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Adding memory question (PLEASE READ)

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April 30, 2007 10:38:44 PM

I currently have 1 Gig of DDR SDRAM 400mhz memory on my pc. Would adding an additional 512meg stick of ram help improve my PCs overall performance????

Thanks
May 1, 2007 2:39:16 AM

Yeah, not as much as adding another 1gb stick, but it'll still help alot.
May 1, 2007 5:19:54 AM

It will help but how much depends on the MOBO your using. As apt403 said 1gig would be better especially if your board supports dual channel.
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May 1, 2007 6:33:46 AM

Quote:
Yeah, not as much as adding another 1gb stick, but it'll still help alot.


That is simply un-informed.

Unless his PC needs more RAM, there is no reason to buy more. So to suggest that his PC needs SO MUCH more RAM over what he already has, that only an extra 1024MB will boost his performance and a 512MB wont as much, is simply ground-less.. not only because its not true, but because u dont even have the slightest idea about his PC.

To answer the question:
If u dont game, then DONT buy more memory.
If u DO game, then consider buying a graphics card instead.. or if u already have a good one, then buy another 1024MB because dual-channel will grant u some performance gain over single-channel and so it wouldnt be worth it to buy another 512MB.
May 1, 2007 7:26:40 AM

More ram will help system performance. You wont see massive boosts in everything, but a standard system running XP is going to benifit from having more ram.

Granted, if he isnt utilizing all 1gb of ram it wont help the performance at all, but most of us here would be in hell with only 1gb.

Yeah, your right, before jumping to the conclusion that he acutally needs more ram I should have asked if his pc was slow, and in what programs, but I was basing my assumptions off several things.

1. He said "overall performance" there are 3 things that come to mind when a person says he wants his pc to perform better.

The first being the cpu, especially here, since he's using DDR memory, he either has a socket 939 or 478 mobo, or, much less likely, a socket A board or something of similar vintage. faster cpu = faster system if all other needs are addressed.

The second is the ram, most systems need 2gb to really fly. And, ram is now pretty cheap, so it's a low cost upgrade that'll help performance in most systems. Now, like you pointed out and I admitted, he might not even be using the 1gb of ram he has now, but since he's talking about inproving overall system performance, that leads me to believe his system isnt performing as well as it was in the past. Or, he started doing new things, gaming perhaps, and he needs a faster pc.

The 3rd is HDD, HDD bottlenecks are common, and even if the HDD isnt bottlenecking performance, the OS will after long periods of time, it gets bogged down, that's why people reinstall XP every once and a while, it helps system performance.

The fact that he specificlly mentioned a ram upgrade, and didnt just say "What do I do to make my PC faster?" overrides the other two things and make me think he thinks a ram upgrade would help his pc, for the reasons deatailed in 2.

2. Here, people generally meet us atleast half way, if somebody thinks his psu doesnt have sufficent power for his system, he's going to say something along the lines of " *the problem* I think I need a stronger psu, what do you think?" And not "*problem* HELP!". Going on that, I assume the OP has a general idea of what he needs to do to make his system perform better, and that he's not just taking a shot in the dark.

3. I dont have a 3... :?
May 1, 2007 9:53:43 AM

Quote:
I currently have 1 Gig of DDR SDRAM 400mhz memory on my pc. Would adding an additional 512meg stick of ram help improve my PCs overall performance????

Thanks



A question - is that 400MHz marketing speed (double200) or actual 400MHz? the answer gives an idea of the vintage of your machine. Alternatively, tell us the name of the motherboard and processor.

With out that info I'll try a couple of scenarios:

1. your system is single channel and you have one 1Gb stick - adding any memory will likely improve performance.

2. your system is single channel and you have 2x 512MB sticks - same as before but you may only have one free slot so this upgrade would be the last. Choose wisely, young padawan.

3. your system is dual channel and you have only one 1GB stick (single channel mode) - you must populate the other channel with an identical stick to enable dual channel - your system will behave like its just drunk RedBull.

