Memory Upgrade Tip Needed

Posted on 2008-10-21
Last Modified: 2013-11-10
A simple question for the experts out there:

I have 2gb of RAM and want to upgrade to 4gb. Right now I have two 1gb sticks of RAM. I am unsure if I should purchase a single 2gb stick or two 1gb sticks in order to avoid any problems.

Here is my setup:

2048 Megabytes Installed Memory

Slot 'DIMM_B1' has 1024 MB
Slot 'DIMM_B2' is Empty
Slot 'DIMM_A1' has 1024 MB
Slot 'DIMM_A2' is Empty

Two sticks of:

Kingston [KVR667D2N5/1G] 1GB PC2-5300 (1024MB 240pin 128Mx64 Unbuffered Non-ECC DDR2-667 Timing CL5)

Mother board:

Asus [M2N-E] M2N-E (nVidia nForce 570 Ultra AM2/1000FSB Dual-DDR2-800 PCX16(x1) PCX4(x1) PCX1(x2) PCI(x3) SATA300-RAID(0/1/5/10)/ATA133 w/ USB2.0 / 7.1 Audio / Gigabit LAN / ATX)


I am running Win XP 32bit

I have read that if I do not populate the RAM bays in a balanced way I could have some problems.

Any advise would be appreciated.

Question by:frosty5656
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LVL 15

Expert Comment

ID: 22771967
I did the same research for my computers I deal with and came across the following.  I have little problems when I went to the 2 smaller vs the one big.

Two smaller RAM sticks will perform better than one larger stick. Why? Because the PC can access both sticks in parallel, so your computer can (theoretically) have access to twice the RAMage as it could if you had only the single RAM stick.


LVL 18

Expert Comment

ID: 22772215
One thing to keep in mind is that with a 32bit OS you will not get the full 4Gb of RAM.

32bit OSs  have 4Gb of space for memory and bus. Depending on your setup you will only get 3 to 3.5 gb of ram as the rest of the space is taken up with stuff like PCI-e cards.

If you upgrade to a 64bit OS you remove this limitation.

As for single stick vs dual sticks, I agree with Glenn.
LVL 34

Accepted Solution

jamietoner earned 170 total points
ID: 22772245
The best way to get 4Gb would be to replace the 2x1Gb sticks with 2x2Gb sticks. You can install 4x1gb sticks it will stress the memory bus and to compensate lower the rams timings(slowing it down). I wouldn't suggest 2x1Gb and 1x2Gb as you won't get the performance benefit of dual channel mode. Also, so you know when installing 4Gb or more of ram on a system with a 32-bit OS you'll only be able to see 2.5gb-3.5Gb depending on what other hardware installed.
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LVL 29

Expert Comment

ID: 22772279
use the "scan my system" tool at  and it will tell you what memory you need and what it reccomennds
LVL 26

Expert Comment

ID: 22773039
Pay attention to jamietoner.
He is entirely correct.
(And crucial's scanner doesn't take those problems into consideration.)
LVL 92

Expert Comment

ID: 22774089
>>  I have read that if I do not populate the RAM bays in a balanced way I could have some problems   <<   normally you should have no problems - what you are talking about is the dual channel mode. If you use the same sticks in the A and B sockets, the sticks are running in Dual channel, giving a slightly faster performance.
LVL 69

Expert Comment

ID: 22775998
As jamietoner said, the problem with filling all 4 memory slots with unbuffered RAM is that it presents a bigger electrical load to the circuit and can degrade the signals slightly. Some motherboards detect this automatically and slow down the memory timings (and your system) to an acceptable speed, but others do not and random crashes can result if you do not manually slow them down. Either use 2 modules or use buffered RAM if that is an option, if you don't want to slow down the system.

Author Comment

ID: 22783356
Just a follow up question I hope someone could answer:

From what I understand there are four banks where RAM can be entered and to take advantage of dual channel RAM you place the two matching (same size and speed) into their respective banks,

such as

Slot 'DIMM_B1' has 1024 MB
Slot 'DIMM_B2' is Empty
Slot 'DIMM_A1' has 1024 MB
Slot 'DIMM_A2' is Empty

However, since I want to upgrade the RAM and will purchase two 2gb RAM chips, could you not enter the two new 2gb chips into slot B2 and A2 and still have the advantage of dual channel RAM?

such as

Slot 'DIMM_B1' has 1024 MB
Slot 'DIMM_B2' new 2gb chip
Slot 'DIMM_A1' has 1024 MB
Slot 'DIMM_A2' new 2gb chip

then upgrade to 64bit OS. Otherwise I will just have two 1gb chips laying around.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.


LVL 69

Expert Comment

ID: 22785220
Yes, you can do that and get the advantage of dual-channel operation.  Keep in mind the potential disadvantage of populating all four slots, which was mentioned.

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