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A few questions

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January 12, 2006 2:24:32 AM

Hello this is my first post here. I figured I'd ask on this forum mainly because you all seem to have very high technical understandings of all things related to PCs and this place seems civil enough where I won't get snide remarks or lewd comments. I have several questions I will get to one way or another in this post.

First of all here is the log of CPU Z for my PC so you can see what my system is.

CPU-Z Report

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

CPU-Z version 1.31.


CPU(s)
Number of CPUs 2 (1 Physical)

CPU#1 APIC ID = 0
Name Intel Pentium 4 560
Code Name Prescott
Specification Intel(R) Pentium(R) 4 CPU 3.60GHz
Family / Model / Stepping F 3 4
Extended Family / Model 0 0
Package LGA775
Core Stepping D0
Technology 90 nm
Supported Instructions Sets MMX, SSE, SSE2, SSE3
CPU Clock Speed 3591.0 MHz
Clock multiplier x 18.0
Front Side Bus Frequency 199.5 MHz
Bus Speed 798.0 MHz
L1 Data Cache 16 KBytes, 8-way set associative, 64 Bytes line size
L1 Trace Cache 12 Kµops, 8-way set associative
L2 Cache 1024 KBytes, 8-way set associative, 64 Bytes line size
L2 Speed 3591.0 MHz (Full)
L2 Location On Chip
L2 Data Prefetch Logic yes
L2 Bus Width 256 bits

CPU#2 APIC ID = 1
CPU Name Intel Pentium 4 560 (logical unit)


Mainboard and chipset
Motherboard manufacturer Dell Inc.
Motherboard model 0J3492,
BIOS vendor Dell Inc.
BIOS revision A03
BIOS release date 10/11/2004
Chipset Intel i925X rev. B1
Southbridge Intel 82801FB (ICH6) rev. 03
Graphic Interface PCI-Express
PCI-E Link Width x16
PCI-E Max Link Width x16

Memory
DRAM Type DDR2-SDRAM
DRAM Size 1024 MBytes
DRAM Frequency 266.0 MHz
FSB:D RAM 3:4
CAS# Latency 4.0 clocks
RAS# to CAS# 4 clocks
RAS# Precharge 4 clocks
Cycle Time (TRAS) 11 clocks
# of memory modules 2
Module 0 Samsung DDR2-SDRAM PC4300 - 512 MBytes
Module 1 Samsung DDR2-SDRAM PC4300 - 512 MBytes

Software
Windows version Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition Service Pack 2 (Build 2600)
DirectX version 9.0c
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Here's my situation. I've got $400 to spend and I want to start upgrading my year old PC. I would like to buy a better video card (my current is an OC ATI Radeon X300SE) but many of the cards I want are expensive and would require a larger power supply than what I currently have. Also possibly installing more fans. I don't really want to be bothered with switching a power supply just to have a better video card -- maybe some time in the future though. Based on what I've read on the Internet over the years RAM is the best way to get your "bang for the buck" and increase performance if you're upgrading. Here's what I've narrowed it down to consider buying.

2 GB of the Corsair XMS 2 800 MHz DDR2 SDRAM Dual Channel Kit (I'm assuming its well over $400 though and I can't find the dual channel kit on Newegg or eBay so probably not this)

Corsair XMS2 2 GB 675 MHz DDR2 SDRAM Dual Channel Kit- $310

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...

Patriot 2 GB 800 MHz DDR2 SDRAM Dual Channel Kit - $365.95

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...

Patriot 2 GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM Dual Channel Kit - $189.99 - Many complaints about heat spreaders missing but much cheaper than Corsair

I could also get 2 of those to get 4 GB for approx $380. The Corsair below would be cheaper but not dual channel

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...

I saw this and noticed the price - 2 GB CORSAIR Value Select 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM - Only $177!
I could just buy 2 orders of this and max out the RAM on my PC (Its a Dell Dimension 8400, supports up to 4GB dual channel DDR2 SDRAM).