4. your system is dual channel and you have one 512MB stick in each channel (dual channel mode) - add another pair of 512MB to keep dual channel mode operating. Sadly, some motherboards that have dual channel only have 3 slots and work single or dual depending upon memory population layout (eg MSI K7N2). If you add memory assymmetrically to a dual channel layout you will then operate in single channel mode. This will halve the 'effective bandwidth' of the memory and so the increase in memory from the upgrade will have little or nil impact on 'overall' performance in the real world.

Hope that helps.
Q
May 1, 2007 5:26:38 PM

Thanks for the great replies people!!!! Anyway I mainly use my computer for PC gaming and I do a great deal of multi-tasking... That is why I believe my system might benefit from an additional 512meg stick of ram.. Also here are my system specs which I copied off the program PC WIZARD... So overall is this additional memory the cheapest upgrade I can do for the greatest performance boost???

Manufacturer : Dell Computer Corporation (Model Dell DIMENSION DIM4600)
Mainboard : Dell Computer Corp. 02Y832
Chipset : Intel i865PE
Processor : Intel Pentium 4 @ 2800 MHz
Physical Memory : 1024 MB (2 x 512 DDR-SDRAM )
Video Card : Nvidia Corp GeForce 6600 [NV43]
Hard Disk : WDC (120 GB)
Hard Disk : WDC (120 GB)
DVD-Rom Drive : LITE-ON DVDRW SOHW-1693S
CD-Rom Drive : Lite-On LTN486S 48x Max
DVD-Rom Drive : BF0248X GZE422X SCSI CdRom Device
Monitor Type : NEC Technologies NEC FE991SB - 18 inches
Network Card : Broadcom Corp BCM5705 NetXtreme Gigabit Ethernet
Network Card : Intel Corporation PRO/100 VE Network Connection
Operating System : Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition 5.01.2600 Service Pack 2
DirectX : Version 9.0c (December 2007)
May 1, 2007 5:37:31 PM

One more thing... I called Dell and they said an additional 512meg stick of RAM would cost $$$$$85$$$$$.... I then went to Newegg.com and found a equal 512 meg stick of ram manufactured by Corsair for a mere $40 including shipping and handling. Is Dell just trying to rip me off or am I missing something here??? Here are the specs on the Corsair Memory - CORSAIR ValueSelect 512MB 184-Pin DDR SDRAM DDR 400 (PC 3200) Desktop Memory - Retail
May 1, 2007 5:51:01 PM

I didn't realize that you had 2x512, another 512 might improve performance slightly due to less swapping with virtual memory but that chipset supports dual channel so you will actually loose performance adding a stick and running in single channel. That motherboard supports 4 sticks so your cheapest option would be to get 2x512 of the same ram that is currently in it or 2x1gb and replace your current RAM.

Edit: I just thought of it but look inside your computer and make sure the sticks are in the right slots. there should be 4 slots two one color and two another, the sticks need to be in the same color slots to run dual channel. Just a thought.
May 1, 2007 5:54:11 PM

Quote:
Is Dell just trying to rip me off


Yes, computer companys make very little on the systems themselves but make lots of money on upgrades just like you can buy a floppy drive for about $5 but Dell will sell you a replacement for yours for $43.
May 1, 2007 6:32:44 PM

Look at the sticks and try to figure out who made them, Dell doesn't actually make anything they just assemble so someone made your RAM and if you can find that out you could bypass Dell altogether. My old system had 2x512 which I bought at different times and even though the were both Crucial they used different chips and they ran dual channel just fine. you might be able to get 2x512 rated at the same speed and latency and be just fine.
May 1, 2007 6:54:32 PM

Quote:
I didn't realize that you had 2x512, another 512 might improve performance slightly due to less swapping with virtual memory but that chipset supports dual channel so you will actually loose performance adding a stick and running in single channel.

