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2 or 4 gb on 32bit OS

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April 3, 2008 9:23:15 PM

Im sure this question has been asked a million times, but Im building a new pc from the ground up and Im choosing the memory moduals for the MoBo that I have chosen. The GA-M57SLI-S4 MoBo runs ddr2 800, dual channel, upto 16gb with 64 bit OS, at 1.8v. I understand that 32bit OS's only can utilize ~3gs of memory, that the GPU's memory contributs to the total system memory, and that if i do purchase 2 2x2gb sticks I will loose ~1gb from the pair. Sence DDR2 800 memory is so cheep would it behoove of me to just purchase the 2x2? Will it give me a performance gain over the purchase of 2x1gb sticks? I play MMO's and other memory intensive apps which is why I'm looking for the most bang for my buck. ~$44 for 2x1gb sticks and ~$70 for 2x2gb sticks from newegg.com
Thank you for your help every one.

More about : 32bit

April 3, 2008 9:39:14 PM

Get at least 3GB.
It's so cheap there is not a reason not to do so.

April 3, 2008 9:59:20 PM

^ agreed, if you get 2x2gb sticks you will also be able to upgrade to more if needed on a 64bit OS
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April 4, 2008 1:03:43 AM

Get the 4 GB, it's so damn cheap now. Vista 32-bit sees 3.3 GB of my 4 GB.

Then you'll already have 4 GB if you decide to go 64-bit.
April 4, 2008 1:22:39 AM

Why not just go 64-bit to begin with? make a dual boot with XP if you really need backward compatibility with something. What a waste otherwise.
April 4, 2008 1:43:16 AM

Go with 4gb... it's cheap enough why not?
April 4, 2008 2:35:48 AM

bdaley said:
Get the 4 GB, it's so damn cheap now. Vista 32-bit sees 3.3 GB of my 4 GB.

Then you'll already have 4 GB if you decide to go 64-bit.


Agreed plus the support for Vista 64 is going nowhere but up, get 4GB either way with the price of DDR2 these days its worth while.

"GPU's memory contributs to the total system memory"

- huh? GPU memory is dedicated for fast access by the GPU, data will be transferred through the bus to RAM and back and forth.
April 4, 2008 2:57:17 AM

If your gonna get 4gb make sure you get 2 x 2gb or otherwise you will be setting your ram to 667 instead of 800. You will register 3.25gb's with that board in a 32bit O/S. Also, if you get 4 x 1gb you might just wanna leave it at 5,5,5,18 and not 4,4,4,12. Why, hmmm... because EPP will not work as good as JEDEC. Trust me... I had less in 3dmark06 running 4gbs @ 667 then 2gbs @ 800. look it up though, gigabyte memory controller will go to s*** if you leave it @ the wrong settings when using 4 x 1gb
April 4, 2008 3:07:18 AM

acidpython said:
huh? GPU memory is dedicated for fast access by the GPU, data will be transferred through the bus to RAM and back and forth.


He means that the video memory contributes to the max. amount of memory a 32x os can handle.
For example, If someone has a 2x2gb kit and a 8600gt 256mb, windows will recongins ~3.6gbs of system memory, whereas if the comoputer had a 8800gtx, windows would only recongnize ~3.4 gb of memory.
April 4, 2008 6:49:17 AM

zloginet said:
If your gonna get 4gb make sure you get 2 x 2gb or otherwise you will be setting your ram to 667 instead of 800. You will register 3.25gb's with that board in a 32bit O/S. Also, if you get 4 x 1gb you might just wanna leave it at 5,5,5,18 and not 4,4,4,12. Why, hmmm... because EPP will not work as good as JEDEC. Trust me... I had less in 3dmark06 running 4gbs @ 667 then 2gbs @ 800. look it up though, gigabyte memory controller will go to s*** if you leave it @ the wrong settings when using 4 x 1gb


Not to be rude... but what are you talking about? You wont have to leave it at 667... I've seen many a person with 4x1 DDR2 sticks set to 1000mhz and above... especially 800mhz.... and the timings... I've seen people with 4-3-4-3-8 with 4x1 DDR2 once again set above 800mhz. It's all about what memory you purchase and how well those sticks overclock.

