Computer-building manuals frequently recommend that you run your computer’s RAM in “dual-channel” mode. What precisely does that entail, and how does it improve your system in any particular way? Continue reading to find out.
What Is Dual-Channel?
To understand what random access memory (also known as RAM) is and how it works, we must first understand what it is not. RAM is the temporary storage area for data from recently accessed apps and files. For example, if you have a web browser window open on your device right now, the data for that website is being saved in the RAM modules of your device right now. A larger amount of available RAM allows you to run more apps at the same time without experiencing any performance degradation.
Memory channels are used by your processor unit (also known as the CPU) to access this data. They are communication channels that allow your computer to access the data that is temporarily stored in your random access memory (RAM). Because of this, having more of these memory channels can make accessing this data more efficient.
When your computer’s memory and its CPU communicate with each other through two memory channels, you have dual-channel memory. Dual-channel memory allows you to transmit data between your computer’s memory and its CPU at a faster rate. Dual-channel mode allows two RAM sticks to speak with each other on distinct channels at the same time, allowing your computer to operate and run programmes substantially faster.
As a result, running your computer in dual-channel memory will deliver a large performance improvement, regardless of the actual capacity of your RAM. If two 4GB sticks of memory are used in dual-channel mode, they will almost always outperform a single 8GB stick of memory used in single-channel mode in the vast majority of circumstances.
Getting Dual-Channel Memory
Obtaining Dual-Channel Memory that is compatible with the RAM slots on a motherboard.
Veerappan Takonok / Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
The ability to run in dual-channel mode is dependent on the motherboard of your computer. In order to operate in dual-channel mode, a motherboard must have two identical slots that enable dual-channel mode that are adjacent to one another. Many motherboards today offer this feature, with some even providing useful color coding or enumeration to notify a PC builder which sticks should be used in which slots.
If a motherboard includes more than two slots, they are commonly sold in pairs, known as dual-channel configurations. Using the example of a board with four slots, there will be two unique pairs of dual-channel memory slots on the board, which are typically arranged one slot apart from each other. For additional information on this, you should speak with the maker of your motherboard.
Dual-channel memory has little to do with the brand or type of RAM that you choose to use in your computer. It is compatible with nearly all brands of recently manufactured memory from nearly all manufacturers. What’s more crucial is that the memory sticks are compatible with one another in terms of capacity (number of gigabytes), speed, and latency, as they may not perform as well if they are not compatible. Companies that manufacture RAM will frequently sell them in kits of two identical sticks in order to reduce the possibility of mistake.
If operating in dual-channel results in a performance improvement, then running in multiple channels is even better. Sticks operating in triple-channel and quadruple-channel memory provide significant performance improvements over dual-channel memory when compared to the latter. However, it is possible that the difference will not be as significant as the increase from single to dual.
At the moment, only a small number of high-end CPUs and motherboards are capable of operating in triple- and quad-channel mode. Consult with the maker of your device to see whether or not your PC may benefit from quad-channel mode operation.
A Quick and Easy Upgrade for Laptops
Laptops, like desktop computers, reap the benefits of dual-channel RAM to a substantial extent. Many laptops nowadays come with a single stick of memory, but they also contain a second RAM socket that may be used to upgrade to dual-channel memory if desired. It’s possible to greatly increase the performance of your laptop by performing this simple, inexpensive, and straightforward procedure if you notice that your device is slowing down when you have too many programmes open. Not only do you double the amount of memory available, but you also reap the benefits of running in dual-channel, which increases performance even further.
SODIMM, or tiny outline dual in-line memory module, is a type of memory module that is commonly found in laptop computers. These sticks are far smaller than their desktop counterparts, and they are available in a variety of models and part kinds. In order to put in the stick, you must first remove the backplate and check for the SODIMM slot, after which you must slide the stick into the slot. More information can be found in our article on how to install new memory.
To ensure compatibility, we recommend that you purchase memory that is identical in model, size, and speed to the memory currently installed in your laptop if you are updating it. If you’re not sure what type of memory you have, check out our advice on how to figure out what model your RAM stick is by reading it. Additionally, if the stick in your laptop is not soldered to the motherboard, you can exchange the stick already in your notebook and add two new sticks in its place if the original stick is not connected to the motherboard.