobo: ASUS M4A87TD/USB3 AM3 AMD 870 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 AMD Motherboard
(At the time of purchase, the listed CPU and Mobo were part of a $20 off combo deal)

Memory: G.Skill Triple Channel 3x2Gb DDR3 1600 1.5V-1.6V
(I jumped on this because of the $20 off promo, making it $65 instead of $85. The current price on Newegg has now dropped to $75)

GPU: HIS Radeon HD 4670 1GB 128-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16

HDD: 500GB Western Digital SATA 3.0Gb/s
Case: Antec ATX Midtower
PSU: OCZ Modular 500W ATX12v
Optical Drive: ASUS DVD Burner

I also plan on installing Windows 7 64bit Ultimate on the machine.


The total cost of this build after shipping and before mail-in rebates was $565.72, which isn't too shabby for the kind of hardware being put together.

As far as the memory goes, I would rather keep the triple channel memory since I got a deal on it but I'm not sure if i can use it at all. I read that I could use it, but I would only be able to install 2 of the 2GB modules and I would have to tweak their voltage settings in BIOS. If that is the case, I would like to give them the current memory for now and swap it out later for the correct memory when I get around to building an i7 triple channel system for myself. The parents wouldn't notice only having 4gb instead of 6, so I'd rather give them the 4GB and pretend like I'm not a moron (kinda scummy of me, I know). Newegg will accept a return for a replacement/refund within 30 days. Should I just do that or try using what I stupidly chose to purchase?

As a side note, I listed the full specs of the build above in case anyone was interested in seeing it. The budget for the build was less than $600. The build was meant to be a strong and long lasting with up to date hardware standards (like USB 3.0 and SATA 6.0Gb/s) and upgradeable in the future if/when necessary. The primary users of this computer will be using it to check email and surf the web mainly, but it is the "family computer" and other members of the house may want to use it for light gaming and other more demanding applications that their laptops can't handle.

I would love to accept any and all critiques of the build and other possible problems that I may run into that I have not noticed, although I am mainly worried about the memory. I know that I may want thermal paste, but I plan on using the included pad installed on the CPU and have arctic silver 5 anyways. I also know I may need a SATA cable or 2, but I've got plenty of those lying around.

Thanks in advance for all your help! (please help a newbie out :sweat:  haha)

January 3, 2011 11:32:33 PM

I don't think that's going to be stable.
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a c 347 } Memory
January 3, 2011 11:37:09 PM

Welcome to Tom's Forums! :) 

YES, you can use 2 of the 3 Sticks; sometimes the third stick will work. You can play musical DIMM slots; there's only 4 combinations.

BTW - the F3-12800CL9T-6GBNQ are listed as QVL/Certified for the MOBO.

Try the first (3) DIMM slots closest to the CPU | R | R | R | x |; failure CPU | R | x | R | R |.

Does it see all 6GB?
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January 3, 2011 11:37:49 PM

omnisome said:
I don't think that's going to be stable.


Because of the memory right? So even if I tweak the voltages the computer will still run into some problems? If I was to stick that memory in this machine, I would do so only as a temporary measure. I was going to purchase some correct memory for the system within a couple of weeks on my own and swap the modules out when they weren't around. Would the instability show immediately or could I get by for now?
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a c 347 } Memory
January 4, 2011 12:02:06 AM

Duh what?! Your RAM is on the ASUS QVL List as CERTIFIED for the MOBO!

M4A87TD/USB3 {see Memory Support List} -> http://usa.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=nlWYrI9wlNIYHAaa The 'ONLY' "?" question I have is whether it will support 2 or the 3 sticks. None other.

Omnisome is speaking w/o checking. Typically, I would agree - not now.

There's no such a 'thing' as 'Dual or Tri Channel' RAM; there's only 'compatibility' issues of the 'sticks' themselves. Yes, you want Matched-Kits of 2/4/3/6 for your MOBO slots of 2/4 or 3/6. EDIT: You DO however want Matched Sets per your MOBO configurations 2/4 or 3/6...
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January 4, 2011 12:03:07 AM

jaquith said:
Welcome to Tom's Forums! :) 

YES, you can use 2 of the 3 Sticks; sometimes the third stick will work. You can play musical DIMM slots; there's only 4 combinations.


Alright cool that's good to know. Do you think I am going to have to anything special with the BIOS settings at all?

jaquith said:
BTW - the F3-12800CL9T-6GBNQ are listed as QVL/Certified for the MOBO.


I think that is a good thing right? Haha, what does that mean exactly and how did you find that information?



jaquith said:
Try the first (3) DIMM slots closest to the CPU | R | R | R | x |; failure CPU | R | x | R | R |.

Does it see all 6GB?


