1x 16GB RAM vs 2x 8GB RAM: Which is Better?

1x 16GB RAM vs 2x 8GB RAM

One of the most common questions asked by gamers and PC enthusiasts is – do I buy a single stick of 16GB RAM or two sticks of 8GB RAM? 

You should always go with two sticks of 8GB RAM in the dual channel instead of just a single stick of 16GB RAM in a single channel as this will give you much better performance.

But does that mean you should never go for a single 16GB RAM?

Well, that depends on whether you want to upgrade your RAM down the line. Having a single 16GB RAM installed will allow you to easily slot in another 16GB RAM, thus, drastically improving the capability of your computer. 

However, 32GB of RAM is just overkill at this point. There aren’t any games or programs demanding enough to utilize that much memory. So, it’s best to go for 2x 8GB RAM. 

With all that said, let’s get into the technical details.

Key Takeaways

  • For both gaming and productivity tasks, dual-channel RAM (2x8GB) performs better than single-channel RAM (1x16GB). The performance boost is more noticeable in productivity apps.
  • With dual-channel RAM, you get double the bandwidth and reduced CPU latency, leading to smoother performance.
  • 16GB RAM is ideal for most gamers and users. Only go for 32GB RAM if you have specific needs that demand it.
  • For best performance, get DDR4 RAM with speeds of at least 3200MHz. 3600MHz offers slight boosts.
  • When installing RAM, refer to your motherboard manual for placement in dual channel config. Typically, use slots 1 & 3 or 2 & 4.
  • It’s okay to mix and match RAM brands as long as they have the same speed and timings. But keeping them identical can improve stability.

What is RAM?

Random Access Memory (RAM) is a short-term memory storage system for computers that allows users to access data easily. 

It is one of the most important components of a PC that determines how well it will perform in day-to-day tasks. Simply put, the more RAM you have, the better your system will likely perform. 

The primary function of RAM is to temporarily store everything you are currently running on your PC, whether it’s your web browser, a game, or any other software and its data.

So, when your system has a lot of RAM to work with, it can store much more data and information, rather than making your PC access slower memory lanes. This makes your PC feel a lot more snappy and quick, especially when it comes to multitasking. 

Things to Consider Before Buying RAM for Your PC

This leads us to one important question – what aspects affect the performance of RAM?


RAM speed is measured in Megahertz (MHz). Current-gen RAMs have a speed that can range from 2133 MHz to 5000 MHz. But most people nowadays go for RAMs with a speed of 3200 MHz to 3600 MHz, as that is the sweet spot for both gaming and multitasking.  

Check out this detailed comparison of popular RAM speeds from 2400MHz to 3600MHz.

Memory Size

You can find RAM modules with varying memory sizes, ranging from 4 GB to 32 GB. 8 GB of RAM has become the standard, but if you are a gamer, then you can opt for 16GB of RAM.

Although more RAM capacity will indeed improve the overall performance of your PC, however, the difference isn’t noticeable enough to fully recommend kitting out your rig with more than 16GB of RAM. 

Channel Type

Depending on the motherboard of your PC, you can utilize your RAM slots in three ways. If you use just a single stick of RAM, then your system will transfer data in a single channel.

Whereas if you install two sticks of RAM, then your system is now using a dual-channel system.

Lastly, some motherboards allow you to fit four sticks of RAM, which gives you access to quad-channel data transfer. But that is not always the case as some motherboards are only limited to dual-channel memory.  

Several other factors affect RAM performance. To know more, you can check out this in-depth breakdown of the differences between single-channel memory vs. dual-channel memory.

Installing RAM for Beginners

Follow these simple step-by-step instructions to successfully install RAM in your desktop computer:

  1. Before doing anything, refer to your motherboard manual and identify the RAM slots on your motherboard. There are usually 2-4 slots.
  2. Locate the small clips on each side of the RAM slot. Gently push these clips outwards so they are in an open position. This will allow the RAM stick to slide in.
  3. Take your new RAM stick and line it up with the open slot. Look for a notch along the bottom gold pins of the RAM. Line this notch up with the small bump in the RAM slot – this ensures the stick goes in the right way round.
  4. With the notch aligned properly, gently lower the RAM stick straight down into the slot. Push down firmly until the stick clicks into place. Do not force it; it should go in smoothly if aligned correctly.
  5. For dual channel setups, repeat steps 2-4 for the second RAM stick in the slot indicated in your motherboard manual. This is usually slot 1 and slot 3, or slot 2 and slot 4.
  6. Once both sticks are inserted, press down on them again to make sure they are fully seated. Then close the clips on the sides so they lock the RAM securely in place.
  7. Close up your computer, connect the power cable, and turn it on. Enter the BIOS to verify both RAM sticks are detected before booting into Windows.

Refer to this short video on YouTube if you face any problems:

And that’s it! With these simple steps, you can install RAM perfectly even if you’ve never done it before. Just be gentle, match up the notches, and listen for the clicks.

If you want to maximize your RAM’s performance, overclocking can help. See this guide to learn how to easily overclock RAM without entering BIOS.

