Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Varying RAM Capacities

You Want 4 GB RAM on Your Notebook?

ram scaling notebooksram scaling notebooks


ram scaling notebooksram scaling notebooks

We used two 512 MB DDR2 Samsung DIMMs for our first round of testing.

1 GB of memory has been the sweet spot in notebooks for quite some time, but more and more notebooks, even at the low end, are being factory-equipped with 2 GB of RAM. We decided to start at the 1 GB capacity point, as many notebooks are still equipped with this amount. As you will see later, an upgrade to at least 2 GB of RAM makes a lot of sense, as the battery runtime gets a nice boost.

ram scaling notebooksram scaling notebooks

ram scaling notebooksram scaling notebooks

The 512 MB Samsung DIMMs we grabbed from another laptop are programmed to support CL3 timings at DDR2-400 speed, with CL4 timings at DDR2-533 and CL5 timings at DDR2-667.


ram scaling notebooksram scaling notebooks

The default memory installation of our test notebook was 2 GB of RAM, consisting of two 1 GB DDR2-667 SO-DIMMs.

2 GB RAM can be considered very much standard today. Most notebooks are equipped with two 1 GB DIMMs, since these offer the best cost per RAM capacity ratio. DDR2-667 is sufficient for all the Intel chipsets available today, but other platforms may require DDR2-800.

ram scaling notebooksram scaling notebooks

ram scaling notebooksram scaling notebooks

The SPD programming (Serial Presence Detect) of our 1 GB DIMMs was just like the settings found stored on the 512 MB SO-DIMMs.

4 GB RAM : Corsair ValueSelect

ram scaling notebooksram scaling notebooks

Corsair provided a 4 GB SO-DIMM kit for our testing. The two 2 GB DIMMs support DDR2-667 speed.

Be advised that a 32-bit Windows XP or Windows Vista cannot utilize the entire 4 GB of RAM. However, there will still be more than 3 GB of RAM available for Windows and your applications. Looking at prices of $80 for a mainstream 4 GB kit for notebooks and $100 and up for 4 GB upper mainstream memory for the desktop, you will realize that it doesn’t make sense to purchase any other memory module combination that will give you a total of 3 GB of RAM. Windows XP x64 or the 64-bit versions of Windows Vista will be happy to work with 4 GB of RAM once you switch to them.

ram scaling notebooksram scaling notebooks

ram scaling notebooksram scaling notebooks

ram scaling notebooksram scaling notebooks

Ask a Category Expert

Create a new thread in the Reviews comments forum about this subject

Example: Notebook, Android, SSD hard drive

Display all 17 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , April 29, 2008 4:42 PM
    I like the review and have noticed a better system, especially with vista 64 but wish we could get even more right now.
  • 0 Hide
    Christopher1 , April 29, 2008 8:14 PM
    The problem with getting 'even more' is that most notebook motherboards are not made to deal with more than 4GB's memory.... in fact, I think I read that there was a problem with desktop motherboards before the latest ones when you tried to put in more than 4GB's memory.
  • 0 Hide
    IM0001 , April 29, 2008 8:43 PM
    I can for some part prove that battery life does go up with 4gb of ram. I have an older Toshiba A105-S4094 which has a Centrino Duo (pre Core 2 tech) T2250 @ 1.73Ghz. It came with 1.5GB (1 X 512mb 1 X 1Gb)that I later upgraded to duel 2gb sticks. It is only 32bit atm and pre SP1 Vista Ultimate (so it only sees 3gb) but with what I have, I disabled the swap file and run most everything just fine. Performance did increase a bit and my battery life went up about 30min or so when in power save mode with wireless on during my long late classes. I would think that having the harddrive shuffle less would definitly cause the battery to last a bit longer and well looks like my hunches were right.
  • 0 Hide
    anonymous x , April 29, 2008 10:14 PM
    very nice, but i'll stick with 2 GB ram
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , April 29, 2008 11:13 PM
    " the German price comparison platform...." It is a AUSTRIAN platform. Let them be pride of something...
  • 0 Hide
    johnbilicki , April 30, 2008 3:42 AM
    Who in their right mind would leave virtual memory enabled? The most I've ever used is roughly 1.4GB in XP though Vista will cache things immediately after it's installed without knowing what I'll actually bother to use. This is just as bad as virtual memory!

    I'll stick with XP and my 2GB of Corsair until a version of Linux that doesn't require you to wander in to the console every five minutes comes along. nice thing though is that the reviews consider reasonably priced equipment. I don't care about 8800 Ultras, 9800GX2s, or thousand dollar CPUs. I've got more important priorities then trying to impress people who aren't getting any work done.
  • 0 Hide
    Phrexianghoul , April 30, 2008 6:09 AM
    This may seem like a silly question, but at the rate which SSHD's are gaining capacity and speed wouldn't that make DDR memory a thing of the past? At least i hope there will come a point in which read and write times to/from a SSHD would be as fast as the latest DDR2/3 memory and beyond. And if SSHD could achieve such speeds i think it would be completely possible to remove system memory and partition of a section of the HD to serve as the systems memory. And in the event that one could do this, one could easily adjust the memory as needed. The only limitation that i see would be in the operating systems ability to handle "x" amount of memory. Now this may not work at all, but it was a thought that had occurred to me while i was reading the article.
  • 0 Hide
    JPForums , April 30, 2008 1:25 PM
    Lets explore that thought shall we.
    The fastest SSD I've seen has read/write speeds of approximately 110MBps/80MBps and an access latency of about 0.1ms.
    If significantly faster SSDs are currently for sale, please forgive me for not keeping up with storage tech the way I used to. (BTW, FusionIO is neither an SSD nor affordable outside of datacenters)

