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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I put my machine together years ago, and it's still trucking along, but I tried rendering a blender file last night and was horrified as it proceeded to use 24GB of swap (i.e., it ran out of RAM and started to page out 24GB of memory to the SSD). My machine's MOBO is an ASUS P9X79LE which has 6 x 2GB Corsair XMS3 currently in it for a total of 12GB. The video card (which has really helped speed up Blender) is an ASUS GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB.

Anyway, the mobo has 2 RAM slots free and I was wondering a few things:
  • I think the existing Corsair RAM is officially rated as 1333Mhz but is currently running at 1600Mhz with CAS 9-9-9-24 timings. I believe the voltage is currently 1.65V. Does the new RAM have to have 9-9-9-24 or better CAS latency?
  • Is my mobo compatible with DDR3L RAM? Will the 1.65V voltage be dangerous for DDR3L memory?
  • Would it be acceptable to install these G. Skill Ares 2 x 8GB sticks? Or should I be trying to find some more Corsair like these?
  • Does anyone know a linux command (Ubuntu) that will tell me the voltage and CAS latency of my installed memory? lshw and dmidecode show me the clock speed and installed chips but no voltages or latencies.


I saw some very cheap 16GB Samsung sticks but they have CAS of 11. How much would this higher latency reduce my RAM's performance? I also saw some cheap Micron 16GB sticks but these appear to be ECC RAM. Is ECC RAM compatible with my mobo? With my other RAM? I also see a bunch of sticks with no metal cover/heatsink. Is that a problem?
 

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That board doesn't support reg ecc sticks. And no you don't need heatsinks on the ram. I would recommend not mixing ram. So maybe replace the ram you have with 4 new ones if you can. That way it would run in quad channel. Those Ares sticks should work. However they might not work with your old ram. But if you do mix them use equal amounts of each so 4 new 4 old and try that.
 
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Iconoclast
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Anyway, the mobo has 2 RAM slots free and I was wondering a few things:
  • I think the existing Corsair RAM is officially rated as 1333Mhz but is currently running at 1600Mhz with CAS 9-9-9-24 timings. I believe the voltage is currently 1.65V. Does the new RAM have to have 9-9-9-24 or better CAS latency?
  • Is my mobo compatible with DDR3L RAM? Will the 1.65V voltage be dangerous for DDR3L memory?
  • Would it be acceptable to install these G. Skill Ares 2 x 8GB sticks? Or should I be trying to find some more Corsair like these?
  • Does anyone know a linux command (Ubuntu) that will tell me the voltage and CAS latency of my installed memory? lshw and dmidecode show me the clock speed and installed chips but no voltages or latencies.


I saw some very cheap 16GB Samsung sticks but they have CAS of 11. How much would this higher latency reduce my RAM's performance? I also saw some cheap Micron 16GB sticks but these appear to be ECC RAM. Is ECC RAM compatible with my mobo? With my other RAM? I also see a bunch of sticks with no metal cover/heatsink. Is that a problem?
If the memory cannot match the speed and timings of what you already have, you'll have to loosen things, at least for the channels in question, if you board allows that.

1.65v should be safe for most DDR3L, but not all of it will like it. Your motherboard won't have any issues, but might default to 1.5v, which is fine.

I wouldn't recommend any of the memory you have linked to. You cannot run registered memory at all. Heat spreaders are mostly decorative and in the case of DDR3 in 2021, usually an indicator that you're over paying.

Personally, I'd get some cheap Hynix BFR off eBay. Can often be found for around 10 USD per 4GiB single rank DIMM of DDR3-1600. Almost all of it will do at least DDR3-2133 CL10 or 11, 1866 CL9 or 10, or 1600 CL8, with 1.65v or less.
 
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Robotic Chemist
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Running six sticks of RAM on a quad-channel board!? That doesn't sound right. :(

I suggest you replace all of the memory with eight 4GB sticks or four 8GB sticks, that gets you to 32GB and runs the memory as quad channel. Six sticks is going to run dual channel much of the time. Putting much larger sticks in the two free slots will do the same.

These are a good option for your system, get two or four pairs:
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for everyone's responses! They are much appreciated. It's been a long time since upgraded or built any machines.

