I'm advising my brother-in-law on upgrading his RAM. I've heard that pairing 2 DIMMS of equal size gives a performance boost. (i.e. 2x512 MB is better than 1x1 GB) So would 1 GB + 256 MB still be better than 2x512 MB?
it depends on the type of ram i believe... not sure though.
If you live in the states you can get 2gigs (2x1gig) of Ram off newegg for 30 dollars.
I did a little research when I built my PC a while ago, and dual sticks is faster than single sticks, definitely.
They have to be the same size and speed though (I think different speeded ones would run at the slowest speed).
Not 100% on that though.
I think only certain motherboards support it. Check the features/manual/whatever, it should tell you if using two RAM sticks instead of one is faster. If it doesn't support it, I guess it wont make a difference.
In short: While some motherboards are a bit more flexible, basically you need two identical modules. Not just the same size, but the same speed rating and chip configuration. To be on the safe side, buy the same model twice. Most manufacturers even offer "matching pair" packages of two memory modules. The main advantage of that format is that one package is cheaper to store and ship than two, so you might save a tiny bit of money.
1 GB + 256 MB will never work in dual-channel mode, no matter how adventurous your motherboard is feeling. On the other hand, it might still be "better" than 2x 512 MB in some situations, simply because it's more memory. A bit slower, yes, but still much much faster than swapping to the hard disk.
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I'd say it really depends on what you're going to use the PC for.
Normal useage or light gaming and 2x512 will prove to be faster. 256mb more RAM won't provide much extra under strain, so I'd really go for the dual config.
The wiki article says the performance benefits are small (~5%).
I guess if the operating system/software isn't clever enough to spread memory over two physical sticks when less than 512mb is in use, then you get zero benefit, since it'd all be on one physical stick anyway.
ITs called dual channel when you have two and yes they will run with the slowest and yes its a bit faster atm i got 4X1Gb in 2 dual channels but cuz XP 32b only 3.4gb in use
Thanks all. Lots of good info.
I would definately not recommend mixing RAM of different sizes, speeds, or brands.
Ideally, you will want to get a matched pair. Some good brands to look at are OCZ, Kingston (Hyper X Series), Corsair, G Skill, or Geil. You should be able to pick up a matched pair of 1Gb sticks (2Gb total) for around $100AUD ($40-$50 USD).
Here I can get 4 sticks for 50 euros -.- or for 40e depending on what brand.
I paid 40 euros for 2X1Gb Kingston and it was expensive
Maybe I should just post my mailing address and you guys can just ship me whatever you think is best.