The Right DDR RAM for the Job?

Hello folks.

Would you be so kind as to provide me with any guidance on this one?


If I decide to get a new PC that...

- has an Asus A7S333 motherboard (Sis745 chipset, DDR333 compatible)
- has an Athlon XP CPU
- has Windows XP
- will not be used as a server
- will not be overclocked
- will be used for word processing, desktop publishing (with a program like PageMaker), internet surfing (with 56K modem or cable modem), watching MPG movies, and simple bitmap editing (1-15mb files)


...then what choices would be wise to make about the DDR RAM (if I also want this PC to be very stable)?...

- Mushkin vs. Corsair vs. Crucial vs. Kingston vs. Samsung
- 128MB vs. 256MB vs. 512MB
- One stick vs. Two sticks (example: one stick of 512MB vs. two sticks of 256MB)
- PC1600 (DDR200) vs. PC2100 (DDR266) vs. PC2700 (DDR333)
- Registered vs. Unregistered
- Buffered vs. Unbuffered
- ECC vs. Non-ECC (As far as I can tell, the Asus A7S333 only accepts Non-ECC.)
- CAS 2 vs. CAS 3

(Please note that the Asus website states that the "A7S333 has 3 DIMM slots to support up to 2GB PC2700, and up to 3GB PC2100/1600 non-ECC DDR SDRAM".)


Second Scenario: How will using the PC also for one or all of the following multi-media applications change the above choices?

- multi-layered graphics (in programs such as Photoshop & Illustrator)
- digital audio workstation (multi-track recording, sequencing and editing)
- digital video editing

Thanks for your time!
DuckTape
6 answers Last reply
More about tomshardware
  1. what about good old Pc100

    Just next to the lab and the bunker you will find the marketing departement.
  2. I would recommend 512MB if running Windows XP. I know it can run with less, but it´ll run everything with 512MB. I´d get 2x256MB sticks of PC2100 or PC2700 (cas 2.0).

    I used to run Windows XP with only 256MB of PC2100, and I had many problems, image editing, video editing and games, until I popped in another 256MB PC2100, and everything has been smooth and dandy ever since!
  3. I have to agree with Gangster there. For the longest time, I was running 256 thinking it was enough, until a game forced me to get 512.

    Now that I'm running 512, I've noticed everything running silky smooth

    It's all good ^_^
  4. I used to run with a 512 and 128 better the 256x2

    "I put a flowmaster on my Nvidia FX VIDEO CARD and reached a db score of 240db on Futuremark's DEAF METER 2003" Goto: <A HREF="http://www.Digitalstormonline.com" target="_new">http://www.Digitalstormonline.com</A>
    <A HREF="http://www.jab-tech.com" target="_new">http://www.jab-tech.com</A>
  5. Cas2 is faster than Cas3 and usually cost about the same from Crucial. I'd recommend Crucial PC2100 at the lowest Cas Latency they offer. 512MB of it. You could get by with 128MB if you had Windows 98SE!

    Truthfully, you'll probably never use more than 256MB. But I like a safety factor to prevent system slowdowns.

    XP is a real memory hog. It takes 148MB just to boot my computer under XP, wheras 98SE did that with only 48MB used.

    <font color=blue>You're posting in a forum with class. It may be third class, but it's still class!</font color=blue>
  6. I will be the first to NOT recommend that you go with just 512MB. Here is the reason:

    "- digital video editing"

    For this reason, I would recommend that you get as much memory as you can afford. As such, there is a trade-off. You could either get 3GB of PC2100 memory, or 2GB of PC 2700 memory. Personally, I'd go with 2GB of the faster memory.

    Specific Information:

    "- will be used for word processing, desktop publishing (with a program like PageMaker), internet surfing (with 56K modem or cable modem), watching MPG movies, and simple bitmap editing (1-15mb files)"

    None of these applications are all that power-hungry. In fact, I was able to do all that on a 200MHz system. Digital Video editing, which you mentioned later, is the only resource intensive application which you listed.

    "- Mushkin vs. Corsair vs. Crucial vs. Kingston vs. Samsung"

    I can vouch for Crucial memory.(made by Micron - a US based memory company) Every chip that leaves the factory undergoes burn-in testing, and electrical functionality testing.

    - 128MB vs. 256MB vs. 512MB

    If you plan to use PC2700:

    DO NOT get anything less than a single 512MB stick. If you get a 256MB stick, and decide to upgrade to the maximum amount of memory later on, you will end up throwing away 256MB worth of memory. If you can afford to take your system to the max for PC2700 right now, get two 512MB sticks, and one 1GB stick. At crucial.com, it's currently $119 for a 512MB stick of PC2700.

    1GB sticks of PC2700 are not currently offered.