If the memory cannot match the speed and timings of what you already have, you'll have to loosen things, at least for the channels in question, if you board allows that.
It hadn't occurred to me that I might be able to have per-channel settings. Will have to dig through BIOS/UEFI.

1.65v should be safe for most DDR3L, but not all of it will like it. Your motherboard won't have any issues, but might default to 1.5v, which is fine.
Thanks for clarification regarding voltage. IIRC, the old RAM needs the higher voltage to run stable at 1600MHZ.

I wouldn't recommend any of the memory you have linked to. You cannot run registered memory at all. Heat spreaders are mostly decorative and in the case of DDR3 in 2021, usually an indicator that you're over paying.
Is cost the prime reason you'd avoid the memory I've linked? I would point out that I've seen a huge variation in RAM prices -- this Hynix, for example, is 36% more expensive than the G. Skill Ares I linked. Interesting about the heat spreaders being cosmetic. It also seems clear I should avoid ECC. Thanks for detail.

Personally, I'd get some cheap Hynix BFR off eBay. Can often be found for around 10 USD per 4GiB single rank DIMM of DDR3-1600. Almost all of it will do at least DDR3-2133 CL10 or 11, 1866 CL9 or 10, or 1600 CL8, with 1.65v or less.
I had seen some interesting details on Ebay, but the Hynix search doesn't yield much. Do you suggest Ebay+Hynix for cost reasons? Performance reasons? Could you elaborate? Do you have any concerns about quality?

That board doesn't support reg ecc sticks. And no you don't need heatsinks on the ram. I would recommend not mixing ram. So maybe replace the ram you have with 4 new ones if you can. That way it would run in quad channel. Those Ares sticks should work. However they might not work with your old ram. But if you do mix them use equal amounts of each so 4 new 4 old and try that.
Thanks for clarification about heatsinks. I didn't think my mobo supported ECC sticks, but just want to be clear -- my mobo can't even use the ECC sticks at all? To be clear, the mobo has 8 RAM slots. It'd be a shame to toss out 12GB of RAM. Four and Four sounds like maybe a good idea. I'd really like to get to get to 40GB if I can.

Running six sticks of RAM on a quad-channel board!? That doesn't sound right. :(
There are four channels but eight slots. I originally just bought one pack of six sticks cuz it was affordable -- and it's been working. No complaints -- although I haven't benchmarked it or anything.

I suggest you replace all of the memory with eight 4GB sticks or four 8GB sticks, that gets you to 32GB and runs the memory as quad channel. Six sticks is going to run dual channel much of the time. Putting much larger sticks in the two free slots will do the same.
I've got at least one RAM stick in each channel. I'm not sure, but I think I'm running all four channels, although a couple of channels only have one slot used and one slot empty.

These are a good option for your system, get two or four pairs:
That price looks good, but the RAM is CAS 11. Current RAM sticks are CAS 9. I haven't the foggiest idea what performance difference that might make, but 9 clock cycles to 11 clock cycles sounds like a fairly sizeable difference.
 

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Patriot ram is little cheaper then the gskill. But they have a bit taller heatsink.
 
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I've got at least one RAM stick in each channel. I'm not sure, but I think I'm running all four channels, although a couple of channels only have one slot used and one slot empty.
It works by interleaving reads and writes to all channels, but that only works if you have the same amount of memory in each channel. Some systems are able to interleave for the first half (current AMD systems can at least), but then stop interleaving for the second half (for half the performance), but I think x79 is too old for that so it simply doesn't interleave channels with different installed capacities.

You have the sticks installed so two channels have 4GB each and two channels have 2GB each?

Edit:
If yes, it runs dual channel mode all the time. It ends up using all four channels, but only two at a time, so it has half the memory bandwidth. This might not have much of an impact on performance for your workloads, if you are not limited by memory bandwidth, but I would still try for proper quad channel if you are upgrading. Running quad channel is very likely to have a small benefit, at worst.

That price looks good, but the RAM is CAS 11. Current RAM sticks are CAS 9. I haven't the foggiest idea what performance difference that might make, but 9 clock cycles to 11 clock cycles sounds like a fairly sizeable difference.
In the same way you are currently running your RAM faster than it is rated for you are very likely to be able to run that memory at CAS 9, especially if you bump the voltage up.
Another option, only a bit more expensive:

Or a Newegg search:
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Patriot ram is little cheaper then the gskill. But they have a bit taller heatsink.
Those tall heat sinks worry me. I have a roomy case, but also a very large heat sync and numerous internal drives plus lots of cabling, etc. That's why I was interested in those G. Skill Ares sticks -- they are smaller.

