Ram and Graphics card upgrade questions.

Hi, Current spec:

Processor:     Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Quad CPU Q6600 @ 2.40GHz (4 CPUs), ~2.4GHz
Memory:         OCZ 2GB Kit (2x1GB) DDR2 1000MHz/PC2-8000 Titanium Alpha VX2 CL4 2.3V
Graphics:       NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT 512 Zotac Amp! Edition
Motherboard: ASUS P5K AiLifestyle Series iP35 Socket 775 eSATA 8channel Audio ATX
O/S:               Windows Vista" Home Premium (6.0, Build 6001) Service Pack 1
PSU:               700W

My current hardware is all up to scratch (at least I would like to think it is) and runs everything I want including Crysis + Warhead (which seem to be the benchmark for everything these days) anyway I don't want to replace any of my parts, but rather thinking of adding too them, but I'm not sure if it is worth it.

My first question is about my RAM, my RAM is half decent and is fast enough to do everything I want but I can get another 2GB set for not half as much as I paid for it these days and I was wondering if with my 32bit Vista if upgrading to 4GB of RAM would work? I read countless forums of people saying it only reads 3.2 and that it will just crash or it works fine blah blah, from what I have gathered it doesnt all work properly in 32bit but I have also been told that with Service Pack 1 it fixes it to be able to use 4GB of ram, is this true? Should I buy it? To be honest its quite cheap and even if I get an extra 1GB out of it I'm sure in time it will be fixed to host 4 without 64bit.

My second question is with my Graphics card, I have been looking at benchmarks and the 8800GT seems to work fine, currently, I have a Zotac Amp! edition, which is clocked a little faster and has the use of HDMI output which is nice, but after looking at benchmarks it seems that having two 8800GT SLI is beating alot of newly brought out cards hands down and I was wondering if this was worth doing? I have enough space and power to run both and they dont get very hot, so is it worth it? I can pick up another Zotac Amp! for about £90 so not very expensive at all if its going to be a big boost.
Also if I did do that does anyone know if my HDMI would still work properly? It has an internal connection for sound I didnt know if having two graphics cards in would mess that up.

But for very little money I could go from 2gb ram and single core 512 graphics card to 4gb and duel 1gb graphics card.

So let me know what ya think,

Thanks alot!

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Anthony RussoConnect With a Mentor Commented:
I agree 100% with wannderer. The 8800GT is still one of the best bang for the buck cards out there, and 2 of them would only increase that excellence.

The RAM would give you over 3 Gigs available and still be running in dual channel mode for optimum speed. My son's computer has Vista 32-bit and it is running 4 gigs of Ram fine for a year now.

Definitely all good, safe investments from my perspective.

HI there, pretty nice system you have at the moment.  But if you want a little more power the upgrade you are talking about could be very interesting especially at the price you say.  

For the RAM, windows 32 bits is only able to map ~ 3.5 gigs except if you play a little in the bios of some motherboard.  But even then I would recommend going to 4 gigs as it will still help.  ( you can turn virtual memory off )

For the video card, SLI will handle everything, you don't need to do anything your driver will do it for you.  Sounds and HDMI will work like they are doing now.  And yes, dual 8800 GT is only about 16% lower than GTX 280 but 400$ cheaper :P
If you upgrade the ram get 2x2Gbs sticks, if you get 2 more sticks(4 total) this will slow the memory timings noticeably due to the stress on the memory controller. If you upgrade to 4gbs of ram you should also upgrade to a 64-bit Vista, if I remember right your product key should work with the 32-bit and 64-bit version of home premium but it will require a reinstall. Dual 8800gt's run very well(that's what I run), but the bad news is your motherboard doesn't support SLI, to run SLI you'll need to replace the motherboard.
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Just a small comment on jamietoner post

It is true that 2 stick is faster than 4 stick of RAM ( by about 3-5% ) ... but in your case, you already have 2*1 CL4 RAM which are pretty fast, the difference in price of buying a new 2*2 set vs a 2*1 upgrade is in my opinion not worth it for the minimal difference there will be in speed.

For the Vista license, sadly for you only the Ultimate version allow you to install 32 and 64 bits you will need to buy a new Vista if you want to move to 64 bits.