However, on balance the 512MB will substantially improve your performance, because dual vs single channel is a small difference compared to RAM vs virtual memory (hard disk).

Quote:
... look inside your computer and make sure the sticks are in the right slots. ... the sticks need to be in the same color slots to run dual channel. ...

If only it were so easy! Unfortunately, on some MBs they need to be in the different color slots to run in dual-channel mode. Your MB manual should have the details, but even some MB manuals have it backwards, so feel free to experiment.
May 1, 2007 6:59:28 PM

Quote:
.... Is Dell just trying to rip me off or am I missing something here??? Here are the specs on the Corsair Memory - CORSAIR ValueSelect 512MB 184-Pin DDR SDRAM DDR 400 (PC 3200) Desktop Memory - Retail

First, stay away from Corsair's ValueSelect line. It is worse quality RAM than you will get from Dell. Corsair's premium lines (such as XMS), on the other hand, are excellent. If you want to go with a "value" line, Kingston's ValueRAM will be at least as good quality as the Dell. If you're concerned about compatibility, the major manufacturers (e.g. Crucial, Kingston, Corsair, etc) usually have memory configurators on their websites where you can just enter your computer brand and model number to find out which RAM is compatible with it.
May 1, 2007 8:38:56 PM

So basically you people are saying I should just send this 512meg stick of ram back to newegg??? Man I hope thats not the case .....why does this kinda crap always happen to me :x
May 1, 2007 9:00:07 PM

Ok I went to the Corsair website and entered all the info to determine if that stick of ram is compatible with my Dell 4600 PC. It turns out that this RAM is compatible but are you people saying that this extra ram is actually going to slow down my PC??? The RAM is Corsair VS512mb400c3
May 1, 2007 9:06:44 PM

Try it out. If it works, you'll be fine and will have a faster Windows system. My point was just that VS has a higher defect/failure rate than better-quality memory. Be sure to run memtest86+ on your system once you install the new RAM to make sure things are working fine.
May 1, 2007 10:53:07 PM

I recall reading that using two sticks (at least in my DFI board) works at 1T, but if you use 4 sticks, you must run them at 2T. Factoring that into the equation, it might be best for programs that don't need over 1Gig to not add RAM. Battlefield 1942 and BF2 like lots of RAM. I have only 1 Gig and they run fine except it takes a long time to load each time a new battle starts. I've heard that games load much faster with 2 Gig. But I haven't added RAM because I don't want the 2T latency disadvantage in everything else I do. Is this correct?
Personally, I'm happy with the way my system runs for now, though I recently bought a 3800X2 chip as a cheap upgrade. (Haven't installed it yet, and don't do much that benefits from dual core, but that will change.) Probably in early 2008 I'll build all-new, once AMD fires back at Intel with volume production of its new desk top chips and the chip war really heats up. But if I had Madhatter's system, I'd upgrade to C2D today, since he also needs a better video card.
Also, when do you think DDR3 will become our standard system RAM?
a b } Memory
May 1, 2007 11:19:39 PM

Pick through all the great info in these posts but very simply remember these 2 points.
More memory is generally better if you have 1 gig or less. 2 gig is the bomb.
You have to run matched PAIRS of memory sticks to enable dual channel mode on your motherboard. An oddball number of sticks will result in the memory running in single channel mode, could be a noticable difference in performance. Whether more memory VS. dual channel mode is better for you, it depends on what you do. If you game, I would highly recommend staying with matched pairs of memory sticks if you decide to upgrade.
May 2, 2007 12:02:52 AM

Ok I got this piece of shit Corsair ram stick and it wont even lock into my motherboard correctly..... I sat here for like an hour trying to get it to lock into place and right...with no success. Didnt matter what slot I tried to get it into it wouldnt work.... NOW WHAT????
May 2, 2007 1:11:23 AM

Im sending this back to Newegg and ordering a 512meg stick from Kingston
May 2, 2007 4:17:34 AM

Quote:
... I sat here for like an hour trying to get it to lock into place and right...with no success. ...?

