How much system RAM is needed these days?

  VNAM75 20:42 19 Sep 07
Locked

About 2 years ago I bought my pc with an AMD 3800 cpu and 1gb ram. It wasn't top end but above average and 1 gb ram was ample.

I'm thinking of adding an extra 1 gb ram, but on checking the crucial site it stated that I should upgrade to either 3gb or 3.5gb in total, saying that it was what is supported by 32 bit operating systems, ie XP. I'm using XP pro.

I currently have 2 x 512mb ballistix crucial memory occupying 2 slots with 2 spare. I just want 2gb in total by adding an extra 2 x 512mb modules. Would this setup work OK? My motherboard limit is 4gb ram.

Just by having one webpage open, the computer is using up half of my system ram according to the task manager. I don't play games often but usually have a lot of applications running at once, eg. limewire, msn, media player, webpages etc...

  sinbads 21:00 19 Sep 07

yes ;but why not add a gig and leave one slot free for further additions if required.

you could also reduce thew number of processes using msconfig to reduce memory use on tickover

  interzone55 21:11 19 Sep 07

I'd follow Crucial's advice, add 2 x 512mb sticks. 2gb should be more than enough.

Close all running programs and run the task manager to check whats running in the background, make a note of anything using any cpu time and do a google search to check if it's OK.

Also do as Sinbads said and stop anything superfluous from running using msconfig.

Try posting this in the Helproom, lots of people who'll help you there

  VNAM75 21:25 19 Sep 07

OK, thanks. It says adding in pairs gives better performance than a single stick.

  Stuartli 21:34 19 Sep 07

I have an AMD 3200+ XP Pro system with 1GB of RAM.

I'm generally online with several Firefox pages open and also watching TV using an internal Twinhan Freeview PCI card.

Until about two months ago, I only had 512MB of RAM, yet it all operated very satisfactorily - the additional RAM hasn't seemingly offered apparent benefits, although I'm sure they must be there...:-)

  DrScott 23:34 19 Sep 07

there's little point in going above 2Gb unless you have a 64 bit system. RAM currently runs better in matched pairs. 3 Gb would entail an unequal matching, and so would not run as dual channel.

  interzone55 09:00 20 Sep 07

Not necessarily

As VNAM75 currently has 1gb made up of 2x 512mb, he could add 2x1gb sticks to make 3gb.

The memory ceiling for a 32bit OS is 4gb of total ram, this includes the video ram on the VGA card, so really no-one should go over 3gb. Which makes me wonder why so many OEMs are shipping systems with 4gb of RAM but only installing 32bit versions of Vista, surely they must be getting hundreds of support calls from owners once they realise Windows is only reporting 3gb of RAM

  techie4me 10:09 20 Sep 07

Running the following:
XP min 512MB recomended 1GB
Vista min 512MB recomended 1GB, but 2GB better,Vista supports upto 4GB also.

  Pine Man 11:11 20 Sep 07

I have seen one manufacturers site where they shipped a 32 bit system with 4GB of RAM. The recipient queried the fact that Vista was only recognising 3GB and he was told - 'don't worry it might show that but it is actually using the 4GB it's just that Vista can't show it!

You are correct about the pairing of RAM sticks as long as each individual pair is matched it doesn't matter that one pair is 512mb and the other 1GB and Dual Channel will be enabled.

A lot of sites (including Microsoft) advocate enabling PAE to force the system to recognise the full 4GB RAM but what they don't say is that this makes the RAM less efficient.

  interzone55 11:59 20 Sep 07

PAE is enabled by default in XP SP2 and Vista if you have a 64 BIT AMD CPU, as AMD64 architecture uses PAE mode for the NX bit.

Does this mean that Athlon 64 CPUs don't use RAM as efficiently in 32 bit operating systems?

As for Vista still using 4gb RAM despite only showing 3gb, that's rubbish and resellers like that should be exposed. It's akin to installing a V8 engine, but disabling 2 of the cylinders. Yes sir, you have a 4 litre engine, but idrive will only allow you to use 3 litres, it's for your own good...

  Pine Man 12:16 20 Sep 07

'Does this mean that Athlon 64 CPUs don't use RAM as efficiently in 32 bit operating systems?'

Sorry can't answer that, my understanding is that 64 bit systems are designed to use up to 125GB RAM whereas 32 bit systems can only use up to a max of 4GB. The enabling of PAE in 32 bit systems forces them to do something for which they are not designed and therefore operate less efficiently under the new circumstances.

You are right about the comment that M..h made and here are the exact words - 'The system still uses 4gb of RAM, but due to other devices installed in the system also keeping in mind you have a 32bit OS, Windows will only see 3gb.'

Make what you will of that!

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