Original Article Date: May 25th, 2015

Alright, here we go. This is about a nice little thing I learned about, thanks to colinreay of Reddit.

People generally say that you are best off getting a dual-channel RAM kit, because "it's faster." While this is true, it's hardly faster at all, and it actually brings in another potential problem, which is much more serious.

This (potential) problem is that, of course, a dual-channel RAM kit comes with two RAM sticks, and you're gonna need two free RAM slots in order to put them both in.

On a motherboard with four RAM slots, this really isn't so bad; after having installed one dual-channel RAM kit, you've still got two remaining free RAM slots to plop another dual-channel memory kit in. However, the part where things get hairy is when you're dealing with a motherboard that has only two RAM slots; if you put a dual-channel RAM kit in, you won't have any more free slots! The only thing you're gaining from spending your last RAM slot is just a marginal increase in RAM performance, when you could have got a single, bigger stick to start with, and had room for another one like it for later. It simply isn't worth spending your last RAM slot for a marginal performance gain.

HP Pavilion dv9000 §

Single channel:
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Dual channel:
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The Bedroom PC (i7-4790K) §

Single channel:
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Dual channel:
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With that said, I'll conclude this article with what I think is the best decision, depending on your needs and motherboard's RAM slot amount:

Slot Amount Preference Best choice
Two Upgradability One stick
Two Performance Two sticks
Four or more Either Divide slots by two

The thing is, since it's easier to spare a RAM slot when you have four or more, I think you might as well take on the extra performance, since you've still got room for more RAM.

Another thing to consider is, if you intend to resell your RAM, denser RAM sticks are more sought after. Let's use two examples, here; a kit of two 512MB DDR sticks, and a single 1GB DDR stick. Yes, good old DDR1!

In this time, a 1GB DDR stick is potentially a good bit more interesting for your customer(s) to buy than a 512MB stick, as they're worth more money. The people shopping for good old DDR sticks want to upgrade their old computers, and that means the denser, the merrier. They're spending a RAM slot in an old computer, which is even harder to spare than a newer one, thus, they'll want to get denser RAM sticks.

Here's another analogy: I've got an HP Pavilion a6530f with, strangely enough, four 1GB DDR2 RAM sticks. While 4GB of RAM is quite nice for a 2008 machine, and is still perfectly capable today, four 1GB modules are less nice to have on hand than two 2GB modules. My 4x1GB kit needs four whole DDR2 slots, while most pre-built computers have only two slots to begin with. The 2x2GB kits make it possible to use 4GB in those machines, which is already a nice amount, and the 4x2GB kits let you have 8GB in 4-slot machines!

And that's when dual-channel ain't worth it: a dual-slot machine.

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