Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have a Dell Dimension 8300 that is still trucking along. A while ago I had ugpraded to 2x1GB in it. Over the weekend, one of the modules died, so I went and bought another 2x1GB (to run in matched pairs). I have noticed from time to time that memory heavy applications (GIMP, etC) do get a little bogged down with only 2GB of RAM. My question is, am I better off pulling the 'odd' module, so the system will only have a matched pair, or leaving the odd module in, and having 3GB (instead of 2GB) of RAM?

share|improve this question
No definite answer for this one without doing a lot of benchmarking, determining what your bottleneck is, your use pattern, etc. Generally speaking though, if you're maxing out the 2 GB, then the extra GB will likely be better than running 2 GB dual channel, and relying on swap . . . – ernie Dec 9 '13 at 21:46
So generally speaking, it's not 'catastrophic' (50% performance hit) to run with the extra GB as a single? – Aaron Dec 9 '13 at 21:48
You're usually not using full memory bandwidth, so in most cases, you won't see a big performance drop. If you're swapping frequently, then the memory bandwidth becomes a non-issue, as disk speed will be the limiting factor. I'd focus on figuring out if you're swapping, and if so, more memory will win out over dual-channel. – ernie Dec 9 '13 at 21:53
up vote 0 down vote accepted

The loss of dual channel does have a significant impact on memory performance, but that only has a small impact on overall performance because performance is rarely determined by memory throughput. One would expect that the significant change in memory size would prevail because more memory means less disk I/O, and disk I/O often affects real world performance. I'd leave the odd module in.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.