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Are two separate memory modules better than one?

PC RAM configuration explained

A reader contacted us to ask whether it is better to have two separate modules of RAM, or a single 4GB module. Our Helproom expert offers some advice.

QUESTION I just bought a desktop PC. The PC I ordered listed 4GB of RAM, provided in two 2GB modules. The PC vendor subsequently informed me that the RAM would in fact be provided as a single 4GB module.

I had no reason to believe that this was not desirable. However, a note in the Gigabyte P67-UD4-B3 motherboard's manual states that "Dual-channel mode cannot be enabled if only one DDR3 memory module is installed," and that pairs should be identical in capacity, brand and speed. Will I get lower performance as a result? Edward Burton

HELPROOM ANSWER You're right in thinking that a single memory module will result in lower performance than a pair, and the vendor should have pointed this out when it contacted you. However, in practical use the difference in performance can be very small.

If your PC has only two memory slots available, choosing a single 4GB module may prove advantageous as you can easily upgrade to 8GB by adding a second 4GB module. If both slots were occupied with 2GB modules, you would need to replace your existing memory allocation, which would work out more expensive.

However, if you would rather get the dual-channel memory configuration you originally ordered, contact the vendor and insist that it changes the memory for you.

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