I recently started using my desktop more. I installed Windows Vista (updated to SP2) because I still had a disk for it and I wanted to run Netflix and WoW (with a 21 button mouse, which Linux has minimal support for).
The first upgrade I made was from an ATI 4850 to an HD 7850 with a gig of VRAM. I am getting pretty decent performance out of the machine with the tasks I was going for, but Vista is still lagging. The CPU is an i7-920 on an Intel DX58SO. There are two, two-gig DDR3 sticks of Patriot Viper 1333 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820220286 (7-7-7-20).
Now I am trying to set a good criteria for moving forward. I am not on the most limited of budgets, but I don't want to worry about maxing out a machine. From what I can see, there are likely three main bottlenecks at this point.
(1) Memory: Either I get more and/or faster memory
(2) Update Vista to Windows 7,8
(3) Upgrade CPU
I think that updating the memory would be good form regardless, but right now I am trying to balance that against what kind of a performance boost I would get out of just updating the OS. However, I will be installing Linux on other partitions, as with the same hardware it does just fine with system resources - thus updating the memory seems a priority.
I am not sure how to go about purchasing an upgrade to my memory, and have found the dual/triple-channel explanations, and the setup of my mobo http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/motherboards/desktop-motherboards/desktop-board-dx58so.html very confusing. Also of note, the tested memory modules are all pretty old and I would be looking to go toward the higher end of supported memory amounts (i.e. 16 gig seems ideal if I am going to spend the money, but a 12 gig kit would likely be an adequate boost).
Basically, I want to know if (1) I can just drop $5-15 bucks on another stick of the same memory (2) dropping about $100 on a complete memory upgrade (and if so, should I go with a two/three stick config based on the DX58SO), (3) would the $100 be better spent just updating the OS, (4) and is it even worth keeping a CPU upgrade on my radar with these two other bottlenecks?
Yes, you are absolutely right!! Upgrading the memory is right way to go about it, in fact, it is one of the most effective upgrade.
#. Firstly, if you opt for a new OS (windows 7) then you must know there isn't much performance you will be benefiting from the same. Perhaps, you will be able to use the different features it offers but compared to memory there will not be an overall performance boost. Anyways, I think your OS is pretty outdated and going with windows7 or windows 8 (if your system supports) is better.
#. Secondly, upgrading the CPU might be a good idea - The current CPU speed is 2.66GHz (if i'm not wrong) is a pretty decent one given the 4 core capability, however this motherboard also supports higher clock speed and core processors like i7-990x or i7-980x, yes the mentioned processors have a clock speed of about 3.4GHz approx and are 6-core CPU which might make a quite a difference to the current config. In theory the difference should be 9GHz more or less. Having said that, the CPU is usually waiting for it's cache to be filled (from RAM) and so the faster the CPU receives the data the faster it processes, hence if you upgrade the CPU but fail to upgrade the memory then performance-wise the difference will be won't be much (unless you are referring to the benchmark) of help when you run memory intensive task.
As of right now, upgrading the memory is the right choice since you already have a decent processor. There is not a perfect balance of upgrade one can get to get the most juice out of their PC's. Upgrading one piece of hardware to something awesome will only take you as far as that component can take you. Take a look at what you have, see which part is the most outdated, and factor that into your upgrading decision.
Conclusion: Adding another TWO 2GB sticks is a pretty good thing rather than upgrading to 16GB. (16GB is more often left unused by users unless you are using pretty memory intensive softwares, in fact, your software's decide the amount of memory you need). As I have stated earlier upgrading OS is a pretty good idea, come on it's time to move on to windows 7 or 8. . When it comes to processor, I wouldn't recommend but yeah you could with a higher clock speed CPU. "Remember you could always overclock your current processor to a good speed with the right cooling system".
Hope I have explained everything for you in short answer (Right-ttt? ). Let me know if you need any info. Cheers, amigo!!