Question Is more memory sticks or bigger memory sticks better for 32GB?

Lil'John

Senior member
Dec 28, 2013
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Short: assuming 32GB total memory with same timing/speed, is 1 stick of 32GB, 2 sticks of 16GB, or 4 sticks of 8GB better for the computer performance?

I am building a light gaming computer that I am trying to finish fleshing out and I'm scratching my head on the memory.

It is going to be a i3 12100F based build with a 1050ti graphics card. I am targeting 32GB of RAM due to a memory hog game(RogueTech modded Battletech) I'm still trying to nail down a motherboard and exact memory.

To narrow down the memory, I am trying to understand if there any issues going with 1, 2, or 4 sticks of memory.
 

mv2devnull

Golden Member
Apr 13, 2010
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I have the 5950X. Actually, four modules are ~10% faster than two modules. The problem that four modules have is in o/c'ing. Not as stable. So, if you're going for max o/c then I would go for two modules.
The memory controller (in that CPU) supports two channels. One definitely wants to populate each channel.

There are physical "wires" from CPU to memory module(s) in a channel. On one hand access to two modules in a channel can be faster (somewhat simultaneous), but there is also more (electric) load when talking to two modules (which shows in situation like o/c).

Back in the day the "load issues" were more common (on cheap boards) and if you look at older Intel Xeon (multiple channels) specs, they clearly state that memory controller will drop speed, when you add sticks to channels (servers can take 3-4 per channel). Servers compensate the load of extra modules by lowering speed. Didn't recent AMD slides say the same?

There are also ranks. One module can have one (R1), two (R2), or four (R4) ranks. The R4 is for servers. Two 8GB R1 modules and one 16GB R2 module both present the controller two 8GB ranks, while on 16GB R1 module there is only one rank. There are recent benchmarks about different (rank) combinations for DDR4 and DDR5.
 

Shmee

Memory and Storage, Graphics Cards
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Sep 13, 2008
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Is this DDR4 or DDR5 on your board? In general I would say 2x16GB is the way to go right now, in case you want to add more later. But this may depend on pricing and what RAM type your board supports. Also, keep in mind that the locked versions of Alderlake CPUs tend to have limited support for higher speed DDR4, if that is what you are looking at.
 

Shmee

Memory and Storage, Graphics Cards
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The OP is looking to get a 12100f, which is a locked Alder Lake. They have not yet specifified the board or what RAM standard will be used, so the RAM situation is still up in the air a bit, with either DDR4 or DDR5 to be considered.
 
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bigboxes

Lifer
Apr 6, 2002
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The OP is looking to get a 12100f, which is a locked Alder Lake. They have not yet specifified the board or what RAM standard will be used, so the RAM situation is still up in the air a bit, with either DDR4 or DDR5 to be considered.
Yeah, you're right. I was just thinking of my research when I was building my machine. It's most likely the other way around for Intel as this is a memory controller specific.
 

Lil'John

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Dec 28, 2013
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I thought the question was generic enough not to provide full details(ddr4 or timing):confused_old:

I gave some thought to ddr5 but some extra reading basically told me not worth extra money for a non-over clocking CPU.

For memory specifically, I was looking at G.Skill brand 3200 CL16. In the past, I've had good luck with G.Skill on "bigger" builds. I ultimately went with:

For the motherboard, at the time of this post, I was up in the air. But I ultimately decided on ASRock B660M MicroATX.
 

kschendel

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Aug 1, 2018
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The problem I have with the gamersnexus piece is that they didn't test a 4x8 setup (which is guaranteed to be at least dual rank) against a known dual rank 2x setup. I would be willing to bet a very expensive dinner that they were measuring dual ranking vs single ranking, and NOT some sort of mythical 4-sticks-always-wins thing.
 

DasFox

Diamond Member
Sep 4, 2003
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I had 16gb in Windows 11 and just upgraded to 2x16gb, and what a huge difference in speed it made, literally a 25% increase, I’m not joking.

So if you’re running Windows 11, seriously go for 32gb, especially for gaming.

Yes a lot of games don’t have 32gb requirement, but they’re coming, and on older games, load times and response also improved 25%.

I’m glad I made this upgrade! ;)
 
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Shmee

Memory and Storage, Graphics Cards
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I had 16gb in Windows 11 and just upgraded to 2x16gb, and what a huge difference in speed it made, literally a 25% increase, I’m not joking.

