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How much difference does RAM make?

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July 23, 2006 11:01:58 PM

Alright,
So here's the story. I'm a poor student and I am looking at upgrading my PC. I have a budget of $500-$600 CAD to work with.

I am only planning on purchasing the following components: motherboard, CPU, RAM.

I have decided I will buy:
Athlon 64 x2 3800+ (AM2)
Asus M2N-E

Anyways my problem is I don't know which RAM to buy. How much of a difference does PC2 4200, 8000, or any of the others in the middle make on performance?

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July 24, 2006 12:12:51 AM

Ahh thanks for the link. There is just one last thing I was thinking of. I know DDR2 is relatively new. Does anyone know or have any speculation on when DDR2 will be replaced with DDR3 or perhaps if newer CPU's will require faster DDR2?

I guess to clarify my question a bit, I know in the Socket A world DDR400 was available when DDR333 was. However DDR400 would allow you to take full advantage of an Athlon XP 3200+ (due to the bus speeds). In terms of "future proofing" my purchase is it advisable to go for DDR2 800?
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July 24, 2006 12:17:03 AM

You can't really be sure... AM3 is supposed to use DDR3 and I read somewhere Samsung has already sent out prototype DDR3 memory to some manufacturers.

Here's my advice: don't worry about it. Get the best that you can afford now... technology changes too fast for most of us budget builders to keep up with anyway. A X2 and DDR2 800 will serve you well for a few years easily.:) 
July 24, 2006 6:28:17 AM

Quote:
Alright,
So here's the story. I'm a poor student and I am looking at upgrading my PC. I have a budget of $500-$600 CAD to work with.

I am only planning on purchasing the following components: motherboard, CPU, RAM.

I have decided I will buy:
Athlon 64 x2 3800+ (AM2)
Asus M2N-E

Anyways my problem is I don't know which RAM to buy. How much of a difference does PC2 4200, 8000, or any of the others in the middle make on performance?
For an AM2 system, you're best to go with DDR2-800 CAS4. The only problem is that with your budget, you won't be able to fit that in as 2GB of DDR2-800 in Canada will cost you $300+. GL :) 
July 24, 2006 6:39:19 AM

If i were you i would keep the current RAM and upgrade t oa DC 939 setup. Very doable with your budget and you could even add some more RAM if u wanted and get damn good performance as well.
July 24, 2006 7:26:39 AM

I agree with K8MAN.

Given your budget you're likely to do quite a bit better going to a 939 than trying to jump all the way to a new AM2.

Also, you didn't say anything about your video card but, TTBOMK, all AM2 motherboards use PCI Express which means that you have to spend more money to replace the video card.

You're concern about whatever you buy now being useable in the future is wise. Socket AM2 is likely to be around for a while but DDR II is currently in a sort of "take off" stage. I believe it is roughly at the stage of PC2100 a few years back. That means that whatever reasonably priced DDR II you buy now will be obsolete in just a few months.

Ultimately, if I were in your position, I'd sit tight while saving a little more money. In a few months you may have an additional $250, prices for CPUs will have gone down even more, AM2 motherboards will be more mature (and stable) and there may very well be more affordable and better memory available than what you can buy now.

If you really want to upgrade on your current budget, one motherboard you may want to gather more information about is

http://www.biostar-usa.com/mbdetails.asp?model=tforce4+...

This motherboard (socket 939 though) would allow you to use the memory you have now and *may* even allow you to use your current AGP card (contact Biostar to find out). In that case, all you'd have to purchase is a CPU. Note too that newegg has a refurbed one for $39.99.

Going this route might leave you with a couple hundred dollars in your pocket for your next upgrade.
July 24, 2006 7:42:04 AM

Quote:
I agree with K8MAN.

Given your budget you're likely to do quite a bit better going to a 939 than trying to jump all the way to a new AM2.

Also, you didn't say anything about your video card but, TTBOMK, all AM2 motherboards use PCI Express which means that you have to spend more money to replace the video card.

You're concern about whatever you buy now being useable in the future is wise. Socket AM2 is likely to be around for a while but DDR II is currently in a sort of "take off" stage. I believe it is roughly at the stage of PC2100 a few years back. That means that whatever reasonably priced DDR II you buy now will be obsolete in just a few months.

