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Windows 7: Hardware upgrade

30 Aug 2012   #1

Windows 7 Professional SP1 x64
Hardware upgrade

I'm thinking of getting an upgrade for my laptop, but I'm not sure what to upgrade- the RAM or getting an SSD. I do light gaming- Onlive and occasional Minecraft. Also when browsing, I tend to open loads of tabs and because I use Chrome is eats away at my resources. So basically, what would make a bigger performance boost (Also I have gone through the guides about uninstalling programs I don't use, etc.)

Crucial upgrade page: Computer memory upgrades for HP - Compaq Pavilion dv6-2020sa Laptop/Notebook from

My laptop's spec page: Product Specifications - HP technical support (United Kingdom - English)

Any help is appreciated.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 Aug 2012   #2

Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 (32-bit)

Get a SSD! =D Then probably dual/tripple channel your RAM
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 Aug 2012   #3

Windows 7 Professional SP1 x64

Sorry, dual channel? What's that?
My System SpecsSystem Spec

30 Aug 2012   #4

Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 (32-bit)

Your RAM from your Product Specifications:
3072 MB (1 x 1024 MB + 1 x 2048 MB)

By placing your RAM into dual channel mode, you have effectively doubled its bandwidth, meaning that twice as much data can be transferred at a given point in time.

There should, in theory, be a noticeable difference between single and dual channel mode. However, this depends on the application. For many programs, such as Office (Word, Excel, etc), there will be a slight difference but not as much as you will see with graphics editing or movie conversion.
~Words from Dwarf

Dual Channel Ram guide.

Why I wrote: To correct some misconceptions that are out there about what is dual channel. And to try and help with some of the questions. “Will this be Dual Channel”. This only applies to Notebooks not Desktops, they are very different, as Notebooks have two slots A & B channels and Desktops have four slots 2A & 2B channels.

What is dual channel? The RAM bus is 64 bit, dual means using 2 (Intel) which gives you a 128 bit bus (effective), capable of twice the bandwidth. AMD is done different but the outcome is the same 64 vs 128

Do I have it? Most current Notebook Motherboards support it, remember it is the Motherboard that determines if you can use it, not the RAM. RAM is sold in “Dual Channel kits” as both a convenience and marketing ploy.

Do I need it? Yes/No, RAM is very fast but it does help, depending on your system, some more than others. Current Intel's take less of a performance hit not using it, AMD on the other hand makes much more use of it. Intel being 8% to 10% (est) improvement, AMD 20% to 30% (est) improvement.

Do I need the same size RAM sticks to run in Dual Channel? Yes (AMD at this point says yes)/No (Intel) but you do usually want the same speed and latency as every thing clocks down to the slowest of both. Example 533Mhz CL4 mixed with 667Mhz CL5 will go with the slowest of both 533Mhz CL5 (not always with the latency) and slower than if either were matched. Same size sticks will run slightly faster symmetric RAM array (Interleaved). If the RAM is of different sizes it runs in what is called “asymmetric RAM array” (Intel Flex Memory/ AMD does not support). The greater the disparity between your 2 sticks the greater the performance hit vs sticks of the same size. The difference seems to be approximately in proportion to the ratio of the the smaller stick x2 to the entire amount of RAM. An example with Intel, 1GB stick and 2GB stick. 2/3, 1GB(smallest stick)x2 to 3GB(the entire amount). Well 2/3 of the total improvement, of the Dual Channel running with the same size sticks (symmetric RAM array) 10%, the asymmetric RAM array example is about 6.7% so a 3.3% less than symmetric RAM array. With 512MB stick and 2GB stick, 512MB(smallest stick)x2 to 2.5GB(the entire amount). 1/2.5 4% improvement. AMD's will show greater improvements and losses, Dual/Single keep that in mind.