3Dmark06 score was lower because you were running @ 667mhz... Plus it uses very little memory to begin with.
a b } Memory
April 4, 2008 2:05:41 PM

(1) 4GB, for sure
(2) 2x2 is preferred for future upgrades and ease of operation
(3) 4x1 can be made to work - sometimes with no effort. Sometimes with a little tweaking.
(4) 4 DIMMS of high performance RAM *might* be a lot to ask your mobo to drive.
April 4, 2008 2:40:18 PM

Scotteq said:
(1) 4GB, for sure
(2) 2x2 is preferred for future upgrades and ease of operation
(3) 4x1 can be made to work - sometimes with no effort. Sometimes with a little tweaking.
(4) 4 DIMMS of high performance RAM *might* be a lot to ask your mobo to drive.


Scotteq, would you mind explaining the last 2 points?

I had always been told to leave well enough alone, with 2 GB for a XP 32 system--ie., that 2 GB is enough for today's games, etc. But I have never been good at leaving well enough alone, and now that my OCZ RAM is $29 after rebate, I am tempted to round out my 2 x 1 GB to 4 x 1 GB.

What will need the tweaking that you refer to? Timings? Voltage? What specifically will suffer?
What are the symptoms that will come up?
Is it my MSI P35 Mobo that will have the trouble driving 4 sticks, or is it my power supply, or a function of both?
How much more difficult will 4 x 1 be, compared to 2 x 2?
Does the voltage make a difference? I.e., mine is running at 2.1 volts, so will it be difficult to add 2 more sticks at 2.1 volts?
Am I better off adding 2 more 512 mb sticks for a total of 3 GB? (ie., is that easier to drive/more likely to require less tweaking)
If 4 GB is so much better, yet 4 x 1 is so much trouble, am I better off selling my current 2 x 1, and buying 2 x 2?
Should I care about future upgradability? (I hear 4 GB is worthless for Vista 64--really need to go 6 or 8 GB, which means I need 2 GB sticks and my current 1 GB sticks will be worthless)
Should I be migrating to 1066 or 1333 or stay with 800 since DDR3 will make all of those obsolete?
April 4, 2008 3:07:54 PM

I've got some of the same questions as the last guy. I have an Asus P5K-e WIFI, currently with 2GB Corsair XMS CAS 5 memory, but am on a 32-bit version of Vista. I'd like to go to 4 GB (4x1), as it's so cheap right now. My PS should be fine, the Mobo is great quality, but will I really notice much of an improvement in either everyday computing, or in gaming? Will ~3.2 GB allow me to greatly reduce / eliminate my need for the swap file?

As long as I'm buying more RAM, should I just get 4x1 of CAS 4? (I'd give the other 2 GB to mom for her computer I just built for her). Is there much of an improvement in going from 5 to 4 in normal, everyday stuff, or in gaming?
a b } Memory
April 4, 2008 3:38:10 PM

I would recommend the 2 by 2, if buying new as this will alow for upgrade to 8 if switching form 32 bit to 64 bit.

in refernce to adding 2 x 1 to a system with 2 x 1's. That is what I am currently running.

1. Always run memory test off of boot disk prior to loading operating system when (a) adding memory (b) changing out memory, or (c) changing timings and/or voltages

2. Recommend (Not required) use same memory - brand, speed and CL rating. Reduces posible timing differences.

3. CL 4 is faster than CL 5. How much preformace gain, probably not a lot but gives more headroom and there is a performace gain probably 10 to 15% for CPU task ( in gaming overall system performace in games 3 to 5 % - QUESS.

