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"How Much RAM Do You Really Need?" article

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December 13, 2005 3:54:26 PM

i quote:
"Many believe that one gigabyte of RAM is enough for virtually any non-professional application scenario. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Have you ever launched a recent gaming title with lots of resource-hungry applications already launched? Everything might seem fine as Windows relocates the applications' memory data to the swap file on your hard drive. However, as soon as you hit a Windows key accidentally, the OS will hectically try to exchange the gaming data in the main memory by the application data that was swapped before"

What a load of crap!

I have 1GB of PC2700 RAM. I'm running at 533mhz FSB. I have a 3.06ghz cpu.

This article is a crock of shit. I've had doom 3 open, World of Warcraft open, Splinter cell, and so on and i've hit the windows key and not a problem. I've opened up Adobe photoshop, scanned an image, make changes while a game is open, and switch back with ZERO problems.

THis is a bunch of sales hype to get you to buy more RAM that YOU DO NOT NEED.

You do not need 2GB unless you find an application that says "required 1gb, 2gb recommended". Unfortunatly you will never see such a thing any time soon.

Like 1GB vs 2GB isn't even noticable for the cost of upgrading. It doesn't even give you a 10% performance increase. Looks to be about 5% from 1GB to 2GB. Not worth it!

I'm getting more and more fed up with THG's crappy articles that are misleading and uninformative. Everything i've read recently has been total crap.

anyway thats my rant.

More about : ram article

December 13, 2005 4:07:21 PM

While I agree that 2GB of memory is almost completely useless (unless you're a DOOM3/Quake4 wacko), I don't think the article was complete crap.

A lot of ppl around here like to tell others that 2GB is essential for Battlefield 2 and other crap. This article proves the contrary.

I do not agree w/ their final conclusion on 2GB though. The only thing that truly benefited from 2GB was Doom3. That's it! So to tell ppl that 2GB is good for power users or whatever is misleading.

-mpjesse
December 13, 2005 4:11:40 PM

Well personaly i wouldnt mind having 2gb of low latency but right now atleast im not willing to spend another 160$ on ram.
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December 13, 2005 6:55:33 PM

If you haven't tried 2GB of RAM for yourself then your post arguing against it is worthless.

I noticed little performance difference from the increased memory when it comes to frames-per-second. The largest performance difference comes in the form of BF2 load times. BF2 will load a map much much faster with 2GB. It also takes much less time when accessing the menu. But, BF2 is the only game in which I notice a sizable load time difference. FEAR may work similarly but I haven't played it with 1GB.

It does help when alt-tabbing out of a game. With 2GB alt-tabbing out of WoW is literally as fast as minimizing notepad. There is no hard drive access at all.
December 13, 2005 7:21:25 PM

thought the main point the article was making is that as far as games are concerned, there is not much difference between 1gb and 2gb. However, as far as heavy multi-tasking is concerned ie. dual core territory, 2gb will be a help. A lot of athlon dual core users say that they are now limited in what they can do not by their new processors but by having just 1gb of ram. I'll definitely be considering 2gb of ram to go with my new dual core when I get it.
December 13, 2005 8:11:29 PM

Ya, but did anyone look at the test setup they were running, specifically the memory setup?

Quote:

Memory
AMD Platform (DDR400)

4x 512 MB - DDR400 (200 MHz)
Corsair Pro Series CMX512-3200XL (XMS3208 V1.1)
(CL2.0-2-2-5-2T @ 200 MHz)
2x 256 MB - DDR400 (200 MHz)
GeIL GOS5123200DC (CL2.0-2-2-5-2T @ 200 MHz)


If you're going to be benchmarking performance differences, then properly setup the RAM as it'll be used. Get 2x256MB, 2x512 MB, and 2x1024MB, and run them all at the same timings, in dual-channel, with a 1T command rate. Lets see what the performance difference with that set-up is. Not to mention that they also never mention what their setup for 1GB of RAM is.
December 13, 2005 8:14:23 PM

