Ram speed, dual channel vs triple channel


Jun 11, 2011

I'm currently looking to buy a new PC and I must admit that I am a bit confused as far as ram goes. For example, is it better to have 3x4gb ddr3-2000 9-10-9-27 or 3x4gb ddr3-1600 9-9-9-24?

Is it better to have triple channel lets say 3x4gb 9-9-9-24 or 2 dual channels going like 2x(2x4gb) 8-8-8-24? I'd have 16gb of ram 8-8-8-24 dual channel times 2 or 12 gb triple channel.

I guess what i'm asking is triple channel worth having, even if i'll end up having less ram overall?
Also, at what point is the speed (ddr3-2000 vs ddr3-1600) not desirable over the SPD latency.

The choice of dual-channel versus triple-channel actually depends on which processor is in the PC.

Intel i7-9xx CPU: Triple-channel
Any other current Intel CPU: Dual-channel
Any AMD CPU: Dual-channel

RAM speed will make more performance difference than RAM timings in the vast majority of situations.
The nehalem and sandy bridge cpu's have excellent integrated ram controllers which can keep the chips fed with data from any ram.

Real application performance and FPS(vs. synthetic benchmarks) are within 1-3% when using the slowest dual channel ram, and the fastest triple channel ram.
Synthetic benchmarks will show a large difference though. Fast ram is only really applicable to those seeking record level overclocks.

As a rule more ram is better than faster ram.

You will find triple stick kits used on a X58/nehalem motherboard.

Dual channel kits will be found on a P67/Z68/H65 type sandy bridge motherboards.



Jun 11, 2011
I am going to buy an i7 2600k sandy bridge. I will of course overclock it but I am not going to try to push too far. In other words, i'm not looking to break any record. The motherboard im going with is the ASUS Maximus IV Extreme.

So from what I understand, the speed of the ram is more important than ram timing, and also more ram is better (2x dual channel) over less ram but triple channel?

Thanks again.
You will not have an option for triple channel on a P67 chipset. No matter.
If you will do a mild OC, say to 4.0, you can let the voltage default to auto, and use 1.5v 1333 ram. 1600 ram at most if you do not pay much more for it.
Dont pay extra for fancy heat spreaders either, they really are not needed.
You will typically get a 8gb kit of 2 x 4gb.
If you have a good reason for more, like photoshp, then ok.

The asus maximus extreme is nice, but twice as expensive as other asus P67 options.
It is meant for oc competitors and triple gpu cards.
It is also an extended atx size which may or may not fit the case you pick.
Compare the features of other versions, and you will find one that fits your needs at half the price.
Spend the savings elsewhere.
As geofelt stated, Sandy Bridge can only do dual-channel mode. If you put three RAM sticks in a Sandy Bridge system, it will switch to single-channel mode. For best performance, get a dual-channel kit.

I recommend 1600 CL9 RAM, as that seems to be the price/performance sweet spot for Sandy Bridge. Get 1.5v RAM for Sandy Bridge.

Recommended types:
Corsair Vengeance
G.Skill Sniper
G.Skill Ripjaws
G.Skill Ripjaws X

And unless you are planning to do a triple-SLI or triple-CF super-gaming setup, I don't recommend the Max IV Extreme board. The P8P67 Pro board will work nicely with a single-GPU or regular SLI/CF setup.
As a note , if you install three sticks of ram in a sandy bridge motherboard, the first two will operate in dual channel mode, and the odd stick in single channel mode.
This is true for my asus board, and I suspect for most others too. No big deal though.

Be wary of triple channel kits. Many have voltages of 1.65 volts and higher which can damage a sandy cpu.
Check compatibility using the ram vendor's configurator and your motherboard to be sure.


Where did you get this information? As far as I know, CPUs on 1155 and 1156 boards cannot do that. Only with 1366 CPUs can it combine channel methods like that -- specifically, if you run four RAM sticks, three of them combine into triple-channel mode and the fourth one runs in single-channel mode.

My motherboard, the ASUS P8P67-M PRO described that scenario.
I have read this on some other asus manual also.

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