Gaming - 1 Gig fast RAM, or 2 Gig normal RAM?

I have 1 Gig of RAM right now that’s pretty fast and I have the option to either add 2 512 Meg modules of fast RAM, or just go to a new 2 Gig matched set of normal speed RAM. Current RAM is Kingston HyperX 3500 (433MHz). If I go to 2 Gig, it would be 3200 (400 MHz).

So for games coming out etc, what would be best?

  • Stay with the matched set of two 512-Meg modules (1 Gig of RAM)?

  • Up it with another set two 512 Meg fast RAM?

  • Or just got to a two 1-Gig matched set of normal RAM for 2 Gig total?

Thanks for the help! :D

My current specs:

  • OS: Win XP Home SP2
  • Directx 9.0c
  • Processor: AMD FX-53
  • Motherboard: Asus A8V Deluxe rev1.2
  • Bios Rev: Version 1007
  • VIA 4-in-1 Version 4.51
  • VIA SATA Raid version 2.20D
  • Memory: 1 Gig Kingston 3500 (433MHz)
  • Video Card: ATI Radeon X800 XT Platinum Cat 4.9
  • Sound Card: SB Audigy 2 ZS (latest non-beta drivers)
  • Pioneer DVD-RW Drive
  • Samsung SATA 120 Gig, 7200 rpm, (Model ST316002 3AS - Drive C)
  • Seagate SATA 160 Gig, 7200 rpm, (Model ST3160023A - Drive D)
  • Seagate ATA-133 160 Gig, 7200 rpm, (Model ST3160023A - Drive E)
  • Logitech MX510 Gaming Mouse
  • Sound settings utilizing 5.1 speakers and EAX 3
  • Klipsch ProMedia 5.1 Surround System
  • Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 2060u - 22”

I have an AMD-64, and had to make that same decision. I went with 2GB of normal speed RAM because I believe it gave me a more capable system than having only 1 GB of faster RAM.

Of course, my game playing and computer use habits probably don’t match yours. I tend to multitask while playing MMPORG games, so it’s important to me that my system be responsive while task-switching between memory hogging apps. I also tend to do a lot of Photoshop manipulation on very large, high resolution photographs, and I also encode .avi video using Xvid codecs. These are all tasks that benefit enormously from having a lot of RAM.

Same here.

Well I’ve started multitasking a lot while playing WoW, and that is the primary reason I’m looking to get more RAM…

If you use all four ram slots, you’ll need to use 2T memory timings, which will lower bandwidth quite a bit. If you actually have a use for >1gb of ram (which is very doubtful), that’s reasonable. If you don’t, don’t.

Also “faster” RAM only matters if you overclock. If you don’t overclock, it is absolutely identical and a waste of money.

RAM speed only enters into it if your CPU has a faster bus. The typical
Sempron nowadays, for instance, has a 333MHz speed, which can only
be achieved with 2 sticks of 166MHz RAM[1]. 200MHz RAM is actually cheaper
than the lower AND higher speeds here, so it’s what most people get here.

So, take the core speed and divide by two. That’s the RAM frequency you
need if not overclocking. Some shops will list their RAM at the speed you
get when running with two sticks - cheap trick.

[1] To my knowledge, anyway ;)

If you’re talking about cas latency and not mhz, then the difference is surprisingly small. You can read various independent tests about this sort of thing on the web.

I’m not sure why you need to put any more RAM in the system anyway. Is there a hole you want to fill?

Not that this is the best system, but in Windows, under your task manager, under performance, you’ll see a box called “Commit Charge” and at the bottom is Peak. After some use, if your Peak isn’t higher than your Physical Memory Total, you’ll just be wasting your cash. Otherwise, go for it…


I was surprised to find that my performance in EQ2 got noticeably better in load screens when I switched my RAM sticks into slots 1 and 3 to get the dual-channel configuration.

I had been holding off doing this because I read that the difference was minimal, but as somebody point out a while ago, it depends on the application. Some apps do require significant memory bandwidth and can utilize the additional bandwidth that dual-channel offers. I’m glad I switched. If you have a dual-channel MB you might be better off getting two 1 gig sticks instead of filling up all four slots.

You can still use dual channel with four sticks, you’ll just have to drop the timings from 1T to 2T.

Dropping from 1T to 2T will hurt you anywhere between 1 and 20fps, depending on how memory-bandwidth dependant your game is. It’s much more noticeable in benchmarks than most games… it’ll burn HL2, not WoW.

My friend recently did some tests with LL ram vs regular ram:

he has 1 gig (2x512) of this ram:

running at 2 2 2 11 (5 is default but 11 is faster on nforce boards)

then he simulated value ram:

running at 2.5 3 3 11

That’s about $130 difference.
This is a nforce3 chipset so single channel. Maybe there is a bigger difference with dual channel.

3dmark01 LL 22,470 ValueRam 21,932
3dmark03 LL 11,455 ValueRam 11,396
3dmark05 LL 4,665 ValueRam 4,660

Over 500 pts difference in 3dmark01. Low latency seems to make no difference in 03 and 05. Now I’ll have to run some game benchmarks to see if there’s a real world difference.

Counter-strike source video stress test LL 80 fps valueram settings 80fps
1280x1024 resolution with model detail high, antialiasing at 4x, texture detail high, anisotropic filtering 8x, water - reflect world, shader high and shadows high.

Halo both memory settings came in at 70fps

###Sound Options###
Hardware Acceleration= Yes
Sound Quality= High
Environmental Sound= No
Sound Variety= High
###Video Options###
Resolution= 1280 x 1024
Refresh rate= 60 Hz
Framerate throttle= No Vsync
Specular= Yes
Shadows= Yes
Decals= Yes
Particles= Off
Texture Quality= High

What does it all mean? I think that these games and the 3dmark03 and 05 benchmarks are more cpu/gpu bound than they are memory bandwidth bound. Should’ve saved the money on the memory and bought a faster cpu.

ARogan - excellent write-up.

1 gig dual channel at 3200 or 2 gig dual at 2700? Memory got cheap all of a sudden and i’m getting the ‘bug’. According to my motherboard, the memory will run at 2700 if you fill all four slots. This seems somewhat counterproductive.

Sounds like an Athlon 64 system?

The Athlon 64 memory controller is set up to only run four banks of RAM at 2700. Motherboards will let you manually override it, though.

The new E-series steppings, out in a few weeks, will fix the problem.

Sounds like an Athlon 64 system?

The Athlon 64 memory controller is set up to only run four banks of RAM at 2700. Motherboards will let you manually override it, though.

The new E-series steppings, out in a few weeks, will fix the problem.[/quote]

So i can, practically anyway, run 2 gig, 4 banks, at 3200? Yes, it is an Athlon 64 mb (MSI Neo2 K8T800 pro)

It will still default to DDR333 speeds. But you can manually change it to 200MHz, and it will probably be just fine, if it’s high quality memory.