Hello,

Having dual core/ fast single core cpu, the best mobo, overclock, latest video card, and ram all together will deliver the results you are looking for. Shouldn't just look at the ram 1gb vs 2 gb. Remember, THG is using their own comp which has different parts than ours and results could be a) lower b) higher or c) about the same as theirs.
December 13, 2005 8:59:45 PM

The number of DIMMs rarely makes a difference (if that's what you're refering to). In fact, Anandtech did an article once asking this very question: does the number of DIMMs affect performance? What they found was interesting: 4 DIMMs actually perform better from a benchmark scoring standpoint than 2. But in real life apps, it made absolutely no difference. The performance gain was theoretical. The test system was a P4. Not sure if that would translate to AMD system.

Anyways, how RAM will be used in what configuration is purely subjective to the user. I have 4x256MB DIMMs in my system. I'm sure lots have 2x512MB DIMMs. All that really matters is that they used identically timed memory (2-2-2). So I think that the number of DIMMs isn't important in this article. So long as they ended up with the right amount of memory to test with identical timings, who cares?
December 13, 2005 10:07:55 PM

Quote:
The number of DIMMs rarely makes a difference (if that's what you're refering to).


What about that 1T/2T command rate? Is that always negligible?

I have been told that Windows 64bit emulates 32bit enviro by only using 32bit per 64bit package resulting in 32bit apps using twice the system ram w/o any performance increase. Is that true, and if shouldn't that be a reason fro having at least 2GB in 64bit systems?

And if u have 2GB and disable the pagefile in windows, wouldn't that eliminate the disk reading when switching apps. Therefore giving an performance increase?
December 13, 2005 11:29:54 PM

Quote:
And if u have 2GB and disable the pagefile in windows, wouldn't that eliminate the disk reading when switching apps. Therefore giving an performance increase?


I'm not sure on the timing commands.

However, disabling the page file/virtual memoy is not exactly a great idea unless you have >2GB of RAM. Take a look at your page file in windows. Chances are it's 150% more than what you have in RAM. Mine is 1.5GB. I have 1GB of RAM.

If you're running a minimal system then yes, disabling virtual memory will increase performance. But once you get into heavy multitasking... it's gonna hurt.

Read this article
http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,1697,1683239,00.a...

Basically if you're using ur machine for office crap or surfing the net, do it. If you're watching 1.6GB movies, encoding movies, unRARing stuff, playing newer games, etc it's a bad idea.

-mpjesse
December 13, 2005 11:53:18 PM

@xxsk8er101xx et al

I'll tell you what you can do to see the sweetness of 2GB RAM. Open about 5 Firefox tabs or IE windows that have Flash, pictures, etc. Open Outlook with Word as the editor. Open Photoshop with large file or FireWorks or VS2005 with a project. Then start a game. QUit the game and listen for the swap file.
I do this regularly and I NEVER hear my swap file. At the time, I am using about 1.6 GB or so. It does matter. Of course having an X2 4400+ doesn't hurt either but I upgraded from a 3200+ 1GB and could NEVER use my system the way I do now.
I play all games at 1280 HIQ 2XAA 8XAF
December 14, 2005 12:57:12 AM

It wasn't the number of DIMMs that I was concerned, other than the fact that using 4 DIMMs forced them to use 2T timings rather than 1T. TechReport has an article that outlines the difference that this makes, and while other latencies isn't a major different, 1T vs. 2T is. Corsair also has their own paper outlining some of the differences between 1GB and 2GB of RAM. Combie that with the fact that read enough reports online of users finding a difference between 1GB and 2GB in BF2 to believe the one over the other.

Secondly, the article only ever discusses single application performance. Sure, they do an FTP transfer while playing, but that's minimal at best. Give me an IM app running, maybe some MP3s, a virus scan running (since they're all on timers these days and I don't what my gaming to get killed when it kicks in in the middle), and last but not least, REAL game resolutions of 1280x1024 or 1600x1200, as most enthusiasts run these days (since if you're getting 2-2-2-5 RAM and considering the impact of 1GB vs. 1GB, I'm assuming that you are) What happens when all that is going on?

