Last Updated on September 14, 2020 by Scott Krager
If you have ever had the chance to buy RAM in the market, it is safe to say that you must have come across terms such as single, double, or quad channel memory. Normally, as a consumer, you might think that the higher the channels, the better the performance.
That is because, for the longest time, the larger numbers have been associated with higher performance.
However, in reality, the situation is a lot different than some might think. As a matter of fact, having a quad channel memory versus having a single channel memory does not really offer a huge difference in performance.
So, keeping that principle in mind, we trudge on to find the difference between the single channel, dual channel, and quad channel memory. This is to make sure that the users who are buying this memory in the market have an easier experience understanding what they are getting themselves into.
Single Channel Memory
The first channel that we are looking at is the single channel, and as the name suggests, the memory stick will run in single channel only when you are plugging a single stick of RAM into the motherboard.
Ordinarily, we run two memory sticks in whatever motherboard we buy, but for some reason, if we are running a single stick, the memory will be running in the single channel.
In most uses cases, the single channel memory will show no performance difference whatsoever. There will be extremely rare cases in which you might see the dual or quad channel memory showing prowess over the single channel option but that is not something that will be common.
Double Channel Memory
Based on the principle that we were discussing, the dual channel memory is when you populate both the RAM slots on the motherboard.
However, if we are talking about a motherboard with 4 slots, then populating the 1st and 3rd slot with RAM sticks will have them run in dual channel. The bandwidth gets increased when we shift channels, but for those who are strictly looking at these things from a gamer’s perspective, the difference is so small that you might not be able to notice it at all.
Again, the dual-channel memory configuration is perhaps the most common one available in the market, as most of the people around us are actually opting for that configuration as opposed to going for the single channel memory.
Quad Channel Memory
The last memory type is the quad channel memory, and as you may have guessed it, in quad channel memory, you get all 4 RAM slots occupied. While this configuration is not as common in the motherboards that have 4 RAM slots, the motherboards that come with 8 RAM slots see the most common configuration.
Again, as far as noticeable benefits are concerned, there is not much when you are talking about quad channel memory either. Sure, in the professional tasks that are on the rare side, you might see a performance difference. However, as far as the mainstream is concerned, the performance difference is simply nothing major to stress about.
Should You Just Stick to Single Channel Memory Then?
Now the important question that we have here is that should you just stick to single channel memory? That is because the difference between dual and quad channel is so minor, why spend the extra money to go with those memory kits? Well, you would be surprised to know the reasons why most people do not prefer single channel kits. Let’s look at them below.
Single Channel Memory Can be Expensive
This might come as a surprise but going for a single 16GB stick as opposed to two 8GB sticks is going to cost you more money. Single sticks of higher capacity memories cost more money to manufacture, and more importantly, they are not as commonly available either.
Two or Four Sticks Look Good
This is something that is purely from an aesthetic standpoint but if you look at a system that just has a single stick of RAM, it will not look as good, even if that single stick is of a high capacity. 2 or 4 sticks are the norm and they certainly look better as well.
In conclusion, the one thing that you must know is that the differences between single, dual, or quad channel memories are a lot smaller than you might think.
Especially from the perspective of gaming performance. Sure, the aesthetics come in between, as does the price, but overall, the differences are minor.
The same applies to the professionals, albeit it is with the intent of gaining additional performance rather than going for aesthetics.