In today’s digital world, computer users are always looking for ways to speed up their systems to allow for multitasking without sacrificing efficiency.
Having high-capacity RAM is often the first way to come to your mind when your system feels sluggish.
The multi-channel RAM technology is another innovative way of increasing speed in today’s computers.
What does it involve, and how can you enable it?
Keep reading this article to learn how to enable the dual-channel mode and what system specs you’ll need.
Enabling The Dual-Channel Mode
If you want to upgrade your RAM capacity to increase your computer’s performance, you may decide to add more memory sticks.
Now, what about enabling the dual-channel mode?
Do you need to make any software changes or adjust any settings in the BIOS to activate the dual-channel setting?
The point about dual-channel RAM is that it’s generally related to your computer’s architecture and hardware.
In other words, the computer comes either with a dual-channel setup or without it.
And when you insert your RAM sticks, they automatically send their data through these channels.
Your CPU specs tell you if it supports dual channels or not.
You can go to the manufacturer’s website and check this information.
That being said, you need to follow a specific order when you insert the RAM sticks in the slots.
Here’s how it works.
As you might have seen, RAM slots come in different color-coding or numbers specified by the manufacturer.
These slots are in two or more pairs, each having a distinct color.
For example, you’ll get two blue slots and two black ones, or you’ll get A1, A2, B1, and B2.
The important point about inserting memory sticks for a dual-channel setup is placing your sticks in the slots with the same color.
This way, you’ll connect each pair to the same channel, enabling the dual-channel setup automatically.
That means you need to have an even number of RAM sticks to enable the dual-channel mode.
Your motherboard may have a dual-channel architecture, but you’ll have a single-channel setup if you use three RAM sticks instead of two or four.
How To Enable Dual-Channel RAM (Step-By-Step)
How To Upgrade Your RAM
If you feel your computer has become sluggish, especially while multitasking and working with browsers, you may want to upgrade your RAM.
That’s because when your computer doesn’t have enough memory to store its temporary files, it will use other storage spaces such as the hard disk or virtual memory.
These are much slower than RAM, making the system’s overall performance suffer.
In such cases, upgrading your memory can help you improve performance and speed significantly.
You could increase your RAM capacity, channels, or both.
That said, you should first make sure the slow performance is due to low RAM and not other issues.
1. Decide If You Need To Upgrade
The first step is to check your RAM usage in the Task Manager under the Performance tab.
Click on Memory and see how much free space you have.
You can even see how many slots you have and how many of them are used.
That’s particularly helpful if you want to upgrade your laptop’s RAM as it’s more difficult to inspect laptops’ hardware due to their sealed designs.
Then, you should decide if you can upgrade your RAM since your system should support more RAM sticks.
That’s because of the motherboard and OS limitations that can accept only a maximum RAM capacity.
For PCs, you can check the number of RAM slots by opening the case and physically checking the number of slots.
Alternatively, you could use the same method mentioned for laptops (via the Task Manager by pressing Alt + Ctrl + ESC).
Now, you should decide the maximum RAM capacity your computer can handle.
There are different online tools that help you find this out.
All you need to do is give the tool your computer’s specs, and it will tell you the maximum amount of RAM your computer can accept.
The operating system also has limitations in terms of maximum RAM capacity.
If you have a 32-bit Windows, the RAM modules it’s compatible with are different from those of a 64-bit operating system.
This is another feature to search online and make sure the RAM doesn’t exceed your OS specs.
Crucial System Advisor is a straightforward online tool that needs your manufacturer, product line, and model to give you the required information.
Another great tool is Speccy, an app with free and paid versions that analyzes your system and provides system information.
Alternatively, you could search the motherboard specs on the manufacturer’s website.
You need to know the product’s model number, which you can get through a command prompt.
Open the Command Prompt app and enter the following command: wmic baseboard get product, Manufacturer
You’ll see the manufacturer and product number.
Go to the manufacturer’s website, enter the information and get the required system specs.
Then, decide how many RAM modules and what capacities you can buy.
Divide your system’s maximum RAM capacity by the number of slots to get what RAM sticks you should buy.
Another crucial factor you should consider is the type of RAM modules your motherboard accepts.
Today’s computers come with motherboards compatible with DDR3 or DDR4 RAMs.
If your system is an older one that supports DDR2, you can’t use a DDR3 RAM module for it.
Plus, the RAM modules you get should have exactly the same manufacturer, specs, and types.
Fortunately, many brands offer RAM sticks in pairs and kits to avoid confusion.
2. Install The RAM Modules
After deciding which RAM modules are compatible with your motherboard and OS, it’s time to install them.
As you may expect, this process is different for laptops and PCs.
However, if you’ve never opened your case or laptop before or don’t have the technical knowledge and skills, it’s better to ask a professional to install the sticks for you.
That said, installing RAM is straightforward, and you can do it yourself if you follow the instructions carefully.
A. For A Laptop
The process of opening up a laptop may differ from brand to brand, requiring different tools.
It’s better to search online for videos showing you how to do it.
After opening the panel, ground yourself and touch a metal surface inside the computer to avoid damaging the components.
You could also wear an antistatic wrist strap to avoid any possible danger.
Now, you can remove the memory modules by pushing the clips on their sides until they pop out.
To insert the new memory modules, handle them by their edges and avoid touching their gold connectors.
