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What Slots To Put RAM In? [For 1, 2, 3, and 4 Stick Setups]
Updated · Jul 28, 2023
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If you plan to upgrade your computer memory but don’t know what slots to put RAM in — you’ve come to the right place.
It might sound complicated, but finding the correct slot isn’t too tricky.
We’ve composed a comprehensive guide on working out the right slots for your computer and installing them on a desktop and laptop.
Let’s find out.
Does It Matter Which RAM Slot You Use?
Yes, RAM slot order matters because of the multi-channel architecture. If you have more than one memory stick, you will need to make them work jointly (dual-channel, triple-channel, etc.), enabling the CPU to access the RAM modules faster. By placing the sticks in the right slots, your computer will optimize its performance.
For that purpose, you’ll need to make sure that the RAM modules are placed in the correct slots. To take advantage of the dual-channel support, you have to know which RAM slots to use. They are usually configured in pairs. For instance, in a motherboard with four RAM slots, you’ll have to use the second and the fourth slot for two sticks, and only after that, if you get a second pair, you should put it into the first and third slots.
So, what's the difference between RAM slots 1-3 vs. 2-4?
A1 (slot 1) and B1 (slot 3) are typically reserved for a single channel of the same type, and A2 (slot 2) and B2 (slot 4) are considered to be dual-channel RAM slots.
image credit: ASUS
Which RAM Slot to Use for a Single Stick?
Unless your motherboard has only one RAM slot available, it is usually advised to install the single RAM stick in the DIMMA2 slot first, so you should always check with your motherboard manual to find the exact spot.
Different motherboards have different slot orders so it is crucial that you consult with the manual. If you don't have it, try looking for the slot that is marked on the motherboard as DIMMA2 or DDR4_2.
image credit: MSI
What Slots Do You Put RAM In?
Determining where to put your RAM sticks will depend on the number of sticks you have and the number of slots your motherboard has.
For example, if you’re a gamer, you’ll need 16 GB of RAM for a smooth gaming experience. For the dual-channel memory that most motherboards support today, it’s better to use two 8 GB RAM sticks.
Motherboards With Four RAM Slots
You should remember that reading your motherboard manual will help you the most because the RAM slot order can be different for every motherboard.
However, there are general rules you can follow:
- If you have a single RAM stick, its position is usually the A2 slot.
- If you have two RAM sticks, you should use the A2 & B2 or 2 & 4 positioning, meaning the slot which is furthest away from the CPU socket and the other that’s one position away from it.
- If you have three sticks, you should position the third stick between the A2 & B2 slots.
- The situation is obvious for four sticks in a four-slot motherboard — use every available slot for each stick.
Motherboards With More Than Four RAM Slots
Most motherboards have up to four slots, but some double that number. If you have a motherboard with eight slots, your computer might support triple-channel or quad-channel memory support.
Similar RAM installation order applies here as with four-slot motherboards.
- If you need to put only one RAM stick, you can place it anywhere you want.
- If you have two RAM sticks, you can position them in the slots furthest away from the CPU for maximum distance and remember to put them a slot apart from each other.
- Three RAM sticks go into the slots furthest from the CPU, right next to each other.
- If your motherboard supports quad-channel memory, you might need to consult your manual to see the pattern for your four RAM sticks. You can either place all four next to each other or space them out.
- Similarly, you can place five RAM sticks either right next to each other or the same as four but with that one stick somewhere in between.
- If you need to place six RAM sticks, put three on each side for symmetry.
- For seven RAM sticks, you should populate all slots except the first one that’s closest to the CUP.
- For eight RAM sticks, it’s pretty obvious again — add a stick in each slot.
Is There an Issue With Having an Odd Number of RAM Sticks?
In case you have an uneven number of RAM modules, you’ll have to mix and match RAM for configuration. It could cause issues, and multi-channel configurations might not work properly.
If by any chance, your motherboard supports a triple-channel memory, then everything should be fine. However, if your motherboard supports dual-channel (or more) memory, you won’t benefit from it with an odd number of RAM sticks. It’s possible for the motherboard to force all RAM sticks to run in single-channel mode.
However, modern CPUs can go into the so-called flex mode, a feature where a four-slot motherboard with three RAM sticks will run two of the three in dual-channel mode and one RAM stick in a single channel. Therefore, you probably won’t have any issues running an odd number of sticks.
image credit: youtube.com/@Techquickie
How to Install RAM on a Desktop
One way to increase your RAM speed in order to boost your computer’s performance is to buy new RAM modules and replace your old ones.
Having established what slots RAM should be in, let's see the steps on how to install them on your PC.
- Shut down your computer and remove all the cables and cords.
- Open the clips. Consult your computer’s manual to see how to remove the side of the computer case and get to the motherboard. It would be a good idea to take pictures as you work to see where the screws and cables go later when you need to put everything back together.
- Remove the old RAM sticks before inserting the new ones. You’ll see the memory slots next to the CPU socket. Pull them out by toggling the plastic clips at either end of the memory slots.
- Line up your new RAM sticks. Now that you know where to place them, orient them with the bottom part of the RAM to match up with the rise in the memory slot. Be careful to touch only the corners of your new RAM sticks so you won’t damage the gold connectors or other parts.
- Insert the new RAM modules by pressing down until the plastic clips lock your new memory sticks in place.
- Close your computer casing and plug all cables back in to turn on your PC.
Your computer may not act as expected initially, so you’ll need to restart it. It takes a bit of time for your motherboard to get used to the newly installed memory. But don’t worry, everything should work fine in just a few minutes.
How to Install RAM on a Laptop
A laptop motherboard, as opposed to a PC motherboard, has the sticks lying flat, not vertically. Additionally, some laptops have SO-DIMM memory sticks meaning they are soldered directly onto the motherboard. You’ll probably need assistance removing them.
Although your laptop may lag due to low RAM, some laptops can’t handle more. Therefore, you should check these things before applying new RAM sticks:
If your laptop is eligible for a RAM upgrade, you should follow these steps:
- Shut down your laptop, let it cool down, and remove all its cords and cables.
- Turn it over to remove the bottom casing. Your model might require unscrewing the part that covers your RAM. Be careful to see the position and size of every screw because they can vary.
- Remove your old RAM sticks by carefully pushing the clips that hold them in place. You’ll need to pull the memory modules out of their slots.
- Now that you know which slots to install your RAM in, just push the memory sticks down until they lock into place. Be careful not to touch the gold connector on the top. The memory modules should lie flat inside the laptop.
- Once the clips click back into place, you can return the back casing and turn your laptop back over. You can now plug all your cables and cords back in before turning your laptop on.
Remember that when installing memory modules to your motherboard, you should be careful not to overclock your RAM. It might be the reason your computer crashes and freezes.
If you are wondering what slots to put RAM in when upgrading your desktop or laptop, it’s best to consult your motherboard manual first. However, most modern motherboards allow two RAM modules of the same speed and generation to run in dual-channel. Therefore, you’ll need to put them in corresponding sockets in pairs 1 & 3 or 2 & 4.
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