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Is it better to get one stick of 4GB RAM, or 2 sticks of 2GB RAM? Answered

I'm buying new RAM for a motherboard that has 4 slots. I may want to expand in the future, so if I buy a 4GB stick, that means eventually I will be able to upgrade to 4x4 = 16 GB of RAM. Is this a good idea, or is it better to split the RAM into two 2GB sticks?



8 years ago

If you plan on upgrading later then keep in mind that you should at that time buy all new RAM. Mixing old stuff with new is not always a good idea. The chips change and so if you even get the same brand and type it will probably not in fact be the same. If you buy matched sets at the time that you need them then you will be assured that it will work smoothly because it will all be the same. The system could probably tolerate different stuff, different brands, different chips, whatever, but it will probably effect the performance. A system will always default to the slowest chip and set everything according to that. So if you want peak performance out of your ram buy it altogether at the same time. That means your better off to go with 2 now rather than one. When you upgrade you can use what you pull for another machine or even sell it on E bay. When memory wasn't so fast it wasn't much of an issue. I used to mix 100 and 133 SDRAM and never had a problem. Today speeds are way faster and it can make a significant difference.


8 years ago

If running dual channel, the 2x2 will be faster than he 1x4 because the computer can address twice as much ram per memory clock cycle (twice as many pins). The tradeoff is that you will be down one slot.

I'm running 2x4 in my machine now which has 4 slots, because later I can add another 2x2 or 2x4 and still be ahead of the game. Ram is super cheap these days so I wouldn't let the need for free slots deter you.

That said...get QUALITY ram if you plan on stressing the machine with games or rendering/etc. Those few nanoseconds add up when you count on them millions of times per second.