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Mixing RAM?


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#1 bigdaz

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Posted 11 December 2010 - 06:11 AM

Hey, my motherboard has 2 RAM slots, each slot can hold upto 2gb of DDR2 800mhz 240 pin of RAM, a total of 4gb. At present i have two 1gb 800mhz DDR2 Giel sticks installed and run XP 32bit.
With my OS only able to only recognise and use 3gb of ram, could i remove one of the 1gb Giel sticks and replace it with a 2gb stick from a different manufacturer that was compatable with my board 240 pin DDR2 800mhz but had different timings to the 1gb Giel stick, or would i need to find a 2gb stick with the same timings as the 1gb stick.
The reason i am asking is if i just upgraded all my RAM to 4gb, installed 2x2gb sticks not only would it be twice the cost but XP 32 bit would not use 1gb of the RAM anyway. Thanks

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#2 Platypus

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Posted 11 December 2010 - 07:10 AM

If your system utilises dual channel memory architecture, and it almost certainly does, it's normally necessary to have the same size RAM stick in each slot, or it will operate in single channel mode with reduced performance. If I remember correctly, a few boards can split the difference and run partially dual channel, although that might be dual channel boards with 3 RAM slots.

How much memory a 32 bit OS has access to will vary between systems, and can be up to 3.25GB or occasionally more. So it could be worth getting 4GB and selling the existing pair of DIMMS.

If you fit DIMMs with differing timings, it will probably operate, but run both at the slower timing. If they were the same size but with different timings, it could be expected to drop from dual channel back to single channel too.

Edited by Platypus, 11 December 2010 - 07:20 AM.

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#3 bigdaz

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Posted 11 December 2010 - 09:41 AM

Ok, so even if i added a 2gb stick with the same timings as the origional 1gb stick they would still only operate in single channel because the sticks are different sizes?

#4 dc3

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Posted 11 December 2010 - 02:48 PM

The problem of running modules of different sizes is that they will generate errors. The larger the disparity the more prevalent the errors. Any difference between the modules will increase the possibility of errors, this is why it is suggested that you purchase dual channel RAM kits. These are usually less expensive than purchasing the modules separately.

I ran across a very good article which explains dual channel in great detail, you can read it here.

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#5 bigdaz

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Posted 11 December 2010 - 04:38 PM

Thanks for the link DC3 good artical, helped me get my head around the fact that even if i swapped one of my 1gb for a 2gb with the same timings ect although i would have the extra 1gb i would not be gaining much, as apossed to dropping in a matched pair of 2gb sticks, that would always operate in dual channel. Thanks for the help.




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