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Help with RAM decision

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Last response: in Memory
January 31, 2010 4:09:27 PM

Hello All,

I need help deciding what to do with my older desktops as far as ram. I was running two, one in my office and one in the family room but i recently got a new laptop so I'm giving one to my parents as theirs died recently. Here's what I have:

#1, the one i'm keeping is an Athlon 64 3500+ with an MSI MS-7093 (Albacore) mobo currently running 2x512mb DDR400 ram in dual channel mode.

#2, the one i'm giving to my parents and the one from my office is an Intel P4 3.0 GHz HT with a Asus P4C800 mobo currently running 2.5GB ram with a 1GB stick in slot 1 and 3x512 MB sticks in the rest of the slots, all are PC2700 with the exception of one of the 512 sticks which is PC3200, cpu-z states that the ram is only working in single channel mode but that may be because i recently formatted and haven't got all the drivers for the mobo loaded and may need to do a BIOS update as well

So here's my question. My parents do no real demanding computing just light internet and office use and some basic card games so I'm thinking this 2.5 GB ram is wasted on them. Now compatibility issues aside (as i know there may be some) I want to know what the best configuration is for both systems. Would I see a benefit in my desktop by removing two of the pc2700 sticks and putting them in my desktop making it either 2GB or 2.5GB. I know 4 sticks often causes the ram to run at 333MHz anyway even if they are all ddr400 on some older systems depending on the mobo. So would 2gb at 333 still be better than 1gb at 400? This is only a temporary thing as i plan on buying to 1gb sticks of pc3200 later and selling the old ram if i can but just wondering if this would work for now.

And what then should I leave in the other desktop? Here are my choices as I see them: leave the 1gb stick and the other 512 mb stick but would this then run in dual channel? or just leave the 2x512 in this desktop and remove the 1gb and the other 512 and either put them in the desktop i'm keeping or just selling them off. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

More about : ram decision

January 31, 2010 5:04:16 PM

also any thoughts on how to find out if my mobo can run 4 sticks of pc3200 at 400mhz or would this limit them to 333mhz? i have heard some talk of this on other forums but not sure if it applies to my comp or not...
January 31, 2010 6:10:29 PM

I guess my question can be summed up by the following: Which of the following three scenarios are the best for my AMD? I use it mainly for internet, watching videos and some light gaming.

1. More RAM at a lower clock speed (2gb dual channel but 333mhz instead of 400mhz)
2. Less RAM but higher clock speed (1.5gb all at 400mhz)
3. Even more RAM but unmatched sticks so only single channel and lower clock speed (2.5gb but single channel at 333mhz)

...wish i had just phrased it this way to begin with....
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February 1, 2010 2:35:06 AM

I would just take two of the 512MB sticks out of the Intel machine and add those to your AMD system. That should leave you with 2GB dual channel in that machine and your parents machine would still be able to function decently with 1.5GB single channel.

I'm not an expert on the way RAM works and I don't know exactly how you plan to use your machine... but with the minimal difference in speed (333 vs 400), I would think the dual channel would benefit more than the 67 MHz.

I suppose you could go with the 2.5GB in your AMD, but then your back to single channel and your parents are down to (what I think is) the bare minimum at 1GB.

But that's just my opinion.
February 1, 2010 5:04:03 AM

thanks i'm definitely leaning towards the 2gb dual channel in my system as the 2 512 sticks are a matched pair and take the hit in speed, either that or just sticking with 1.5gb using the three pc3200 and using the matched pair in the other computer as i doubt it will need more than 1gb, thanks for your thoughts
a b } Memory
February 1, 2010 12:38:32 PM

Okay, you have to have 2 exactly matched sticks in each in bank to run dual channel mode. 1-1gig stick and 3 512meg sticks will not run in dual channel mode. Put 4 512's in your computer, leave a 1gig and a 512 in your parents. For what they are doing, and for what you are doing, this would be the best for both computers. Yours will be running in dual channel that way, and even if it does run at 333, you won't notice any performance difference. You can always bump it back up to 400 manually, usually this just requires only a slight bump in memory voltage to get it all working stable at 400.
For what your parents do, a gig and a half will be more beneficial than worrying about dual channel mode or speed.