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Memory Capacity And Data Rate

Build It: Picking Parts For Your Kid's Entry-Level Gaming PC
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Memory Speed

Intel's entry-level chips are limited to DDR3-1066 memory speeds. As long as you're looking at kits rated for less than 1.65 V, we recommend arming the Pentium and Celeron configurations with the cheapest modules that you trust.

AMD’s APUs are compatible with kits running at up to DDR3-1866. The reason they accommodate more aggressive data rates is to provide the on-die graphics engine with plenty of memory bandwidth. Consequently, it's more important to choose the right speed, and potentially spend a little more money on higher-end modules.


    4 GB (2 x 2 GB)   
    8 GB (2 x 4 GB)   
DDR3-1066
$25
$42
DDR3-1333
$22
$39
DDR3-1600
$27
$41
DDR3-1866$34
$55


Kingston HyperX DDR3-1866 as a 4 and 8 GB kitKingston HyperX DDR3-1866 as a 4 and 8 GB kit

Memory Capacity

The next important question to answer is how much memory should you buy? Motherboards in our price range typically feature a pair of slots, leaving us to choose between 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) or 8 GB (2 x 4 GB). We decided to use modules with the highest latencies, since they're cheaper. Seeking out low-latency DDR3-1866 kits, in particular, can become an expensive task.

Our benchmarks demonstrate large jumps in performance from 1066 to 1333 MT/s, as well as 1333 and 1600 MT/s on AMD’s APUs. The difference between 1600 and 1866 MT/s is much smaller in our productivity-oriented tests, though, and we've seen the jump to 1866 MT/s doesn't have as large of an impact in gaming as using DDR3-1600. Our recommendation would be to spend whatever it takes to complement an APU with DDR3-1600. Stepping up to DDR3-1866 does help games like Metro 2033. But for lighter titles, such as DiRT 3, the difference is in the low single-digit percent range.

We also see that 8 GB (2 x 4 GB) is slightly slower than 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) at identical frequencies and latencies using our AMD-based platform for productivity-oriented tasks. The opposite proves true in the gaming-based results. Once the graphics engine starts monopolizing system member, it pays to have more capacity. We also see that it's better to have 8 GB using the machine built on Intel's technology.

Bottom Line

There's a quantifiable benefit to using 8 GB of system memory, but the performance garnered with 4 GB installed is just fine, too. Generally, the need for 8 GB of RAM in an entry-level system like ours is questionable, so we recommend sticking to 4 GB, at least when you're trying to get in for as little money as possible. Memory can be upgraded later if you think ahead and buy a motherboard with four DIMM slots.

In fact, you can use some of the money you save on a 4 GB kit to buy higher data rates, though we'd suggest not spending more than an extra $10 to step up from 1600 to 1866 MT/s modules.

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Top Comments
  • 26 Hide
    velocityg4 , July 11, 2012 4:30 AM
    Interesting, but I'm assuming most parents that build there own computers, game and read toms hardware would be better suited just giving their kids their old gaming PC's. Since many this enthusiastic will already be replacing them every couple of years. Now they have another excuse to replace them and their kids get computers made from former high end and quality parts that are still very fast and more than capable of playing any kids games and edutacational/edutainment software.

    Although I say just give them an Apple IIe so they can learn on what we learned on in school.
  • 23 Hide
    s3anister , July 11, 2012 4:51 AM
    velocityg4Interesting, but I'm assuming most parents that build there own computers, game and read toms hardware would be better suited just giving their kids their old gaming PC's.

    I see the reasoning in this, however, for someone like myself I found this an interesting article; as I'm actually about to build a computer for my nieces and they do not need a fully featured gaming rig. It doesn't make sense to give them a machine that doesn't suit their needs and I'm sure many other parents/uncles/aunts are in the same boat.
  • 22 Hide
    bliq00 , July 11, 2012 7:15 AM
    why didn't the author post the stock cooling solution temps. Personally I've always found that the stock intel cooling was both quiet and sufficient, even in mini itx cases. I'm curious how big the difference is. if the diff is just 10-15%, I don't think it's worth spending extra on a 3rd party cooler for a kids computer.
Other Comments
  • 26 Hide
    velocityg4 , July 11, 2012 4:30 AM
    Interesting, but I'm assuming most parents that build there own computers, game and read toms hardware would be better suited just giving their kids their old gaming PC's. Since many this enthusiastic will already be replacing them every couple of years. Now they have another excuse to replace them and their kids get computers made from former high end and quality parts that are still very fast and more than capable of playing any kids games and edutacational/edutainment software.

    Although I say just give them an Apple IIe so they can learn on what we learned on in school.
  • 23 Hide
    s3anister , July 11, 2012 4:51 AM
    velocityg4Interesting, but I'm assuming most parents that build there own computers, game and read toms hardware would be better suited just giving their kids their old gaming PC's.

    I see the reasoning in this, however, for someone like myself I found this an interesting article; as I'm actually about to build a computer for my nieces and they do not need a fully featured gaming rig. It doesn't make sense to give them a machine that doesn't suit their needs and I'm sure many other parents/uncles/aunts are in the same boat.
  • 17 Hide
    Maximus_Delta , July 11, 2012 6:20 AM
    iCrap (something for the fashion victims & super creative types to show off whilst sipping their skinny lattes in starbucks whilst facebooking their friends about the fact that are in starbucks, having lattes, and got a new iPad / macbook)
  • 13 Hide
    belardo , July 11, 2012 6:23 AM
    What *YOU* do is hand your kid the OLD computer when you upgrade. But yeah, since about the age of 1 and a half, my son has had his own PC... keeps if off ours. He did damage his CRT monitor with paint - which was somewhat cleaned up. Fine. His first was a client's out-dated Pentium III-1Ghz which he paid $2500 when it was NEW. Then he got a compaq handme down from mom.

