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12GB 1066Mhz or 8GB 1333Mhz?

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February 4, 2013 5:28:31 PM

I have a Dell Vostro 430: H57 Chipset, i7 830 Processor, 4GB 1066Mhz RAM. I understand that 1333Mhz is the fastest RAM the modo can handle.

I understand it has 4 RAM slots, with two containing 2GB 1066Mhz RAM and the other two empty.

My question, which would give the best performance boost:

8GB 1066Mhz RAM (same timings, possibly make as well) in the two free slots, to give 12GB 1066Mhz RAM.

or

8GB 1333Mhz RAM and disguard the 1066Mhz RAM.

Not planning to overclock.

Many thanks in advance.

More about : 12gb 1066mhz 8gb 1333mhz

a b } Memory
February 4, 2013 7:15:18 PM

What's your application? Gaming?

Unless you are encoding video or something, you won't see a huge benefit going beyond 4 GB of RAM. There's certainly not going to be much of a difference between 8 and 12 GB and mixing RAM is generally not recommended. I would go with the 8GB option. You're more likely to see a performance boost from faster RAM and there's not really much of a difference between 8 and 12 for most applications.
February 4, 2013 9:30:41 PM

Thanks for your reply.

I don't use it for gaming, but do a fair bit of video work, whilst having 2 or 3 browsers open, each with multiple tabs plus several Word, Excel, & Outlook windows open. Multitasking!
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a b } Memory
February 4, 2013 9:40:36 PM

Simplest way to know if you could use more RAM is to look at task manager/resource monitor for HDD activity and RAM allocation.

Personally, I would go with 12GB since HDD-induced lag from swapping/reloading causes momentary 100% performance loss while the slower RAM only causes a loss of 2-3%. Applications momentarily freezing is a lot more annoying/disruptive than a nearly imperceptible performance gain/loss.
February 4, 2013 9:53:01 PM

Thanks.

I'm not exactly sure which memory stats i need from Task Manager. Right now, as a typical session as described above, but not doing any video work, Task Manager says 72% physical memory and the memory bar on the left is 2.84gb. The other memory stats are:

Total: 4055
Cached: 1007
Available: 1135
Free: 182
a b } Memory
February 4, 2013 10:34:51 PM

The main thing I look at for memory stats is "Free" since any significant amount showing up there while you are doing work means this memory is doing absolutely nothing (potentially) useful. If all the RAM is used either by programs or disk cache and you still have significant amounts of HDD accesses while using your programs/games, it means you are at least somewhat short on the amount of RAM you need to cover all your programs and frequently accessed data.

Whether or not you really should get more RAM depends largely on how severe the reloading/swapping is and how high/low your tolerance is. My tolerance is very low so I rarely think twice about getting however much RAM I need to run everything from RAM... on my P4 and C2D, I spent about twice as much on RAM than the CPU. With my i5, it will be roughly even.
a b } Memory
February 4, 2013 11:01:50 PM

paddybliss said:
Thanks.

I'm not exactly sure which memory stats i need from Task Manager. Right now, as a typical session as described above, but not doing any video work, Task Manager says 72% physical memory and the memory bar on the left is 2.84gb.


Use be bar where you see the 2.84. If that bar ever fills up, you'll see a lot of slowdown. You OS will use about 2 GB (depending on what AERO features you're using) by itself. Run the resource monitor and open up all your stuff. If you easily saturate your 4GB, you'll have an idea how much RAM you need.
February 6, 2013 4:40:29 PM

Thanks. I'm not sure of the difference between Available & Free? My PC was really struggling earlier. Available was in the 900's, Free was single figures, sometimes 0. Does trhis indicate more RAM needed?

If I go for the 8gb option, am I right in thinking that there will be very little difference in speed between 1333 CL9 ram and the 1066 CL& which I have at the moment? Most of the 1333 RAM thats on sale seems to be CL9, on Amazon I only found one CL8 kit and one CL7 kit.
a b } Memory
February 6, 2013 4:56:21 PM

Available is the important number. It's exactly what it says it is. "Free" is included in Available. If Free = 0, it's fine as long as you have a decent amount Available. I don't completely understand "Cached". <-- This statement isn't entirely correct. See InvalidError's response.

This page explains it:

http://brandonlive.com/2010/02/21/measuring-memory-usag...

Yeah, there probably won't be a very big difference between 1333 and 1066. It's really hard to quantify the performance difference between fast RAM at CL9 and slower RAM with a more efficient timing. If your BIOS lets you, you can always try to apply the CL7 timings to "CL9" RAM. This isn't guaranteed to work but it often does.

