Is Dual-Channel RAM Better? | One PC Panda

Is Dual-Channel RAM Better?

Before diving into dual-channel RAM, let us first define what Random Access Memory (RAM) is.

What is RAM?


RAM is where you store short-term data and files that were recently accessed. It allows you to run multiple applications simultaneously without slowing down the process.  


Your CPU communicates this data through memory channels. Basically, these channels are your fastest access to the temporarily saved data in your RAM. Therefore, having more memory channels speeds up accessing data.


What is dual-channel RAM?


Dual-channel mode essentially consists of two RAM modules operating in parallel to optimize your access to short-term data. Dual-channel memory modules offer the same amount of storage capacity as a single-channel while doubling the available memory bandwidth.


Does dual-channel RAM make a difference?

via GIPHY


The rule of thumb is the higher the frequency, the greater the memory bandwidth. RAM speed actually impacts your gaming experience. Some research suggested that running in dual-channel mode consumes 5 to 20% less power, which not only improves a CPU’s performance by almost 50% but also extends its lifespan and safety. This memory configuration goes hardly unnoticeable on high-performance computers and gaming.  


For instance, a single-channel 2133 MHz DDR4 delivers 17 GB/s of memory bandwidth. However, using the same memory capacity at dual-channel mode doubles the deliverability to 34/GB/s without overworking and overheating your CPU. 


Does dual-channel RAM increase performance?

via GIPHY


Yes. Dual-channel RAM in fact immensely improves CPU performance although it can be subtle or not entirely noticeable in all applications. However, in heavier games and memory-intensive applications, there is a significant difference. If you’re running 64 bits in a single memory, dual-channel will render the same 64 bits in two paths. 


No, it does not double the performance. However, it does significantly increase the memory speed. While playing games, you will notice that the video rendering is a lot faster. This is because there is more bandwidth going through the CPU which results in GPU feeding faster frames. 


How to check your computer is running dual-channel?


Are you planning to upgrade your RAM and want to check if your computer memory is running in dual channel mode? 

There are simple steps to know this.  


But first of all, you need to check if your motherboard actually supports dual-channel memory. If your motherboard has 2 RAM slots filled, then it is dual-channel. However, if you only see one occupied slot, then it’s a single-channel. Nowadays, there are already motherboards that occupy 4 slots. This is called a quad-channel. 


One easy way to check if your motherboard’s channel slots are by checking the manufacturer’s website and searching for your motherboard’s model.  


For Windows:

Another popular and easiest way to check if your computer is dual-channel capable is by using a third-party app called CPU-Z. It’s a hassle-free app that you have to download and install on your computer.  

The app provides you a summary of your CPU specifications including memory channel numbers labeled as “channel #” box. 


There are also computer manufacturers that show their memory channel mode in the BIOS menu such as in ASUS or Acer.  



For iMac: 

iMac already has a built-in app System information where you can simply click on the “Memory” tab and it shows your memory slots and whether it’s upgradable or not. You can check the channel slots by the number of “banks” occupied and available.  


For Linux:  

Simply enter command:

sudo dmidecode --type 17



How to activate dual-channel RAM


As aforementioned, you need to check your motherboard if it does support dual-channel. Motherboards mark the DIMM slots in color-coding. This is to easily spot the RAM modules of their channel type. The easiest way to tell it’s a dual-channel is when you find similarly color-coded RAM modules. 


Depending on the manufacturer, motherboards are also marked with numbers and letters like A1, A2, B1, and B2. This is to easily guide you on installing your RAM modules. RAM modules should be installed on the same slot number or the same color.  


For instance, single-channel runs on A1 and A2. To activate dual-channel, you will activate the system using identical DIMM  A1 and B1 or A2 and B2. This is an interlaced installation that ensures the stability of the system.  


However, this is not all. There is a prerequisite before you can actually enable dual-channel mode.


Requirements to enable Dual-channel RAM


  • DIMMs should be arranged in pairs for every memory channel  ( A1, B1, A2, B2)

  • The module capacity should be identical to the modular pair ( 128MB, 256MB, 1GB, etc)

  • DRAM technology should be identical with the module pair ( 128MB, 256MB, 1GB, etc)

  • DRAMs used on modular pairs should be identical to the DRAM bus width (x8 or x16)

  • Modules should be identical whether they are single-sided or dual-sided

  • Memory slots are mirror-inverted


Module pair requirements ( optional)


  • DRAM devices come from the same manufacturer

  • Timing, access times, and others should be identical 

  • Identical DDR module speed 



Dual Channel (Interleaved) mode

Is the best dual channel configuration as it provides the highest performance and memory throughput. This can be enabled when both DIMM channels are equal in memory capacity. 



Requirements for Dual Channel (Interleaved) mode

  • Both DIMMs are arranged in the same memory channels 

  • Identical memory capacity and channels 

  • Memory slots are mirror-inverted



Dual Channel Flex mode


This mode allows dual-channel and single-channel operations across the entire DRAM memory. For instance, you are running on a 2GB DRAM and want to add another 4GB module. Typically, in a dual-channel mode, you would run at 2x 2GB. With flex mode, you can put the 4GB module in slot 1 and the two 2GB modules in slots 3/4 so that you have 4GB. Flex mode runs in uneven channels and can be slower than dual-channel mode. 



Requirements for the Flex mode


  • There should be at least one (1) DIMM for each memory channel 

  • Memory slots are mirror-inverted



Enabling dual-channel RAM actually doesn’t offer much in terms of the overall performance of your computer. However, the biggest benefit of switching to this mode is that it significantly helps your CPU process information. You gain faster memory access bandwidth. 


You can save your CPU from running too much information. Although there are almost unnoticeable or little changes in your computer in terms of gaming performance, for a content creator and designer, it will significantly improve your efficiency. 


Comments

Holidays gift guide, save up to 70%