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...

Ok now heres my questions:

1) How can I determine the maximum speed in MHz for RAM my motherboard supports?
I currently have 533 MHz DDR2 SDRAM but like I mentioned I want to upgrade and at least double my current memory and with faster speeds if possible.

2) a) Does it matter if the memory is for dual channel or not?
b) If all 4 memory slots are occupied with the same size and speed RAM wouldn't it work as dual channel anyway?

3) a) What would you recommend I buy from those choices I listed?
b) Is the XMS2 series that much better than the Value Select series by Corsair?
c) Is Corsair that much better than Patriot or is just another case of paying for a name?

4) a) Why is my processor's clock speed at 3591 MHz and not its rated 3600 MHz? (A small difference I know, but I'm just curious)
b) Same thing -- Why is my FSB at 798 MHz and not 800 Mhz?
c) How can I increase both to their rated speeds? (It just annoys me lol)

5) a) What kind of performance increases can I expect going from 1 GB to 2 GB or from 1 GB to 4 GB of RAM?
b) Is it worth it?

Thats all I can think of right now.

Any help here would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you to anyone who spent the time to read this lengthy post and to anyone who actually answers. :) 

More about : questions

January 12, 2006 5:59:18 AM

I'll save you a bunch of time and money: upgrading beyond 1GB (which u currently have) is pointless in your case. You will not see any performance gains in both games and common applications. Now if u were doing things like video editing, photoshop, etc I would say 2GB would improve things slightly.

So spend the $$$ on a new video card. :-)

-mpjesse
January 12, 2006 6:42:29 AM

Quote:
I'll save you a bunch of time and money: upgrading beyond 1GB (which u currently have) is pointless in your case. You will not see any performance gains in both games and common applications. Now if u were doing things like video editing, photoshop, etc I would say 2GB would improve things slightly.

So spend the $$$ on a new video card. :-)

-mpjesse


I really don't want to be bothered having to buy and install another power supply just to have a good video card. I only have a 350 watt power supply. Its not like I play a lot of games on my PC anyway or anything thats really graphics demanding. I only have a 56k Internet connection so that pretty much limits my gaming opportunities. Maybe I'll just do what I originally planned and spend it on an Xbox 360. The main problem with that is its near impossible to find one. People that preordered them in October won't be getting them until March since the demand is so high.
Related resources
January 12, 2006 8:34:30 AM

You really should listen to MPjesse on this one. RAM isnt going to do much for you except load maps faster and such. I bet, you could squeeze a 6600GT into your rig without much of a problem. why dont you list your other components and we can bounce that off of your CPU and tell you if it will work. OR you can go get that RAM and find out the hard way. I have about 20,000 wasted dollars of experience in the "buying stoopid crap you dont need" business.
January 12, 2006 9:26:04 AM

Quote:
) How can I determine the maximum speed in MHz for RAM my motherboard supports?

The board manual should tell you. If not the bios does, but you shouldnt mess with it with no knowledge.
Quote:
2) a) Does it matter if the memory is for dual channel or not?

With some RAM it does matter, with others it doesnt.... you are on the save side to buy RAM-Kits which have been tested on dual channel.
Quote:
b) If all 4 memory slots are occupied with the same size and speed RAM wouldn't it work as dual channel anyway?

Some boards have problems adressing 4 ramslots with dual-sided-ram (ram chips on both sides). Your board manual usually states which RAM you need when you are using all 4 RAM-slots.
Dual-channel only works with equal ram or all are clocked to the slowest. Depending on the board you might be able to use 4 Dimms on dual channel.
Quote:
3) a) What would you recommend I buy from those choices I listed?
That depends on the applications you are using.
Quote:
b) Is the XMS2 series that much better than the Value Select series by Corsair?
The difference is not worth it.
Quote:
c) Is Corsair that much better than Patriot or is just another case of paying for a name?
Corsair does nothing else than buying cheap ram. They are testing it for speed and selling it expensive.