Argh...starting to investigate faster clock speeds now. The prices are not very different for the G. Skill 2400, but this probably wouldn't work with my existing RAM.
 

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Is cost the prime reason you'd avoid the memory I've linked?
Price vs. performance.

In general, new DDR3 is a complete rip-off. There is so much decent OEM memory being dumped on the used market that it would have to be an exceptional deal for me to bother with new memory, at least for lower densities.

I had seen some interesting details on Ebay, but the Hynix search doesn't yield much. Do you suggest Ebay+Hynix for cost reasons? Performance reasons? Could you elaborate? Do you have any concerns about quality?
I suggest eBay because the market is large and it has a lot of sellers. I suggest Hynix because BFR is all over the place and clocks very well for the money. I bought twenty 4GiB sticks of Hynix DDR3L 1600MT/s CL 11 last year off of three different eBay sellers for $10 each. The worst stick of the bunch does 2133 CL11...and I don't have any systems fast enough to see where the best ones stop scaling. I haven't gotten any duds yet, but if I do, I bought plenty of spares.

Availability on eBay comes and goes, currently I don't see many good 'buy it now' options, but there are a couple of potentially tempting:

Thanks for clarification about heatsinks. I didn't think my mobo supported ECC sticks, but just want to be clear -- my mobo can't even use the ECC sticks at all? To be clear, the mobo has 8 RAM slots. It'd be a shame to toss out 12GB of RAM. Four and Four sounds like maybe a good idea. I'd really like to get to get to 40GB if I can.
Finding good 8GiB DIMMs is a bit more difficult and might be justifiable new.

Timetec Hynix IC 16GB Kit (2x8GB) DDR3L 1600MHz PC3L-12800 Non ECC Unbuffered 1.35V/1.5V CL11 2Rx8 Dual Rank 240 Pin UDIMM Desktop Memory Ram Module Upgrade (16GB Kit (2x8GB)) - Newegg.com -- 95% sure those are using 4Gb Hynix AFR ICs. Should do at least 2000MT/s, probably more, with under 1.5v.

but I think x79 is too old for that so it simply doesn't interleave channels with different installed capacities.
Intel platforms have been able to interleave channels of mismatched capacity since at least LGA-775.

The OP's setup is quad channel to 8GiB and dual-channel for the rest.
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
It works by interleaving reads and writes to all channels, but that only works if you have the same amount of memory in each channel. Some systems are able to interleave for the first half (current AMD systems can at least), but then stop interleaving for the second half (for half the performance), but I think x79 is too old for that so it simply doesn't interleave channels with different installed capacities.
So complicated! But yes all my sticks are currently the same size/brand/model.

