Old 10-12-2017, 06:21 PM   #1
Lowell Mather 5150
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Default RAM: 12GB Single vs 8GB Dual

Ok, I know that conventional wisdom points to dual channel RAM being of better performance than single channel. I'm not looking for an education on single vs dual channel RAM in general. All I'm looking for, is real world experience with both, and/or your observations of single vs dual channel RAM in the world of the DAW. Here's the thing: I only have two slots. I could get one other module to get me back up to the minimum of where I want to be, which is 8GB, which would be dual. Or I could add an 8GB, which would be 12GB, but single channel. Thoughts? (I've read conflicting opinions on this ranging from you must go dual channel to dual channel doesn't make much of a difference). I'm not a gamer, I don't give a shit for speculative measurements (what I haven't been able to find is much input from fellow DAW users).

Many thanks.
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Old 10-12-2017, 06:29 PM   #2
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It is always a good idea to used matched RAM modules. However, it "should" work just fine, and when it comes to a DAW, more RAM is better, even if it's not matched.
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Old 10-12-2017, 09:16 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by WolfJames View Post
It is always a good idea to used matched RAM modules. However, it "should" work just fine, and when it comes to a DAW, more RAM is better, even if it's not matched.
I second this - in ~30 years with PCs, about half my blue screens have been caused by bad RAM modules (but not necessarily mismached modules, just RAM in general. My point is it's already a sensitive part of the system).

Mismached RAM modules, while theoretically stable, are a variable you don't want to deal with if your PC starts crapping on your sessions. [Edit: it doesn't hurt to try, may well be fine, but at the first sign of trouble, I'd yank it out]

If you don't care about overclocking, I've never noticed any material difference in RAM quality. I recommend you sacrifice and get a 16GB kit, can be had for $90-130 or so (assuming DDR3, DDR4 will be more).

Side note, I've also never noticed a real difference on dual vs single channel, but I've also never done a proper A vs B test.

[Edit 2: Also, what are the specs of your system? There may be other bottlenecks with more bang for the buck]
[Edit 3: To answer your question, if your only choice is 2x4GB mismached in dual or 1x4 and 1x8 in single, go 1x4 and 1x8 in single; I would expect it to be more stable]

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Old 10-12-2017, 09:55 PM   #4
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I agree, stability is the concern here, not speed. DC doesn't do much for speed that you'll notice. It can be benchmarked but I doubt it can be heard. You can always freeze a track if you're getting pops etc, but once your RAM is all in use, well, there you are.
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Old 10-12-2017, 10:24 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by cassembler View Post
I second this - in ~30 years with PCs, about half my blue screens have been caused by bad RAM modules (but not necessarily mismached modules, just RAM in general. My point is it's already a sensitive part of the system).

Mismached RAM modules, while theoretically stable, are a variable you don't want to deal with if your PC starts crapping on your sessions. [Edit: it doesn't hurt to try, may well be fine, but at the first sign of trouble, I'd yank it out]

If you don't care about overclocking, I've never noticed any material difference in RAM quality. I recommend you sacrifice and get a 16GB kit, can be had for $90-130 or so (assuming DDR3, DDR4 will be more).

Side note, I've also never noticed a real difference on dual vs single channel, but I've also never done a proper A vs B test.

[Edit 2: Also, what are the specs of your system? There may be other bottlenecks with more bang for the buck]
[Edit 3: To answer your question, if your only choice is 2x4GB mismached in dual or 1x4 and 1x8 in single, go 1x4 and 1x8 in single; I would expect it to be more stable]

$0.02
If there are other bottlenecks, they are what they are for the moment: RAM and, possibly - SSD are the only upgrades I can afford. To answer your question, an i3 with a 7200 rpm 1TB drive.

Now, you say if "my only choice is" 2x4GB mismatched in dual (how are they mismatched - I thought 2x4GB indicates matched, no?), or are you saying because I would be ordering from a different manufacturer, they aren't OEM, etc., that they would not be matched?

Believe me, I would love to be able to go 16GB, and price is the major sway, along with, I didn't break a sweat with 8MB RAM before. But I do own some more powerful processors and vsti's now, maybe 16GB is the only way to go? Not sure in that regard.

Even if this was a purely hypothetical exercise, I wanted to know if 12 unmatched (4+8=12 single channel) would outperform 8 matched (i.e., 4+4=8 dual channel), or if the opposite would be true. Again, this is only speaking from real world DAW performance.

