Help with RAM - Phenom II in ASROCK M/board


Hello "Tom's Hardware",

I'm an "ol' geezer" [well-retired Mech Engineer] and am struggling with what should be an easy choice. I've done a couple of days of the FAQs which have helped to frame the questions.

Just bought [2nd hand] a complete PC with ASROCK M3A UCC m/board [Dual Channel], AMD Phenom II x4 840 3200 MHz processor and with 4 GB [2 cards] of DDR3 RAM of [as yet] unknown make/speed. I can take them out - if needs be - and check what they are.

It was used purely for playing Films/Music to a huge TV/cinema kit. He had two others for doing his internet stuff! He admits that it never did go on the 'net, but has a TV Card and uses WIN7 Home Premium O/S.

I have bought a Seagate 1 TB Extension HD to clear off the internal 1 TB HD and act as a back-up. This can use both USB2 and 3 connections, presently running on USB2. The m/board has two PCI Express [short, and unused] slots and 1 long slot already used.

The PC is quick [compared to the 1300 I had previously] but struggles when many windows in IE are open. I note the RAM is only showing 2.7 GB available, altho' Virtual Memory is now set around 10 GB - and that is slowing the PC. I have followed the advice [your site] and looked up the m/board RAM compatibility at ASRock web-site. There are hundreds of recommendations, all different sizes/speeds, SC/DC, etc.

So I have read a LOT about SC/DC RAM chips, speeds etc - and there is loads about the most efficient cost/set up of RAM at 6 GB [at a speed] for the INTEL i7 processor. I found that on your site. So my two questions are these -

1. With the above AMD & M/board, what would be your guess at a reasonable size/speed of RAM? I won't be using hugely-RAM-hungry apps [like CAD used to be], but will be writing a book using the latest Dragon Speech Recognition software as my hands don't work at all well, and are getting worse. So do I need to err on the side of bigger/faster - rather than hold up my thoughts waiting for PC-"catch-up"...?

DC seems to be better than SC [and the m/board allows it] and many makes are mentioned in the approved list, but [as I read] it's not always the faster chips and the more GB's that are efficient and most effective. I am happy to completely replace the present RAM [whatever it is] OR just add 1/2 identical 2 GB cards to ensure it doesn't struggle with the Speech Recognition software, or with my research on the 'net.

2. I can fit a 4 x USB 3 card into one of the PCI Express short slots to run the back-up to the new 1 TB extension drive faster/regularly. I have two free - PCIE1 & PCIE3. I have done the FAQs on this also, to get a "grip" on the requirements/prices and which slot to use. I have now two in mind. Can you give any pertinent advice/problems to watch out for?

Thanks - in anticipation of "old fashioned" assistance. David.
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  1. Huh?

    Why not repost, remove all the chit chat and irrelevant information and just tell us what your asking in plain English. You lost me somewhere around the SIXTH paragraph.
  2. a1robo said:
    The PC is quick [compared to the 1300 I had previously] but struggles when many windows in IE are open.

    How many open at once? Are there apps running in the IE windows or are they just regular web pages? When the slowdown occurs, what does task manager (right-click taskbar -> Start Task Manager) say in the performance tab about physical memory? 4gb of ram is plenty for most people's browsing. I guess I'd want to be more convinced that your slowdowns are actually ram related before having you spend some money.

    With regards to your Dragon speech-to-text software - their minimum is 2gb and recommended is 4gb so you're fine with that - again 4gb gets people through just fine.

    If we do discover that you need more ram, you need to make sure your Win 7 OS is the 64-bit version and not the 32-bit version since the 32-bit version won't be able to use any more than you already have.

    Also remember when you buy a used computer, the OS might be used as well. Did the seller do a complete reinstall of Windows before he sold it to you? Did you? If its the same original install then you don't really know whether your slowdowns may be a result of missing drivers or incorrect configurations or viruses. If the seller included the Win 7 install disk AND the product key, you might consider a wipe and reinstall of Windows (with the subsequent installation of motherboard drivers and other non-plug-n-play device drivers). And make sure you use some kind of anti-virus, keep it up-to-date and do a complete scan regularly.
  3. Not to be rude but I think your getting a little lost

    By TV Card do you infact mean Graphics Card? If so post the make and model (download and use CPU-z to identify it)

    Secondly is your windows 32 bit? If it is it can only address 4GB of memory so (if the TV card is a Graphics Card) 2.7GB is all it is able to use no matter how much you have (unless you install a 64 bit windows).

    Thirdly your never going to run anything critical off a USB external HDD either use it for storage only or rip it out the housing and install it internally (via SATA)

    Your RAM should run in dual channel so you always install matching modules in pairs your uses dont require faster RAM, I doubt they even require more (unless you want a few hundred IE windows open at once - but who can watch that much porn at once) If you do want more RAM you need 64 bit windows (as i said earlier i think you have 32 bit)

    Finally you dont need a USB 3.0 card like i said storage if its on USB and the speed isnt very important or gut it from the housing and put it internal on SATA.
  4. btw the os doesn't take a hole gb out of the memory so if you have 4gb ram you can still use over 3gbs of it for other applications.
  5. If you're certain you've got 4GB RAM installed, and also certain only 2.7GB is available, you definitely have a problem. Before buying new RAM just to continue theorizing, you'd be better off downloading and installing some diagnostic software (they're free, by the way) to aid in troubleshooting.

    First, there is <url=> CPU-Z</url>. As mentioned above, will help you identify your currently installed RAM sticks/modules. Alternatively, if you don't want to install software, you can visit and allow their tool to find a compatible upgrade for you (note: only Crucial modules will be suggested).

    Second, when I first installed Windows 7, I had a very serious lag problem. The problem was the Windows Media Center. I don't know why (simply because I just don't use it; therefore didn't bother finding the solution) but the WMPNet service was causing a memory leak. I discovered this by using the Windows Task Manager (As directed above, or Ctrl+Shift+Esc). Task Manager will display what processes and services are currently running. You'll also be able to click on the button labeled Resource Manager. Resource Manager will show you what is using the most of your available RAM.

    A third avenue to consider is whether or not the RAM is actually in dual channel mode. The mobo is designed to automatically operate the RAM in dc mode when the following conditions are met:

    1. RAM is dc capable;
    2. RAM is installed in the correct position(s) on the mobo (see mobo manual for proper placement)

    Finally, if you're comfortable with accessing the BIOS(typically by pressing Del or F2 at the ASRock logo - just before the OS loads), you can reset any changes the previous owner may have made. This is typically done by pressing the F7 key to restore factory defaults, followed by the F10 key to save and exit.
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