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I think that I know the answer to this already, but.....
I have a PC (P4 3Ghz, 512MB [DDR2 533], 160GB IDE [UDMA Mode 5, 100mbps], XP Pro). Although it is not the most recent of specs, I bought it (new) recently (for £130)
Anyhow, I'm thinking of whether to switch to a SATA drive (the mobo supports SATA-II).
The question is whether there would be any useful increase in performance by switching to SATA? For example, the current boot time is approx. 75 seconds (up to and including the point where items in the Start Menu run - I know this as I run BGinfo from the Start Menu and I can see when this updates the desktop).
The PC isn't used for anything overly heavy (no games or video editing etc.), so there isn't a pressing need, just that it's always nice to be faster.
BTW, I know that some may think that 512MB is not a lot, but from my experience, I rarely need more, although I shall add in another strip.
If you have enough space left then there is not much point IMHO. Yes, SATA is faster (it would probably shave 10 seconds off your boot time but for applications and documents it wont be noticeable. As you already said, more memory would be more of a performance increase. (Check to see if your motherboard supports dual channel memory and if so then buy 2 sticks the same)
Tinkering is that sort of way- like upping processor
can be a lot of hassle for no measurable advantage.
It has to be remembered that machines from the big makers are designed around a discrete set of components each matched to the other- sometimes the components themselves will not accept 3rd party add on's.
A memory upgrade is the best thing you can do here.
".....there isn't a pressing need, just that it's always nice to be faster.BTW, I know that some may think that 512MB is not a lot, but from my experience, I rarely need more"
Job to decide what is your precise query. Do you want a faster machine or not?
SATA will not make one iota of difference. Despite your experience of rarely needing more I guarantee more will be faster, if that is what you want.
You got a very good bargain - I paid more than that for a mobo/cpu/mem upgrade recently. However, upgrade your RAM to maximum and you will notice a difference.
Thanks to all for your input. My suspicions would seem to be confirmed.
On the matter of the memory upgrade, I can see that very little, if any, paging takes place. Also, I previously upgraded my (rather) old XP Home desktop's memory from 512MB to 768MB with no noticeable effect.
However, it is so inexpensive (e.g. £8-9 for 512MB) and, as others have commented, it is a (virtually) no hassle upgrade (unlike installing a new HDD and migrating all the contents.
I'm going to be ordering some other bits so I shall do this anyhow.
WRT to dual channel, from test results I have seen, there is very little real world advantage to be gained over single channel, so matched strips aren't critical IMHO.
Re Dual Channel Memory.
A computer will have a bottle neck somewhere in data transfer, it depends on the individual components envolved ie Hard Disk, Memory Controller, RAM, CPU and IDE drives. The data will only be transferred as fast as the slowest component. If the RAM cannot feed the CPU quickly enough the CPU halts working until more data is received. You have a 3Ghz P4, which probably has a small level 2 cache (compared to newer CPUs), which can benefit from fast memory transfers. As you say yourself, memory is so cheap these days, why not put in 2 sticks?
The only problem then would be that your Hard Disk would probably be the bottleneck!
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