Perhaps you mistakenly ordered a DDR2 stick for a DDR MB or vice versa.
May 2, 2007 4:18:35 AM

Quote:
...
You have to run matched PAIRS of memory sticks to enable dual channel mode on your motherboard. An oddball number of sticks will result in the memory running in single channel mode....

While this may be true for AMD MBs, it's not true for most MBs using recent Intel chipsets.
May 2, 2007 4:46:50 AM

Quote:
More ram will help system performance.


Exactly.
May 2, 2007 4:49:12 AM

Quote:
Yeah, not as much as adding another 1gb stick, but it'll still help alot.


That is simply un-informed.

Unless his PC needs more RAM, there is no reason to buy more. So to suggest that his PC needs SO MUCH more RAM over what he already has, that only an extra 1024MB will boost his performance and a 512MB wont as much, is simply ground-less.. not only because its not true, but because u dont even have the slightest idea about his PC.

To answer the question:
If u dont game, then DONT buy more memory.
If u DO game, then consider buying a graphics card instead.. or if u already have a good one, then buy another 1024MB because dual-channel will grant u some performance gain over single-channel and so it wouldnt be worth it to buy another 512MB.


ELSTUPIDO!
May 2, 2007 5:09:21 AM

Quote:
...
You have to run matched PAIRS of memory sticks to enable dual channel mode on your motherboard. An oddball number of sticks will result in the memory running in single channel mode....

While this may be true for AMD MBs, it's not true for most MBs using recent Intel chipsets.
that's not true for my amd system, I have two completly different sticks bought more than a year apart from each other and they run dual channel no problem.
May 2, 2007 9:32:40 AM

Quote:
...
You have to run matched PAIRS of memory sticks to enable dual channel mode on your motherboard. An oddball number of sticks will result in the memory running in single channel mode....

While this may be true for AMD MBs, it's not true for most MBs using recent Intel chipsets.
that's not true for my amd system, I have two completly different sticks bought more than a year apart from each other and they run dual channel no problem.

The OP has given his specs as intel865pe - this is the 3 year old springdale chipset. I have one of these in an asus board - to say that it is picky is an understatement. I have only successfully got it to run dual channel with either a matched pair, or a matched quad with loosened timings. Even the slot within each bank can affect the situation (eg slot 1a-populated, 1b-none, 2a-pop, 2b-none = dual channel; 1a and 2b pop, 1b and 2a none = single channel).

The OP has said that he does a lot of multi-tasking as well as gaming. This will need a good memory bandwidth as well as a significant amount of memory to reduce access to the HDD for VirtualRAM. The more memory he has will increase the percieved speed when changing between applications and the response time of each application will be better when running dual as opposed to single channel mode.

As far as the difference between single and dual channel modeis concerned, dual channel is effectively giving the processor access to a bandwidth that is twice as wide as single channel. I can say from my own experience the the difference is noticable from a qualitative point of view and there have been many THG articles written about it with quantitative testing when the hardware capability first became prevalent.

My recommendation is to ditch the dell memory and invest in a nice matched pair of 1GB DDR Dimms. Yes, it is a more expensive method, but it is the easiest solution and does not require the OP to hunt for memory that is a close match for his current pair nor to start fiddling with timings - which from his posts appears to be something that he has never tried before and may be thoroughly unfamiliar with (but then its never too late to start!).

Unfortunately, as has been pointed out before, different board manufacturers use different conventions for separating the different slots in each channel. Some use one colour for one channel and another colour for the other channel, whereas some manufaturers use a colour for each pair across channels, and some use black for all and differentiate based upon location on the board.

A way to tell if you have the channels populated correctly is that when the machine boots and it goes through the memory test at the beginning of the POST, that chipset will report whether the memory is running in single or dual channel mode (QuickBoot and the Dell Boot logo need to be disabled in BIOS setup). Just keep your eyes open during POST and change as necessary. Remember, the 'pause/break' button on your keyboard is your friend - it will halt the machine during POST until you press another key allowing you to read any info you need.

