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Should I must install RAM in pairs?

This is a discussion on Should I must install RAM in pairs? within the RAM and Power Supply Support forums, part of the Tech Support Forum category. I currently run a Corsair 8gig DDR4 C16 stick @ 2400Mhz (16-16-16-39). I was thinking to upgrade it either with


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Old 11-04-2018, 12:37 AM   #1
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I currently run a Corsair 8gig DDR4 C16 stick @ 2400Mhz (16-16-16-39). I was thinking to upgrade it either with another 8gig stick of same make and model or a 4gigs of same model. I read 16gigs are overkill for most games and 12gb are sweetspot. I mainly work in Adobe CC suite.

Can I install a 4gig stick or I must install another 8Gigs? I heard people face problems with uneven RAM sticks.
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Old 11-04-2018, 02:28 AM   #2
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You don't have to install modules of the same capacities. What usually causes a lot of trouble is mixing brands, models or specs (timings, voltage ratings, clock speed etc). Use the product number on the existing module to get a match online, although it will match another 8GB stick. If money is not the problem, I don't see why you wouldn't get the 8GB instead of 4GB. 16GB won't hurt your system more than 12GB would.
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Old 11-05-2018, 07:00 AM   #3
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I never heard of 12GB being the sweetspot. I don't think it would be because 12 is not that easy to obtain with 2 or 4 slots and RAM typically coming in 2, 4, 8, and 16GB (not 3, or 6GB) sticks, unless you mix sizes. Another factor is most boards are dual channel - requiring "pairs" of sticks. While triple channel is around (requiring 3 sticks) dual is much more popular.

8GB was considered the sweetspot for many years but more and more recently I have heard folks say 16GB. I generally put 16GB in all our new builds.

That said, "overkill" is really a misnomer here because having more RAM than you "need" is not a bad thing. The operating system will still "use" it, and that's a good thing. If nothing else, more RAM typically allows the system to stuff more of the higher priority data into RAM for faster access instead of beating on the slow hard (or even SSD) drive's page file as often. Also a good thing.

If you already have that extra 4GB on hand, toss it in and see what happens. The worse that could happen is it won't boot. But if you have to buy more, then I agree 100% with Stancestans - spend the extra $20 - $25 and go for another 8GB for 16GB total. You won't be disappointed. Remember, increasing RAM is generally considered to provide the most bang for money when it comes to upgrading for performance.

Having said all that, as long as the RAM is compatible with the motherboard (check the motherboard RAM QVL - qualified vendors list), "in theory", you should be able to mix and match brands and sizes with no problems. But "in theory" and "real world" don't always jive. It is not uncommon to have to toss the old RAM and replace it all with new RAM in order to ensure paired sticks play well together.
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Old 12-12-2018, 04:50 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stancestans View Post
You don't have to install modules of the same capacities. What usually causes a lot of trouble is mixing brands, models or specs (timings, voltage ratings, clock speed etc). Use the product number on the existing module to get a match online, although it will match another 8GB stick. If money is not the problem, I don't see why you wouldn't get the 8GB instead of 4GB. 16GB won't hurt your system more than 12GB would.
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Originally Posted by Bill_Bright View Post
I never heard of 12GB being the sweetspot. I don't think it would be because 12 is not that easy to obtain with 2 or 4 slots and RAM typically coming in 2, 4, 8, and 16GB (not 3, or 6GB) sticks, unless you mix sizes. Another factor is most boards are dual channel - requiring "pairs" of sticks. While triple channel is around (requiring 3 sticks) dual is much more popular.

8GB was considered the sweetspot for many years but more and more recently I have heard folks say 16GB. I generally put 16GB in all our new builds.

That said, "overkill" is really a misnomer here because having more RAM than you "need" is not a bad thing. The operating system will still "use" it, and that's a good thing. If nothing else, more RAM typically allows the system to stuff more of the higher priority data into RAM for faster access instead of beating on the slow hard (or even SSD) drive's page file as often. Also a good thing.

If you already have that extra 4GB on hand, toss it in and see what happens. The worse that could happen is it won't boot. But if you have to buy more, then I agree 100% with Stancestans - spend the extra $20 - $25 and go for another 8GB for 16GB total. You won't be disappointed. Remember, increasing RAM is generally considered to provide the most bang for money when it comes to upgrading for performance.

