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Single vs Flex vs Dual Channel RAM

After a stick of RAM failed in my laptop, this is the information I wanted to find but couldn’t. I replaced it with a smaller stick, putting the system into Intel’s ‘Flex’ memory mode. Performance in things such as video encoding and gaming were unaffected, but the entire system developed a strange lag, e.g:

  • Firefox dropped frames like crazy, scrolling reduced to 30-40 fps where it had previously been solid 60
  • Explorer lagged while scrolling folders
  • Various animations throughout Windows dropped frames

Even more oddly, this lag was intermittent/random – it would be consistent while scrolling, then I could swap to another app and do something else, then I could come back and it would be perfect – and vice-versa.

I swapped the other stick to form a matching pair, and the lag completely vanished. It seems that proper dual channel is essential for laptops with high DPI displays.

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