Friday, December 4, 2009

Optiplex 320 DDR2. Does DDR2 really mean Dual Channel?

I bought a number of Dell Optiplex 320 computers about two years ago. They were advertised with DDR2 RAM - 2GB, no less. The one that I used was occasionally slow. It would lag I would search for a solution. I never came up with anything. All systems appeared normal.

About two weeks ago I installed some new software for checking all the current specifications for a Windows computer called Speccy. (GREAT, free utility. I'll write more on that later.) The odd thing was that the memory channels listed single channel. I double-checked the specifications on the Dell Optiplex 320 I was running and it stated that it had DDR2 RAM. I installed Speccy on another machine with comparable specifications and that machine showed dual-channel RAM.

I contacted Dell only to be told by a support rep that the machine does have DDR2 RAM but doesn't support DDR2. He sent me a link to the memory manufacturer's UK web site to get "accurate information on the support of the system." I exchanged emails with two more reps. Both had no further suggestions - "the motherboard must support dual channel as well."

There are bigger problems to have, but here's a brief excerpt of what I wrote back: "While I'm sure you understand my point, it's like saying that a house comes with a pool, only the pool is permanently locked. Or, it comes with a two-car garage, only the one door is stuck closed... I find that sort of statement to be falsely advertised, just as I consider the statement of DDR2 RAM to be as well."

So, "buyer beware." Just because a system has DDR2 RAM doesn't mean it can use DDR2. Check the specs first. And, if you are experiencing occasional lag, give Speccy a try - check your computer's specs. They may not be what you think!