Say I buy two identical 512mb sticks of pc3200 running at cl2, I install them in the appropriate slots in the mobo to get them to run in dual channel mode. How do I tell if they're running in dual channel mode? Will they even run in dual channel mode if they haven't been tested to ensure they work properly together? If not, why? I've read some threads about people buying identical untested sticks and having them not run in dual channel mode, why is that?
Your motherboard manual will tell you how to enable dual channel, it's usually as long as you have one of the sticks in slot 3 and one stick in either 1 or 2 then your board will try to run in dual channel mode. It the most extreme cases a set of ram that won't work in dual channel just won't boot, other times you'll have lock up or restart issues, if that's the case then just remove on the sticks from slot 3 and bang it in the unpopulated slot 1 or 2 adn your board should run in single channel mode.
You said you were buying identical ram? if that's so , and as long as they a qaulity sticks then it shouldn't be a problem, they just haven't been tested by someone to work in dual channel yet .It's best to buy from a retail store that way if their duds then there is no cost of shipping each time to replace a module.