You have the sticks installed so two channels have 4GB each and two channels have 2GB each?
Yessir, I believe that's the case. I can post some dmidecode output:
Code:
  *-memory
       description: System Memory
       physical id: 2e
       slot: System board or motherboard
       size: 12GiB
     *-bank:0
          description: DIMM DDR3 Synchronous 1600 MHz (0.6 ns)
          product: CM3X2G1600C9B6
          vendor: Corsair
          physical id: 0
          serial: 00000000
          slot: ChannelA_Dimm1
          size: 2GiB
          width: 64 bits
          clock: 1600MHz (0.6ns)
     *-bank:1
          description: DIMM Synchronous [empty]
          product: ChannelA_Dimm2_PartNum
          vendor: ChannelA_Dimm2_Manufacturer
          physical id: 1
          serial: ChannelA_Dimm2_SerNum
          slot: ChannelA_Dimm2
          width: 64 bits
     *-bank:2
          description: DIMM DDR3 Synchronous 1600 MHz (0.6 ns)
          product: CM3X2G1600C9B6
          vendor: Corsair
          physical id: 2
          serial: 00000000
          slot: ChannelB_Dimm1
          size: 2GiB
          width: 64 bits
          clock: 1600MHz (0.6ns)
     *-bank:3
          description: DIMM DDR3 Synchronous 1600 MHz (0.6 ns)
          product: CM3X2G1600C9B6
          vendor: Corsair
          physical id: 3
          serial: 00000000
          slot: ChannelB_Dimm2
          size: 2GiB
          width: 64 bits
          clock: 1600MHz (0.6ns)
     *-bank:4
          description: DIMM DDR3 Synchronous 1600 MHz (0.6 ns)
          product: CM3X2G1600C9B6
          vendor: Corsair
          physical id: 4
          serial: 00000000
          slot: ChannelC_Dimm1
          size: 2GiB
          width: 64 bits
          clock: 1600MHz (0.6ns)
     *-bank:5
          description: DIMM Synchronous [empty]
          product: ChannelC_Dimm2_PartNum
          vendor: ChannelC_Dimm2_Manufacturer
          physical id: 5
          serial: ChannelC_Dimm2_SerNum
          slot: ChannelC_Dimm2
          width: 64 bits
     *-bank:6
          description: DIMM DDR3 Synchronous 1600 MHz (0.6 ns)
          product: CM3X2G1600C9B6
          vendor: Corsair
          physical id: 6
          serial: 00000000
          slot: ChannelD_Dimm1
          size: 2GiB
          width: 64 bits
          clock: 1600MHz (0.6ns)
     *-bank:7
          description: DIMM DDR3 Synchronous 1600 MHz (0.6 ns)
          product: CM3X2G1600C9B6
          vendor: Corsair
          physical id: 7
          serial: 00000000
          slot: ChannelD_Dimm2
          size: 2GiB
          width: 64 bits
          clock: 1600MHz (0.6ns)
In the same way you are currently running your RAM faster than it is rated for you are very likely to be able to run that memory at CAS 9, especially if you bump the voltage up.
As I mentioned in my OP, the voltage is already bumped to 1.65V (I think, will have to dig through BIOS). I believe the old RAM's specs list its SPD Speed as 1333Mhz. Seems like a bit of a gamble to hope for overclock on incoming memory, but maybe it'll work?

Another option, only a bit more expensive:
ok wow that looks pretty cheap! As mentioned in my last post, the tall heat sinks worry me a bit. Thanks for link. $134 for 32GB of RAM at current clock and CAS seems eminently doable. I'm guessing it'll be safe to run those patriot sticks at 1.65V?

Or a Newegg search:
Those are good search parameters -- that looks like m G. Skill Ares in there in the second row. Do we have any feelings about NEMIX memory? The reviewers seem to have mixed feelings.
 

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Robotic Chemist
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Intel platforms have been able to interleave channels of mismatched capacity since at least LGA-775.

The OP's setup is quad channel to 8GiB and dual-channel for the rest.
Nice! I had no idea it was that old.

I only recently noticed it was possible when looking into new laptops where some of the memory is soldered to the board. :oops:

ok wow that looks pretty cheap! As mentioned in my last post, the tall heat sinks worry me a bit. Thanks for link. $134 for 32GB of RAM at current clock and CAS seems eminently doable. I'm guessing it'll be safe to run those patriot sticks at 1.65V?
Yes, 1.65V would be fine. I wouldn't run that through DDR3L chips though.

Those are good search parameters -- that looks like m G. Skill Ares in there in the second row. Do we have any feelings about NEMIX memory? The reviewers seem to have mixed feelings.
Those G.Skill Ares do look pretty nice, but I would not discount the Crucial either. The 1-star review was mad their order was refunded instead of shipping, around March 2020 when logistics shutdown.

No idea about NEMIX, I have never heard of them. It looks like there is no guarantee about what you actually get. I am not sure it is worth the savings.
 

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Iconoclast
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Do we have any feelings about NEMIX memory? The reviewers seem to have mixed feelings.
Never used them.

Timetec is my favorite budget brand cause they don't bother with heat spreaders (waste of money and just make it harder to tell what ICs something has...though they do relable their ICs which is almost as annoying), they have no fancy bins (which means the good ICs haven't been pillaged from affordable DIMMs/kits), and they ship from Newegg or Amazon. Best combination of cheap and good that I've tried.
 
