Old Dimension 8400 Needs Some Help

Ok... So I am a college student on a very tight budget. I have had this desktop for 4-5 years now and it needs some loving and sprucing up. The original hard drive just went out so I had to break apart my roommates old computer and take out his 4 GB (yes 4 GB) hdd. I was planning on upgrading this thing but now that the hdd has died I need to start being even more frugal.

Current Ram--> 1 GB (512x2) ddr2 pc-3200. I want to know if I should even bother with upgrading this ram a ton because of the bottlenecking from the P4 processor. Also what would happen if I put (1GBx2) ddr2 pc-3200 on top of the old (512x2) ddr2 pc-3200, would this give me exactly 3 GB memory? Would 2 GB of ddr2 pc-6400 be faster then 3 gb pc-3200? My P4 is a 32 bit processor but manual says it can handle 4 GB? Xp or Win 7 32 bit OS and 32 bit processors can handle 4 GB? I have xp now and windows 7 on laptop with a copy made for when I put the new hdd in the desktop. What memory should I put in this machine that will give me the most bang for my buck? Am I just wasting money? It has an X300 graphics card and I just found out it can support two monitors. So old computer used for school, two monitors on old card, 4 gb ram, 500-1 TB hdd.... Any of this worth it, trying to patch things til I graduate and build me a nice machine.

Thank you for your time,

The specs of the machine from Everest are:

Front Side Bus Properties
Bus Type Intel NetBurst
Bus Width 64-bit
Real Clock 200 MHz (QDR)
Effective Clock 800 MHz
Bandwidth 6400 MB/s

Memory Bus Properties
Bus Type Dual DDR2 SDRAM
Bus Width 128-bit
Real Clock 200 MHz (DDR)
Effective Clock 400 MHz
Bandwidth 6400 MB/s.
Field Value

CPU Properties
CPU Type Intel Pentium 4 530, 3000 MHz (15 x 200)
CPU Alias Prescott
CPU Stepping D0
Instruction Set x86, MMX, SSE, SSE2, SSE3
Original Clock 3000 MHz
Min / Max CPU Multiplier 14x / 15x
Engineering Sample No
L1 Trace Cache 12K Instructions
L1 Data Cache 16 KB
L2 Cache 1 MB (On-Die, ECC, ATC, Full-Speed)

CPU Physical Info
Package Type 775 Contact LGA
Package Size 3.75 cm x 3.75 cm
Transistors 125 million
Process Technology 7M, 90 nm, CMOS, Cu, Low-K Inter-Layer, High-K Gate, Strained Si
Die Size 112 mm2
Core Voltage 1.425 V
I/O Voltage 1.425 V
Typical Power 84 - 115 W (depending on clock speed)
Maximum Power 101 - 151 W (depending on clock speed)

Field Value
Memory Module Properties
Module Name Samsung M3 78T6553BG0-CCC
Serial Number 45020AEEh
Manufacture Date Week 50 / 2004
Module Size 512 MB (1 rank, 4 banks)
Module Type Unbuffered
Memory Type DDR2 SDRAM
Memory Speed DDR2-400 (200 MHz)
Module Width 64 bit
Module Voltage SSTL 1.8
Error Detection Method None
Refresh Rate Reduced (7.8 us)

Memory Timings
@ 200 MHz 5.0-3-3-8 (CL-RCD-RP-RAS)
@ 200 MHz 4.0-3-3-8 (CL-RCD-RP-RAS)
@ 200 MHz 3.0-3-3-8 (CL-RCD-RP-RAS)
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More about dimension 8400 help
  1. You'll just have to try it for the memory. Mixing brands and different capacity ram is hit or miss. I always use pairs of the same brand, size, etc when adding ram. I would also check craigslist for deals on used systems. I've found combos with board, cpu/heatsink and ddr for as low as $30, if you can change out a motherboard.
  2. Thank you for your response. Building a new computer for real cheap isnt that hard, but cheap is a relative term, I dont have 300-400 bucks to be wasted on this ( I'm poor as hell right now :( ). Cant and wont use this computer for gaming (other then starcraft),

    Does the amount of ram or the exact matching and pairing matter more in this situation?

    I just want a boost for when im coding or browsing and listening and playing with media at the same time. Can I just order 2x1 gb sticks and put them in the slots they are suppose to go in, and I will try to match the speeds but the old ram is 400 mHz and that ram is old and slow right? So even if I do order the 2 x 1 gb at a higher speed then what performance will be stolen with 3 gb ram --> 2 gb new and faster speed, 1 gb old and slow speed, both ddr2? What performance will be added.... Should I just find 2 x 512 same speed sticks so then I will have 2 gb of slow ram but they are matched and paired correctly?
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