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Performance Comparison of ISNULL and COALESCE

Erik Darling notes the edge cases where ISNULL() can be faster than COALESCE():

Sometimes there are very good reasons to use either coalesce or isnull, owing to them having different capabilities, behaviors, and support across databases.

But isnull has some particular capabilities that are interesting, despite its limitations: only two arguments, specific to SQL Server, and uh… well, we can’t always get three reasons, as a wise man once said.

There is one thing that makes isnull interesting in certain scenarios. Let’s look at a couple.

Read the whole thing. You (hopefully) won’t be in this situation often, but if you do happen to find yourself in it for whatever reason (and you can’t re-write the query to something better), it’s good to keep this in mind.