Should I be using tri-channel configuration?

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escapegoat

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I've been reading that if your motherboard supports tri-channel memory, it's better to go with only 3 sticks even if you could install 4, so that the the system can take advantage of tri-channel memory. I have a system with an i7-920 processor. I'm not sure exactly what motherboard it is, since the system was put together by Dell, but it has six ram slots.

I have 4 sticks of Crucial PC-10600 memory (which I think is the same thing as DDR3-1333), 4 GB each. Should I only be using 3 of these? If so, how should it be set up? Should I be using every other slot, so that I'm using 3 that are color-coded the same? And is there anything else I would need to do to make the system take advantage of the tri-channel configuration? Or does it do that automatically if you have your sticks of ram installed the right way?

Thanks very much.
 
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Yes you have to use DIMMs in multiples of three in order to get the advantages of dual channel.

I have no idea about your motherboard particularly, but normally, if you are filling three of six slots then you should fill the ones that are of all the same color. In your case, you should be using every other slot. There is no additional requirement for your RAM to run in triple channel mode.

You could always buy two more sticks and then the six sticks will run in triple channel mode.

jsrudd

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Yes you have to use DIMMs in multiples of three in order to get the advantages of dual channel.

I have no idea about your motherboard particularly, but normally, if you are filling three of six slots then you should fill the ones that are of all the same color. In your case, you should be using every other slot. There is no additional requirement for your RAM to run in triple channel mode.

You could always buy two more sticks and then the six sticks will run in triple channel mode.
 
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escapegoat

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Thanks, that makes sense. I'm thinking I'll just use 3 and save the 4th stick as a backup in case one of them fails.

I'm a bit reluctant to fill all six slots because I have a mediocre power supply and I think I've read that doing that can consume more power. Plus I think I'd need to do some other upgrades before RAM comes anywhere close to being a bottleneck (I'm using an nVidia GTX 260 card, so a PSU + a newer card would probably be next).
 

escapegoat

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Incidentally, it appears that DDR3-1333 can only run at 1066 mhz in this system (was a Dell XPS 435 - the motherboard is called 0X501H according to Speccy and CPU-Z). That's what it's running at, and no option to change it in the BIOS. A google search suggests that others have had the same result.

Probably doesn't matter much though, does it?
 
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