Quote:
4) a) Why is my processor's clock speed at 3591 MHz and not its rated 3600 MHz? (A small difference I know, but I'm just curious) b) Same thing -- Why is my FSB at 798 MHz and not 800 Mhz?

That is depending on the divider (cpu = fsb*multiplier). Sorry got no time yet to write some details.

Quote:
c) How can I increase both to their rated speeds? (It just annoys me lol)
In the bios or get the right overclocking tool at www.cpuid.com

Quote:
5) a) What kind of performance increases can I expect going from 1 GB to 2 GB or from 1 GB to 4 GB of RAM?

I´d say 0 - 10 % depending on the application but not if you are talking about 3d-games... your graphics is definetly the bottleneck... not even 100 GB RAM would help you there
Quote:
b) Is it worth it?

no

A GF 6600 GT shall have a good bang for the buck but I´d go for at least a 7800 GT when it comes to 3D-gaming.

If you don´t play at all it would be of interest what you actually are doing with your PC to decide what´s best 4 you. Some applications dont even benefit from 2 GB RAM...
January 12, 2006 10:25:14 PM

Hell, he would almost certainly be ok with a 350W PSU w/ a 7800GT or x1800. I'm running a dual 7800GTX setup w/ 3 HDDs, 2 optical drives, and a X2 4200+ on a 480W PSU.

:-)

-mpjesse
January 12, 2006 10:27:25 PM

The only thing that's going to significantly increase windows performance using RAM is buying >2GB of RAM and disabling virtual memory. And even that I wouldn't recommend. If you get crazy and start running a ton of crap you will get low memory errors. I would only recommend this if you have 4GB of RAM.

-mpjesse
January 12, 2006 10:53:12 PM

I have a dell running fine with a 375 watt power supply.
2.8D
945g
2gig ram
7800gtx
A video card will most likely help the most.
January 13, 2006 6:35:32 AM

I never expected this much feedback. Thanks you guys. I guess I'll get the video card then. I can always get the memory some other time. I'll check the prices on Newegg for those video cards you mentioned in your replies.
January 13, 2006 6:52:36 AM

Quote:
c) How can I increase both to their rated speeds? (It just annoys me lol)
In the bios or get the right overclocking tool at www.cpuid.com

It seems that my mainboard isn't compatible.
January 13, 2006 11:50:18 AM

I got my new system a few days ago:

athlon 64 3500+ venice
2gb samsung ram
geforce 7800gt

and it is just so bloody fast compared to my old p3-800! once past the initial boot phase, windows loads in about 1 second! with 2gb ram I've turned off page/swap file without noticing any bad side effects. the quick window load time may also be due to the fact that I've stripped out in msconfig all the unnecessary crap that it came with so now only 4 processes load at start-up and my system tray is nearly empty (although no doubt this will increase when I load more software onto it). I've not had a chance yet to really put the system through it's paces as I've been too busy configuring the hell out of it and securing the system. However I have done lots of web browsing and some java chat sites using firefox and although firefox takes a few seconds longer to start up than it should, once it is running it really motors - the front page of THG loads in about 2 seconds! Programs seem to prefer using physical memory rather than virtual memory. I've not had a chance to play any games on it yet. my next upgrade will be the processor possibly to an fx-60 but that won't be for at least 2 or 3 years yet. In the meantime, I am reassured by the fact that I have 2gb of ram to keep me going over the next few years.
January 13, 2006 11:59:02 AM

