Today I decided to play a little with my RAM configuration. I have always been reading here and there about the do's, the don'ts, etc. So, I decided to reach to the final results by myself and take decisions for my final setup.
To make the long story short, the results were shocking. It seems that the configuration of RAM plays a major role in the system. If you have the patience and willingness to play around, I am sure that you will discover equally impressive results.
My system consists of the following:
- Dual PC configuration
- 1st PC (Control PC):
Motherboard: Supermicro X10SAE
Memory: DDR3 ECC unregistered
CPU: Intel Xeon E3-1240L v3
Onboard Ethernet controllers: Intel I210 & I217
Operating system: Windows 2019 core with Audiophile Optimizer 3 beta 30
Music server: ROON server
Power supply: Seasonic Platinum 400 W fanless
- 2nd PC (Audio PC) not something extraordinary
Motherboard Asrock X370 Taichi
CPU: AMD Ryzen x1700
Operating system: Windows 10 1809
Music rendered: HQPlayer
Power supply: Corsair 450W (nothing special)
- NAS music storage:
Motherboard: Supermicro X9SRH-7TF
CPU: 10-core Xeon series 2600 (2680 if I am right)
Memory: Hynix 8 x 16Gb ECC registered, 128Gb in total
Operating system: FreeNAS ver 11.1
HDDs: 12 x 8TBytes Western Digital Red 5400 rpm
Ethernet adapter: Intel X540 10GbE
My adventures in Ram were performed on the control PC. I tried 1 & 2 Gb RAM chips in various configurations.
- Config A: 2 x 1 Gb ECC UDIMMs (dual memory channel), 2 Gbytes in total
- Config B: 1 x 2 Gb ECC UDIMM (single memory channel), 2 Gbytes in total
- Config C: 2 x 2 Gb ECC UDIMMs (dual memory channel), 4 Gbytes in total
- Config D: 4 x 2 Gb ECC UDIMMs (dual memory channel), 8 Gbytes in total
I was listening in A for almost 2 days. Today I switched to B. The total amount of memory was the same (2Gb), however from dual memory channel I went to single memory channel. The end result was pretty close to that of Config A but lacked the magic. Depth of field, distinctive layers of depth were less defined, music lacked just a bit of the intimacy and thrill.
Then it was time to go to Config C. It is 4 Gbytes consisting of 2 RAM chips. Dual memory channel. From those who are playing with DDR3 memory, I think that the vast majority are playing with this RAM configuration.
Guys, I was not prepared for this shock! Music lacked almost every aspect that makes us to want to listen more and more. Layers of depth were diminished, music became totally uninvolving, voices were messed up, high freq extension was drowned in mud! I would never expect that this combo of 2x2Gb would have such a devastating effect in music! I really pressurized myself to sit down and listen critically. I could not! The result was absolutely unbearable. Intolerable! By far the worse sound ever came out of this fantastic board!
Something into my mind told me that I should try to cover all the 4 memory banks. Of course same type of chips. I have read around that increasing the total quantity of RAM, from 4Gb to 8Gb, leads to worse results. ON THE CONTRARY! Music now became much better in all aspects. Flow, energy, dynamics, depth portrayal, everything was back again! The difference was dramatic. The end result was not up to the level of Config A but very slightly recessed. Music did not have the perfection of Config A but it was magnitudes of order better in everything if compared to the other Configurations. The result was not only good and tolerable but very good. It was probably the best result among others, if you have not of course experienced Config A. A has only 2 Gb where D has 8 Gb! However, even the total amount of RAM is 4x, the final result is fantastic and slightly recessed in everything, like dynamics and theatrical performance, but in total very good!
Going back to Config A sent music to the initial levels. Everything was there but more evident. Depth of field better defined, air, HF extension, thrill, excitement, everything was back. More defined. Better.
What I found out in my setup was rather straightforward. It is not that devastating to go from 2 Gb to 8 Gb as devastating is not to use all the memory banks of your motherboard! It seems that covering 4 banks instead of 2 leads to a SHOCKING and DRAMATIC result. Far better! Basically, music is almost totally vanished in Config C. Unfortunately I did not have 4 chips of 1Gb each to fill the remaining banks. From what I have experienced, going from 4 to 8 Gb by filling all the four banks, had the most dramatic effect, although going higher in RAM usually deteriorates sound quality. It seems that the CPU would prefer to 'see' all the banks covered, in dual memory channel set up.
If you have a DDR3 MoBo, I would strongly suggest to buy 4 pieces of 1Gb each and cover all the RAM banks. At least this seemed to be the best configuration i my system. I assume that, what I would lose from going from 2Gb to 4Gb, would give me back the benefit of filling all the memory banks and maybe in the end this would be the best configuration.