Ultimately, if I were in your position, I'd sit tight while saving a little more money. In a few months you may have an additional $250, prices for CPUs will have gone down even more, AM2 motherboards will be more mature (and stable) and there may very well be more affordable and better memory available than what you can buy now.

If you really want to upgrade on your current budget, one motherboard you may want to gather more information about is

http://www.biostar-usa.com/mbdetails.asp?model=tforce4+...

This motherboard (socket 939 though) would allow you to use the memory you have now and *may* even allow you to use your current AGP card (contact Biostar to find out). In that case, all you'd have to purchase is a CPU. Note too that newegg has a refurbed one for $39.99.
Going this route might leave you with a couple hundred dollars in your pocket for your next upgrade.
Newegg doesn't ship to Canada. :( 
July 24, 2006 8:13:10 AM

yeah I truly hate that. Most of the good sellers don't ship to Canada, so we kinda get screwed with all the deals. I use NCIX, they give pretty good deals and they don't try to screw you over, at least as far as I've seen. If you're using something like TigerDirect, maybe you should check out NCIX before you buy. Their base is in Vancouver, BC too.
July 24, 2006 8:19:55 AM

Quote:
yeah I truly hate that. Most of the good sellers don't ship to Canada, so we kinda get screwed with all the deals. I use NCIX, they give pretty good deals and they don't try to screw you over, at least as far as I've seen. If you're using something like TigerDirect, maybe you should check out NCIX before you buy. Their base is in Vancouver, BC too.
Yeah, i use NCIX..they're great. And since i'm in Ontario, i don't have to pay PST. :wink: If i buy from Tigerdirect...i pay both. :twisted: I bought from ZZF before they stopped shipping to CA. I also use FrozenCPU for Heatsinks and Fans. They are also good.
July 24, 2006 8:20:05 AM

Do you have a friend in the U.S that could purchase the stuff for you and re-ship it to Canada ? (It would add a few bucks in shipping but that's better than passing up a good deal)
July 24, 2006 8:21:31 AM

see my reply to 1tanker. I meant to reply to your message but clicked on the wrong message.
July 24, 2006 8:24:40 AM

Quote:
Do you have a friend in the U.S that could purchase the stuff for you and re-ship it to Canada ? (It would add a few bucks in shipping but that's better than passing up a good deal)
Yeah, with our dollar ~ 90 cents, the states prices are really cheap. :D 
July 24, 2006 2:46:24 PM

Well I'll tell you guys the other problem I'm running into. It is the fact that I'm going into my final year of Computer Science. I also hope to take advantage of the new virtualization technology. *My* understanding of it is that it is used when running VMWare and Virtual PC. I'm still a little unclear about it.

But that was the last concern.

In response to the video card concern, that is something I am still playing with in my mind. At present I have a BFG G-Force 6600GT which I just bought 3 months ago because it is the only AGP card I could find with Dual DVI. So what I was hoping to do is ask nicely if BFG will exchange it for the PCI-E version given how new it is.

The reason I can't stay with the current set up is because my motherboard is starting to get flaky. It's still usable. But every couple of weeks it starts rebooting for no reason, sometimes it loses the keyboard. You basically have to reset the battery. So I mean I could probably sit on this set up for another month or so. But I just don't want to fart around with a 4 year old PC while I'm in school and at 3 a.m. the night before an assignment is due have it just die.

Also, I'm not actually so bad as for price. I used to purchase things at NCIX however I found their service after the sale to be questionable at best. I now deal with a local store PC Place. Their prices are either the same or within $5-$10 of NCIX prices and I don't have to worry about shipping. So on my purchase as it sits I've been quoted $420 for the M2N-E, 1.0GB Kingston ValueRAM, and the Athlon 64 X2 3800+. So it is my full intention of buying it from them, plus if I have a problem with anything they've always been wickedly good at exchanging it over the counter so I don't have any downtime.

In response to the Biostar thread that is an option I have considered as well. I figured if I had to go with S939 I might as well just go as low as I could. I found a motherboard the Asus A8V that still uses AGP as well as DDR so I could do the upgrade for about $280. I just don't know if that's wise.

I realize I'm going in several directions here, I'm just trying to figure out which is the best one. Pluses of M2N is that I can just re-sell my RAM and video card if need be. So some of the cost would be offset. It's just the video card I really want to hang on to. Great Linux support, and lifetime warranty.
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