You might check Newegg.com or Tigerdirect if you want a better RAM selection.
February 6, 2013 5:38:49 PM

Thanks. So it seems that I have some RAM capacity to spare?

I saw this 1333 CL7 kit, which seems a good price:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B005Y8C8BW/ref=s9_wi...

What else should i look for when buying RAM, I really don't know how to chose from the many different kits at £30-£40 if they are all the same speed and latancy. Are the ones like the Crucial above with the fancy heat sinks really any better than the plain non heat sunk ones (like I have inside already) if i'm not overclocking?

Do i need to worry about the heigh of RAM with heatsinks being able to fit into my case? I read somewhere about certain RAM not fitting in smakll form factor cases, I'm not sure if mine is that or not, it seems about the size of a standard branded desktop, but not as big as custom made machines.
a b } Memory
February 6, 2013 6:13:30 PM

Yeah, you had 900 to spare when you looked at that the Resource Monitor. What were you doing while the Resource Monitor was running? Was your machine struggling then?

What happens when you exceed your RAM capacity is this: Your computer starts using part your hard drive as virtual RAM. Part of the hard drive starts doing the same sort of job the RAM is doing. This allows your programs to keep running. However, it takes much longer to read/write to the hard disk so this drastically slows your machine down.

You generally want to buy name-brand RAM with some kind of heat spreader. However, you don't need fancy heatsinks. A simple aluminum casing (even more basic than the ones on the Crucial RAM you linked) is sufficient but it doesn't hurt to have them either. It looks like the your Vostro is a standard "mini-tower" which should have loads of room. If anything, it the RAM might be kind of close to your CPU heatsink. Just open your case and make sure you have a bit of clearance over your current RAM. If you do, you'll be fine with the Crucial. If not, you can find something with a more basic casing like this:

http://www.amazon.com/ADATA-1600Mhz-Desktop-Memory-AX3U...

Crucial makes reliable RAM. So do a lot of others. Sometimes choosing a RAM kit hard simply because there's no meaningful difference between all the different brands. :) 
a b } Memory
February 6, 2013 6:32:53 PM

eightdrunkengods said:
Available is the important number. It's exactly what it says it is. "Free" is included in Available. If Free = 0, it's fine as long as you have a decent amount Available. I don't completely understand "Cached".

"Available" = Free + Cached.

"Cached" is the OS' disk cache and is double-counted under "Available" just like "Free" is so when "Free=0", it means the OS will start reallocating memory from disk cache to whatever requests memory and performance may start degrading when programs whose cached disk content got kicked out of RAM need to access that data again, such as when alt-tabbing between windows after loading new programs.

So the "Available" memory is not necessarily quite as "available" as it may sound - most of it is usually used by the disk cache. "Free" memory on the other hand is really doing absolutely nothing useful.

A significant amount of "Free" memory with your usual software complement loaded means you are definitely nowhere near using all your RAM. A significant amount of "Available" on the other hand can mean that your software and games are giving the OS' disk cache ("Cached") a workout.
February 6, 2013 7:31:30 PM

Paired ram is better than single modules. Best to go for 4 x 2gb at 1333mhz.

The PC might be struggling if your hdd has not been defragged for a long time (especially if you add/delete large volume files often) and Windows 7 really needs about 25% free space to run efficiently.

Your PSU might be impacting in some way and Dell usually don't give out the best power supply units only at manufacture recommendations so if you have added a vidoe card or other components other than what was originally intended then you need to upgrade the PSU to probably about 720 watts (what you have now could possibly only be about 480 watts, if you are lucky).

Well, I was wrong, the Dell Vostro comes shipped with a 350 watt PSU...
http://www.dell.com/us/business/p/vostro-430/pd
February 6, 2013 9:36:23 PM

Thanks all. I've orderd the Crucial set.

Yes, only 350 Watt PSU. I've only got the original low spec graphics card that came with the machine and is all i need, but I am planning to add an SSD drive and a Blu Ray drive, will this PSU cope?
a b } Memory
February 6, 2013 10:41:42 PM

paddybliss said:
will this PSU cope?


It's difficult to say. You can google "PSU calculator" to find tools that will let you estimate of your system's power requirements. Here's one:

http://images10.newegg.com/BizIntell/tool/psucalc/index...

