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Quick RAM Configuration Question

Posted on 2010-11-23
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Just looking for some quick advice - I'm currently planning on upgrading my system from a 4GB system to an 8GB system.  I'm running an ASUS MTA49T Deluxe MoBo(http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131363) running an AMD Phenom II x 4 955 BB, ATI Radeon HD 4890 on 2x2GB OCZ 1066 modules.  I've had issues with these chips since I built the rig (they were lower end OCZ).  I'm not planning on holding onto them at this point.

My main question, going to an 8GB system, would it make more sense going 4x2GB or 2x4GB  setup?  I assume the former would technically be better, putting all my dimm slots into use (but obviously costs more).  Is there any real-life advantage to that or am I imagining things?

I'm also thinking of moving to DDR3 1600 to up the ante a bit.  Also, if anyone has any good suggestions on kits for 8GB, let me know (either something like a good 2x2GB kit that I can buy two of, or a 2x4GB)


Cheers
JJ
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Question by:JamesonJendreas
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Assisted Solution

by:moon_blue69
moon_blue69 earned 200 total points
ID: 34201155
Hi

I do not think these days it makes any difference wether its 4x2Gb or 2x4GB as memoring banking was with very old machines. Good thing will be 4x2GB will be more fault tolerant. Use the crucial.com website thats what I use for my memories which ensures compatibility by scanning the system
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by:JamesonJendreas
ID: 34201178
Thanks for the suggestion, Crucial is always one of my top choices so I'll take a look.  Obviously going 2x4GB add room to grow (given I can still find the same chips when upgrading in the future)

Anyway, I'm going to leave this open for a few hours to get a few suggestions (brands) then I'll close and split points

THNX
JJ
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LVL 24

Assisted Solution

by:Alan Henderson
Alan Henderson earned 600 total points
ID: 34201221
Garycase and Nobus are the top guns on EE when it comes to memory. I suggest that you ask the moderator to add the Memory / RAM zone to this question, then you might attract their attention.

:)

I believe you'd get the best performance from 2 x 4GB but whether or not the difference would be worth the extra cost is arguable.

If you're prepared to pay for the very best you'd be looking at
Corsair
XTremeDDR
Micron
Samsung
or Kingston

I'm too budget conscious for the top-end and have had good experience with the lower cost A-data modules using 4 x 2GB configuration.
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LVL 8

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by:Arabia_vn
ID: 34202468
In your case i don't think you will need an upgrade cause it's a waste of money. The speed you gain from upgrading your Ram from 1066 to 1600 is about 2% or so, and unless you overclock your system your Ram will run at 1333 anyway. And no need for 8GB at the moment, use windows resource monitor to confirm that. And if you still need 8GB, 2x4 and 4x2 have the same performance, so go for the cheaper.
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LVL 24

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by:Alan Henderson
Alan Henderson earned 600 total points
ID: 34202572
If you're running Windows 7, Windows Resource Manager doesn't necessarily reflect the potential gain. Windows 7 handles RAM intelligently and pre-fetches processes into RAM on a just-in-case basis. I'm not 100% sure but I think it also learns from your usage patterns..

If you only have, for instance, 1GB of RAM it won't use all of it no matter how much you load up your system so you could be fooled into thinking that you don't need more. But throw in another 3GB and the same loading may use 3 or 4 times as much RAM with, of course, a spectacular increase in performance.

If you're a serious gamer or into massive graphics, video, 3D and the like or if you wish to run a whole truckload of virtuyal machines you could use up 8GB easily.

Horses for courses of course.

:)
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LVL 70

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by:
garycase earned 800 total points
ID: 34202829
Absolutely go with 2 x 4GB.    On an unbuffered board, installing four double-sided modules presents a very high load to the data & address buses, and will result in a much less stable memory subsystem.    Two modules only present half of that load, and will be much more reliable.

In either case you'll be running in dual channel mode (best performance);  but with 4 modules your system will likely have to either increase the latency or reduce the clock speed to run with four modules.

Bus loading is the reason server motherboards use buffered modules -- it's unfortunate that desktop boards don't support buffered modules ... especially with the proliferation of double-sided modules for virtually all of the higher capacity memory modules.    It's simply NOT a good idea to install more than 2 modules in a dual channel system; or 3 modules in a triple channel system when using double-sided modules and unbuffered memory.

See Item #10 here for a good overview of why you don't want to load the buses any more than you have to:  http://www.corsair.com/memory_basics/
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LVL 92

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by:nobus
nobus earned 400 total points
ID: 34203130
i agree with Garycase ) if your board supports it.
is that model correct?  could not find anything on it
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Author Comment

by:JamesonJendreas
ID: 34205991
Thanks all for the help, I'm splitting points.
@Arabia
"In your case i don't think you will need an upgrade cause it's a waste of money. The speed you gain from upgrading your Ram from 1066 to 1600 is about 2% or so, and unless you overclock your system your Ram will run at 1333 anyway. And no need for 8GB at the moment, use windows resource monitor to confirm that. And if you still need 8GB, 2x4 and 4x2 have the same performance, so go for the cheaper."