So if you’re running Windows 11, seriously go for 32gb, especially for gaming.

Yes a lot of games don’t have 32gb requirement, but they’re coming, and on older games, load times and response also improved 25%.

I’m glad I made this upgrade! ;)
What are your system specs though? I agree 32GB is a good starting point for system memory going forward. but performance is still dependent on different factors, such as CPU, memory type and frequency, latency, and channels, ranks...If you went from a single stick, single channel, to a dual channel setup, that could very well explain a lot of improvement, not the memory size.
 
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DasFox

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Sep 4, 2003
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What are your system specs though? I agree 32GB is a good starting point for system memory going forward. but performance is still dependent on different factors, such as CPU, memory type and frequency, latency, and channels, ranks...If you went from a single stick, single channel, to a dual channel setup, that could very well explain a lot of improvement, not the memory size.
Nope, dual channel two sticks on both setups, and pretty much the same CAS on both.

Let me tell you, the speed differences are so amazing, and actually when I look at the math, this is actually like a 3x-4x increase in speed.

Games loading up, went from like 30 secs to 7 secs. Games that have game sections, you load through, also from 30-40 secs, now 7-10 secs.

Computer boot up and software loading on bootup like Razer Synapse 3, both down by 10 secs.

This was an extremely good upgrade, very happy I did it.

Specs;
————
Asus B550-F Gaming

Original Ram: Corsair Vengeance LPX 3200MHz C16 CMK16GX4M2B3200C16 - (2x8GB) - running dual channel

Upgraded Ram: Corsair Vengeance LPX 3200MHz C16
CMK32GX4M2E3200C16 - (2X16GB) - running dual channel

Ryzen 5 5600X
EVGA 3080 FTW Ultra
 
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Leeea

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I populated 4x slots on my board*, with 2x 2x 8gb kits. I have no plans on overclocking.

Very happy.

Was under the impression this was the best way to do it if no upgrades on memory size are planned.

When I was buying none of the sales listings indicated ranks, so I had no way to know if I was buying single rank or dual rank memory. I am under the impression many sales listings are incorrect even now.

*x570 ( https://www.asus.com/us/Motherboards-Components/Motherboards/TUF-Gaming/TUF-GAMING-X570-PRO-WI-FI/ )
 
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kschendel

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Aug 1, 2018
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Nope, dual channel two sticks on both setups, and pretty much the same CAS on both.

Let me tell you, the speed differences are so amazing, and actually when I look at the math, this is actually like a 3x-4x increase in speed.

Games loading up, went from like 30 secs to 7 secs. Games that have game sections, you load through, also from 30-40 secs, now 7-10 secs.

Computer boot up and software loading on bootup like Razer Synapse 3, both down by 10 secs.
I'd love to know what is going on there; you shouldn't be under memory pressure during boot, and there's no way that some changed memory timings are getting more than a few percentage points. Same with game loading, assuming that it's loading cold and not pre-loading the game somehow into RAM. Those are HDD to SSD difference numbers, basically impossible to explain with just more memory unless you were miles deep into paging with the old setup.

You probably don't want to bother (I wouldn't!), but I'd love to see what happens if you put the original sticks back.
 
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DasFox

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Sep 4, 2003
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I'd love to know what is going on there; you shouldn't be under memory pressure during boot, and there's no way that some changed memory timings are getting more than a few percentage points. Same with game loading, assuming that it's loading cold and not pre-loading the game somehow into RAM. Those are HDD to SSD difference numbers, basically impossible to explain with just more memory unless you were miles deep into paging with the old setup.

You probably don't want to bother (I wouldn't!), but I'd love to see what happens if you put the original sticks back.
Sorry, my bad wording, I didn’t mean the actual boot, but once Windows is at the desktop and it starts loading, that is what I meant in the differences with the OS and apps loading.
 

kschendel

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Aug 1, 2018
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It still doesn't make sense to me. Have you looked at memory usage to see if you're actually using more than 16GB of memory, and what's using it? I don't do Windows myself, but I would have to imagine that if Win 11 was using more than 16GB just to get to the desktop, we'd have been hearing loud screams as soon as it came out. Are you sure you don't have some rogue services or malware running?
 

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