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Adding a single 512MB ram to a system with DUAL-Channel?

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January 5, 2009 3:32:01 AM

I've got a 3.0GHz P4 w/ P4C800-E Deluxe Motherboard currently loaded w/ 2x 512megs of OCZ PC3200 (DDR400 2.5-3-3-7) RAM (1gig in Dual-channel).
I was looking to add some RAM and had a spare 512meg DDR PC3200 (DDR400) RAM from an old DELL PC (not the same manufacturer, not OCZ)

So, the question is, what is best? Add the extra 512megs of RAM or not?

Do I loose performance by adding a single stick of RAM to a system currenly running dual-channel?
Is the performance drop (if there is one) to such an extend that it would be be st to remain with my 1gig DUAL-CHANNEL instead of 1.5gigs?

What about the difference in speed & quality, the 512megs is something I pulled off an old used DELL PC whereas the OCZ is something I bought a while back, would it be best to NOT include the RAM and stay with my dual-channel?

Any advice would be much appreciated.
Thanks,
a b } Memory
January 5, 2009 3:52:14 AM

What does your memory usage look like? If you normally run over a GB, running 1.5GB will help. Single channel ram is still faster then swap file, so as long as you need it, use it. If however you normally don't use the 1GB you have, it will slow you down. Its been a long time, but last I saw on the matter is a 5-10% drop in performance for most programs.

Seeing as you already have it, why not add it in? Take some benchmarks with 1GB, then add the stick. Take new benchmarks. Is it faster? Faster for some and slower for others? Make sure you test with real programs. Test with winzip, video games, DVD Shrink, etc. SiSoft Sandra and other programs will only test the ram, and it will come back slower with 1.5GB single channel. Synthetic programs won't paint the whole picture.
January 5, 2009 4:20:49 AM

Thanks for the adivce - never really did any benchmarking (using - I assume something like Benchmark 2008 for example) - I just moved from XP to VISTA and with XP 1gig was just enough, so I assumed I could go wrong adding another 512megs with Vista. But then when I opened the box I realized I was adding non-Dual channel ram.

So, just so that I am sure, by adding the single-channel 512megs do I somehow "kill" the dual-channel of my 2x512 OCZ? How does this affect what I had previously? Do they now act as 3 single-channels ram sticks?

Thanks,
a b } Memory
January 5, 2009 9:23:44 AM

Thats exactly what happens. If you are using your harddrives swap file however, you will still see speed increases. Dual channel is great, but only if you stay below 1GB. As soon as you go above that amount however, the extra ram will make it faster. As I said in my first post, it depends. (benchmark 2008 sounds like a synthetic app, I wouldn't use it to test.)
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