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I am building a PC and am currently purchasing RAM. I have 6 slots supporting up to 24GB total RAM. I had planned to by 2 sets of 2*4GB chips, totaling 16GB and later on possibly buying another set to bring me up to 24GB.

I have read in a number of places that manufacturers suggest buying a single larger kit (i.e. one kit with 6 4GB chips) rather than multiple (identical) smaller kits (i.e. 3 kits each with 8GB chips). The logic appears to be that the manufacturer optimizes these chips so that they run better together. While the RAM appears identical the pricing of larger kits (even though they contain the exact same chips) is much higher than multiple smaller kits, lending credence to this idea.

My questions are as follows: 1) Is this true or is it an old wives tale? 2) How much of a difference does it actually make? 3) Can you foresee any issues with buying multiple smaller kits?

Thanks in advance


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up vote 2 down vote accepted
  1. I've seen mixed reviews, but some generally I've seen that some high-performance kits sold by manufacturers do give some performance gains, albeit small ones.

  2. Not much of a difference really, see 1.

  3. There is really no issue in running multiple smaller kits, but I'd recommand making sure they are all identical, that is, the same manufacturer, speed, etc. Although this isn't always a must, you'll have less compatibility issues in the end.

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Upgrading is (usually) easier and cheaper if you start with higher-capacity sticks of RAM. Say you start with 2GB sticks in each slot, for a total of 12GB. If you want to upgrade to 24GB, you have to buy 6 sticks and toss all of your old RAM. If you'd started by putting 4GB sticks in 3 slots, you only need to buy additional RAM to fill the empty slots.

That said, the benefit of buying all your RAM at the same time is availability. If you want to upgrade a year or two from now, you may not be able to purchase the same product. If you have an older motherboard when you want to upgrade, you may not be able to buy any compatible memory.

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