In the end, this article was purely speculative, and didn't give any real-world expectation.
December 14, 2005 10:11:14 PM

so what are you saying, 1gb is better than 2gb or what
December 15, 2005 12:18:40 AM

I usally don't open up 20 Firefox tabs, play Battlefield 2, and edit photos at the same time, so I'm fine with 1GB. Of course I've had problems with games crashing seeminly un-RAM related. I played COD2 a lot with 1GB, with 128MB X800 card and it crashed when minimized. I got a better card, 7800 GT and doesn't crash now. Unless its the video RAM, I don't know.

First page heading
"The Need To Invest In 2 GB Of RAM Is Not Marketing Hype"

1GB
"It will allow you to play new games at their highest quality settings, given that you have an adequate processor and a powerful graphics solution."

Okay, then I should stick with 1GB? Sounds like hype to me. Those benchmarks didn't exactly make my jaw drop. Don't worry though, it appears windows vista will require 2GB of RAM, and by then maybe the price of 2x 1GB sticks will come down.
December 15, 2005 1:58:49 AM

I'm saying that it's a matter of perspective, and that this article didn't seem to take an approach that would match the consumer making this choice.

Except for this one article, every other source I've seen has said/shown an increase in performance in Battlefield 2 with 2GB of RAM over 1 GB (I should look to see what sized map each was using, cause with the huge openess that the 64 player maps give, I can see a big difference being presented).

Do some research yourself, and come up with your own conclusions.
December 15, 2005 1:55:49 PM

hey guys,
i did a test (when installing my newer ram modules) with bf2

these were the resolutions i could play at smoothly:

512mb (2x256): 640x480 with no problems (i forgot which map, but i was playing with bots, so it wasn't one of the really large ones)

1gb (2x256 & 1x512(since one of the modules was defective)) 800x600 with no problems (i think the textures were all on full but i can't remember)

1.5gb (2x256 & 2x512(after getting a replacement)) 1024x768 with full settings

this is, of course excluding all timings, since i haden't started to play with them yet and i was running ddr2-400 (SPD timing table says 3-3-3-9)

now i know many folks run bf2 perfectly at 1gb ram. and i got a nasty little shock, when at the end of the article they didn't give a conclusion for 1.5gb, especially since it was the best in 1 of the tests (forgot which, but too lazy to check)

Specs in sig

btw, how can i find my command rate?

Ara
December 16, 2005 7:27:45 PM

Your command rate is probably 1T. If your mobo BIOS reports it it would be with the other RAM timing parameters.

The reason I say your command rate is 1T is because you are using DDR2 RAM. That means you're using an Intel CPU. Only AMD's need to reduce command timings with 4 dimms. (And technically its not 4 dimms, it has something to do with the number of banks of ram - most of the time 1bank =1dimm).

Mike.
December 16, 2005 9:00:10 PM

Thanks for posting that article over at The Tech Review. Very interesting... it's making me rethink low latency memory. I'm not a big overclocker so I think in the future I'll buy CAS 2.5 stuff.

-mpjesse
December 16, 2005 9:30:30 PM

Yes appreciate the link.
December 22, 2005 9:56:11 AM

I have a 3400+ amd processor with 2gb of ram and a GForce 6800Ultra
I found my biggest upgrade booster was to get a extra gb of ram to make it 2gb!!! anyone I know who has done this can only sing its praises! 2gb of ram for BF2 is a must if you can afford it :D  give it a go you will not be sorry.
Cheers
|2es-mrix
www.battlefield-2.biz
p.s one more thing you see how quickly you can minimize with 2gb :wink:
December 22, 2005 4:51:51 PM

Quote:
i quote:
You do not need 2GB unless you find an application that says "required 1gb, 2gb recommended". Unfortunatly you will never see such a thing any time soon.


