Needs More RAM?
June 2, 2009 7:37 AM   Subscribe

I've upgraded my video card. Games run great (for the most part), but windows itself runs slower. What do I do? Add more RAM? As always, more inside.

I'm running Vista Ultimate SP1 on a Dell Dimension 9200 with a 2.4ghz Core Quad and 2GB of DDR2-800 RAM. I upgraded from a GeForce 7600GT 256MB to a GeForce 9800GT 512MB. I uninstalled and reinstalled the drivers while doing the upgrade, even though it's the same package. After installing the drivers, rebooting, etc, I notice that Windows itself feels slightly less snappy, and that Sins of a Solar Empire (which is memory constrained more than video constrained) seems to take longer to load, and runs somewhat slower. When I ran 3dMark06, my score had jumped from ~7900 to ~11000, even though that's the very bottom of "systems like mine". I'm a former windows IT guy who's been off in *nix land for the last few years, so I don't know if there's some glaringly obvious vista problem that I'm missing here. I have a vague memory of something along the lines of "video memory is shadowed in main RAM, and if you have more video memory, you need more RAM for the same performance", but that could just be a misremembering of how a 32-bit OS can address a maximum of 4GB of ram. Additionally, could it be a power issue? I have two internal hard drives, and the 9800GT requires its own PCIe power connector, but when I've had power problems with home-built systems, I tended to get system hangs more than just slow performance.

So my questions:

1) What can I do to get my performance back where it was? Add another 2GB of RAM?

2) Are there any Vista tweaks that could help? I've already moved my paging file off of my system drive, but that's an old trick. Give me some new ones.

3a) I've got the Windows 7 RC lying around somewhere, I could install that. I've heard great things. What would be the effect performance-wise?

3b) 32-bit or 64-bit? Considering my system is hardware limited to 4GB of ram, would going 64-bit be worth it for the full 4GB versus the ~3.4GB I can get under 32-bit?
posted by Oktober to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
More RAM will definitely help, I noticed a significant improvement when switching from 2GB to 4GB.

For what it's worth RC1 does not seem to be a huge improvement over Vista in performance. This is a representative test.

Have you thought about installing Vista SP2? I can't find any convenient comparisons, but it might help.

As for tweaks, disabling Aero is usually given as a good way to reduce resource usage.
posted by oddman at 7:50 AM on June 2, 2009

Make sure you've got the latest drivers. NVIDIA's drivers are incredibly complex creatures, and they update them pretty frequently. If you're still using the drivers that came with the box, they're almost certainly out of date. A driver update can make a world of difference in performance - sometimes even overall Windows performance, which you wouldn't think would have much to do with your video card.

Get 'em here:

Of course, more system RAM never hurts either. 2 GB is a bit light for Vista IMO, and oh how my 10-years-ago-self would be cringing to hear me say that...
posted by captainawesome at 8:49 AM on June 2, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks guys. I'll definitely drop the $35 on another 2 gigs of RAM. I don't have SP2 yet, for whatever reason it hasn't been pushed to my machine. I'll grab it when I get home. I am using the latest drivers.
posted by Oktober at 9:16 AM on June 2, 2009

Response by poster: I guess my concern still is more "why is my machine slower".
posted by Oktober at 9:16 AM on June 2, 2009

I'm really not sure why this would happen, but I can say that in day-to-day Windows usage, Windows 7 feels much faster than Vista did. So I'd definitely give that a shot. You'd also gain a nice boost just from the reformat, I'd say, especially with all the driver issues involved.
posted by Jacen Solo at 9:50 AM on June 2, 2009

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