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Dell XPS Studio Desktop 8GB Tri-channel DDR3 Question

By yukka ยท 181 replies
Dec 22, 2008
  1. Hi all,

    I have purchased a new XPS Studio from Dell which is due to arrive tommorow. Its a good machine for the money and since I havent bought a new machine in its entirety for over 10 years and recently got a new job, I thought I would splash out.

    Its got 2*640GB Raid 0 Sata drives, a blueray burner, 4850 graphics card, i7 2.66ghz cpu and 3 years of dell sending me new parts in the mail if anything messes up. For the money I couldnt buy the separate components and SLI/Crossfire doesnt interest me. My upgrade path will be a new powersupply and a heavier graphics card at a later date.

    Anyway on the customisation page I had a choice of 2gb, 4gb, 6gb and 8gb of Tri-channel DDR3. I decided to go for 8gb. I plan on running a few instances of VMWare Player to simulate 2008 servers and Vista machines so I can try out some things for work.

    Problem is... that 8GB is 4*1GB sticks and 2*2GB sticks in 3 banks. But triple channel needs 3 sticks of the same type per bank? On looking again, Dell are offering the 2gb kit as "2GB Tri- Channel DDR3" which just isnt possible. How can you have 3 channels with 2 sticks. It appears they are doing magic tricks or the person who made the webpage doesnt know what he is selling?

    I will see what happens tomorrow. If my memory configuration doesnt run in triple channel mode then I will be requesting a refund of the extra money i paid to have the 2GB sticks instead of a fifth and sixth 1GB stick and requesting the 1GB sticks are sent out to me. If they cant do that then its basically misselling and I will request a full refund from them.

    Does anyone have any view on this? Maybe I am wrong about the way triple channel is meant to work. At first I assumed the 3 banks would be made of 2 sticks each rather than 2 banks split into 3 so i didnt think twice about it.
  2. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,000   +15

    triple channel requires 3 banks. I have an MSI desktop that I built with 3 ram sticks for 1.5 gb that runs in triple channel. It's a rare configuration and not too many PC makers use it.
  3. yukka

    yukka TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 831   +58

    Looks like the Intel i7 boards all have triple channel. I will check when it arrives tomorrow and might have to run on just 3 gig of ram until dell send me replacement sticks.
  4. LinkedKube

    LinkedKube TechSpot Project Baby Posts: 3,481   +44

    I tried running my older ddr3 supertalent in my Rampage board with my core i7. Its rated 1.9 volts at 1600 7-7-7-21. Was able to run it stable in the core i7 at 1600 with 1.65 volts 8-8-8-24.

    So in thought maybe you could have a 2x3gb ddr3 triple channel ram with 2x1Gb DDr3, as long as the timings are the same and the mobo supports both.
  5. yukka

    yukka TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 831   +58

    okay I have received the machine and have plugged it in.

    Here are the CPU and Memory screens from CPUZ.



    It says triple channel there. Does that mean I can rest easy or are there more tests I should do?
  6. LinkedKube

    LinkedKube TechSpot Project Baby Posts: 3,481   +44

    That's some slow triple channel ram.
  7. yukka

    yukka TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 831   +58

    Are you refering to the frequency or the timings?
  8. LinkedKube

    LinkedKube TechSpot Project Baby Posts: 3,481   +44

    frequency. I thought it would at least be ddr3 1333 or something higher.
  9. yukka

    yukka TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 831   +58

    yeah compared to yours it is :) no the dell xps studio doesnt come fitted with 1333mhz ddr3. 1067 maximum. Its still alot of extra bandwidth with the extra channels and the improved cpu makes a big difference. I was worried as i read that substantial gains were lost if the i7 wasnt operating in dual or triple channel mode.

    i spend all day fixing peoples computers and decided to purchase a single unit that didnt require much though to get doing what i want - im definately happy with the purchase. it runs really well.
  10. abstrait

    abstrait TS Rookie Posts: 59

    Yukka, I ran into this thread of yours discussing your ram and your then new Dell Studio XPS machine. I just ordered a machine that is very similar from their outlet for an excellent price, with the same ATI 4850, 2x640 RAID 0 setup, although mine is configured with 6GB of Tri-Channel 1066 ram (think it's multiples of the 1GB for tri channel).

    I can still cancel and am having a bit of doubt creeping in as I've been contemplating building my own system to bypass some of the Dell bottlenecks such as inability to overclock and slow ram, not to mention the mediocre 360w power supply.

    On the other hand, my deal is near zero use of games for the most part as I use my machine for work. A lower end vid card that concentrated on high quality for high rez on my 24" screen would have been fine but this was the config.

