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Buying new P4 cpu and motherboard : IS it worth getting Dual channel DDR RAM support ?


I am looking to buy a new motherboard, CPU and RAM as cheaply as possible. I wanna get a P4 2.4Ghz but I dont know if its worth getting a motherboard that supports dual-channel DDR RAM or not. The two boards I am lookig at are the MSI 648Max (£61) and the Gigabyte SINPXP1394 (£130). Does anyone know if it is worth the extra money to get dual channel RAM ?

1 Solution
As with many such decisions it boils down to what is more important to you...  Saving money or buying performance.

If the added performance of the dual-channel DDR RAM is important to you, important enough to pay extra for it, then go for it.  If not, then don't.

In most cases, you will not see a significant SYSTEM LEVEL performance boost from dual-channel DDR RAM.  Some benchmarks and some specific types of computing problems benefit from this, but these are very memory intensive problems.  Most home, business, and gaming uses of PC are not that memory intensive and so the benefit of dual-channel is marginal.

Things that benefit from this are problems like image processing, numerical analysis, and large database applications.  These problems not only use a lot of RAM but access it frequently.
Dual Channel DDR does different things on different systems with different processors.  P4 processors benefit much more from Dual Channel DDR than Athlon processors due to the increased Front Side Bus speed of P4 processors where the Dual Channel DDR generally matches the bus bandwidth of the processor vs an Athlon where Dual Channel DDR offers a greatly higher data bandwidth than the processor can recieve, thus wasting the extran bandwidth, making the improvement less noticable.

Another application that benefits greatly from Dual Channel DDR on a P4 platofrm is Mpeg encoding, be it video or audio as both are data speed sensitive, but predictable processes where the trace cache hits constantly, so the more data you can feed the processor the faster it's going to go.
To tell you frankly you would be choking your P4 processor bandwidth if you don't give it enough memory bandwidth.

There are couple of things for you to consider..
1. when is your next upgrade?
2. what kind of applications do you run
3. do you need the speed later on w/o upgrading the system

I suggest u don't go in for a P4 2.4 if u don't plan to give it some dual channel ddr bandwidth
also with falling prices of ddr 6 months from now its very likely that u might want to double the amount of ram you have and really speed up the things.

The MSI board is pretty good board with unofficial support for more than advertised DDR333

But if u don't have any of the above requirements then forget it you don't need dual channel support
noblaAuthor Commented:
I use it 90% for playing games with a bit of MPEG encoding too. If I go for the dual channel DDR Gigabyte board does low latency RAM make a lot of difference as buying two PC3200 256mb Cas2.5 Ram chips is going to cost a fortune. Or will two generic 256mb PC3200 chips do fine ?
Dual Channel DDR is funny on latency.  Now, acrosss the board you may experience a speed increase when it comes to latency, but no one page of data will speed up to help your latency.

It's like this:  Imagine you have a group of cars that accelerate from 0-60 in 1.5 seconds and they always take 500 feet to do so, and that 500 foot line is their destination, and they all carry pakages that they throw out their window as they pass the 500 foot line.  Now, you also have to load the cars, and they can only take off every 1 second and it takes a second to load a car with the package you need.  So, the fastest you can get a package within 2.5-3.5 seconds from when you request the package.  Now, imagine we add another lane with cars, complete with another finish and package recepticle, although the recepticle goes to the same pile, but not the same source.  So, now you have two streams of cars, so you ask for a particlar package (they're all different you know,) and it comes from a particular source, get's loaded in a car that's connected to that source, get's dropped in the pile, it takes the same 2.5-3.5 seconds to happen, no increase by adding that second lane.  But, as usuall, you're asking for a whole bunch of packages, so while you're waiting for one to be loaded and sent in one lane, you can ask the other lane for a different package you need, now that second package didn't have to wait for the first one to be sent.  In an ideal world you would shave 1-2 seconds off the latency for that second package, but of course sometimes most of the packages you need are in that first lane, so you have to wait anyway, but you still have a speed up fairly often.  So, yeah, it can and does help latency, but not enough that I would ignore Cas latencies if you're looking for "ultimate" speed.

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