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RAM speed matter for gaming?

Last response: in Memory
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April 2, 2010 3:45:31 PM

so games aren't really running as good as I feel they should with my setup, and I think it is my ram that is slowing me down...my current ram setup is 1gb stick of ddr2 533 and 1gb stick of ddr2 800. My motherboard supports dual channel, but that doesnt work with two different speeds of ram. CPU-Z says my dram frequency is 333.3. So my question is, how much of an increase in performance would I see if i bought another identical stick of ddr2 800 to replace the 533 so it would be faster and they would both be the same and be able to run in dual channel?
a b } Memory
April 2, 2010 5:14:41 PM

Probably not a whole lot. What is the rest of the system and the game.
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April 2, 2010 5:40:11 PM

core2duo e7400 2.8ghz, geforce GTS 250. and basicly any game, tf2 drops to like 25fps sometimes, borderlands drops to 30s, same for dragon age. changing graphics settings makes no difference.
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a b } Memory
April 2, 2010 5:43:38 PM

Does RAM speed matter to the game? Not really. No.

Does RAM speed matter on a hardware level when you're overclocking your Processor? Yes, since higher clock speeds on the memory side give more headroom and flexibility in configuring the CPU.
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April 2, 2010 5:48:19 PM

Well I am clueless to what could be causing the lag then...changing graphics settings or resolution does nothing. I open task manager then played TF2 and waited till i got in a big battle and my fps dropped to 28 then minimized and one core was running at 100% but the other was only around 50% and there was onle 1.2gb ram being used.

Nothing is overclocked
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a b } Memory
April 2, 2010 8:45:00 PM

If you want to see FPS improvements, you'll have to OC your rig. Generally, the lowest accepted speed amongst the enthusiasts is 3.0GHz. But to address the actual concern, using a matched pair of RAM to enable Dual Channel will offer slight gains, but not much.

Dual/Triple Channel architecture was designed with the intent to reduce the bottleneck that happens when the FSB of your CPU is greater than the speed of memory. In short, more channels equal more data transfer.

Something to consider...

Rules to Enable Dual Channel Mode
To achieve Dual Channel mode, the following conditions must be met:

Matched DIMM configuration in each channel
Same Density (128MB, 256MB, 512MB, etc.)
Matched in both Channel A and Channel B memory channels
OR

Populate symmetrical memory slots (Slot 0 or Slot 1)
Configurations that do not match the above conditions will revert to Single Channel mode.

The following conditions do not need to be met:
Same brand
Same timing specifications
Same DDR speed
Memory channel speed is determined by the slowest DIMM module populated in the system.

*This really depends on your motherboard. Some manufacturers use a color
-coded system (meaning use the same colors) and some require that you use the symmetrical approach (meaning same slot on both channels).
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April 2, 2010 9:15:05 PM

The only thing my motherboard will let me change is the frequency and voltage of my ram, and I just changed the frequency from 667 to 800. But it still says it is running in single channel..
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a b } Memory
April 2, 2010 10:33:35 PM

Aside from meeting the criteria I posted earlier, the RAM sticks themselves have be made for Dual Channel. Also, tell us what motherboard you're using. Being unable to change other properties in your BIOS seems odd.
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April 3, 2010 3:44:32 AM

you should always run identical chips of ram, not necessarily Brand wise, but spec wise.
it is optimal to get 2 identical chips tho. id get the 800 and ditch the smaller chip all together.
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April 9, 2010 11:49:48 PM

Your biggest limitation right now is going to be the overall bandwidth limits of your DDR2 Motherboard.

Even if you were to purchase a newer Nvidia 480 Card your NorthBridge and PCI Bus is already exceeded.

Also, you currently only have 2GB of RAM.

Several newer games really do benefit from having 4GB of RAM.

The GTS 250 is not a super fast card either and it may see some performance loss when running higher graphics settings (Anti-Aliasing etc).

My recommendation would be for you to move towards upgrading to a newer system with a more bandwidth on the NorthBridge.
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