4. Reference to " may need other changes when adding two more stickes. I had to bump up FSB voltage +0.1 volt. By adding 2 more memory modules the bus clock load increases and this MAY decrease signal amplitude a small amount.
a b } Memory
April 4, 2008 5:23:53 PM

husky mctarflash said:
Scotteq, would you mind explaining the last 2 points?

I had always been told to leave well enough alone, with 2 GB for a XP 32 system--ie., that 2 GB is enough for today's games, etc. But I have never been good at leaving well enough alone, and now that my OCZ RAM is $29 after rebate, I am tempted to round out my 2 x 1 GB to 4 x 1 GB.



I'm a "Because I Can" kind of guy, myself... ;)  Currently running 4 x 2GB for that very reason. Hobbyist here, so I'm sure an engineer will be happy to step in and educate me/us should I miss~state something... I will give my general understanding, and will keep my notebook on my desk and ready.

For very specific information, I direct you to the support forums at your favorite maker - I have used Corsair's and OCZ's with very good results. Other companies I haven't bothered with because between C and O, I've always gotten what I needed. And you are correct if you use this to make presumptions on what lives inside my case. The best place for information is always the source.



Electrically, 4 'objects' are different/harder to drive than two - This is common sense, and you can look up "Ohm's Law" if you need the math behind it. Even if you have a nice beefy PSU (which certainly helps lots!), your motherboard still has to drive everything you have installed - including the DIMMS in this case. One of the lesser advertised reasons people pay a premium for boards aimed at overclockers/enthusiasts is the quality/design of the boards power management and distribution. There's not usually much information on this, unfortunately.


Now - Historically, most everyone only used 2 slots. So many makers test and certify their boards with that in mind. The same goes for many of the memory makers - The timings and voltages programmed into the SPD chip are designed and tested with 2 DIMMS in mind. Basically in the last year after the release of DDR3, and the (thank you!) fall of DDR2 prices, we're seeing more and more enthusiasts and casual users filling all 4. In the cases where a given mobo may not have been designed with driving that much, the standard settings might be insufficient when you're playing with a full rack.


Things that may need changed from standard. And please keep in mind these are generalities.

(1) Due to the extra voltage drop from running twice the components, you may need to raise the vDIMM higher than you otherwise would in order to compensate.

(2) Some motherboards/Bios' have a setting for 'vdroop' or 'vdrop' which is for this purpose. In that case, the standard approach is to use the appropriate settings: Set your vDIMM to the recommended and compensate with the vDroop setting.

(3) Performance RAM is obviously more stressful on your system than modules designed to run at standard speeds. So if your motherboard does not like running 4 x 1066, you may need to downclock to get them stable. In my case, my motherboard (rated for DDR2 800), does not like driving four dimms to 1066. If I pushed, it'd run stably at 1000. But going farther than that with 4 chips required pushing stupidly hard. But it will (and does) drive to 800 on standard voltages and settings. In the end, this is what I did.

(4) You might need to loosen timings - But read the forums at the OCZ site. There's some sticky's there that give much much better guidance than I could on this. Keep in mind that if you reference the OCZ site, but are using another brand, the support team at your maker are likely to politely refuse to help you. And then they will ridicule you in cruel and unusual ways once you are off the phone. Some locations are rumored to have cases of voodoo dolls on hand for just this occasion. So if you feel a sharp pain in your side after getting off the phone, you'll need a knife, a live chicken, a bottle of rum, and..... :lol: 

(5) You might need to bump the voltage to your Front Side Buss a hair as well. Not much - Just one or two notches. In my limited experience, this was more effective than changing timings.


What are the symptoms that will come up?

Simply won't be stable - Freezing, Random crashes, Blue Screens of Gates... All that peace, happiness, love, and joy you get from angry DIMMS.


Is it my MSI P35 Mobo that will have the trouble driving 4 sticks, or is it my power supply, or a function of both?