What do I do? One absolute is the fastest, lowest latency is always the best unless it exceeds the the FSB speed or the supported speed for your memory, RAM will usually just clock down. You want to have an amount of RAM that minimizes how often your CPU goes to Page File whether Dual Channel or not. RAM bandwidths are likely 3000MB to 4500MB/s 60ns to 100ns latency , HDD's are 25MB to 60MB/s plus 6ms to 20ms random access times. RAM is exponentially faster than HDD. The truth is there are no absolute answers to what to do. Clearly more RAM running Single Channel or asymmetric RAM array is better than symmetric RAM array with out enough to avoid the Page File.

Are some brands better than other? Yes/NO, all RAM of a rated speed and latency performs the same regardless of brand. Some of the expensive brand name RAM offers things like heat spreaders. Reducing heat is always a good thing but not always necessary and does not affect speed. Some people who overclock like these features. Buy from a reputable retailer and get a lifetime warranty and you will be fine with any RAM.

Conclusions: With Intel's I don't think people should worry as much about their RAM configurations. Only up to 10% difference. Make sure you have enough, AMD people you should care a little more up to 30% difference but not at the expense of too little RAM. Those with IGP's might want to consider symmetric RAM array more than others.

Let me try and give an example to try and illustrate the difference between the Single Channel and the two Dual Channels listed above. It is simplified but I think valid. We have two bottles exactly the same.

For Single Channel we fill both with 1 liter We turn one upside down to drain as soon as it is empty with no delay we turn the second one upside down until empty. We have timed it and we know our quantity. So we can get a ounce/s number

Symmetric RAM array some call “true” Dual Channel. Same two bottles fill 1 liter each, turn them upside down at the same time until empty. We have timed, to get the ounces/s, I am going to guess the ounce/s is going to be double the previous (don't laugh I know Einstein is rolling in his grave).

Finally the big controversy, Asymmetric RAM array. We fill one with 1 liter and the other with 2 liters turn them upside down until empty. We have timed, to get ounces/s.

What does that tell us? Well if you have 128 bit bus with 3GB's it is not Single Channel. It is not the same as symmetric bottle array, it is less ounces/s but it is more than Single Channel because it uses the 128 bit.

Here are some links that support some of what I say, nothing spells it out, which is why I wrote and got results on my own. These links actually disagree on some terminology. They are not notebooks, I could not find anything on notebooks but some info is applicable.

Link #1: Intel desktops. RAM Channel explanations.
Link #2: Describes RAM Channels on a server.
Link #3: Discusses Intel's "Flex Memory"

I would like to thank John Ratsey as he provided me with the Intel benchmarks I use, I have a very small sample but it is the best I could do.
If anyone has a Turion and can run matching sticks and different size sticks please PM me if you would like to help me.
~from: Dual Channel RAM Guide

To sum it up, use 2 identical RAM Modules of 2gb/4gb each to make it dual channel
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 Aug 2012   #5

Windows 7 Professional SP1 x64

ok, thanks. How do I dual channel my RAM?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 Aug 2012   #6

Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 (32-bit)

To sum it up, use 2 identical RAM Modules of 2gb/4gb each to make it dual channel, check first if the latest RAM technology is supported by your laptop

but get a SSD first hehehe =D my opinion
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 Aug 2012   #7

Windows 7 Professional SP1 x64

ok thanks for your help.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 Aug 2012   #8

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit

More RAM won't help unless you are using all that you now have.

Do you know that?

I don't think most games can access more than 2 GB of RAM at any rate.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 Aug 2012   #9

Windows 7 Professional SP1 x64

Well its constantly using about 1.65GB out of 2.75GB. Obviously it rises when gaming. I wasn't thinking of a huge upgrade, just like an extra gig or so. And yes, I am aware of that, I was thinking it may be good to have more on hand.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 Aug 2012   #10

MS Windows 7 Professional 64-bit SP1

I'd go for the SSD first, and then get some ram later. The SSD will speed up your performance tremendously.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Hardware upgrade

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