    To simplify things we'll just use the faster of the two.
    110MBps = 880 Mbps
    This is roughly the effective throughput of single channel DDR-400 on an AthlonXP chipset. (Memtest86(+))
    It is a little more than half the effective throughput of the single channel DDR-400 controller on the socket 754 Athlon 64 systems.
    It is less than a quarter of the effective throughput of the dual channel DDR2-800 controller on an Athlon64 X2.
    I don't have readily available numbers on an Intel DDR3 system, but you can see where this is going.
    (I could have put in Intel memory controller results and/or AthlonXP dual channel results, but these numbers fit better to get the general feel of things)

    These results aren't bad actually.
    SSDs may not have reached even the last generation of memory technology, but at least in throughput, they match RAM technology that was widely used to run Windows XP.

    Side note: If you use theoretical bandwidth, then SSDs can't reach DDR-400 (3200Mbps) until the interface gets upgraded to 4GHz (~400MBps).
    If the numbers seem funny to you, it's because I'm taking into account the 10/8 encoding scheme that SATA uses.

    The real kicker is the access time.
    0.1ms seems very fast in HDD terms, but on a 2GHz processor, this is about 200000 cycles of latency.
    Compare that to:
    150-165 cycles for the AthlonXPs
    125-140 cycles for P4s
    ~60 cycles for Athlon64s

    RAM is made to be accessed very often in relatively short bursts.
    Until SSDs can get the latency down, they have no hope of replacing RAM.

    If mass storage were as quick as RAM, you wouldn't dedicate part of it to be used as RAM.
    Rather, you would manipulate the files directly from the mass storage device.
    This would eliminate RAM all together, reducing overhead and potentially power consumption.
    Unfortunately, no current mass storage device has the potential to do that.
    I'm still waiting for MRAM to make its appearance.
    It used to hold promise, but after waiting so long I lost interest and stopped keeping up with it.
    Perhaps it can do what flash can not.
  • 1 Hide
    tphillips63 , April 30, 2008 1:30 PM
    That is good information but I would like to have seen 3GB numbers using a 2GB and a 1GB SODIMM.
  • 0 Hide
    notherdude , April 30, 2008 9:16 PM
    Well, if battery life goes up on a laptop that significantly would not power consumption on a desktop also improve? If so, this would be a noteworthy fact. I could easily see the extra ram paying for itself in energy savings not to mention helping the environment.
  • 0 Hide
    mmc4587 , May 1, 2008 5:33 AM
    If you wan't maximum battery with 2 or 3GB just turn off the swap-file.
  • -1 Hide
    windego , May 6, 2008 6:22 AM
    You could just turn off swap space. Then it wont use the harddrive, thus preserving battery life. I refuse to run vista, preferring Linux and xp in dual boot.

    Feeding the OS endless amounts of ram is not a long term solution to an underlying performance issue. I can run Ubuntu linux with all the fancy compiz-fusion eye candy with just 512mb and it's smooth. Vista doesn't run smooth even with 1gb; it's a real dog. I understand why everyone is avoiding it like the plague, except of course those poor unfortunates who bought into the Direct X 10 marketing fallacy, and others who bought a new machine with it preinstalled (microsoft tax).
  • 0 Hide
    Christopher1 , May 7, 2008 7:20 AM
    Just make sure that once you put in that 4GB's of RAM, that you TOTALLY disable the swap file on the hard drive. I've done that for my notebook, and it gets nearly 3 times the battery life that it did after putting in 4GB's of memory and before disabling the swap file totally.
  • 0 Hide
    sim5728 , August 2, 2008 10:14 AM
    Hi, Ive never taken a laptop completely apart before and was wondering how I would remove the keyboard to get to the second ram bay, any info and pics of the process u can give will be greatly appreciated, thx in advance :) 
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , August 19, 2008 1:02 AM
    I just recently purchased the ocz 4gb pc2 5400 (2x2gb) for d630 with winxp. I know that it can only recognize 3.5gb but my computer crashes everyweekend i take it home with blue screen. It only happens when I travel back from abilene to dallas (3hr drive) but I keep it in a laptop bag. Can I really have damaged or unseated the memory or do i just have bad memory to begin with? The install was done by dell certified techs and noticed that dell 2gb was pc5300 and ocz's were 5400, does that make a difference? Dunno if its user error with not handling laptop correctly( which i do) or just bad memory. Problem does not happen during time spent at school.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , September 4, 2008 8:32 PM
    I'm planning to upgrade my laptop's memory. Should I get two 1GB memory or one 2BG memory? Does it matter?

    Thank you!
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , September 13, 2008 3:07 PM
    just go 4gb, its only $40-70 (2 x2gb)= if u get 1 2gb stick u can have 3gb by replacing one slot