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Memory - How much is too much?

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The subject of the thread says it all. My current motherboard tops out at 2GB's of DDR400 RAM. If I currently have 1GB, would it be worth my while to max out the board or should I save my money?

My system:

Windows XP Pro

AMD Athlon XP 3200+ Processor

1GB Kingston Hyper-X DDR400 RAM

Thanks in advance to all who reply.

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Well, when I built a new PC last April, I got 2GB of DDR400 RAM because I thought I won't have to increase the amount of memory again until I replace this machine in a few years. I usually used to just buy the minimum hardware needed (in this case, the minimum RAM needed) for a new PC and then end up upgrading even less than a year later. This time, I thought pay now and not later.

It was overkill, but I would do it again.

For certain games like Take Command's Second Manassas, the extra GB of RAM is welcome.

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Some people may say "save the money and get a new motherboard/CPU". However if that isn't anything you're going to do soon, then an upgrade to 2Gb of RAM may be useful to you. If you intend on using Windows Vista with this system, then 2Gb is recommended (since 1Gb seems to be a 'realistic' minimum).

A few games that are currently available do run better with 2Gb of RAM (BattleFront 2, etc.). I'm of the impression that CMSF will possibly benefit from more RAM too. What those benefits may be in terms of performance improvements are hard to quantify. It may be a small improvement such as slightly better frame rates, less stuttering at times, larger battles, etc.

With a 32-bit OS, CPU and chipset (such as Windows XP, the Athlon XP, Nvidia nForce2 or 3 series) the maximum addressable RAM is 4Gb. However you won't be able to actually use/address all 4Gb with Windows XP and 32-bit CPUs (and their associated chipsets). Some of the upper address space needs to be reserved by the motherboard for non-memory addressing purposes (expansion card BIOSes, bus addressing such as PCI-Experss, etc.). So you actually have about 3Gb as the maximum, though depending on the motherboard and the buses it may have you could get around 3.5 - 3.6Gb of addressable RAM. Here's one article that mentions some of this and another that goes a bit more into the 'whys'.

[ January 09, 2007, 12:41 PM: Message edited by: Schrullenhaft ]

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Originally posted by Schrullenhaft:

Some people may say "save the money and get a new motherboard/CPU". However if that isn't anything you're going to do soon, then an upgrade to 2Gb of RAM may be useful to you...

You read my mind. I really like my machine. The technology may be obsolete, AGP video card, 32 bit processor, etc., but it is more than adequate for every application I currently run. The next generation of games from Battlefront may change my mind, but I get a feeling that my box will run those as well. I think I'm going to up the RAM to 2GB. The articles you posted were interesting.


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32 bit OSes are not limited to 4 GB of physical memory. The PAE extension to ia32 takes care of that.

It so happens that Mickeysoft decided to deactivate working PAE support in SP2 for Windows XP. But at least all the Unixes work just fine (tested myself) and Windows versions other than XP SP2 should work, too (no interest in testing).

However, userlevel processes in a 32 bit OS are limited to usually 3 GB virtual memory, 2 or 4 GB on some rarer 32 bit OS configurations.

That doesn't make 4 or more GB useless on 32 bits. If you have several applications running each taking up their 3 GB (as in regular use) then you need more than 4 GB of memory. Also, a single 3 GB process will keep 4 or more GB of RAM busy if it does a lot of I/O of if it is has a GUI (2D with lotsa pictures and/or 3D), because the GUI presented to the user runs in a separate process from the application (or in the kernel).

2 GB of RAM are a must, IMHO.

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If the only game you play is CMx1, you definitely don't need 2M of memory.

I use my Dell 9300 for work and play, including using VMware to run Linux simultaneously with XP, and it all works fine with 1M.

The only app that tops the memory out is VMware: that would benefit from more, but even then it still performs OK.

You'll enjoy your extra memory, beceause you'll be able to be careless about leaving lots of idle apps open, but to say that it is a must is an overstatement, unless you do more with your machine than I do with mine.


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You certainly need more than 2M smile.gif

Even just opening forum threads with lotsa pictures makes a Firefox alone (without OS) grow to more than 1 GB for the browser alone.

Google Earth can also easily kill a couple gigabytes (in combination with the display server holding lots of textures).

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So I made a typo M for G... sue me tongue.gif

My Firefox never grows past a few hundred M. I don't know what forums you are looking at!

Anyhow, my comment was specific in refering to someone who only would play CM.

I know that there are other games out there much more hungry, though I don't know why you would play them ;)

But I felt it worthwhile counterpointing the comment that "You must have 2G" with my own experience that 1G is adequate if CM is all you are playing. Someone out there might be saved the cost of an extra 1G for another 6m or so till 2G is really needed smile.gif



[ January 13, 2007, 03:44 AM: Message edited by: GreenAsJade ]

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