Also, your motherboard IS supporting SLI ( as I am pretty sure you already know ) but you need to check is your PSU have 2 * 12v 6pin rail of at least 26A ... even if you have 700W doesn't mean it will be able to run them both ( video card ).  
ThomasGreenAuthor Commented:
I can upgrade fo 64bit if I wish, my brother did it, I think it cost him something like £2, but I don't really want to, he has had a lot of problems with it and apparently with older games there is not much in the way of compatability, I'm happy with 32bit for now.

The bored is SLI yeah.

My powerpack is all set, its got 2 12v 6pin (might even have 4 actualy I haven't checked), and 8pin (for beasty ATI cards) even some power connectors I havent seen lol thought I may aswell buy one which I know is going to last me.

But it seems as though everything is leaning towards the doubling up of RAM and Graphics card to be a good idea :D never thought about going SLI, but when I think about my CPU being 4core (in a sense) it makes me think well graphics cards are probably catching up to at least duel core by now, and its probably better to have a dedicated card rather than have once graphics card share a GPU and onboard memory.

In reply to jamietoner, are your SLI 8800gt's good? I mean have you had any problems, run everything super fast?

"Also, your motherboard IS supporting SLI " WRONG the ASUS P5k supports ATI's Crossfire not Nvidia's SLI here's the link to the info for his board
With the memory the "minimal difference" wannderer is talking about was about 1000-3000 points(depended on what I oc'd my cpu too) in 3Dmark 06. The difference was also noticable in games like Crysis and Assassins Creed(don't know the exact FPS loss but it was noticeable).
I have had no problems with my 8800 GT's they have ran everything I have thrown at them at 1680x1050.
Oups ... jamietoner is right, your board may have 2 PCI-E slot, it is not SLI compatible. My error ...

It will only accept ATI Crossfire. This could weight more in your decision ( another 100$US to get another board )
ThomasGreenAuthor Commented:
Ahh yeah my mistake, there was me thinking that just because it was Intel that it would favour SLI.

I may have to rethink things in that case, replacing motherboards is always a chore, the socket 775 fan is a bugger to get on in the first place, then I have to buy more thermal greece, then I would have to reformat, so I might wait a bit untill I consider the SLI option, I would crossfire two ATI cards, but I had had ATI cards before and they suck in so much power, generate so much heat and dont perform overly great.

Can anyone suggest an Asus Motherboard at equal standard to the one I have now which is SLI? I always go Asus, never had any problems, I would stretch to £100 for one, thats what $175 or something? No point in buying parts which arnt going to last, might aswell get a bit of future proofing whilst I'm at it.

Also, can anyone find somewhere that sells the current RAM I am using? I have found lots which look similar but their CL5 and not "titanium" ebay only had 4gb to sell and I only need two.

wanndererConnect With a Mentor Commented:
If you want to stay with Asus here is what you can get

Asus P5N with nvidia 750i would be the best in your price range but will not take your RAM ... so we forget it

The smallest Asus P5N with nvidia 780i ( up to 3 video card ) is a little over budget ( if you take price here in US/Canada ... don't know the price in Europe )
For the RAM, the exact name you should be looking for is

You have the Extreme Volatage Edition ans they are pretty hard to find on this side of the ocean
First google link with the good part name
I have the P5N-t deluxe(780i) and its been a great board. The P5N-d(750i) only states ddr2-800 as its max but by adjusting the settings(overclocking) you can get your ram running at it's native speed. I have ran ddr2 1066 on a 650i(msi p6n) board and there's not much difference between the 750i and the 650i(pci-e 2.0) chipsets. Found a P5N-T for 104.45($144.18) which is a great deal on this board, but I don't know what UK e-tailers are trustworthy.
ThomasGreenAuthor Commented:
Hm, well I don't mind spending a bit to get it perfect, the board I have now cost me abotu £60 and I think it supports 1066MHZ and my RAM is only 1000MHZ, also will that board work with my RAM?

And thats for the RAM name :D is that exactly the same as the one I have yeah?
ThomasGreenAuthor Commented:
I had a look at this one


Will this be compatible? Is it fast?
Yes, the board you show is compatible, It will allow you to SLI and is fast enough for your RAM.

Won't be any problem with it
jamietonerConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Both the P5N-T(780i) or the P5N-D(750i posted above) will work with your ram, processor, video card(s) and psu. The P5N-D doesn't support 1000MHZ natively you can set it to 1000Mhz in the bios along with the memories recommended voltage and timings and it should run fine. I have found with high performance ddr2 on most boards you have to set the voltage and timings anyway.
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