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Upgrading memory...


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#1
UV_Power

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I have kind of an obscure question for you guys. I have 2x512MB of DDR PC3200 Dual Channel RAM on an Abit Motherboard (see sig.)

I was thinking of going up to 2GB memory and my motherboard has 3 slots on it. Two slots are for dual channel(where my memory is) and one in the middle (which is currently empty).

Would there be any disadvantages to just putting a single module 1GB DDR PC3200 right in that middle slot? Would it mess with the dual-channel at all or not? I can't seem to find a clear answer on Google, so I thought I'd try here.

Thanks in advance. :)
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#2
vally

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Here is an article from toms workbench that talks about it and compare the different options.

From what I understand that if the program is not designed for this then dual chanel won't really make a difference. so As it seems that the more ram the better for it to run even if you do loose the 'advantage' of dual channel. :)
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#3
happyrock

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another source of info is here...

Dual Channel Memory can help improve the RAM speed, because this technique doubles bandwidth...

The processor has two speeds, one internal – which is the one labeled on the CPU, like 3 GHz, 3.2 GHz and so on – and one external, used to access the CPU's outside world, specially RAM....

if adding another stick of ram puts you in single channel ..don't do it

Edited by happyrck, 20 January 2008 - 09:07 AM.

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#4
james_8970

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I have never seen a motherboard with only 3 RAM slots.
While dual channel does improve performance, the extra GB would serve as a greater benefit then dual channel would in the majority of cases. However, I cannot see the additional RAM adding much performance to your PC.
James

Edited by james_8970, 20 January 2008 - 02:40 PM.

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#5
UV_Power

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the more ram the better for it to run even if you do loose the 'advantage' of dual channel.

if adding another stick of ram puts you in single channel ..don't do it


hmmm... right back where I started.... :)

I appreciate the input. I think that adding 1GB of non-dual-channel will outweigh the cost of 2GB of dual channel (in sense throwing away my 1GB that is in there now). I will give it a shot and see if it changes anything.

Edited by UV_Power, 20 January 2008 - 02:42 PM.

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#6
vally

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I looked into your board and found this

The NF7-S, based on nForce2 chip set (MCP-T + SPP), supports the latest AMD Athlon XP processors with 200/266/333 FSB, and features new dual 400MHz DDR memory controllers that deliver up to a 50% increase in bandwidth.


Memory:
- Three 184-pin DIMM sockets
- Supports 3 DIMM DDR 200/266/333 (Max. 3GB)
- Supports 2 DIMM DDR 400 (Max. 2GB)


So in your case you you would be better with dual channel and the larger the memory of the dual channel the better.

About what is better all together probably it is the dual channel.
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#7
happyrock

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if you went to the link I gave you ...you would have seen this...

I think that adding 1GB of non-dual-channel will outweigh the cost of 2GB of dual channel (in sense throwing away my 1GB that is in there now).

not so..
dual channel memory is not "special" kind of memory at all..its just 2 matched sticks of memory...
get a identical stick of memory that matches what you already have and put in the right slot and BAM ..you have dual channel memory...

Edited by happyrck, 21 January 2008 - 08:57 AM.

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#8
vally

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I think that happyrck agree... :)
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#9
james_8970

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if you went to the link I gave you ...you would have seen this...

I think that adding 1GB of non-dual-channel will outweigh the cost of 2GB of dual channel (in sense throwing away my 1GB that is in there now).

His conclusion is based on what is written on a piece of paper, not actual benchmarks.
Depending on the condition of the upgrade, having more RAM operate in single channel opposed to dual channel with more RAM will result in better performance. That's like comparing a 3.0GHz P4 to a 2.66GHz Core 2 duo on a single threaded application. Sure the Pentium4 has a great clock rate, but what processor is superior in the end? The Core2 duo due to it's superior micro architecture.
Because UV_Power only has 1GB of RAM, 2GB would likely serve as a much greater benefit then the current 1GB operating in single channel mode if he multitasks and games at high resolutions/settings.
I'm trying to find some up to date benchmarks for a dual channel setup with less RAM compared to a single channel setup with more, however I cannot find one at this time.

While I do not think the increases will be huge with a additional memory, I still think they will be greater then that of the single channel mode if you are doing a lot of multitasking and/or gaming at high resolutions and settings, otherwise you probably won't notice much of a increase in speed, simply because you do not need the additional memory. I know that when I play Crysis on Vista, I need ~2GB of RAM. It all depends on what you use your computer for. Be warned if you are mixing and matching RAM we cannot guarantee compatibility.
James

Edited by james_8970, 21 January 2008 - 10:19 AM.

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#10
happyrock

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go here for more info including benchmarks...its a PDF whitepaper from kingston memory...

The number of memory channels has a significant effect on a computer's overall performance. The GHz number is no longer the sole criterion for determining system performance. Dual-channel memory has been used for many years in higher-performing systems such as servers and workstations and is quickly becoming a part of mainstream computing...

A processor in a computer is like the engine of a car. A car needs gasoline to fuel its
engine. Similarly, a computer processor needs memory storage to process its data. Data
(in bits which are zeros and ones) must be stored in memory first, before being delivered
to the processor. When more data can be delivered to the processor via memory at faster
speeds, the processor can manipulate instructions and data more efficiently and ultimately, the requested task can be accomplished in less time.
To illustrate the difference between single- and dual-channel memory,
let's extend the analogy above. Data is filled into a Data funnel (memory); the funnel then channels the data through its pipe to the processor's input...

