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reviving an old (but still alive) PC...

Posted on 2009-05-12
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-11-10
Hi all,
I have a quite old PC, that I like to maintain alive upgrading it when a bargain on used hardware become affordable (it's primary for the hobby of doin' it), and it's only used for Internet browsing and multimedia playing.
A friend of mine is offering me for a very low price an ATI HD3650 card (512 DDR2 - AGP) that doesn't fit his PCI-Ex slot (he didn't read the fine prints).

Being tempted at reaching a full-HD capable hardware I'm thinking of adding 1 more Gb of RAM to my actual system (more is not needed 'cause the 3Gb of XP32 that I'm actually using).
Here's my actual configuration.

Processor: AMD Opteron 180
Motherboard: MSI K8N Neo2 Platinum (Nforce 3 Ultra Chipset)
RAM: OCZ Platinum EL - 2X1Gb Dual Channel
a couple of SATA 150 hard drives...

so, the question is, I can easily find the same RAM model, in 2x512, which configuation is better?

1.5 Gb per channel?

a 2x 1Gb channel and a 2x512 Gb channel?

a 2x1Gb Dual Channel and a Single 1 GB Channel B?

keep the money, filling 4 slots will add too much load, and you will need them for a bigger monitor or a newer PC?

Thanks for your time

Question by:eeBradipo
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LVL 17

Expert Comment

by:Andres Perales
ID: 24368155
go ahead and get two 2GB sticks and insert them into two slots...let your computer worry and manage you computer memory...
LVL 31

Expert Comment

ID: 24368236
Is this your motherboard?

If so, you have a few problems.

1) It has an AGP slot. The video card won't fit in this mobo either.
2) It uses DDR ram. You can conceivably get four 1gb sticks for a total of 4gb but it's going to be tremendously expensive. Your best bet is to get 4x512mb and have 2gb total.
3) Your motherboard is made by MSI. It requires very specific combinations of memory. See the link I provided above, there's a table there describing the memory setups that work. Most mobos aren't this finicky but MSI isn't a particularely great brand IMHO.
4) Your ram, cpu, and SATA150 interface will be your bottleneck. A RAID array is unnecessary. Just get a decent hard drive that has good specs according to Toms Hardware Charts. A hard drive with +50mb/s will be more than sufficient for anything you need it to do.


Sorry, I don't mean to burst any bubbles here...

LVL 70

Expert Comment

ID: 24368588
"... It has an AGP slot. The video card won't fit in this mobo either." ==>  Read the question !!   The video card is an AGP card that won't fit his friend's PCIe slot :-)    It will work just fine with the K8N Neo2 motherboard.

Installing two additional memory modules will indeed cause a fairly high load on the memory system buses ... this will slow down the memory speed to help compensate for the high loads unless at least one pair of the modules is single-sided.   I'd either leave it at 2GB, or add 2 single-sided 512MB modules to retain both full memory speed and dual channel operation.
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Author Comment

ID: 24368723
Thx, Frosty, but I know my English is a bit rusty, so I'll add some explanation.

Yes, the Motherboard is the one you linked, I'm not so confident about hardware vendors, but this one served me well over the years, so I'd like to keep it until it lasts.

The AGP slot is not an issue, indeed is the main reason for getting the video card almost as a gift.
The model is this one http://www1.sapphiretech.com/us/products/products_overview.php?gpid=262&grp=2 , and my friend bought it for his system, that has only PCI-Exp slots

According to the table the RAM configuration is supported, and I don't want to max up to 4Gb, I already have 2 in a 2x1Gb dual channel config, and I just would like to go up to 3Gb, adding 2x512Mb sticks (same vendor, same model of the 2 I already have, just different size)

So, basically my question about the arrangement of the memory modules:

A) 1 Gb
B) 1 Gb
C) 512 Mb
D) 512 Mb

For dual channel operations it is better having 1.5 Gb per channel (A+C)&(B+D)? or a 2Gb and 1Gb (A+B)&(C+D) Channels?

I'll take a look for an eventual Hard Disk upgrade too. Thx a lot for sharin' it
LVL 70

Expert Comment

ID: 24368866
Place your memory modules so you have 1GB modules in slots 1 (green) and 2 (purple); and 512MB modules in slots 3 (green) and 4 (purple).   Note (as I said above) that if your 2nd set of modules are double-sided the memory clock will slow down to help compensate for the higher load -- in that case I'd simply stay with 2GB ... or, if you really want to add them anyway, then go ahead and use 1GB modules so you'll max out your memory (the system should "see" about 3.2 - 3.4GB with 4GB installed).

If your disks are aleady 7200rpm disks, you're not going to gain any performance by upgrading the disks UNLESS you switch to 10,000 rpm drives or to a high-capacity drive with higher areal density than what you have now.   The comment above r.e. the disk interface ["... SATA150 interface will be your bottleneck ..."] is wrong => your disk interface is far faster than any modern drive can sustain.   No disk transfers data at anywhere near SATA-150 rates except for transfers to/from the drive's buffer, which is a very small % of the transfer activity.

Author Comment

ID: 24369115
Thanks, gary, that's just what I was looking for. Now I can unveil all my hardware ignorance and ask...
How can I be sure that the memory modules I'm looking for are single sided?

The item is the OCZ4001024ELDCPE-K (2x512 Kit) http://www.ocztechnology.com/products/memory/ocz_el_ddr_pc_3200_dual_channel_platinum

but I can't find anywhere information about the "sided" thing...

anyway, for the Hard Disk I knew the bottleneck, that's why I'm still fine with this board. I can just consider a size addition, no further than a 500Gb one, but I don't really need it so soon... I'll have to check if this hardware (with the memory "boost) can handle the higher video resolution and go for the big monitor first (actually I'm still on 1280x1024)...
LVL 70

Accepted Solution

garycase earned 1000 total points
ID: 24369223
OCZ doesn't indicate on their site whether these are single or dual sided modules ... so you'll need to ask your vendor (who may/may not know without looking at the modules).   If you're buying locally, just look at the modules before you buy them.   You simply need to know if there are 8 memory chips or 16 memory chips on the module (i.e. are there memory chips on both sides?).

They'll still work if they're double-sided, but the BIOS will slow down the memory clock to help compensate for the degraded signal caused by the high bus loading.   I never install 4 double-sided modules on a system -- you'll have a far more reliable memory subsystem if you follow that advice :-)

Author Closing Comment

ID: 31580679
oh well, thanks a lot gary... that fills all my questions.
I'm gonna check it. If turns out that they are double sided I think i'm gonna stay at 2Gb and spend money on other parts.

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