New RAM -> power?

Hi all, my first post on this site and wanna say it's awesome to see this kind of community going! Seeking some advice:

I've got 4 DIMM slots in my 5-year old Dell. In them are 4 x 512MB DDR2 533 sticks for a total of 2GB RAM. I'd like to take two paired banks and replace the sticks with 2 x 1GB (of the same speed) for a total of 3GB. Using Win XP so I understand it's no use going to 4GB. On the face of it, a cheap and easy upgrade to do. Some questions though (and I've put a system summary below to put the questions in context):

- Would there be an appreciable increase in performance? Normally I use the machine for fairly low demand activities like email, spreadsheets, word processing, web browsing (although I'd love to see them launch a bit faster)! However, I also play WoW with the graphics way up and a number of addons active. The RAM is meant to be a first step in maximising smoothness of play.

- Is the MHz on the RAM appropriate for the processor?

- Would I be better off pairing 2 x 2GB and leaving the other DIMM slots empty? I heard someplace that it's better to just work with two DIMM slots.

- Would there be any significant increase on power draw? Would the existing PSU be fine or should I upgrade the PSU? I've seen a PSU fail on one of my machines before and, well, it was a sad day.

- If it's needed, is installing a new PSU fairly straightforward?

Dell Dimension 8400
P4 3Ghz chip
Intel Alderwood i925X chipset. June 2004 Pentium 4, Celeron for Socket 775. Support for ECC Memory and exclusive use of DDR2. Dual Channel DDR2-533 Memory, PCI Express x16, flexible SATA RAID
HD 2600Pro IceQT PCIe 500 graphics card.512MB, 128 bit processing, 2 x DVI out.
2x 80G HDD
Phoenix BIOS type
runs Windows XP Home Edition SP2
* found no info on the PSU - admittedly have not opened it up


4 answers Last reply
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  1. Your PSU shouldn't be an issue
    RAM doesn't really suck up that much power, and the amount of energy it needs is usually the same regardless of capacity
    As for the amount of RAM, combining the 2 gig sticks w/ the existing 512 MB sticks shouldn't pose a problem,
    although you could test this out and see if you notice any difference
  2. it shouldn't be a problem as long as you get RAM with same hz, timings, and volatage. though what you will want to do is set the 2 1GB sticks in the first 2 slots (closest to CPU).
  3. It's not a great idea to combine different RAM kits. That doesn't mean they won't work together. You just increase the chances of incompatibility. RAM is so cheap now days, that you'd be better off, buying a 2 x 2Gb kit to get your 4Gb total. It would cost ~$5 - $10 more.

    The RAM is negligible in the power consumption. The video card is what sucks down the power.

    You will notice some difference. However, in windows xp, you can only realize 3.25Gb total.

    That board supports dual channel RAM, so you should place the RAM in slots 1 and 2.
  4. You will not pull more than 6 amps from the 3.3 volt output for 4 GB of RAM.
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