I cannot answer this question directly, as I have no experience with your motherboard. Check your respective maker's forums. As a general rule - I overbuild with a better motherboard, and MUCH better PSU than I "need". Especially the PSU, since you can continue to use those for build after build.


How much more difficult will 4 x 1 be, compared to 2 x 2?

On a good quality board - a 10th or 100th of a volt here or there. Plus a little patience. On a hunk?? You'd be better off not bothering with 4 DIMMS. Of course, YMMV.


Does the voltage make a difference? I.e., mine is running at 2.1 volts, so will it be difficult to add 2 more sticks at 2.1 volts?

As stated above.



Am I better off adding 2 more 512 mb sticks for a total of 3 GB? (ie., is that easier to drive/more likely to require less tweaking)

I wouldn't necessarily say "better". I dont' see how it could hurt. I'd just make sure to match timings and voltages.


If 4 GB is so much better, yet 4 x 1 is so much trouble, am I better off selling my current 2 x 1, and buying 2 x 2?

In my experience, it's been a matter of a few 10ths/100ths, and a little patience. But I also make it a point to buy superior componentry, too.


Should I care about future upgradability?

"Future~Proofing" a PC pretty much is, and has been, an oxymoron.

(I hear 4 GB is worthless for Vista 64--really need to go 6 or 8 GB, which means I need 2 GB sticks and my current 1 GB sticks will be worthless)

From personal experience - Vista 64 runs perfectly well on 2GB. It likes 4 and was (just) noticably snappier when I went from 2 to 4. Going from 4GB to 8, I haven't noticed any difference. Gaming frame rates are the same, but once you have "enough" RAM, that's more or less a graphics issue anyhow.


Should I be migrating to 1066 or 1333 or stay with 800 since DDR3 will make all of those obsolete?

IMHO, DDR3 is for "The Next Build", and not something a gamer/enthusiast building a computer today should seriously consider. The advantage is still slim and only at the highest clock speeds. Factor in the cost, and it's pretty self explanatory. Some will simply have to have the latest and greatest. And as always, benchmarkers will absolutely demand the best of the best of the best and are willing to pay the big bucks it takes to see how far they can push the envelope before the thing blows up.
April 4, 2008 6:05:26 PM

Wow Scotteq! That's probably the most thoughtful and comprehensive reply I have seen--thank you for your time and effort!

The $64k most obvious question that I forgot to ask... For gamers, is there really a tangible, real-world benefit to 4GB vs. 2? Will I even notice a difference? Framerates? Smoothness?

I guess the net net is that I will spend the $29 (after rebate) and buy 2 more identical model 1 GB OCZs (for a total of 4 x 1) and give it a go. I can't think of any other ~$30 improvement I can make to my machine, and there is no REAL downside.

Thanks again!!!
a b } Memory
April 4, 2008 6:23:10 PM

husky mctarflash said:
Wow Scotteq! That's probably the most thoughtful and comprehensive reply I have seen--thank you for your time and effort!

The $64k most obvious question that I forgot to ask... For gamers, is there really a tangible, real-world benefit to 4GB vs. 2? Will I even notice a difference? Framerates? Smoothness?

I guess the net net is that I will spend the $29 (after rebate) and buy 2 more identical model 1 GB OCZs (for a total of 4 x 1) and give it a go. I can't think of any other ~$30 improvement I can make to my machine, and there is no REAL downside.

Thanks again!!!



Depends on the game - Crysis will obviously use whatever resource you can throw at it. And the newer RTS games definitely seem to benefit nicely from having more RAM - Large areas, lots of objects in the game performing different tasks under varying bits of logic... One of the nier things I noticed about having lots of memory is not so much that it's faster when I first visit an area, but when I return from somewhere else to a place I was it loads *SO* much faster.

