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Windows 7: How much difference would RAM make?

07 Sep 2011   #1
darksupernova

Windows 8 Pro
 
 
How much difference would RAM make?

Hi everyone,

This has been bugging me for years, and now, being a student my budget is tighter than ever so I have to chose my upgrades carefully!
My question is:

Currently I have 4GB DDR3 installed in my machine, without any games running I'm using about 1.5GB in Win7 ultimate x64. I like to game, but also use my machine for work. The RAM im currently using it nothing special, but its also not rubbish. My computer never exceeds 4GB of RAM (according to task manager). How much difference would I notice in gaming and for programmes starting if I were to ditch this RAM and get 8GB of good DDR3 RAM?

Simply, how much difference does buying more RAM make if you never use ALL the RAM you have already?

I have been searching but seem to only find dummy answers, or posts dating back to ~2005! I would greatly appreciate any input or advice you have.

Computer specs:

Core i7 860 @ 2.8GHz
4GB DDR3 RAM
ATI Radeon HD5750 1GB
23" 1080p 120hz monitor running natively
SATA 2 HDD's

Im looking at this RAM specifically:

BL3KIT51264BA160A - 12GB kit (4GBx3), Ballistix 240-pin DIMM , DDR3 PC3-12800 from Crucial.com

However my question is more to do with buying more space than to do with the speed of the RAM in use.

Many thanks,

Max


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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07 Sep 2011   #2
Wishmaster

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 

As for whether or not you'll see that much of a benefit moving to 8GB from 4GB...

Some yes.
Windows itself will see more memory, and will start using a bit more. keeping more in memory means the system feels a bit more responsive.
For example, alt+tabbing in and out of a game may feel a bit smoother.

However, this difference will not be huge and may not be worth the investment based on that alone.

The big advantage will come from using 64bit applications that can use alot of memory.
Some HD video encoders, 3D rendering apps, running Virtual machines are a few examples.



So long story short, yes it will make a little bit of difference. But it may not be worth the investment if you do not really have a specific need for it. But this is highly dependant on the price.
Although there is a slight bit of difference from going from 4-6 or 4-8GB of RAM, anything more than 6 or 8GB however, would certainly be a waste unless you have the specific need for that much.
If you run multiple VMs often for example, the 12GB may be useful, but otherwise , No.

If you can get a kit cheap enough, like a 2x4GB kit, then go for it. Just don't expect everything to instantly become 2 times faster.



Generally speaking, having more RAM is better than faster RAM.
When it comes to overclocking/tweaking RAM, adjusting timings etc, there very little to be gained. To the point, its really not worth it.

Also, populating only 2 slots outs of 4, or 3 out of 6, is better than populting them all, for stability purposes.

So ideally for 8GB, 2 sticks at 4GB ea would be better than having 4 sticks at 2GB each.


4GB is plenty for most. But, if you want to upgrade, I would look into a 8GB kit of DDR3 1333 or 1600. Anything more than that is likely just a waste.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Sep 2011   #3
preiius

Windows 7 Professional 64bit
 
 

I think 4GB is plenty for most average users. Cases where you need more:

1. Photo or video editing, where you work with really big files.
2. Software development, where you need to multitask, e.g. visual studio, sql server, version control system, etc.
3. Related to 2, run virtual machines to test your latest and greatest on older os's or browsers like IE6.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

07 Sep 2011   #4
darksupernova

Windows 8 Pro
 
 

Hi,

Thank you both for your answers. In conclusion what you are saying is, other than the speed of the RAM, if your not using all of what you currently have, adding more wont give you more speed.

Thank you wishmaster for the extra information about slots and speed, I had just been wondering which configuration to get, so thats very much appreciated!

So if im looking for a framerate boost in games, really I need a gfx card update?

Max
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Sep 2011   #5
Wishmaster

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 

In terms of gaming, the RAM speed itself will not really help anything.
It does to a degree, but its quite insignificant.
For example, going from 4GB 1066 to 4GB 1600 might get you 1FPS, depending on the game.
But so long as you have at least 4GB, you should be fine there.


But, typically and in most cases, yes.
The GPU itself is what will impact gaming performance the most, followed by the CPU.
Of course theres also resolution and other factors that should be considered when choosing a Graphics Card.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Sep 2011   #6
darksupernova

Windows 8 Pro
 
 

Well Wishmaster, in that case I wont buy the RAM and I'll put the money towards a new card. Thanks very much for all your useful and insightful information, its answered a question that I've been thinking about since I first learn about RAM!

I know this is unrelated to this thread, and perhaps I should start a new one, but just in case you know:

Does the core i7 still overclock itself even if you dont have the windows gadget showing the little blue bar? Also, if i overclock my processor manually, up to lets say 3.5Ghz, will the i7 overclock itself further on demand?

Thanks,

Max
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Sep 2011   #7
DeaconFrost

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1
 
 

Also, don't go by your current idle memory usage. Windows 7 will use a chunk of your memory for caching and fetching. If that RAM was needed for something intense, like a game, it would be unloaded to make room for the game. Windows 7 does a remarkable job of managing the memory you give it.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Sep 2011   #8
Wishmaster

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 

This is very true & 7 does do a very good job of managing memory.



For example, I have 8GB in my PC. I do use a few apps that use alot of memory, but for normal use 2GB or a little more is average idle useage for me.

But, if you take a closer look at your Resource Manager you'll find that its most likely making use of all the RAM you have.
How much difference would RAM make?-1.jpg

I have something going on ATM, so in use is a bit higher than normal, but as you can see in this snip there is 0 space free.
This means Windows is actually using all 8GB.

To clarify if it helps:
In Use is RAM the system is actively using.
Standby is data you used earlier, or Windows assumes you will use soon
Free is RAM thats not even being used.
Available, is the same as Standby.

Since DATA in Standby is not currently in use, this DATA can be unloaded to make room if its needed.
So although its technically being used, it can also be quickly dumped and is considered as available space since this DATA is not important at the current time.

The good thing about this is that if I was to open something thats in standby, that memory just switches from "Standby" to "In Use" instantly and theres no need to reload anything.
Since memory is much faster than a HHD, or even a SSD for that matter, the transition will seem smoother and more responsive.


So there are advantages to having more RAM. Windows will use it.
Its just not going to be such a drastic performance gain such as upgrading to a SSD would be.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Sep 2011   #9
darksupernova

Windows 8 Pro
 
 

Right, well maybe its something I'll consider in the near future. I feel like I need to upgrade from 4GB, and I think what you've just told me about win 7 is quite compelling, however if I'm honest with myself I don't really need more RAM, the money would be better suited in a graphics card.

Thank you all for your help, you have definitely given me some very useful information.

Thanks,

Max
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Sep 2011   #10
Layback Bear

Windows 7 Pro. 64/SP-1
 
 

If it was me I would looking for a new video card. Once your card runs out of 364 mb of ram and goes to motherboard ram it will slow down a lot.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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