According to this calculator, you would be near or above the limit for a 350 W PSU. This is just an estimate, however, and some of the other web-based calculators are more sophisticated. It's pretty dangerous to cut it close when it comes to power supplies. You can get a good 500W PSU for about $55. I suggest you do that whenever you do your upgrade.

The power supplies don't draw their maximum wattage all the time so having a 500 W PSU won't affect your energy consumption.
February 7, 2013 2:36:53 PM

Thanks, I hadn't thought about the power consumption issue at all.

I've put the specs of my machine in the calculator with the new 8gb RAM and a second DVD drive (no option to pick one DVD and one Blu Ray) and it comes out at 308W (my graphic card is a lower spec to the one you saw advertised, there were many flavours of Vostro 430).

So 42 Watts spare for an SSD Drive, i'm not sure how much this will require, heres the spec sheet of the one i've just ordered:

http://www.samsung.com/uk/consumer/memory-cards-hdd-odd...

Cutting it a bit fine i know, but do you think i'll have any problems with this?
a b } Memory
February 7, 2013 4:42:52 PM

I was playing it safe. For the newegg calculator I put in 2x Blu-Ray drives and 2x HDD. In reality, an SSD is a lot more power-efficient than and HDD. You could also replace your DVD drive with a Blu-Ray drive (which will probably also play DVD) and be a bit safer that way.

One problem with estimating power consumption is that power supplies do not consistently deliver their maximum wattage. So a 350 W might only deliver 305 consistently.

To make matters more complicated, the power consumption numbers that component manufacturers report are inflated so that there is a built-in safety margin. For example: if a video card says you need a 550 W minimum PSU, you might be totally fine with a 450. The manufacturer is just inflating that number for liability reasons. So, it's really hard to predict whether or not you'll have problems. You will probably be fine, especially if you don't have both optical drives spinning up at the same time all the time. But, if $60 isn't very much money to you, buying a 500 W PSU will provide you with a nice safety margin.

The SSD you linked is a 2.5 inch form factor (as most are). It's a "laptop size" hard drive. To mount this in your case, you will need an adapter that will allow you to install the 2.5 inch drive in a 3.5 inch (standard HDD size) bay.

Something like this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
February 7, 2013 5:37:31 PM

I'll see how it goes with what I have. It's probably unlikely that both opticals will be working at the same time and the most the graphics card has to do is play video, no 3D games etc. What would be the worst that could happen if the power supply isn't up to it? Would it just shut the computer down or crash it?

I've also ordered a 3.5in adapter and SATA lead with the SSD, so ready to go, though i'm sure i'll have plenty of questions for this forum when I come to install it. Something tells me that even with all this hardware, thie biggest imprtovement is going to be a clean install of windows!
a b } Memory
February 7, 2013 7:21:21 PM

eightdrunkengods said:
To make matters more complicated, the power consumption numbers that component manufacturers report are inflated so that there is a built-in safety margin. For example: if a video card says you need a 550 W minimum PSU, you might be totally fine with a 450.

An overclocked i7-3960X with overclocked HD7970 clock in at ~350W from the wall. Anything less than that will likely use substantially less than 300W actual PSU output watts.

So, while AMD's spec may recommend 550W, the card's own REAL power requirement is under 200W.

GPU manufacturers are confusing people by stating a wild power recommendation as a "requirement" - the less informed people buy GPUs thinking the GPU alone require 300-550W and that a pair of these will require 600-1100W. IMO, GPU manufacturers are doing everyone a disservice by not stating PSU recommendations and GPU actual power requirements separately.
a b } Memory
February 7, 2013 9:00:20 PM

InvalidError said:
IMO, GPU manufacturers are doing everyone a disservice by not stating PSU recommendations and GPU actual power requirements separately.


I agree. That's the main reason it's difficult to figure out what PSU you actually need - the card manufacturer is estimating the power consumption a generic system instead of listing the card's maximum requirement. I had my current system running with a GTX 670 as well as a dedicated PhysX card (turned out to not be worth it) for a few days. I have mild overclocks on everything, multiple hard drives, etc etc. It's also never drawn above 350-400 W. The specs for my 670 list "550 W PSU" as a requirement. :/ 

On the other hand, I've also blown a 350 W Antec power supply (killed a video card in the process) because I installed too many devices. So, I tend to be overly cautious when it comes to PSUs. Also, Dell probably ships with the cheapest PSUs they can find - not exactly 80 Plus Gold PSUs. Upgrading that system without a quality PSU would make me nervous. Then again, I don't know what video card it has...
February 7, 2013 10:10:49 PM

My card is an ATI Radeon HD 4350
!