Is one better than the other? If it matters, the RAM I'm considering where I'm seeing this difference is Corsair Vengeance. But I imagine if there is or is not a difference between the two options, it will be the same across all types.
if youre trying to overclock 2x ram sticks is generally more stable than 4x.
thats about it!
Thank you for the quick response. Is that because it's just two less chances for something to go wrong, or is there something more complex at work? I would like to overclock at some point, so this interests me.
as above. If your mother board supports 4gb modules, chose 2x4gb as it will be less strain on the memory controller if you decide to overclock to higher frequencies.
Running at the motherboard's rated speed and frequencies will not matter if you decide to populate all dimms for maximum capacity in future. Going above and beyond in frequencies and speed will be a matter of give or take.
As others have said, the fewer devices on the bus the better for overclocking and reliability in general.
For performance, having twice as many chips means twice as much potential for open rows so there *may* be a slight performance advantage there assuming the exact same clocks and timings are used between 2x4GB and 4x2GB configurations. And by slight, I mean less than 1% so using 2x4GB to leave two slots open for future upgrade as suggested above is a much better option.
It used to matter much more than it does today. Prior we used to overclock using the system buss which overclocked the memory as well. Now we just change the clock multiplier to bump up frequency. I always go for less sticks the better(at least 2 sticks if you have a dual channel memory controller).
Anyhow if your talking current PC's get 2x4GB sticks instead of 4x2GB sticks. The price is very similar, RAM is so darn cheap, and having two open slots allows for upgrades at a later date. Stability is a total non-issue, now reliability because you have more parts to fail may be an issue but 2 sticks will be just as stable as 4 sticks on current PC's.