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May 31, 2007 11:54 AM   Subscribe

Upgrading memory - is the price difference between DDR PC3200 and DDR PC4000 worth it?

Thinking about maxing out the RAM in my Compaq WinXP desktop, taking it from 1 gb to 2 gb. This would involve getting rid of the 2 - 256mb sticks in there, and buying 3 new 512mb sticks.

My machine can accept either DDR PC3200 or DDR PC4000 memory - but the latter costs about three times as much. Is it worth it? I don't play any 3D games (still using the on-the-motherboard video adapter), just Windows tasks like Internet, Office, lots of open windows. What do you think?
posted by jbickers to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Even if you were a gamer this would translate into something like a handful of extra frames per second in a 3D game. Save your money and go with the slower ram.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:02 PM on May 31, 2007


I think the short answer is no, it's not worth it.

I think the long answer is very technical, and involves taking into consideration the FSB speed of your mainboard, and whether the memory speed is synchronous with that value (I've heard of examples where faster memory can slow a machine down because the speed of the memory wasn't synchronous with the FSB speed).

Also, I thought DDR memory only went up to PC3200 (which operates at 200Mhz), but I haven't looked at memory in awhile, so I could be wrong on that front. I'm sure someone who is more than vaguely aware of all these facts will answer your question more completely.

But I think the bottom line is that the performance difference is definitely not going to be 2x, or 3x, or even, you know, anything noticeable really - especially for the kind of tasks you describe.

I would definitely suggest just buying the slower, cheaper ram.
posted by kbanas at 12:09 PM on May 31, 2007


But I think the bottom line is that the performance difference is definitely not going to be 2x, or 3x, or even, you know, anything noticeable really - especially for the kind of tasks you describe.

Would you say this upgrade is worth doing at all? I mean, is 2 gig noticeably better on WinXP than 1 gig? Or am I just looking for an excuse to spend money on something geeky?
posted by jbickers at 12:28 PM on May 31, 2007


2 GB is very noticeably better on WinXP than 1 gig, provided you are doing something more than just word processing or browsing.

Think having iTunes, WoW, and Firefox open at the same time with antivirus software running, Google desktop, etc. Your computer will literally love you for the extra GB. In fact, I ordered a laptop with only 1 GB in it thinking that the 2 GB I have in my home system was overkill, and I can tell you from experience that it most assuredly is not. I upgraded to 2 GB in my laptop shortly thereafter and noticed a world of difference.
posted by fusinski at 12:32 PM on May 31, 2007


You say that three new 512 sticks, and ditching the 2x256 will bring you to 2 gb, so I'm assuming that you'll have one original 512 stick in there along with the three new.

Keep in mind that ALL of your ram will run at the speed of the slowest stick, so if that one old 512 is pc3200, don't waste your money with pc4000. Also, what kbanas said is reason enough to save some cash.
posted by utsutsu at 12:32 PM on May 31, 2007


As fusinski said, I think having 2GB of memory is definitely worth it.

Vista is the worst offender as far is this is concerned. At 1GB of system memory, it will idle at between 65% - 70% in use. That's idle, with absolutely nothing open

That said, XP is pretty bad too. I think the minimum for an XP install, despite what Microsoft might say, is 512MB. 1GB is good. 2GB is great.

You will definitely notice a performance difference with a bigger pool of available memory.
posted by kbanas at 12:37 PM on May 31, 2007


Looking at 1GB DDR sticks at Crucial, I see $124.99 vs $144.99 (3200 vs 4000). 4000s will be more expensive, but anywhere that's doing them at three times as much is suspect.
posted by wackybrit at 12:46 PM on May 31, 2007


Careful going to 4 sticks; on some systems; just because you can physically fit them in the socket doesn't mean the memory controller is going to drive them all at full speed. Many older AMD64 systems will only drive 4 DIMMs at 333Mhz (or less?) reliably.
posted by Freaky at 2:17 PM on May 31, 2007


I don't play any 3D games (still using the on-the-motherboard video adapter), just Windows tasks like Internet, Office, lots of open windows. What do you think?

Sounds like 1GB is enough for you. It is certainly enough for me 99% of the time. You can check your usage by launching task manager (ctrl-alt-del, and press the task manager button) and looking at the performance tab. When you think you have a whole lot of stuff loaded, take a look at the area called 'pf usage'.

My understanding is that WoW is a memory hog, as are all the extra things a hard core WoW player would have going at the same time (vent, IM, plugins, who knows what else).

As for PC4000 being worth it. The simple answer is, if you don't know or care what brand/model of memory chips are on the stick (here we are not talking who made the stick, but who made the actual memory ICs) you don't want to pay a premium for high end memory.

More information about your system would help us to help you get the most out of it possible. You may or may not have huge headroom for over-clocking.
posted by Chuckles at 4:58 PM on May 31, 2007


I think the minimum for an XP install, despite what Microsoft might say, is 512MB.

XP runs off 256. It might take a while extra to load and I wouldn't recommend running anything intensive or multi-tasking, but it'll get word processing and Internet done (we have a lab of 18 computers with XP pro and 256 and while it's not ideal, it functions).
posted by jmd82 at 6:50 PM on May 31, 2007


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