Having said all that, as long as the RAM is compatible with the motherboard (check the motherboard RAM QVL - qualified vendors list), "in theory", you should be able to mix and match brands and sizes with no problems. But "in theory" and "real world" don't always jive. It is not uncommon to have to toss the old RAM and replace it all with new RAM in order to ensure paired sticks play well together.
I got the 8Gb stick. It came cheaper than I thought. Will try that this weekend. Thanks all.
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Old 12-12-2018, 08:11 AM   #5
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I got the 8Gb stick. It came cheaper than I thought. Will try that this weekend. Thanks all.
Sounds like a plan. Keep us posted.

Don't forget to unplug from the wall and touch bare metal of the case interior before reaching in or touching the RAM. And while you have the case open, clean out the heat trapping dust and if necessary check your cable management to make sure your cables impact air flow as little as possible.
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Old 12-12-2018, 05:17 PM   #6
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I think what Gdn8Melbourne may be getting confused with is many boards still suggest pairs of matching ram to utilize dual channel ram ...hard to tell on boards with only two ram slots but with 4 slots usually the matching slots are the same color.
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Old 12-13-2018, 07:34 AM   #7
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Good point. But it illustrates what I said above about 12GB. You can't get 12GB with two slots and have a matching pair of RAM sticks. They don't make 6GB RAM sticks that I am aware of.

And if you install 1 x 4GB and 1 x 8GB for 12GB total, only a very few very sophisticated boards will run the first 8GB in dual channel and the remaining in single. By far, most boards will run the full 12GB in single channel.

Still more RAM typically trumps slower RAM any day of the week. And dual-channel never did provide the performance boost all the marketing hype promised. So if the budget did not allow replacing all the RAM and going with 2 x 8GB, using 1 x 4GB and 1 x 8GB for 12GB would still be good - assuming, of course the board supports it and you are using a 64-bit OS.
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Old 12-13-2018, 08:28 AM   #8
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Very true Bill while the promised benefit for dual channel was never really fulfilled, dual channel was faster if the sticks were matched but I know I have seen times when unmatched ram and I don't really mean speed here as much as brand and model didn't flag any issues in memtest but actually seemed to slow system down at times rather than add speed so if I cannot match make and model I seldom do those upgrades for my own units. Oh and along with make and model I usually only use ram from manufactures that make it as when you buy from distributors like Corsair who don't make anything, I have seen the same model number on two different makes of ram if the batch number is different.
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Old 12-13-2018, 08:46 AM   #9
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but actually seemed to slow system down at times rather than add speed
That would be odd if adding more RAM slowed the system down. Of course, the board will slow all down to the weakest link (slowest module). But still more RAM usually results in better overall performance. No doubt there are exceptions to that rule.
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Old 12-13-2018, 08:49 AM   #10
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Bill I think but cannot prove that those cases were where incompatible ram was used but didn't flag in memtest is all. I mean I think we have all run memtest on a unit and found no issues yet replaced the ram totally and system ran well. Not often but it has happened to me where you trust your gut as nothing else is making any sense!
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Old 12-13-2018, 09:22 AM   #11
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Bill I think but cannot prove that those cases were where incompatible ram was used but didn't flag in memtest is all.
Yeah, that happens.

While software-based RAM diagnostic tools are good, none are 100% conclusive. If they report any errors, even one, the RAM is bad. But it is not uncommon for them to report no problems, yet the RAM still fails in use, and/or when paired with other RAM. Since hardware based RAM checkers are very expensive, sometimes the only way to conclusively test RAM is to swap in totally different RAM and see what happens.

Still, things are much better today than they were several years ago. The raw materials to make the RAM is much more pure and consistent from batch to batch. And the manufacturing techniques used is much more precise. This results in stick after stick coming off the production lines matching design specifications much more closely - even among different makers.

But until Man can create perfection 100% of the time, there will always be units coming off the production line that are slightly out of tolerance. And while memory controllers have improved too and are better at forcing different sticks to play well together, if Stick A is slightly out of tolerance on the plus side of specifications, and Stick B is slightly out on the minus side, the combined out of tolerances may be too much for the controller to get them to cooperate completely.

This is exactly why I always recommend buying all the RAM you think you will ever need when building/buying new or when upgrading. When you buy all at once, this helps ensure all your sticks will come out of the same production run and [hopefully] have the best odds of matching most precisely.

If you buy 8GB today, then decide in 2 or 3 years you want to add another 8GB, even if you buy sticks with the same published specs from the same maker, they may decide they don't want to play well together - even if MemTest86 (the only one I use and recommend) says they are good.

RAM can be very fickle.
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Old 12-13-2018, 01:22 PM   #12
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Yeah I meant to say memtest86 also as that is the only one that keeps current with updates.
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