I just thought i would let everyone know that Peter Jacksons King Kong Gamers Edition was released with 2GB of ram as a system requirement. So 2 gigs of ram will become even more important in a non-professional enviroment very soon.
December 22, 2005 6:04:59 PM

I Actually Registered Just to add my 2 bits to this article and ram as been a nemesis for me over years gone buy and would like to share my experience..

I just upgraded to 2x1024 meg sticks of OCZ ram For my 939 Asus MB ,
Its been powered by the same chip since day one of its build. An xp 3500.. {2.2 ghz 64 bit} With my old ram after playing games like WOW , Halflife2 , Doom, Both my flight sims Lockon and Il2 Stormovik.. the system itself would become extremely Sluggish . opening windows would take a moment. and dragging them around made the sluggishness real apparent. .. I finally decided it was time to get more ram.. and after taking out the Corsair 512s i had in and putting in the Ocz {the timings of both brands were the same . } all these prblems are now a memory. hehe {litlle joke there} .. anyways.. for my part upgrading to 2 gigs of ram has made a substantial difference.. For those whe my be wondering .. the rest of my system specs are A8N Sli Deluxe mobo with one 6800 Ultra.. 4x Sata Drives.. 2x 160 in a riad array and one 300 as Dunp drive for movies ect and one 120 gig for windows to install to.
an Audigy was recently replaced by my Xfi Fatality and its all pwered by an Antec Truepower 2.0 550 Watt PSU..

IMHO.. 2 gigs over 1 gig is GOOD !!!!!!! {and needed by me anyways}
December 22, 2005 9:56:31 PM

I think the perfectly outlines the facts that benchmarking misses when talking about this issue. Anyone that knows about games knows that the GPU is the bottle-neck, followed by the CPU, with your RAM being at the bottom of the three as a limiting factor. But when you start moving back and forth between things, rather than sticking to one app in the fore-ground, that;s when your RAM will be truely exercised.

Thanks for your experiences FACEBASH. I'm sure that others will find it useful. I wish I had waited another 2 months before getting my new system, cause just after I got it, I started hearing about everyones experiences with 2GB over 1GB, and with my dual-core and the multi-tasking that I do, I know now that I could have really used it.
December 22, 2005 10:32:22 PM

I guess I might be in a minority, but I came away from that article thinking, "Hmm, 2GB : Great for BF2 but a tad pointless for anything else." Personally, I don't really like BF2, and I can see very little performance change in any of the games I do actually play. I did upgrade from 512MB to 1024MB, but this article certainly did nothing to convince me to further upgrade. Which, considering the intro, is strange, as that appears to be the whole point of the peice.
Synergy6
December 23, 2005 12:03:33 AM

Actually, the article concludes that 2GB really doesn't give a performance benefit, and that 1.5GB mioght be the sweet spot. But as I said, it doesn't really talk about the performance of the system outside of benchmarks. The feel of the system when multi-tasking is something that I'd prefer to hear about.

I.E. It takes a solid 2-3 minutes for Windows re-render itself and become fully functional when I quit BF2 on my machine with 1GB of RAM. Other modern games have similar response times. If 2 GB of RAM could drop that to 20 seconds or less, it would be so worth it.
December 23, 2005 7:56:49 AM

waiting for windows to become functional again has now dissapeared with me, i can alt tab out of BF2 instantly. (1.5GB with the paging file disabled)
i actually bought my extra gig of ram (upgrading from 512) without knowing that it would be perfect for my system, and i happened to buy BF2 just before upgrading, so i was able to test the system with different amounts of ram.

Ara
December 24, 2005 5:13:54 AM

Actually, this arguement will change once Vista is released. From the specs I have seen for Vista, 1 GB of RAM will be nothing soon. If you're building a newer machine, I would suggest 2GB of RAM myself. In fact, when I get enough money to get a new office system, it will have 2GB just to be safe for the next three years.
!