WolfJames seems to be saying that the more RAM the better, dual channel or no.
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Old 10-13-2017, 03:33 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lowell Mather 5150 View Post
Ok, I know that conventional wisdom points to dual channel RAM being of better performance than single channel. I'm not looking for an education on single vs dual channel RAM in general. All I'm looking for, is real world experience with both, and/or your observations of single vs dual channel RAM in the world of the DAW. Here's the thing: I only have two slots. I could get one other module to get me back up to the minimum of where I want to be, which is 8GB, which would be dual. Or I could add an 8GB, which would be 12GB, but single channel. Thoughts? (I've read conflicting opinions on this ranging from you must go dual channel to dual channel doesn't make much of a difference). I'm not a gamer, I don't give a shit for speculative measurements (what I haven't been able to find is much input from fellow DAW users).

Many thanks.
I've used dual channel memory with no problems ever, your worrying about something that is so very slim chance of being a problem. Just buy your memory from a reliable dealer where you deal with people and not the internet.
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Old 10-13-2017, 05:38 AM   #7
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Mixed ram modules of different size and speed can be fine. It's just not optimal.

Dual channel gives superior performance. Two or four identical memory sticks is the safest bet.
However I have used mixed manufacturers with different size and speed in some systems without problems for years. These days memory is relatively cheaper and I suggest just going dual channel for the best performance.

When you mix ram speed and ram size the memory runs at the speed of the slowest module, taking max clock speed and timing from those.

If you are going to be utilizing the extra memory more often than not then extra memory in single channel would be superior to too little memory in dual channel mode. Best to keep as much in ram as possible though less of an issue with fast SSD.

Save up a little and get the matching ram then you shouldn't need to go through the rigmarole of memory testing (should you get issues) and you'll get the best performance.
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Old 10-13-2017, 06:29 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lowell Mather 5150 View Post
Ok, I know that conventional wisdom points to dual channel RAM being of better performance than single channel. I'm not looking for an education on single vs dual channel RAM in general. All I'm looking for, is real world experience with both, and/or your observations of single vs dual channel RAM in the world of the DAW. Here's the thing: I only have two slots. I could get one other module to get me back up to the minimum of where I want to be, which is 8GB, which would be dual. Or I could add an 8GB, which would be 12GB, but single channel. Thoughts? (I've read conflicting opinions on this ranging from you must go dual channel to dual channel doesn't make much of a difference). I'm not a gamer, I don't give a shit for speculative measurements (what I haven't been able to find is much input from fellow DAW users).

Many thanks.
Single vs dual vs triple channel refers to how the ram slots on the logic board or CPU boards are wired and then how you populate them with ram cards. Refer to your user manual. Get the amount of ram you need first and foremost and then install it in the most balanced/matched way according to how the ram slots are wired.
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Old 10-13-2017, 11:09 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by sickamorz View Post
I've used dual channel memory with no problems ever, your worrying about something that is so very slim chance of being a problem. Just buy your memory from a reliable dealer where you deal with people and not the internet.
I should hope so, isn't dual channel optimal?
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Old 10-13-2017, 11:10 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Softsynth View Post
Mixed ram modules of different size and speed can be fine. It's just not optimal.

Dual channel gives superior performance. Two or four identical memory sticks is the safest bet.
However I have used mixed manufacturers with different size and speed in some systems without problems for years. These days memory is relatively cheaper and I suggest just going dual channel for the best performance.

When you mix ram speed and ram size the memory runs at the speed of the slowest module, taking max clock speed and timing from those.

If you are going to be utilizing the extra memory more often than not then extra memory in single channel would be superior to too little memory in dual channel mode. Best to keep as much in ram as possible though less of an issue with fast SSD.

Save up a little and get the matching ram then you shouldn't need to go through the rigmarole of memory testing (should you get issues) and you'll get the best performance.
So are you saying that 8GB dual channel would outperform 12GB single channel then...
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Old 10-13-2017, 11:13 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by serr View Post
Single vs dual vs triple channel refers to how the ram slots on the logic board or CPU boards are wired and then how you populate them with ram cards. Refer to your user manual. Get the amount of ram you need first and foremost and then install it in the most balanced/matched way according to how the ram slots are wired.
..."I'm not looking for an education on single vs dual channel RAM in general. All I'm looking for, is real world experience with both, and/or your observations of single vs dual channel RAM in the world of the DAW"...