Quote:
I got my new system a few days ago:

athlon 64 3500+ venice
2gb samsung ram
geforce 7800gt

and it is just so bloody fast compared to my old p3-800! once past the initial boot phase, windows loads in about 1 second! with 2gb ram I've turned off page/swap file without noticing any bad side effects. the quick window load time may also be due to the fact that I've stripped out in msconfig all the unnecessary crap that it came with so now only 4 processes load at start-up and my system tray is nearly empty (although no doubt this will increase when I load more software onto it). I've not had a chance yet to really put the system through it's paces as I've been too busy configuring the hell out of it and securing the system. However I have done lots of web browsing and some java chat sites using firefox and although firefox takes a few seconds longer to start up than it should, once it is running it really motors - the front page of THG loads in about 2 seconds! Programs seem to prefer using physical memory rather than virtual memory. I've not had a chance to play any games on it yet. my next upgrade will be the processor possibly to an fx-60 but that won't be for at least 2 or 3 years yet. In the meantime, I am reassured by the fact that I have 2gb of ram to keep me going over the next few years.


Yeah that was the main reason I was originally going to upgrade my RAM. I got my PC January 2005 and its already a year old and I only got the 1 year warranty. I figured since the warranty is up I can start adding more things and upgrading various things. My video card is old but I can OC it using ATI Tool from the default 324 MHz Core and 195.75 MHz Memory to 414 Core 231 Memory with no problems and no additional cooling. I get 7-10 FPS more in the games I have. Thats not bad but I could still definitely use a better card. It sucks having a 3.6 GHz processor and a GB of RAM and not having great graphic performance.
January 13, 2006 5:26:22 PM

I'm from the old school of computer gaming where 30 fps is considered to be fast and it sounds like you might be getting at least 30 fps so that should be ok. I had a quick read of PC Zone mag while I was out today (I don't get out that much!) and in their february issue they comment on the 'current slump in memory prices' and say that an increase in memory to 1gb 'or more' would result in an improvement in the performance of a system particularly where games are concerned (I think). I'm not saying you should go for 2gb of ram but it would be interesting if you did because you could then report your findings on here! Possibly get it from a shop or someplace on the understanding that if you weren't satisfied you could take it back and swap it for something else (eg. a faster graphics card).

I should also say that I think the correct configuration of the hardware is just as important as the correct choice of hardware. It does seem that many of the posts on these forums are from users that are complaining about the poor performance of their newly-installed hardware saying it runs 'too slow'. It does seem that in the vast majority of these cases the poor performance is the result of an incorrect configuration. So someone might install an extra 1gb of ram but they may not realise the full benefit of this if it isn't configured correctly! I got my system from a well known computer manufacturer that has been around for donkeys years so I was confident that all my hardware would be installed and configured correctly, using all the tricks of the trade. I wouldn't trust myself to do it correctly thats for sure!
January 13, 2006 6:02:33 PM

You shouldn't be having performance problems with the operating systems for x86 pcs currently available. If it's games you're talking about, then definitely upgrade that POS graphics card you've got in there.

If you don't want games, buy some ddr800Mhz RAM, either 1GB or 2GB, depending on which applications you use, and you shouldn't have to upgrade the ram on that motherboard again.
January 13, 2006 8:23:33 PM

Quote:
You shouldn't be having performance problems with the operating systems for x86 pcs currently available. If it's games you're talking about, then definitely upgrade that POS graphics card you've got in there.

If you don't want games, buy some ddr800Mhz RAM, either 1GB or 2GB, depending on which applications you use, and you shouldn't have to upgrade the ram on that motherboard again.



Don't you mean ddr2 800 MHz (PC2 6400)? I thought ddr2 and ddr aren't backwards compatible. That was the great thing about upgrading my old and now defunct PC it was just easier. Less things to factor in and less choices to make. I'm not complaining though because my old PC was a Packard Bell 200MHz MMX with 32 MB EDO Ram, only a 4.3 GB hdd and a 56k modem which was considered good back in 1997 when I got it. It also had a stock 24x cd-rom (which died and I upgraded to 56x), no AGP or anything remotely modern as far as graphics were concerned. I bought a Voodoo3 PCI 2000 to replace the crappy integrated graphics that came with it. I also added a Philips CDRW 800 series cd-rw drive to it. I look at that and the PC I have now and the difference is night and day. Even my Xbox is almost 4x as fast as that old thing. The advances that have come along in the past 9 years are amazing. Its almost scary to think what the next 10 years will bring.
January 13, 2006 8:32:10 PM