Well first off I am over clocking, which is one reason I want to ditch my current modules - the specific modules are notorious for causing problems when screwing around with them (according to all the reviews on newegg).  Not to mention I tax my memory completely often, the system is used for some taxing things. I'm not  a gamer, but I do tons of video rendering (and remuxing), audio dubbing, and run virtual machines on the system (for testing purposes).  

@Grayscale - You the man, that's exactly the info I was looking for

@Nobus - The model of the board is "ASUS M4A79T Deluxe AM3 DDR3 AMD 790FX ATX AMD Motherboard" which is a desktop board, although it was top-of-the-line whne purchased (about a year and a half ago).
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by:nobus
ID: 34206414
ah isee - that's not what you posted  :  MTA49T difficult to find then
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by:JamesonJendreas
ID: 34206515
yeah, not too sure how I pulled that one off, I was pulling the model number from thin air...
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by:JamesonJendreas
ID: 34206975
It is interesting that the lack of support for buffered modules makes having 4 slots useless - that is, if I'm going to be upping my RAM, I'm looking for performance, but I get hit for using all my dimms.  I'll be going 2x4GB, and I'd love to eventually have a whopping 16GB in the future, but i guess by then I'll just be building a new unit that supports more.
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LVL 24

Expert Comment

by:Alan Henderson
ID: 34207100
...I'd love to eventually have a whopping 16GB in the future...

I remember shelling out an extra $1000 to double my RAM from a healthy 8 MegaBytes to a "whopping" 16MB in 1990 or thereabouts.

You won't have to wait long for 16GB to be run-of-the-mill.

:)
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LVL 92

Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 34207225
>>  the lack of support for buffered modules makes having 4 slots useless   <<  that is not true; it works; but you may have problems or not. right now, i'm running 8 GB with 4 slots occupied.
some mobo manufacturers are better than others; but Garycase gave you a warning, that problems can arise
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by:JamesonJendreas
ID: 34207256
OK, I understand that it's not useless, probably the wrong term to use.  It's more that to max out the board seems to have some problems, and it sounds as one is better off only using 2 slots.  Regardless, the 2x4GB is the way I'm leaning, and if I really want to I'll go 16GB in the future, although by then I'll probably be building a new system, seeing this one's 1.5 yrs old, go another 1.5 yrs on 8GB, new unit after 3 yrs is about standard for me.
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LVL 92

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by:nobus
ID: 34207376
that is the best option imo. have fun !
i don't know why you upped the ram, but if you want a FAST system - install an SSD !!
costly, but worth it
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by:JamesonJendreas
ID: 34208182
Thanks!
SSD is the next step for me, and I am planning on swapping my OS HDD to a SSD and possibly a RAID configured SSD array for my working drive.   Like I said, I do tons of video rendering and music dubbing, and I hit the 99% RAM usage quite often (and feel the slowdown).  The unit works as both a workstation and a multimedia server, so there's a lot going on on the machine.
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LVL 70

Expert Comment

by:garycase
ID: 34209032

"... I remember shelling out an extra $1000 to double my RAM from a healthy 8 MegaBytes to a "whopping" 16MB in 1990 or thereabouts. "  ==>  $1000 for 16MB isn't bad ... I remember spending $1200 for a 16K  (Yes, K) board ~ 1976 -- and I had to build the board (it was $200 more assembled).


As for 4 slots being "wasted" ==> they're not a complete waste.   If you're using single-sided modules, you can install 4 with no issues (the bus loading will be the same as with 2 double-sided modules).    And if you don't mind slowing things down a bit, you CAN generally get 4 modules to run okay .... but certainly not if you want to max out the memory system's performance.

Bottom line:  for systems you want to install a LOT of memory in, it's by far a better choice to use a server motherboard that supports buffered RAM.


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by:JamesonJendreas
ID: 34209196
@Greyscale - Knowledge is power, and I'm surprised I did not realize the issue with buffered modules.  You better believe on my next build I'll look into a server board for sure (unless desktops have changed).  I almost went server with this build (as I was looking at AMD's server chips) but decided to stay desktop oriented.  Grant at build time I was not expecting to be doing the work on my unit that I am.
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by:Alan Henderson
ID: 34209803
Who or what is Grayscale?

:o)
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by:JamesonJendreas
ID: 34209837
Once again my ability to take text and replicate fails.  Good thing it's a long weekend or I'd be screwed.
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