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I can wholeheartedly recommend GSkill DDR3 (TridenttZ and Ripjaws) - that doesn't mean that other brands are no good, but those are the DDR3 kits I have been running. There's an 8x8/64 GB Ripjaws kit (nominal 1600, set to 1866 at stock voltage) that has run continuously since 2012 on a reference server 24/7/365, only pausing for annual cleaning, reboots etc. In addition, I use an 4x8/32GB GB TridentZ 2400 kit bought at the same time on one of my personal (now back-up) machines, and another 4x4/16 GB TridentZ 2666 kit that's gracing an oldie-but-goodie 4790K.retro-gamer.

This quality experience with GSkill DDR3 has meant that for my subsequent DDR4 purchases, all but one kit are also GSkill TridentZ (the outlier is a Corsair Dominator DDR4 kit).
 

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Samsung had some of the best. Hynix had the best speeds in the end.
memories...found this old thread ;)

G.Skills were very strong
 

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Iconoclast
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Samsung had some of the best. Hynix had the best speeds in the end.
Yep. Had a big stack of Samsung MV-3V4G3D/US kits a decade ago. Sold it all, along with most of my DDR3 platforms. Now that I've recollected a few legacy systems and refurbished them on the cheap, I've got a big stack of Hynix BFR.

BFR is the cheap option, but it's still faster than the Samsung was, once you know what it likes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I realized that this mobo is something like ten years old (!) so I'm thinking that maybe 16GB (2 x 8GB) is probably as much as I should bother with at the moment. There's really not much room to upgrade this machine CPU-wise, and DDR3 is getting old now. I looked at the BIOS and it apparently has some automatic tweaking functionality to find optimal timings -- and it looks like you can manually tweak CAS independently for each memory channel A/B/C/D -- this is not something I enjoy doing, and it's quite likely I might mess things up pretty bad, which would not be cool because I use this machine for work.

I took a look at the P9X79LE user manual and it looks like I just followed MOBO instructions for DIMM placement in the sockets (see page 2-5). My plan is to keep my 6 existing 2GB sticks and add two more 8GB sticks. I'm wondering which slots I should put these new 8GB sticks in. Some important-looking notes in the user manual on page 2-6:

  • You may install varying memory sizes in Channel A, B, C, and D. The system maps the total size of the lower-sized channel for the dual-channel, triple-channel, or quad-channel configuration. Any excess memory from the higher-sized channel is then mapped for single-channel operation.
  • According to Intel CPU spec, DIMM voltage below 1.65V is recommended to protect the CPU.
  • Always install DIMMs with the same CAS latency. For optimum compatibility, we recommend that you obtain memory modules from the same vendor.
I'm not really sure what this means, but I'm guessing that I should put the new 8GB sticks in the same channel together? I looked at the BIOS settings and it looks like the current RAM voltage is 1.6V.

I have very little understanding of these clock and RAM timing settings.
 

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Robotic Chemist
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I realized that this mobo is something like ten years old (!) so I'm thinking that maybe 16GB (2 x 8GB) is probably as much as I should bother with at the moment. There's really not much room to upgrade this machine CPU-wise, and DDR3 is getting old now.
Why would the age of the motherboard make you think only adding two 8GB DIMMs was a good idea? Is it simply not spending more than you have to on DDR3 memory?

Seems reasonable. :)
You probably aren't memory bandwidth limited, so quad channel up to 16GB and dual channel for the 12GB above that would be fine. You can always get more 8GB DIMMs if you end up rendering even larger projects and need even more memory.

I'm not really sure what this means, but I'm guessing that I should put the new 8GB sticks in the same channel together? I looked at the BIOS settings and it looks like the current RAM voltage is 1.6V.

I have very little understanding of these clock and RAM timing settings.
No, absolutely not. That would push you into single channel mode for most of the capacity. That will slow your workflow down for no benefit.

You can raise the CAS of the faster modules to match, this would be higher performance than running single channel.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Why would the age of the motherboard make you think only adding two 8GB DIMMs was a good idea? Is it simply not spending more than you have to on DDR3 memory?
I'm a bit concerned about obsolescence and deprecation. I recently had to get a new video card because there were no drivers compatible with the old card that support CUDA. I'm also somewhat concerned about hardware failure. A decade is a very long time in computer terms.