    Today, age 7: AMD X4 CPU, 4GB RAM, ATI 4670 card I built from various parts. I use it for background work since its so powerful. He does his educational and game software on it.

    When I was age 7, the Apple II was just released and most people didn't know what one was. It wasn't until 1980 that we started seeing these $1200~3000 computers... usually in the school library with 1 or 2 units. My 1985 PC: 1-2Mhz 128k RAM, 360k floppy drive system with a monitor was $900+. I still have it and it works. I forgot how to use it.

    Suggestions when building a PC for 3~8 year olds: buy a logitech notebook mouse ($15~20) as these are smaller but perfect for little hands. Use a cheap keyboard as kids tend to be messy and destroy them. if they are real young (1~3yrs old) try to get your hands on a CRT. Harder to knock over, costs $0~5 if you can find one.

    Also, a $200~250 netbook makes a good "notebook" for young kids (4~9 years old). Or give your kid your old notebook. My kid was given a 17" notebook a friend gave away when he upgraded.
  • 14 Hide
    acerace , July 11, 2012 6:23 AM
    Quote:
    So show me a top of the line Android tablet that costs less than the "overpriced" iPad...


    You're feeding the troll, genius. :heink: 
  • 2 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , July 11, 2012 6:41 AM
    Leave out the bling and dedicated video card for a basic pc for grandma and grandpa! I've already built a couple for senior citizens who are not gamers.

    BTW - there is an option to dedicate some of the memory to the integrated graphics. I installed inexpensive 8GB memory and dedicated 2GB to the graphics. What I don't know is if it makes a real difference. Would that help gamers?
  • 1 Hide
    amdfangirl , July 11, 2012 6:58 AM
    JohnnyLuckyLeave out the bling and dedicated video card for a basic pc for grandma and grandpa! I've already built a couple for senior citizens who are not gamers. BTW - there is an option to dedicate some of the memory to the integrated graphics. I installed inexpensive 8GB memory and dedicated 2GB to the graphics. What I don't know is if it makes a real difference. Would that help gamers?

    More or less dependant on the speed of the RAM.
  • 2 Hide
    Proximon , July 11, 2012 7:11 AM
    After all that build up a cheap PSU is used based entirely on claims written on the box. No reviews exist and apparently Cooler Master knows it's junk because they haven't bothered to get it certified by 80plus.
  • 22 Hide
    bliq00 , July 11, 2012 7:15 AM
    why didn't the author post the stock cooling solution temps. Personally I've always found that the stock intel cooling was both quiet and sufficient, even in mini itx cases. I'm curious how big the difference is. if the diff is just 10-15%, I don't think it's worth spending extra on a 3rd party cooler for a kids computer.
  • 4 Hide
    amdfangirl , July 11, 2012 7:15 AM
    Quote:
    After all that build up a cheap PSU is used based entirely on claims written on the box. No reviews exist and apparently Cooler Master knows it's junk because they haven't bothered to get it certified by 80plus.


    I'd just go with the Antec Earthwatts series.
  • 3 Hide
    killeeeeer , July 11, 2012 7:49 AM
    Its funny how its PC for kids and they benchmarked Gta IV, the 3850 seems the way to go better than buying and i3 or g someing and buying like GT520 as the 3850 beats the 520 in benchmarks
  • 0 Hide
    FormatC , July 11, 2012 8:01 AM
    The GT 520 is slower than A8-3850. Take a look at the Charts 2011 :) 
  • 4 Hide
    killeeeeer , July 11, 2012 8:03 AM
    FormatCThe GT 520 is slower than A8-3850. Take a look at the Charts 2011
    "as the 3850 beats the 520 in benchmarks " read carefully
  • -7 Hide
    FormatC , July 11, 2012 8:15 AM
    At first: sorry
    English is for me nothing more than one foreign language and if I read over this posts quickly once...

    I found GTA (Vice City, San Andreas and/or GTA IV / EFLC) on each childs computer (boys, 10 years and older) and this old game is a good example for benchmarks, not more. Other older games are running on each toaster, if you oc'ed him from 110 to 230 Volt :D 
  • 3 Hide
    de5_Roy , July 11, 2012 8:24 AM
    nice read. :) 
    interesting choice, benching gta iv for a kid's pc...lol i know it was to test platform strength.. i hope it wasn't in the pc when it was handed to him. 7750 was a very good choice.
    some people might argue why the amd apus were not overclocked so that they could outperform pentiums for gaming and the apus' higher performance in 3d rendering and pov ray tracing.. :D 
    i am a bit skeptical about cm gx psu... overall good performance for money from both intel and amd builds.
  • -5 Hide
    emad_ramlawi , July 11, 2012 8:25 AM
    This is Cooler Master advertisement ...

    Tough Times huh Tom ...
  • 9 Hide
    FormatC , July 11, 2012 8:31 AM
    Quote:
    This is Cooler Master advertisement ...
    Tough Times huh Tom ...


    No, this is what I had on matching components in my lab here, because we have recently tested these parts. This is a so-called recycling :D 
  • 8 Hide
    daglesj , July 11, 2012 9:55 AM
    Once finished building your 'kids' PC I'd recommend cloning the finished build to another HDD and putting it away on a shelf......for a week or two later when they have messed it all up.
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