Should You Choose 2x 8GB RAM Over 1x 16GB RAM Stick for Gaming?

If you are planning to build a gaming PC, then choosing 2x 8GB RAM over 1x 16GB RAM would be more beneficial. That is because many modern AAA games utilize dual-channel memory to give you the best possible performance and framerates. 

However, there is a caveat. Not every game suddenly starts running at 60 FPS if you install two sticks of RAM. While games like Assassin’s Creed do benefit from it, the performance difference is negligible in other games.

But the most prominent advantage of a dual-channel system for gaming is that you get a much smoother experience with more consistency. 

We recommend going for two DDR4 8GB RAM with a speed of 3200 MHz instead of one DDR4 16GB RAM with the same speed. That way, you get double the bandwidth, which means more information can be transferred to and from the memory unit.

Moreover, CPU latency and poor frame pacing are also drastically reduced thanks to dual-channel memory. 

Gaming Performance Comparison (Real World Tests!)

Dual-channel RAM can provide noticeable gaming performance improvements compared to single-channel RAM. Here are some real-world gaming benchmark examples:

  • In Assassin’s Creed Odyssey at 1080p settings, a system with 2x8GB DDR4-3200 RAM averaged 71fps versus 63fps with 1x16GB RAM. An 11% boost.
  • In Far Cry New Dawn at 1080p ultra, 2x8GB RAM averaged 15% higher minimum fps and 9% higher average fps compared to 1x16GB RAM.
  • Tests in CS:GO at 720p show dual channel RAM providing as much as 18% higher minimum fps for more consistent gameplay.

While the exact gaming gains will vary, these benchmarks demonstrate the clear advantage of dual over single-channel RAM for gaming. The dual-channel config delivers higher average framerates and crucially, higher minimum fps for a smoother experience.

Should You Choose 2x 8GB RAM Over 1x 16GB RAM Stick for Productivity?

For professional applications like photo editing, video editing, graphics rendering, etc., you should choose dual-channel RAM. That is because single-channel memory requires more CPU usage than dual-channel memory. 

It has been proven that every time a single kit of RAM is put up against a dual kit of RAM in a benchmark test, the PC with the dual-channel memory configuration has always been ahead. From this, we can conclude that 2x 8GB sticks of RAM would give you a better result than a single stick of 16GB RAM. 

To verify your system is running dual-channel RAM properly, refer to this simple guide for checking dual-channel configuration.

Productivity Performance Comparison (Real World Tests!)

For productivity and creative applications, dual-channel RAM can provide significant performance improvements over single-channel configurations:

  • In Pugetbench for Photoshop, 2x8GB RAM scored 15% higher than 1x16GB. Faster performance applying filters and adjustments.
  • In DaVinci Resolve, rendering a 4K project was ~20% faster with 2x8GB RAM compared to 1x16GB due to the increased memory bandwidth.
  • For 3D modeling in Blender, viewport and rendering tasks completed over 25% quicker with 2x8GB vs 1x16GB RAM.

The extra bandwidth and lower latency of dual-channel RAM deliver outsized gains in productivity apps. The above examples showcase the kinds of performance uplifts you can expect in real-world creative and professional workflows.

Which One Should You Go for?

It’s pretty clear that 2x 8GB RAM sticks will perform much better both in gaming and productive tasks than 1x 16GB RAM stick. However, the difference isn’t significant enough to completely rule out using the latter.

If you have budget constraints, then going for a single 16GB RAM is a viable option. But if you want to squeeze every last bit of performance out of your rig, then going with 2x 8GB dual channel memory lane should be a no-brainer.


What RAM speed should I get for gaming/productivity?

For most users, DDR4 RAM with speeds of 3200MHz to 3600MHz offers the best performance for both gaming and productivity. Faster RAM like 4000MHz+ provides diminishing returns for increased cost.

If I currently have 1x16GB, should I add another 16GB stick or replace with 2x8GB?

Replacing your current RAM with a 2x8GB dual channel kit will provide better performance uplift versus just adding another 16GB stick.

How much RAM do I really need for gaming/streaming/video editing?

16GB is the ideal amount for gaming. 32GB can benefit streaming and video editing workflows but is not absolutely necessary. As long as you have dual channel RAM, capacity is less important.

Is it okay to mix and match RAM brands/speeds?

It’s possible but not recommended. For stability, use identical RAM kits. If mixing, ensure both sticks share the same speed, timings, and voltage specs.

Can I use RAM as VRAM instead of buying a GPU?

While it is possible to allocate some RAM for use as video memory, this is not optimal for gaming or graphics workloads. For a detailed comparison of using RAM versus having dedicated VRAM, see this guide.

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Nafiul Haque

Nafiul Haque has grown up playing on all the major gaming platforms. And he got his start as a journalist covering all the latest gaming news, reviews, leaks, etc. As he grew as a person, he became deeply involved with gaming hardware and equipment. Now, he spends his days writing about everything from reviewing the latest gaming laptops to comparing the performance of the latest GPUs and consoles.