Seems reasonable. :)
You probably aren't memory bandwidth limited, so quad channel up to 16GB and dual channel for the 12GB above that would be fine. You can always get more 8GB DIMMs if you end up rendering even larger projects and need even more memory.
To be clear, my 12GB of existing RAM is in the form of six 2GB sticks. I've got two empty slots, and I'm planning to stick a new 8GB DIMM in each of those empty slots. I don't really follow what you mean by 'dual channel' and 'quad channel' here? I agree I might start replacing my 2GB sticks with 8GB ones if I need more RAM.

No, absolutely not. That would push you into single channel mode for most of the capacity. That will slow your workflow down for no benefit.
Can you elaborate a bit here? These concepts elude me, and the relevant information from the user manual was this:
You may install varying memory sizes in Channel A, B, C, and D. The system maps the total size of the lower-sized channel for the dual-channel, triple-channel, or quad-channel configuration. Any excess memory from the higher-sized channel is then mapped for single-channel operation.
Keep in mind that with 2 more slots of 8GB RAM, all of my slots will be full. If the two 8GB sticks do not share a channel, that means two of my channels will each have one 2GB stick and one 8GB stick.

You can raise the CAS of the faster modules to match, this would be higher performance than running single channel.
Remember that my existing six 2GB sticks have an SPD of 1333Mhz, and the higher voltage is (I think) being used somewhat automatically as part of an XMP configuration. I don't fully understand how this works, but I think the old 2GB sticks report their XMP configuration to the mobo thru some hardware handshaking and the BIOS can read it, making it easy for you to simply select during BIOS setup. I'm definitely not well versed in the ins and outs of overclocking, and do not understand the bazillions of BIOS options. Pretty much everything is set to AUTO.
 

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Robotic Chemist
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To be clear, my 12GB of existing RAM is in the form of six 2GB sticks. I've got two empty slots, and I'm planning to stick a new 8GB DIMM in each of those empty slots. I don't really follow what you mean by 'dual channel' and 'quad channel' here? I agree I might start replacing my 2GB sticks with 8GB ones if I need more RAM.
Do you understand how interleaving memory channels increases bandwidth? When you write data to memory it writes 1/4 of it to each channel, increasing bandwidth by four times. With the same result when reading.

Based on what your manual says, you only get quad channel up to the point where all channels have the same capacity. Two 2GB sticks in two channels and one 2GB stick and one 8GB stick in the other two allows quad channel mode up to 4GB in each channel (16GB total) and the 6GB "extra" in the two 8GB DIMMs is accessed in dual or single channel mode (the manual makes it sound like single channel, but it could be dual since they do match).

Can you elaborate a bit here? These concepts elude me, and the relevant information from the user manual was this:

Keep in mind that with 2 more slots of 8GB RAM, all of my slots will be full. If the two 8GB sticks do not share a channel, that means two of my channels will each have one 2GB stick and one 8GB stick.
It might not actually change anything, it depends on how accurate the statement in the manual is. 16GB quad channel either way, but it might be dual channel above that if it doesn't simply use single channel for anything above the matched capacity.

Remember that my existing six 2GB sticks have an SPD of 1333Mhz, and the higher voltage is (I think) being used somewhat automatically as part of an XMP configuration. I don't fully understand how this works, but I think the old 2GB sticks report their XMP configuration to the mobo thru some hardware handshaking and the BIOS can read it, making it easy for you to simply select during BIOS setup. I'm definitely not well versed in the ins and outs of overclocking, and do not understand the bazillions of BIOS options. Pretty much everything is set to AUTO.
You are going to have to fiddle with it either way if you don't run matched sticks. The voltage is set by XMP, but 1.6V should be fine for anything that isn't DDR3L.
 

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Iconoclast
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I'm not really sure what this means, but I'm guessing that I should put the new 8GB sticks in the same channel together?
This would make tuning easiest, but would also offer the least interleaving and least performance.

With six 2GiB DIMMs evenly distributed across three channels, then both 8GiB DIMMs in their own channel, all the physical memory addresses past 16GiB (meaning the upper 10GiB of memory) can only be accessed single channel.

With the 8GiB dimms split, you still only get quad channel up to 16GiB, but the rest is dual-channel.

I have very little understanding of these clock and RAM timing settings.
Then you probably want to be running all identical DIMMs.
 
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