DDR memory question. 2gigs single channel verses 1gig dual

OK I built a computer for my parents about a year and a half ago. heres what the system looks like right now.

MSI K8N Neo4-F socket-939
AMD Athlon64 3800(Venice) @ 2.6ghz
2x512mb Kingston HyperX(KHX3200AK2) 2-3-2-6-1
160gig Samsung Spinpoint (HD160jj) sata drive
ATI Radeon X1300 256mb
Ultra X-connect 500w psu
Coolermaster Centurion 5 (80mm intake fan, 120mm exhaust fan)

Ok so I just got a 1gig stick of DDR from a freind for fee and would like to use it in this PC. But if I do this I will have to run in single channel mode. My question is pretty much this, what will give better performance 1gig in dual channel or 2gigs in single channel mode?? Second question is, I can possibly get another one fo these 1 gigs sticks from my buddy if i offer him some money for it. Could I run dual channel with all 4 slots filled, it would be 2x512 HyperX and 2x1gig generic value ram.
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More about memory question 2gigs single channel verses 1gig dual
  1. 2 x 512 in dual channel will perform better than a single gig in slot 1. AMD socket 939 Nforce 4 chipset should run dual channel with 2 x 1GB plus 2 x 512, but you are forced to run at 2T. Your 2 x 512 alone runs dual channel 1T.
  2. In practice, having the big boost in RAM for Windows results in net better performance even with the drop in memory throughput from going to single channel. Going from 2GB to 3GB total won't improve performance that much; since it seems that money is a bigger consideration than gaming performance here :wink: definitely take the free RAM and try it out. Since it's lower-quality RAM, it may not work well in the current system anyway, which would also solve your conundrum.
  3. Ok I installed the extra 1gig stick which gives me 2x512mb and 1x1gig running single channel. I had to loosen the timings quite a bit to get it running, 2.5-3-3-8-2t. But the performance increase wasnt subtle, the computer feels much more responsive. I didnt tell my parents that I changed the memory and after they used to PC they asked what I had done because it feels much faster. SoI guess 2gigs single channel with loose timings giives better performance the 2x512mb dual channel with tight timings. This was Pretty surprising since even with only 1gig installed the sytem always has at least 300mb free even when running a few programs. I then borrowed another of the 1gig sticks and installed it this gave me 2x512mb and 2x1gig in dual channel 3-3-3-8-2t. This didnt really make to much of a differance, the system felt a little faster but it was subtle. So I guess dual channel doesnt really give as much of a performance increase as I thought it would. Thanks for the help guys. This was definitly a nice learning expereince about memory and how it effects performance in XP.
  4. Quote:
    This was definitly a nice learning expereince about memory and how it effects performance in XP.

    You are using an AMD system with Windows XP. Remember Intel systems are different. Running dual channel 1T in an Intel system makes more of a performance difference than on an AMD system. AMD systems are not as dependent on dual channel 1T settings although the settings matter. AMD processors have the RAM controller on the chip. Intel has a Northbridge chip and utilize dual channel differently. I have 2x1GB plus 2 x 512 on a dual boot Vista 32/XP Pro system with C2D e6600. 3 GB in Vista makes a big difference from 2 GB in most everything I do. Memory is utilized differently in Vista. In Windows XP 3 GB is not utilized properly. 3GB is overkill in XP unless doing exclusively RAM demanding tasks. Depending on the build, one system may utilize more performance out of RAM installments and performance settings than another system.
  5. Actually, AMD systems should be *more* sensitive to dual-channel mode because they lack the bottleneck of the memory controller in the northbridge that Intel systems have.

    As for XP vs Vista, Vista is more complex/bloated (depending on your perspective), so it needs more RAM than XP does to run at an equivalent speed. It's not that XP doesn't use 3GB properly, it's that XP already has plenty even at the 2GB level.
  6. I just hope we answered OP's questions. He seems to have done pretty well with it and learned a lot.
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