Q
May 2, 2007 10:50:53 AM

Quote:
... I sat here for like an hour trying to get it to lock into place and right...with no success. ...?

Perhaps you mistakenly ordered a DDR2 stick for a DDR MB or vice versa.

Madhatter said the ram was VS512mb400c3. this is ddr not ddr2

@madhatter4

You will find memory is sometimes hard to get in its slot. Check that the cutout on the edge is lined up correctly with the complementary detent in the slot. I have, on occasion, had memory that is so stiff to get in its slot that I have thought I might bend and break the motherboard. When this happens I usually take a motherboard out and lay it on a static-neutral mat so that the pressure needed to insert the memory does not damage it.

Q
May 2, 2007 6:28:11 PM

^^^Honestly I sat here for like an hour trying everything to get that stick to lock into place!!!!! It just wouldnt go in evenly... Now I have installed sticks of ram before and NEVER have I had this kind of difficulty :x so Im sending it back to Newegg and getting Kingston ram instead ....I should have known not to order Valueselect Corsair Ram :x :x :x
May 2, 2007 7:35:14 PM

Quote:

My recommendation is to ditch the dell memory and invest in a nice matched pair of 1GB DDR Dimms. Yes, it is a more expensive method, but it is the easiest solution and does not require the OP to hunt for memory that is a close match for his current pair nor to start fiddling with timings - which from his posts appears to be something that he has never tried before and may be thoroughly unfamiliar with (but then its never too late to start!).

Q


I dont think he would be able to do anything with ram timmings on a Dell mobo anyway (they lock down BIOS options down to pretty much just the boot order....)

One of my pet peaves about the BIOS's that come with Dell's, Compaq's and HP's.....
May 3, 2007 3:41:21 AM

"My recommendation is to ditch the dell memory and invest in a nice matched pair of 1GB DDR Dimms." Agreed -- this is the best approach for a memory upgrade, but not a cheap solution. However, my suggestion to anyone wanting better game play on an old system with 1 gig of RAM is to upgrade the video card or build a whole new system. I don't think more RAM alone will make him very happy, and buying more DDR that won't work in his next rig seems a waste.
I asked above whether using 4 sticks forces the mobo to run the RAM at 2T. Is this universally true? Or only for AMD boards? Or only certain brands? For applications that don't benefit from the extra RAM, forcing 2T might make system performance worse.
May 3, 2007 11:10:35 PM

OK I got the 512 meg stick of Kingston RAM and it works perfectly!!!! It installed with ease and my PC automatically recognized it on the first boot up. Thanks for all the help guys 8)
May 4, 2007 2:22:32 AM

You have a DFI board, like me. At DYI-street's DFI section http://www.diy-street.com/forum/showthread.php?t=76212&highlight=sticks, I found the answer to my question about 4 sticks of RAM requiring the slower 2T memory timing:

Quote:
Running 4 modules of even matched sets can be very difficult. ... If you are persistent you will need to disable CPC in BIOS to run four memory modules at 2T. Genie BIOS settings -- Command Per Clock – Enable Then loosen the memory timings.
Do your self a favor sell those 512MB RAM kits and get a good new or used 2x1GB. Then you can run CPC 1T. The memory was tuned and optimized for the orange slots.
If you run two sticks 1T(CPC Auto or forced to Enabled) is better performance. If you run 4 sticks 2T(CPC Auto or Disabled) is required due to limitations. The diff's between 1T and 2T vary widely from a reported 2-15% performance hit.
a b } Memory
May 4, 2007 2:52:30 AM

Hey, thanks. I have 2 -512 meg sticks of Corsair XMs laying around. Thought I would stick them in with my 2 -1 gig Patriot sticks and no-go.
That gives me some ideas to try.
!