You should take the module at a 45-degree angle, place one edge inside the slot, and gently push down until you hear a click.
The newly-installed module should feel firmly in place when you touch it, without wobbling or moving around.
B. For A PC
Installing RAM on a PC is even more straightforward because the PC case is easier to open, and the RAM slots are easier to locate.
After shutting down the PC and unplugging all the power cords and extensions, hold the power button for a few seconds to discharge any remaining electricity inside the system.
Now, you should open the case, by either removing the screws or popping out connecting clips, depending on the model.
After removing the screws, make sure to put them in a separate place, knowing which screw belongs to which part because they may be different from each other.
You could also take photos before unscrewing the case to remember where everything should go.
Here again, you should ground yourself by touching a metal part of the case to discharge electricity from your body.
Now, look for the RAM slots and already installed modules.
Although they’re easy to find, you could consult the user’s manual to be 100% certain you’re on the right path.
The user manual should also tell you how to remove the modules, although most manufacturers use clips to hold the modules in place.
You can easily remove the memory sticks by pressing down the clips until they pop up, and push the whole module up.
After removing the modules, carefully take the new memory sticks along the edges, put them on the slots, and gently push them down.
As mentioned before, if you want to enable dual-channel RAM, you should place them as indicated by the color coding or numbering, based on the manufacturer.
Remember, if you put them in the 1, 2, or 3, 4 order, instead of 1, 3, or 2, 4, they’ll be in the single-channel mode even if your motherboard supports the dual-channel architecture.
The memory sticks should fit snugly inside the slots with a gentle push.
If they don’t, you’re probably using the wrong modules or not placing them right.
C. Turn On Your System
After closing the PC case or laptop panel, you can turn on your system and enjoy your newly installed memory.
There’s no need to activate anything on the software level, as your system will automatically detect the new modules, and the dual-channel setup will work as planned.
3. Symmetric Vs. Asymmetric RAM Assembly
As mentioned earlier, the best choice of RAM configuration is to get the pairs already bundled by manufacturers.
However, suppose you want to add two RAM sticks to your already installed pair.
How can you make sure the sticks are compatible and retain the dual-channel configuration by adding the new modules?
If you want to use RAM sticks with different capacities (sizes), it’s crucial to have each pair of the same size.
For example, if you have four RAM slots, you can fill A1 and B1 with 4GB sticks and A2 and B2 with 2GB ones.
In addition to the RAM size, the speed and frequency of both RAM modules should be identical.
Otherwise, your system will automatically default to the lower specs.
For example, if one module’s clock speed is 3,200 MHz and the other’s is 4,000 MHz, the pair’s clock speed will be 3,200 MHz.
Another configuration would be one that doesn’t mind both modules having exactly the same size.
You even don’t need to have the same speed and memory access timing for both modules as long as you don’t mind settling for the lowest specs.
The only important thing is that the total size of the first channel is identical to the size of the second channel.
For example, you could fill A1 and A2 with two 2GB RAM sticks and fill B1 with a 4GB RAM stick and leave B2 empty.
These configurations are all okay and won’t affect performance to a noticeable degree while enabling you to enjoy the benefits of a dual-channel configuration.
The asymmetric mode, or the single-channel mode, uses RAM sticks with different capacities in the slots.
Installing an odd number of RAM sticks will also trigger the single-channel mode.
In this configuration, the total capacity of two RAM sticks isn’t equal to that of the other one in the next channel.
For example, if you install a 1GB stick in A1 and a 2GB stick in A2 while placing a 4GB stick in B1 and leaving B2 empty, you’ll have an asymmetric configuration.
4. The Flex Mode
The mix and match limitations in the dual-channel have led manufacturers to develop some solutions.
One of them is the Flex mode, a technology named by Intel, which involves a flexible configuration.
Here’s how it works:
You can use any number of capacities for your RAM sticks in both channels.
You’ll have a dual-channel mode for that portion of the configuration where all the capacities are equal.
After the CPU uses this portion, the remaining portion will be single-channel.
For example, if you have an 8GB channel and a 4GB channel, the whole 4GB channel and half of the 8GB channel will be dual-channel.
The other half of the 8GB channel will be single-channel.
What Are RAM Channels?
Random Access Memory (RAM) is the volatile memory that helps your computer perform tasks by temporarily storing data.
This data has to move back and forth between the RAM and CPU, which is your computer’s brain, and everything has to pass through this component.
This communication takes place via RAM channels.
Although you may think of RAM channels as actual, physical channels, they’re simply wiring on the motherboard that transfers data between RAM and CPU.
Memory channels can be single, dual, or quad, with most modern motherboards having two or four channels.
There are also six and eight RAM channels, which aren’t typically for consumer computers and are primarily used in servers.
The Benefits Of Dual-Channel RAM
As mentioned, RAM channels are paths that transfer data between RAM and CPU, making your computer work smoothly.
The faster this data transfer is, the better your system will work.
As a result, having two transfer paths means a faster data flow and more efficiency.
These paths are so effective that they can even be more important than the number of RAM sticks, which means a 4GB RAM with two channels is more effective than an 8GB RAM with one channel.
That’s because, with dual-channel architecture, the two RAM sticks send data simultaneously to the CPU.
This benefit is even more significant when performing CPU-intensive tasks such as gaming or video editing.