    I was wondering if you had any thoughts after being with your machine this time. Do you like it? Regrets? A great speed ship? Heard the case fan was a bit mediocre but would love some overall thoughts/impressions of your system.

    Thanks and sorry for length; this post is more befitting a PM, but for some reason, this forum limits PMs until 45 posts, something I've never seen.

  11. yukka

    yukka TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 831   +58

    Well I am very happy with the machine. Its extremely fast - Vista has never been so good.

    the case fan makes a bit of noise randomly but I can fix that with a silent fan for less than 5 pounds. I am playing at 1680x1050 and its very very good. Bioshock on full settings, no problem at that resolution. Cod5 full detail no problem, maybe a little less than full antialiasing with some games. Crysis isnt fluid at high detail at that resolution but its great on medium and could probably be tweaked.

    If your 24inch screen requires 1920x1080 resolutin then I am not sure if the 4850 will be beefy enough. It is certainly very good for my 22inch tft. No regrets here. Definately loving my new pc.

    If I was going to upgrade it I would sell the 4850, buy a 4870 or 260/280 nvidia and a replacement powersupply. Still would work out well since the Dell just seemed ridiculously good value.
  12. abstrait

    abstrait TS Rookie Posts: 59

    Thanks so much for the reply. My Studio XPS 435 will be here in the next two days so it should be interesting. I've been a holdout with XP but after working on a Quad Core with RAID 0 and 8GB of DDR2 ram a few weeks back, realized that Vista 64 with the right resources and customization was an excellent alternative. I had no issues.

    Yeah, I actually dont play any in ZERO. I have not a game on my machine but I might try a few amusing ones. This beast will basically be my work machine, although I work from home. A bit concerned with the noise issues but that's solved with the upgraded case fan. And there are now a few pages dedicated to replacing the middling 360w psu.

    All in all, the computer is obviously not tipped towards the upgrader or tinkerer as the Dell bios, with minimal adjustment ability, can not bring the i7 920 to overachiever status. One can hope that Dell will eventually release a more inspired BIOS but that might be wishful thinking. Still, it's a great deal and nice to see this company putting more cutting edge solutions in an affordable package.
  13. yukka

    yukka TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 831   +58

    If you are using it for work it will be fine. Replace the fan if you find it too noisy and thats it. It is very fast at doing anything on the desktop - I really noticed yesterday scrolling down a large folder with thumbnail preview - all large pictures but there was no delay to load anything up. It was just fast - I could scroll to the bottom of the page straight away and it was smooth as silk. My Dual Core XP machine with 4gig of ram couldnt do that.
  14. abstrait

    abstrait TS Rookie Posts: 59

    Sounds good to me. I cant wait.

    Did you ever deduce if your 8GB of RAM was running in tri-channel mode? Seems it would go from 6GB to 12GB with most tri-channel config options.

    Have you taken a look at how much ram you are using with most of your application?
  15. yukka

    yukka TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 831   +58

    i posted pics that stated it was using triple channel mode but thats the only proof I have apart from the obvious speed of the beast. Vista is very happy to chew up quite a bit of it as well. Its quite cool to create virtual machines and dedicate a couple of cores and 2 gig of ram to them without worrying about performance.
  16. abstrait

    abstrait TS Rookie Posts: 59

    You know, from what I've researched and seen around the net, you might really check on this. I've seen CPUZ actually misrepresent this more often than not as there have been frequent reports of that program not reporting memory specifics correctly.

    Actually, it appears that your MUST have matching triplets of the RAM in order for your system to really utilize tri-channel mode capability.

    Dell made an error in selling these configurations early on without knowledge that it would actually not yield tri-channel results. If you go to their i7 order pages now, you'll note that they actually report DUAL CHANNEL for the 8GB option. I'm thinking your ram is in dual channel mode and you would be better off moving to tri-channel to get the full benefit.

    ie from Dell XPS 435 order:

    - 6GB Tri-Channel DDR3 SDRAM at 1066MHz - 6 DIMMs (DELL RECOMMENDED)
    - 8GB Dual Channel DDR3 SDRAM at 1066MHz - 6 DIMMs
    - 12GB Tri-Channel DDR3 SDRAM at 1066MHz - 6 DIMMs

    If I were you, I would call Dell and hope you reach someone that has his or her act together, not always easy to do.

