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Windows 7: Mem. Channels / MOBO Compatibility - Pls. Explain

07 Mar 2013   #1
Aderes Devorah

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Mem. Channels / MOBO Compatibility - Pls. Explain

Hi all

When choosing RAM (DDR3), do I need to buy a certain type of RAM (e.g. Dual or Quad) for certain types of motherboards?

Or is it the case that if a motherboard does not specifically state that it is Quad Channel ready, there is not point in putting Quad in because it will only run at Dual (for example)?

Thanks in advance.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Mar 2013   #2

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1

I'm sure you'll get a better answer later, but memory is memory. Memory sticks aren't made to be single, dual, or quad. If the motherboard isn't specifically quad-channel, then the memory is going to run in dual channel, however you install it...either in a pair or in two pairs. At that point, I'd suggest adding just a single pair, so you have two slots open for future expansion. What I mean is, if you want 8 GB of total system memory, install 2x4 GB, rather than 4 sticks of 2 GB, aka 4x2 GB. Then if you decide to ever go to 12 or 16 GB, you can just add in exactly what you already have.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Mar 2013   #3

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 64 Bit Home Premium SP1

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Aderes Devorah View Post
Hi all

When choosing RAM (DDR3), do I need to buy a certain type of RAM (e.g. Dual or Quad) for certain types of motherboards?

There are a few important specs for RAM that should (must) be matched to the motherboard.
  • RAM TYpe: DDR3 or DDR2 or DDR
  • RAM Speed - This is the PCxxxxx/xxxxxMHz rating. The motherboard will only run the RAM at it's stock speed by default, so buying RAM that is faster than that is just wasteful, unless you are overclocking.
  • RAM voltage - this must fall in the range required by your motherboard and processor.
  • Legacy specs like Unbuffered/Buffered and ECC are important but nowadays almost all RAM is unbuffered and non-ECC.
  • Timings are important (lower is better), but it is not motherboard specific. It is important that the timings of all the sticks match.
But as DeaconFrost said, the motherboard will run whatever RAM you put in it in whatever mode it is set up to do based on the configuration of sticks. Single Channel, Dual Channel, Triple Channel, Quad Channel - all can be be accomplished with any compatible RAM.

Don't be confused by the marketing: they sell matched pairs of RAM for Dual Channel systems, matched sets of 4 for Quad Channel. But there is nothing special about the individual sticks in the package. You could buy 4 sticks of the same model number individually and get the same thing.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

07 Mar 2013   #4

Windows 7 Professional 64bit SP1

The quad/triple/dual channel memory feature is a feature of the motherboard and the architecture....not the RAM sticks. Unless you have Socket 2011(Quad Channel), or Socket 1366(Triple Channel) you will have a dual channel setup. My advice for buying RAM: Buy as much as you can afford that will last you until your next build(platform change). I have a 16GB matched set(4x4gb) and I won't need anymore RAM until I get ready to build another PC, which will be well past when DDR4 comes out. Buy once, cry once.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Mem. Channels / MOBO Compatibility - Pls. Explain

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