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Should I upgrade my RAM or Graphics card?

Last response: in Memory
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May 10, 2013 1:34:52 PM

I have a 1.5 year old XPS 8300:

Intel Core i7-2600 processor (8MB Cache, 3.4GHz)
8GB DDR3 SDRAM at 1333MHz - (4x2GB) AMD Radeon HD 6670 1GB DDR5

Symptoms: I'm an architect using my system for work running CAD + a little 3D software. I run a lot of applications at once and notice that sometimes my graphics blank out on me - where I need to refresh the image to get it back and the other issue is that my system seems to slow down as the day goes on and seems better after a reboot. I'm pretty good about defrag & scandisk etc. Please advise if you think upgrading RAM or replacing graphics card will help. Thanks!!

I so, please advise RAM & graphics card.
a b U Graphics card
May 10, 2013 1:49:11 PM

The GPU. The RAM is perfectly fine for that system. What's your budget?
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a c 199 U Graphics card
a b } Memory
May 10, 2013 1:51:17 PM

If it is slowing down over the course of the day, one or more of your applications may have a "memory leak" that is slowly whittling away at your available RAM as it is used throughout the day. You might contact the vendor about any available bugfix updates (which should be free). Adding more RAM will buy relief from these symptoms up to a point, but is not a cure for it. Having 4x2GB seems a little unusual; 2x4GB is more common. In the latter case, you can just add another 2x4GB kit (assuming your mobo has 4 RAM slots). If it really is 4x2GB, you'll need to remove a pair of 2GB sticks and replace them with a set of 4GB sticks.
If this is a work machine and you don't play any games on it, you might consider a professional graphics card, if only for more robust driver support. A faster "gamer" card (e.g. a HD7770) may not make any difference on your symptoms or performance, but a pro card might.
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May 10, 2013 1:53:20 PM

can I get by with $200?
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a b U Graphics card
May 10, 2013 1:59:23 PM

When your computer slows down open the task manager, sort processes by memory to see what is using the most RAM. This may help pinpoint an issue that you can resolve without an upgrade. What you describe sounds like some program you run has a memory leak or is simply a heavy memory user. A memory upgrade probably will help the most to fix the slowdowns you describe.

The XPS 8300 supports a max of 16GB of memory and 4GB sticks. (I did check the Dell specks out and in fact it is 4 sticks of 2GB memory which is of course a little odd. I assume Dell had some surplus memory to get rid of.)

I would pull all 4 sticks out and replace with 4 4GB sticks of memory for 16GB total(two of these kits):
http://www.crucial.com/store/mpartspecs.aspx?mtbpoid=EE...

Edit: Memory recommendation. I cant tell if this Dell will be picky so I updated the memory recommendation to one that is certified by Crucial. Some Dells can be finicky on memory. I would by two of these 8GB kits if you can not fix the issue via software patch etc.
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May 10, 2013 2:26:57 PM

Onus said:
If it is slowing down over the course of the day, one or more of your applications may have a "memory leak" that is slowly whittling away at your available RAM as it is used throughout the day. You might contact the vendor about any available bugfix updates (which should be free). Adding more RAM will buy relief from these symptoms up to a point, but is not a cure for it. Having 4x2GB seems a little unusual; 2x4GB is more common. In the latter case, you can just add another 2x4GB kit (assuming your mobo has 4 RAM slots). If it really is 4x2GB, you'll need to remove a pair of 2GB sticks and replace them with a set of 4GB sticks.
If this is a work machine and you don't play any games on it, you might consider a professional graphics card, if only for more robust driver support. A faster "gamer" card (e.g. a HD7770) may not make any difference on your symptoms or performance, but a pro card might.


JamesSneed said:
When your computer slows down open the task manager, sort processes by memory to see what is using the most RAM. This may help pinpoint an issue that you can resolve without an upgrade. What you describe sounds like some program you run has a memory leak or is simply a heavy memory user. A memory upgrade probably will help the most to fix the slowdowns you describe.

The XPS 8300 supports a max of 16GB of memory and 4GB sticks. (I did check the Dell specks out and in fact it is 4 sticks of 2GB memory which is of course a little odd. I assume Dell had some surplus memory to get rid of.)

I would pull all 4 sticks out and replace with 4 4GB sticks of memory for 16GB total(two of these kits):
http://www.crucial.com/store/mpartspecs.aspx?mtbpoid=EE...

Edit: Memory recommendation. I cant tell if this Dell will be picky so I updated the memory recommendation to one that is certified by Crucial. Some Dells can be finicky on memory. I would by two of these 8GB kits if you can not fix the issue via software patch etc.


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May 10, 2013 2:36:28 PM

JamesSneed,

Onus mentions a professional graphics card. In your opinion does that factor into the equation or is my graphics card ok? Also, I took a quick look at memory allocations and AutoCAD was using 4x as much as next software, which was Outlook then Google Chrome. The physical memnory breakdown look like this:

In use: 3789 MB
Modified: 63 MB
Standby: 4219 MB
Free: 103 MB


Available: 4322 MB
Cached: 4282 MB
Total: 8174 MB
Installed 8192 MB

Thanks!!



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a c 199 U Graphics card
a b } Memory
May 10, 2013 3:49:39 PM

It is the memory use over time that you want to watch. Something may be grabbing memory from Windows and not giving it back (the "memory leak") as it is used.
The graphics card won't directly affect your RAM usage, unless the glitch involves some pro app not getting along with the more generic "gaming" drivers; that's why a pro card may help. It might not though, whereas increasing RAM will at least provide symptomatic relief (restarts will still be needed to reclaim the lost memory, but you won't need to do it as often).
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a b U Graphics card
May 13, 2013 6:30:48 AM

Agree with what Onus said. Im sure Onus was telling you to check memory over time and when your experiencing this slow down because what you posted isn't showing a memory issue. The 4GB in standby/cached will be used when needed so you can kind of think of it as free memory. The memory upgrade is probably the cheapest thing to try and will certainly help to some degree regardless since you are using applications that are known to use large amounts of RAM. The reboot resolving the issue makes me 99% sure the issue is not graphics card related.
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May 13, 2013 6:35:00 AM

Thanks for your help. I will upgrade my RAM.
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!