    If you plan to use PC2100 or less:

    The only way to max out your system would be to get three 1GB sticks. At crucial.com, it costs $350 for a 1GB stick. If you don't want to spend that much right now, you can get a 512MB stick. Just remember that you can then only go to 2.5GB of memory later on unless you throw out your 512MB stick. In the long run, it may actually be cheaper to get a 512 right now, and throw it away later once 1GB sticks are in the $100-200 range.

    "- One stick vs. Two sticks (example: one stick of 512MB vs. two sticks of 256MB)"

    As discussed earlier, if you want to have maximum upgradability, get high capacity sticks. There is really no reason to get two 256MB sticks, since a single 512MB stick costs the same as two 256MB sticks.

    "- PC1600 (DDR200) vs. PC2100 (DDR266) vs. PC2700 (DDR333)"

    Since your board can take it, I'd go with PC2700.

    "- Registered vs. Unregistered"

    The crucial site doesn't make mention of this in the memory for your motherboard. If you buy from crucial, you won't have to worry about it.


    "- Buffered vs. Unbuffered"

    All the memory crucial lists for your board is unbuffered.

    "- ECC vs. Non-ECC (As far as I can tell, the Asus A7S333 only accepts Non-ECC.)"

    Your board indeed will only work with non-ECC. ECC is Error Correcting Code. It's kinda like "super-parity" Memory without parity, which is the type of memory your computer will take, is not able to tell if there is a problem. Therefore if there is a problem with one of your memory chips, you will experience random lockups. Memory with parity is able to tell if data has been corrupted inside a chip. With this type of memory, you will get a blue screen of death informing you that there is a problem with your memory, and the system will halt. ECC memory is the most reliable in that if there is an error, it will not only detect it, but will also correct the problem automatically. You won't even notice the problem if it occurrs. ECC memory is mainly for server applications. Also, I've heard that ECC is a little slower than non-ECC. But all this information is just for your edification and entertainment. You can't use ECC, so the point is moot. If you think you absolutely need this extra 'fail-safe', then you may want to look into a board that will handle ECC.

    "- CAS 2 vs. CAS 3"

    You will be using CAS 2.5. (not a joke) That's what is listed at the Crucial site.

    WARNING: more techno-babble -- CAS stands for Column Address Strobe. This is how long the CAS line must be high (in nanoseconds, I believe) for the address bus to be switched to the column address. Addressing a byte of memory works as follows: An address is sent to the address bus of the chip for the row which the information is located at. Then, after the Column Address Strobe, a second address is sent to the address bus of the chip for the column in which the information is stored at. This is how a byte of information is retrieved from a location in memory. Think of it like X-Y coordinates. Column and Row are not just terms used to make understanding memory simple. If you were to look at a memory chip under a microscope, you'd find the memory locations located in columns and rows, just like a spreadsheet. That is, a spreadsheet with literally billions of cells. (a 512MB stick of memory has about 4 billion 'cells') And you thought having 100 million transistors on a CPU was amazing. A single memory chip can have 512 million transistors on it!

    "- multi-layered graphics (in programs such as Photoshop & Illustrator)"

    This application is easily accomplishable on a 200MHz system. (remember way back when computer speeds were still measured in Megahertz?) These were the days of EDO memory, which came in the 72-pin sticks. DDR memory is MUCH faster. You will have no problems doing multi-layer graphics editing no mater which computer you buy.

    "- digital audio workstation (multi-track recording, sequencing and editing)"

    This application is a bit more taxing than graphics editing, but you still shouldn't have any problems regardless of your memory. In general, if you will be dealing with really large files (in excess of 100MB), you will probably want to do a little more than 512MB of memory.

    "- digital video editing"

    For capturing video in and of itself, no problems. That can be accomplished on a 1GHz workstation. It's the editing and compiling that will be the resource hog. Video files are big. Especially if you are going to be editing TV quality video (480i). Even more so if you're going to do high definition, which is 720p or 1080i/p. If you are serious about video editing, get as much memory as you can afford. You're going to be working with very large files, so you'll need as much as you can get.

    Another thing to consider for video editing is your hard drive. Any 7200rpm drive should be fine. You may want to consider a SCSI hard drive, however. Since you'll be working with large files, the faster your hard drive, the less time you'll spend staring at your screen as a file is opened. There are 10,000rpm SCSI drives, and even 15,000RPM drives if you really want speed. Just remember that you will definitely want a hard drive cooler for anything above 7200RPM. (I'd even use a cooler for a 7200rpm drive just to be safe)

    Now that I've inundated you with more information than you can shake a memory stick at (HAHAHAHAHA!!! dumb joke) have fun asimilating the data.

    Bottom line: Get PC2700: Get 2 sticks of 512MB now, 1 1GB stick later. (Now if you don't mind spending the extra money)
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