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Mixing RAM Sizes


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#1 CHansohn

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Posted 02 August 2010 - 10:59 AM

I heard somewhere that mixing two different ram stick sizes is bad for you computer. My computer currently has 1 gig and I want to upgrade it to the full 3 gig but it only has four ram ports and currently has 2 500 MB sticks in it. so would getting two new stick 1gig each be bad for it since the two currently in it are less?

CPU = Intel i7 950
Motherboard = Asus P6X58D
RAM = Corsair XMS3 DDR3 6X 2GB
Power Supply = Corsair AX1200W
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#2 the_patriot11

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Posted 02 August 2010 - 01:23 PM

what type of memory is it? Typically for best performance you want to use all the same type, however it should work with mixed sizes. If it is DDR2 and your motherboard supports dual channel mode, then you can put the two 512 mb sticks on one channel and the 1 gig on the other channel, and you shouldn't really lose to much performance. What type of motherboard and memory are we talking about?

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#3 Barajiqal

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Posted 02 August 2010 - 01:53 PM

If I remember correctly its more about the memory timing then anything, so in theory as long as the new sticks have the same timing there shouldn't be an issue(correct me if im wrong on this). Issues can arise with dif timing such as bits being lost and garbled which can hamper system operations as the machine has to resend the info evertime there is an error bogging down the machine a bit.

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#4 the_patriot11

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Posted 02 August 2010 - 03:49 PM

that is correct bara, though as long as theres not a huge difference in the timings, the faster timings should in theory, downgrade to match the slower timings. It can cause issues, but not always.

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Primary system: Motherboard: ASUS M4A89GTD PRO/USB3, Processor: AMD Phenom II x4 945, Memory: 16 gigs of Patriot G2 DDR3 1600, Video: AMD Sapphire Nitro R9 380, Storage: 1 WD 500 gig HD, 1 Hitachi 500 gig HD, and Power supply: Coolermaster 750 watt, OS: Windows 10 64 bit. 

Media Center: Motherboard: Gigabyte mp61p-S3, Processor: AMD Athlon 64 x2 6000+, Memory: 6 gigs Patriot DDR2 800, Video: Gigabyte GeForce GT730, Storage: 500 gig Hitachi, PSU: Seasonic M1211 620W full modular, OS: Windows 10.

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#5 JonM33

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Posted 02 August 2010 - 04:33 PM

I heard somewhere that mixing two different ram stick sizes is bad for you computer. My computer currently has 1 gig and I want to upgrade it to the full 3 gig but it only has four ram ports and currently has 2 500 MB sticks in it. so would getting two new stick 1gig each be bad for it since the two currently in it are less?


No, it will run dual channel mode without a problem. I had an older AMD Opteron 165 rig with 2x512MB DDR400 and 2x1GB DDR400 modules. Ran without a hitch!

#6 ReviverSoft

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Posted 02 August 2010 - 07:29 PM

If it is DDR2 and your motherboard supports dual channel mode, then you can put the two 512 mb sticks on one channel and the 1 gig on the other channel
Yep, that should yield maximum performance from the intended configuration, which is 512MBX2 & 1GBX 2.

The motherboard's manual should tell if you if it supports Dual Channel mode and provide instructions to follows.
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#7 Jaguar45

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Posted 03 August 2010 - 02:22 AM

This post is informational for everyone in the forum. As Patriot and ReviverSoft already said, the plan as understood will work fine.

Any time a motherboard allows for dual- or triple-channel memory, do NOT mix memory sizes in the matched channels. Example: a motherboard for the Core 2 Duo line will run memory dual-channel, and usually have 4 slots. Slots 0 and 1 will be matched to each other, and slots 2 and 3 will usually be a different color, and also be matched, but separate from the first two. It is fine to configure the memory as others have listed above, i.e. two matched sticks in 0 and 1, and another pair of matched sticks in 2 and 3. However, if you had a 1GB stick of memory and a 2GB stick, you would need to put one in slot 0 and one in slot 2, and your motherboard will not run in dual-channel mode. If you were to put them in slots 0 and 1, all data going to memory would get split between the two as normal, up until you breached the 2GB level, at which point the CPU would continue trying to shunt more data to the 1GB module, which of course it can't handle and thus bounces back to the controller, leading to a data echo in the memory controller. In the end, a HUGE amount of strain is put on the memory controller, slowing performance and sometimes eventually damaging the controller chip.


TL;DR version: never put RAM sticks of different sizes in paired memory channels.

#8 Platypus

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Posted 03 August 2010 - 04:50 AM

If you were to put them in slots 0 and 1, all data going to memory would get split between the two as normal, up until you breached the 2GB level, at which point the CPU would continue trying to shunt more data to the 1GB module, which of course it can't handle and thus bounces back to the controller, leading to a data echo in the memory controller. In the end, a HUGE amount of strain is put on the memory controller, slowing performance and sometimes eventually damaging the controller chip.

CHansohn, please disregard these ridiculous claims. All data is placed in memory at specific valid addresses and only those addresses, otherwise memory operations would continually fail. Neither the CPU nor memory controller try to "shunt" more data to anywhere it should not be, and merely the position of different capacity DIMMS will not damage a memory controller.

Obtain the instruction manual for your system mainboard. Most tell you the specific acceptable memory configurations for dual-channel and single channel operation. Some designs also have a mixed operation mode, such as Intel's Flex Mode, which will operate as much RAM as possible in Dual Channel mode and the remainder in Single Channel. If you can tell us the system model if the computer is a brand-name, or the mainboard brand and model otherwise, we should be able to confirm its capabilities. If this information is unknown SIW can find out for you:

http://www.gtopala.com/

If you add 2 x 1GB DIMMS, the commonest layout to achieve full Dual Channel operation is 1 x 1GB and 1 x 512MB in each channel, in the same configuration:

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Edited by Platypus, 03 August 2010 - 04:56 AM.

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#9 ReviverSoft

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Posted 03 August 2010 - 06:20 PM

@CHansohn

Get a 2GB kit (matched pair) of memory and follow the dual-channel configuration suggested by the manual.

Be sure to get the right kind (check specs) of memory.

Good luck! :thumbsup:
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#10 CHansohn

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 02:20 PM

Thanks for the advice all. I used crucial website to see what is compatible with my computer and got a 2x 1gig sticks that it claims is compatible. hopefully since its compatible with my mother board there won't be any issues.

CPU = Intel i7 950
Motherboard = Asus P6X58D
RAM = Corsair XMS3 DDR3 6X 2GB
Power Supply = Corsair AX1200W
Graphics Card = GTX 580 2-way SLI


#11 dc3

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 04:35 PM

Gotta love Crucial, hasn't given me wrong advice yet.

One other consideration with mixing different amounts of RAM is the fact that the mixed modules will always underclock to to the slower module.

Edited by dc3, 08 August 2010 - 04:46 PM.

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