So this is my first build and so far everything has been going good as far as choosing parts but when it comes to RAM I am lost. Just to give you an idea of where I am at here are the components I've decided on so far:
Mobo: MSI 790FX-GD70
CPU: AMD Athlon II x4 620
GPU: Sapphire HD 4850 (512)
HSF: Xigmatek Dark Knight
Now I get to the RAM and I have no idea how much I need, how it should be broken up (how many cards), how OCing my CPU will effect it, and am completely clueless about OCing RAM and it's pros/cons. I'm guessing I'm going to need at bare minimum 4G of DDR3 RAM at at least 1333Mhz.
Also you should know that this computer is being built primarily for lots of multi-tasking rather than gaming. I also will be OCing the CPU.
As far as your setup and the purpose of your machine goes, your mobo takes ddr3, then get the max speed memory possible that you can or go for the standard speed it takes, if your not gaming, your not going to see a huge diffrence in speeds, but it is always recomneded tog e the highest speed memroy for your computer. plus if your goign to OC your computer, why bother thats going to more then enough just by itself to do what u need it to do
(at bare minimum 4G of DDR3 RAM at at least 1333Mhz) that's a pretty high minimum
but it is not a bad selection at all.
1333 is that fastest that board can go without overclocking.
IMHO overclocking and/or performance memory are rarely worth either the expense or hassle
2x2gig sticks is easier on the mem controller, provides for easier overclocking, and allows future upgrades (unlike 4x1gig sticks)
if you have a 32 bit os then that is the max ram you can install regardless (without throwing money down the drain), for those without the need (if you had the need you would know all this) I recommend a 32 bit os and 4 gig as a cap
Yeah, I know my mobo is overkill for what I'm doing but I want the option to upgrade to just about anything in the future. That and the gd70 is just a bad ass looking board. I hate to admit it but I have chosen some components (my tv tuner) almost simply based on the fact that I'm going with an all black/blue setup (in my defense the Asus tuner is one of the best out there besides having black silicon).
I will be running a 32 bit setup, primarily for the fact that I don't want to have to deal with any of the compatibility issues that come with a 64. For now I will be running XP Pro and in the next year will probably upgrade to W7 assuming all goes well with the OS as it progresses.
So anything over 4G would be a waste then? How about speeds? I know 1333 would probably be an optimal balance between cost and performance with my CPU but if I'm OCing the CPU I don't want the ram to lag, granted I will probably rarely OC my CPU since I don't run very many demanding programs, just a lot of small ones at the same time. On the other hand I've read (at least in some articles) that a large amount of RAM is what I'll need to do some major multi-tasking.
Negreac - Your motherboard supports Dual-Channel memory. This means you add memory in pairs - two modules of the exact same type at a time. The choices then are 4:
2GBs: 2 - 1Gb modules (not enough RAM to give computer breathing space for current OSs and up-to-date versions of some software. Also more expensive per GB than below)
4GBs: 2 - 2GB modules (best options as it gives you lots of RAM for normal tasks, all you'll need for years if you don't get into 3-D graphic design or heavy gaming)
8GBs: 4 - 2GB modules (more RAM than you need at this time. You can always add two more modules later of similar type but don't have to match exactly like pairs do)
8GBs: 2 - 4GB modules (too much RAM, too high a price per GB)
So, I think everyone here recommended 4GBs for you. 1333 is the best speed in terms of price and performance. What you want in addition to 1333MHz speed is RAM with low voltage and low latency. Low voltage because it is newer and better designed RAM and it gives you a lower starting point if you do decide to OC it a bit - the starting point for DDR3 voltage is 1.5V. Low latency because this is the key difference between RAM at a given speed. For 1333 RAM, the best latency (which is the delay time inserted in RAM operations) is CL=7. You see these numbers listed as things like 7-7-7-25 or 9-9-9-32 in RAM specs. A 9-9-9-32 modules can be referred to having a CL=9
So, I'd recommend a pair of good quality 1333 2GB modules with low voltage and low latency. You can look up some based upon this at any sales site. Always double check the mfg site before buying to make sure the sales place has the right specs.