I will try it when the parts come in tomorrow. As of right now, I only noticed the problem while looking through the parts I had just ordered after they had already shipped. I'm not gonna lie, I had a mini heart-attack when I noticed the possible issue haha. So I can't try anything yet or let you know if things worked out well until tomorrow at some point.

Thanks for your help so far guys. After tomorrows build, I'll be sure to give credit to the reply that answered my question in the form of a best answer :D 
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January 4, 2011 12:04:08 AM

Sorry if I'm wrong, I admit I'm a little tired.
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January 4, 2011 12:18:06 AM

jaquith said:
Duh what?! Your RAM is on the ASUS QVL List as CERTIFIED for the MOBO!

M4A87TD/USB3 {see Memory Support List} -> http://usa.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=nlWYrI9wlNIYHAaa The 'ONLY' "?" question I have is whether it will support 2 or the 3 sticks. None other.

Omnisome is speaking w/o checking. Typically, I would agree - not now.

There's no such a 'thing' as 'Dual or Tri Channel' RAM; there's only 'compatibility' issues of the 'sticks' themselves. Yes, you want Matched-Kits of 2/4/3/6 for your MOBO slots of 2/4 or 3/6. EDIT: You DO however want Matched Sets per your MOBO configurations 2/4 or 3/6...



... well don't I feel stupid now haha. So I made the uber-noob mistake of not checking the Memory QVL list for my motherboard. In all honesty, I actually didn't know what QVL meant until just now. See how much of a noob I am? Haha...

I guess I got worried because I had never build a system with a set of 3 memory modules before. In the past I had always used 1 or 2 matched pairs of memory. I never saw the triple-channel specification on a module before, so I looked at the reviews for the memory and found a review that stated "Only the packaging says that these are for only good for use with INTEL i7 chips, and cannot/should not be used with AMD or other Intel CPU's".

Then I attempted to research if I could still use the memory and found a bunch of people saying you have to tweak the voltage and the machine may still be unstable. After reading that, I didn't even bother checking the memory QVL because I figured it wouldn't be listed. My mistake, totally. I should have checked that document before even buying the modules, but I have never checked those and never had a problem with memory in any of my builds in the past (a good time long ago mind you)

Thank you for pointing out my obvious stupidity haha. Ill post here again at the completion of my build to let you know how it went if any of you are interested in any other stupid mistakes I may make haha
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January 4, 2011 12:19:12 AM

omnisome said:
Sorry if I'm wrong, I admit I'm a little tired.


No need to be sorry haha thanks for the input. I admit I am also a little tired and was very tired when designing the build to begin with lmao
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January 4, 2011 12:22:27 AM

jaquith said:
See prior post + link.

I actually broke the forum counter; I'm already Gold and won't help me -> http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/profile-388864.htm

Good Luck! :) 



Doesn't matter haha I still like to give credit to the person that solved my issue. It may not do anything for you, but it is more of a respect thing for me.
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a c 347 } Memory
January 4, 2011 12:51:04 AM

Give it to Omnisome ;) 

Let me know if it works, I know 2 will the 3rd -- verdict is still out. My guess is yes, but I hate guessing.

99.999% don't have a clue of QVL -- no you do. You're not a noob anymore, and after building you'll be experienced and up-to-date.

Good Luck!
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January 4, 2011 4:18:47 AM

jaquith said:
Give it to Omnisome ;) 

Let me know if it works, I know 2 will the 3rd -- verdict is still out. My guess is yes, but I hate guessing.

99.999% don't have a clue of QVL -- no you do. You're not a noob anymore, and after building you'll be experienced and up-to-date.

Good Luck!



haha thanks for the bode of confidence there. I hope i can use all three, that would make me very happy. If not, at least its 4GB. I was only going to throw 4GB in anyways until i saw that deal for the 6.

and yeah, I'm not a COMPLETE noob, I just don't think a lot of times. Like, i knew there was a QVL for compatible memory... i just didn't check it. I never really do since i have never had a problem with compatibility as long as i chose the right memory. After having doubts and no other info, i woulda checked the QVL but like i said one of the reviews stated that systems with AMD chips would be incompatible with the memory. I didn't even bother checking then, although i should have. Thanks for the info once again and ill post tomorrow night at some point with the results as long as all the stuff arrives on time.
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a c 347 } Memory
January 4, 2011 12:22:40 PM

Let me/us know if the - hopefully all 3 work!
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January 5, 2011 6:09:25 AM

Put the computer together in under an hour, started right up with no issues (hooray, no mistakes made!). I started with only 4gb installed, so i turned it off and put the other 2gb chip in. reads all 6gb :)  I now have everything installed on it and it runs like a dream. Thanks for easing my worry haha
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a c 347 } Memory
January 5, 2011 10:56:38 AM

Thanks for the update! Glad to hear! :) 
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