I'm pretty sure I'm going to get the 7800 GT like mpjesse recommended. I'm just not sure which one. I've narrowed it down to these:

ASUS EN7800GT/Top/Silent/2DHTV Geforce 7800GT 256MB 256-bit GDDR3 VIVO PCI Express x16 Video Card - Retail

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

BFG Tech BFGR78256GTCOD2 Geforce 7800GT 256MB 256-bit GDDR3 VIVO PCI Express x16 Video Card bundled with Call of Duty 2 - Retail

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

JATON Video-PX7800GT Geforce 7800GT 256MB 256-bit GDDR3 VIVO PCI Express x16 Video Card - Retail

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

According to the nVidia website the 7800 GT and 7800 GTX can get by on a 350 PSU so I guess there's no need to upgrade that.

Which one would you guys recommend?
January 15, 2006 4:48:22 AM

Quote:
The BFG one has got good customer support and the card is well priced.


Plus it comes with COD 2 :) 
January 17, 2006 3:34:34 PM

I just benchmarked my system using 3DMark03 using all the tests and it returned a benchmark score of 14213 - don't know how good or bad that is!

Edit: oops! just tested using 3Dmark05 and came up with slightly worse score of 6706! testing cpu + graphics card. (resolution 1024 x 786)

Edit: made a couple of small tweaks to the graphics card (+10 mhz to core clock speed, +40 mhz to memory speed) and got 3Dmark05 up to 6848 - think I'll leave it at that for the time being!
January 24, 2006 6:43:10 PM

Quote:
You shouldn't be having performance problems with the operating systems for x86 pcs currently available. If it's games you're talking about, then definitely upgrade that POS graphics card you've got in there.

If you don't want games, buy some ddr800Mhz RAM, either 1GB or 2GB, depending on which applications you use, and you shouldn't have to upgrade the ram on that motherboard again.



Don't you mean ddr2 800 MHz (PC2 6400)? I thought ddr2 and ddr aren't backwards compatible..

Correct, I forgot to put the "2" after DDR. DDR 800Mhz will fit into your motherboard, as you are currently running DDR2 RAM ;p
January 24, 2006 6:59:45 PM

Quote:
Correct, I forgot to put the "2" after DDR. DDR 800Mhz will fit into your motherboard, as you are currently running DDR2 RAM ;p


It won't matter now as I'm getting the video card.

The memory will have to wait until another time when I have a decent amount of money.

Edit: If I can get like $50 more out of my parents I can get a 7800 GT and I'll just buy the Arctic Cooling cooler at a later time. Hell its only $30. Theres a 7800 GT for $299 with a $30 rebate if I get it within the next 5 days...
February 4, 2006 4:36:32 AM

I got lucky and my father lent me $50. I finally ended up deciding to buy this video card:

MSI Geforce 7800GT NX7800GT-VT2D256E
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

I hope you guys are right and it will run on my shitty 350w PSU. I don't have the money to buy that PC power and cooling Dell 470w PSU upgrade.

ULTRA-QUIET DELL PSU: SILENCER® 470 DELL
http://www.pcpowercooling.com/products/viewproduct.php?...

This videocard made me broke. On the MSI website the docs for the card recommend a 400w minimum but its the default 7800 GT card speeds (400MHz Core, 1 GHz Memory) and on the nVidia site the 7800GT series says 350w minimum. I don't know if Dell PSUs are really underrated or not.

I'm only planning on running it 1024 x 768 anyway so wouldn't that use less power than say 1280 x 1024 (my max monitor resolution)? Couldn't I also disable/turn off other stuff I don't need to conserve power?

Wish me luck. The card will come this week and I'll install it and let you know how and if it works at all. I'm just hoping the damn thing doesn't fry my system because I don't have another $1,700 for a new PC.
!