    - kh
  17. yukka

    yukka TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 831   +58

    hmm i think ill give them a ring tomorrow and see what happens.
  18. abstrait

    abstrait TS Rookie Posts: 59

    And I wouldnt even ASK them. I would TELL them they made a mistake and your machine, which you bought to run in Tri-Channel, now only runs in dual channel memory mode. Maybe they will upgrade you to 12GB for the headache. heh... But never ask for their opinion because more often than not, they have no idea and you'll be bounced around like a ping-pong ball. I'm almost certain your machine is running in dual channel mode. Dont stop till you get satisfaction and are running in Tri-Channel. Of course, who knows the real difference in the end but that's not the point.
  19. yukka

    yukka TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 831   +58

    hehe should be fun :)
  20. abstrait

    abstrait TS Rookie Posts: 59

    Indeed. Speaking of fun (or not), my Dell XPS 435 machine JUST ARRIVED while typing that last response. It's an outlet beast for an insane deal but refurbished so who knows.

    Should be fun.....or not.

  21. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,017   +2,054

    It does seem, (at least to the dull of wit such as myself), That you would need 9 Gbs installed to run true triple channel. 3- 2GB DIMMs + 3 1GB DIMMS. The 12 GB is also a good possibiity, since 12 is evenly divisible by 4, Whoa, it's like calculating a leap year, well almost but backwards.

    If the new single channel systems work like the old dual channel systems, then you will get triple channel operation, but in only 6GB of the installed memory. The uneven 2GB will run as single channel, in what's called the "interleaved" mode. It's even possible that the 2 odd RAM sticks could run as dual channel, but that's just speculation, nothing more.
  22. yukka

    yukka TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 831   +58

    Really? I wish someone actually knows what the options are. Its really confusing but then with different motherboards and manufacturers thats what makes PCs so interesting anyway.

    I spoke to Dell today - 40 minutes of being transfered between customer services and technical support before I finally got to speak to someone who told me I had purchased it on the internet and therefore had 7 days to spot the error otherwise I couldn't get any refund or exchange or change to the order.

    I got an address to write to in Bracknell in UK. I will be writing to them. At the very least they can refund my 40 minute phone call. I am pretty sure that distance selling regulations and statutory rights cover me for a little bit longer than Dells 7 day policy so we will see what happens.

    In the meantime would be great to work out how my memory is actually running.
  23. abstrait

    abstrait TS Rookie Posts: 59

    I'm almost certain you're running in two channel mode. Dell knows this, too. I really cant believe they are not correcting this. As horrifying as it sounds, I think you need to contact them again, via email, Dell Chat, and phone if necessary.

    They need to rectify this problem as it was false advertising. Get on their FORUMS and post about it. You will have responses, and occasionally a rep will post aid. I would get this resolved, the sooner the better. Again, Dell now KNOWS that your system is running in two channel mode.
  24. EnigmaMan

    EnigmaMan TS Rookie Posts: 24

    Have a look at the Studio XPS Desktop page on the US Dell site and the 8GB RAM option is labelled as "Dual-Channel".

    Unfortunately, I cannot include the link as the forum rules do not allow me to do so yet.

    This surely gives even more credence to the suspicion that the Dell U.K. website must be wrong.
  25. FEChariot

    FEChariot TS Rookie Posts: 23

    I'm in the same boat

    So I bought the Dell studio XPS with 8GB too and then fumbled over information that made me wonder. I have been searching all over including this forums, talking with Intel tech support, Crucial Tech support and Dell's tech support.

    The way it works is there are actually 2 triple channel modes: symmetric and Isometric. Symmetric means all 3 of the modules on a given triad (ie all Dimm 2s in each channel), have the same latency, frequency and capacity. In this mode, all three modules are assessed sequentially. This is triple channel that most are familiar with.

    Isometric is 3 slots in a triad are full and have different capacities. The total memory is added up and acts essentially as a single channel. ie a 2x1x1 would be like a single 4GB.

    Both are triple channel and that is why Yukka is showing triple even though it is not really so.

    So what is the fix? Well Dell charges $100 more for 8gb over 6gb and $300 more for 12gb over 6gb. What they should do is charge $150 for 9gb over 6gb. Good things is we can buy a 2bg module from dell for $67 and go with a 3x2 + 3x1 configuration for 9gb in a true triple configuration.

    If we would have bought 6gb total initially, we would have to pay 3* $67 for 3 2gb modules or $200 so we aren't really out anything by doing this. The obvious problem is Dell is misleading people. Hopefully this information will spread and people will become educated. Hopefully Dell will remove the 4gb and 8gb options and just put up 2,3,6,9, and 12. They have the information, now we will see what kind of business ethics they possess.

    I am piecing this information together from various sources so I may not be 100% accurate. I will concede this based on future evidence, but at this time, I feel quite confident in it.
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