Again, think of this as a purely hypothetical exercise. I know how many slots I have, whether or not 8GB is enough, that I don't know. I'm beginning to think I should just go with a matched pair that has more than what I think I'll need, not just what I think I might need right now. From what I've read, matched dual channel is the way to go, I was just looking for someone to sway me the other way (i.e. no, the amount of RAM is more important in the DAW, not whether it is single/dual channel).

Guys,

Many thanks
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Old 10-13-2017, 11:34 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Lowell Mather 5150 View Post
So are you saying that 8GB dual channel would outperform 12GB single channel then...
No, it will depend on how much ram you are using. When more than 8GB is called for the extra memory of the 12GB single channel will outperform the faster and smaller dual channel memory which will rely on slower drive space instead of faster ram.
The rest of the time the smaller dual channel should have the edge as you rarely need full. 8GB.

8GB is way more than Windows needs and most programs won't need it either.

The single vs dual channel performance isn't night and day. Generally things just feel snappier.
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Old 10-13-2017, 11:57 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lowell Mather 5150 View Post
..."I'm not looking for an education on single vs dual channel RAM in general. All I'm looking for, is real world experience with both, and/or your observations of single vs dual channel RAM in the world of the DAW"...

Again, think of this as a purely hypothetical exercise. I know how many slots I have, whether or not 8GB is enough, that I don't know. I'm beginning to think I should just go with a matched pair that has more than what I think I'll need, not just what I think I might need right now. From what I've read, matched dual channel is the way to go, I was just looking for someone to sway me the other way (i.e. no, the amount of RAM is more important in the DAW, not whether it is single/dual channel).

Guys,

Many thanks
If you need a certain amount of ram for some app, it will never be faster performance to let the system run out of ram and make it page out to the hard drive vs. letting it use extra ram installed on a single channel.

So a system running something that can actually use 12GB will not speed up by restricting it to 8GB (if that is the most you can install balanced on two channels).

Now audio work uses at most 2GB normally unless you have sampling plugins loading samples into ram. And there might be some heavy weight synthesizer plugins out there now that use more ram.

Shop for total ram you need first. Then install the cards in the best configuration for your logic board or CPU board ram channels.


Theory and real world line up here. There's no scenario where paging out to your hard drive (even pci based SSD's) would be better performance vs. using more ram on only a single channel.

Again, this is more relevant for more ram intensive apps. Usually video work.
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Old 10-13-2017, 02:53 PM   #14
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The only time I've had an issue with not having enough RAM was when I tried to load that insane RS5K kit that I think Suleiman had been working on, that is listed as needing 6GB. I had 8GB and crashed my PC twice trying to load it.

I've since upgraded and have 16GB and have never run out; I also haven't monitored it so I have no idea how close I'm getting. I doubt very close.

If it were me, I'd probably wait until I had enough saved to get a matched pair of 8GB DIMMs. This should alleviate all technical concerns to the best of anyone's ability, at the cost of more shekels, which you won't regret spending in three months when your DAW has been humming along nicely.
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Old 10-13-2017, 10:15 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Lowell Mather 5150 View Post
If there are other bottlenecks, they are what they are for the moment: RAM and, possibly - SSD are the only upgrades I can afford. To answer your question, an i3 with a 7200 rpm 1TB drive.

Now, you say if "my only choice is" 2x4GB mismatched in dual (how are they mismatched - I thought 2x4GB indicates matched, no?), or are you saying because I would be ordering from a different manufacturer, they aren't OEM, etc., that they would not be matched?
Correct, by 'matched' I mean same part number from same mfg. If they "select a pair" for you, even better, but certainly not required. Like Softsynth said, an 8GB with an unmached pair is typically better than 4GB, and will probably be fine.

As far as "how much," also ask yourself how much sampling you're using. E.g. if I open twelve (!) different sets of NI Drum libraries, I'm at ~17GB of RAM (Win10/64), which is probably more than I've ever used, ever. An average starter project with one drum library and four virtual instruments with a generous application of effects puts me at 6.5GB.

It's a hamster wheel though, you'll want a beefier processor and an SSD, and whatever you get won't be as good as the next tier, and when you get that, something new will come out. Get what you need and can afford, and make it work. At least it's a cheaper hobby than cars (the PC at least)
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Last edited by cassembler; 10-13-2017 at 10:17 PM. Reason: Qualified that building PCs is cheaper than cars, as opposed to being a musician and/or audio engineer :)
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