Oh - You didn't ask, but by way of opinion: I don't necessarily believe in eliminating the Page File, as seems to be fashionable. Some programs look for it and get pissy if they dont' find it, plus a little safety net never hurt. Feel free to turn it down, though - I have mine manually set to 512 MB.
April 4, 2008 6:52:37 PM

Vista 32bit with SP1 sees 4gb memory. If it actually uses all of it or just sees it is another question.
April 4, 2008 6:57:13 PM

agree with scotty, its not necessarily faster in loading times and such, but it does help with multitasking, for instance, when i would play a game, and then alt+tab out it would take it up to 10 seconds to actually get my desktop displaying again, now with the other 2 gigs back from rma, its only takes a second, and i can have multiple things going on and still cruise the web with not problem, such as downloading a patch, having a game running in the background, and then my firewall decides its time to scan my computer, i dont feel any hesistation with the responsiveness of my computer. Is it going to help you get a better benchmark or load games faster? no, but it will keep you from those moments where your reminded of dial up connection speeds cuz your computer is struggling to perfrom multiple tasks.
a b } Memory
April 4, 2008 7:46:27 PM

bdaley said:
Get the 4 GB, it's so damn cheap now. Vista 32-bit sees 3.3 GB of my 4 GB.

Then you'll already have 4 GB if you decide to go 64-bit.

+1
April 4, 2008 7:48:58 PM

Good post Scotteq!

I remember using 1GB to play BF2... Not only did the maps load slow due to hard drive but once I got into a map it was choppy for awhile until the map completely loaded... this was a page file thing.

Now I have 4GB on 64bit 2x2gb set. However I don't think that it performs that much better than 2gb on 32bit OS. THG wrote a great article about memory and vista.

http://www.tomshardware.com/2008/02/15/vista_workshop/

I recommend you all read it haven't already done so.
April 4, 2008 7:57:39 PM

hughyhunter said:
Good post Scotteq!

I remember using 1GB to play BF2... Not only did the maps load slow due to hard drive but once I got into a map it was choppy for awhile until the map completely loaded... this was a page file thing.

Now I have 4GB on 64bit 2x2gb set. However I don't think that it performs that much better than 2gb on 32bit OS. THG wrote a great article about memory and vista.

http://www.tomshardware.com/2008/02/15/vista_workshop/

I recommend you all read it haven't already done so.


Interesting you would mention BF2 hughy--thats my priority game, along with 2142. Anything I can do to speed up loading/improve performance is welcomed (will be Raid 0'ing shortly to improve load time, but that is another topic for another thread). Other than slow load time, one of my other gripes is that if I ESC out of the game to pull up another window, I often cannot go back into BF2 (I get sound, but the window remains blacked out). I always suspected it was a RAM thing.

Crysis improvements are also welcomed for the 5 minutes a month I play the game.

Scotteq already has me convinced, but if BF2 is improved...well...you had me at "BF2".

Once again, good work Scotteq!
April 5, 2008 4:17:07 AM

Oh man... I only play BF2 and once a month I play Crysis for a couple of hours for the visual appeal. There is no game like BF2 or 2142 IMO.

I started out with an AMD 3500+, 6600GT and 2x512 DDR400 memory, plus a 160gig 2mb cache 7200rpm hard drive. Load times were on average 5-10 minutes. I could walk away grab a beer, eat dinner, check messages, take a crap and still loading. Then I moved up to 4600+ x2, 4x512 DDR400 and single 8800GT with same drive. Load times were still slow (this was due to hard drive only) and I had a hard time alt/tab out of game to check other stuff (this was all on xp 32 bit). But once I got into a map there was no choppiness due to swap file or buffer... whatever it is when memory dumps to hard drive. Now I'm running E8400 o'c, 2 8800GT's, 2x2GB ddr2 800 4-4-4-15-2T with a raptor 150gb. And man... Load times are on the average 10-20 seconds, Once I'm in a map I can alt/tab to desktop and back no problem (this is 64bit vista mind you) and it's super smooth.

So all in all... I think that games dont need 4gb of memory but I do think that there is a performance increase as far as being able to do things while the game is in progress. Like alt/tabbing.
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