Dual-channel memory utilizes two funnels (and thus two pipes) to feed data to the processor, thereby being able to deliver up to twice the data of the single funnel. With two funnels or channels, data is transferred 128 bits at a time. The process works the same way when data is emptied from the processor by reversing the flow of data. To prevent the funnel from being over-filled with data or to reverse the flow of data through the funnel, there is a traffic controller shown as a valve on the funnel's pipe. In computers, there is a special chip called the Memory
Controller that handles all data transfers involving the memory modules and the processor.

In this industry-standard benchmark showing 3D graphical performance, going from
single- to dual-channel PC3200 memory increases system performance by over 15
percent. Going from single-channel PC2700 to dual-channel PC3200 increases
performance by over 25 percent. In addition, system performance actually increased by
nearly 5 percent when 1GB of total memory was used instead of 512MB.



for a more detailed explanation of ram go to anandtech here......a little lite reading...

Edited by happyrck, 21 January 2008 - 12:15 PM.

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#11
vally

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I understand what you are saying here

In this industry-standard benchmark showing 3D graphical performance, going from
single- to dual-channel PC3200 memory increases system performance by over 15
percent. Going from single-channel PC2700 to dual-channel PC3200 increases
performance by over 25 percent. In addition, system performance actually increased by
nearly 5 percent when 1GB of total memory was used instead of 512MB.


But in gamming you want to store as much as you can in the ram because if you need to access your hard drive to get more information to keep on running then you will loose most of or probably allot more than the 25 percent you will gain by saving the dual channel configuration.

In this situation that UV_Power is asking about the difference in speed between the single and dual channel then if he has 1g in the dual channel it will be better than 2 gig in 3 slots for they mainly wont be all identical so... If he were to upgrade to 512 MB 400 Mhz he would feel the difference.
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#12
happyrock

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Gaming software is very graphic intensive, ... the more important thing to have is a video card that has plenty of memory.... Because for gaming, the better and faster that the card is the better your system will perform ... One gig of RAM will be sufficient, since gaming software does not swap up to a gig of RAM anyways...the same for the video card... In fact, 1 gig of RAM and a high end video card will make any software perform optimally.
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#13
james_8970

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Happyrck, my post wasn't clear at times but what I was saying is that if you don't have sufficient memory, the bandwidth is irrelevant. Which is why, depending on the circumstances, more RAM will be of greater benefit then dual channel.

Gaming software is very graphic intensive, ... the more important thing to have is a video card that has plenty of memory.... Because for gaming, the better and faster that the card is the better your system will perform ... One gig of RAM will be sufficient, since gaming software does not swap up to a gig of RAM anyways...the same for the video card... In fact, 1 gig of RAM and a high end video card will make any software perform optimally.


Actually that is not entirely correct, the higher the resolution the more video RAM you need, however it's more important to have a good card then more memory. Look at the HD2900XT as an example, there is a 512mb and a 1GB model, there is no difference in speed except at very high resolutions (1920x1200+). With Vista premium and Crysis running at high settings @ 1680x1050, my computer needs in excess of 2GB of RAM quite often. However if you play at lower settings and a lower resolution, the amount of RAM required for the game will decrease.
James

Edited by james_8970, 21 January 2008 - 08:23 PM.

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#14
happyrock

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I'm sure james_8970 is correct that a few games will benefit from more ram...but go to the review and check out the benchmarking graphs ...


this is taken from toms hardware ...How Much RAM Do You Really Need?...the whole article is here..

Conclusion

The bottom line is that there is not just one single answer to the question of how much system memory you need. However, to help you decide for yourself, we put together the following criteria:
512 MB

There are a few situations where having just 512 MB system memory in your computer can be enough.

* If you run your games at low quality settings (small texture size) because you have an outdated CPU and graphics card, or because you prefer FPS over visual quality.
* If you only use one application at a time.
* If it is your grandmother's computer.

If you are buying a new computer, even if it's a laptop, opt for more than 512 MB - you will never regret it.
1 GB

Indeed, 1 GB of system memory will most likely be enough for the average user and for people.

* It will allow you to play new games at their highest quality settings, given that you have an adequate processor and a powerful graphics solution.
* You won't have to shut down non-critical applications when you want to play a game.
* You can (accidentally) press the Windows button while in a game without dying from a stroke during the seconds it takes to read Windows back into system memory from the swap file.
* If you go from 512 MB to 1 GB, you will notice the difference all the time. Starting up Photoshop while working with Word, an Internet browser, e-mail client and Acrobat Reader will go so much faster, and switching between the applications is a breeze.

2 GB

Still there are situations where more than 1 GB is what you want.

* If you are a professional user, you might need more than 1 GB for really heavy applications.
* If you intend to do heavy multitasking, especially if you have more than one CPU or CPU core. Running RAM intensive games such as World of Warcraft, downloading files via high speed FTP or encrypted protocols, Bittorrent or any P2P program; decompressing large archives and playing large size video files in a window or on second monitor all at the same time can max out your system memory pretty fast - if your CPU can handle it.
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#15
james_8970

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happyrck, the problem is that article is based in 2005. Since that article has been released, many new games and vista has been released.
Alot depends on what you want to use you computer for, which is why we need more information from UV.
If you game you pretty well need ~2GB, Crysis and supreme commander among other games have sevear memory leaking issues.
If you just do web browsing, 1GB will be fine.
If you have XP you could probably get away with 512mb, if you only use office applications.
If you use Vista, I don't recommend less then 2GB of RAM period, trust me, you notice a significant difference.
There are alot of variables in determining how much memory is required, lots has changed since 2005.....
James
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