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Upgrading RAM...

I'm sure you folks get similar inquiries on a daily basis around here. So let me apologize in advance if I'm touching on over-done subject matter. Posts relayed by the search function did not seem to be general enough though...

For my system info I've pasted the pertinent portion of a Sandra report below...

Model : Intel(R) Pentium(R) 4 CPU 1500MHz
Speed : 1.50GHz
Performance Rating : PR1645 (estimated)
Type : Standard
L2 On-board Cache : 256kB ECC Synchronous ATC (8-way sectored, 64 byte line size)

Bus(es) : X-Bus AGP PCI IMB USB i2c/SMBus
MP Support : No
System BIOS : Intel Corp. HV84510A.15A.0008.P03.0108231035
System : Gateway E-3600
Mainboard : Intel Corporation D845HV
Total Memory : 512MB SDRAM

Chipset 1
Model : Intel Corporation 82845 Brookdale Host-Hub Interface Bridge (A3-step)
Front Side Bus Speed : 4x 100MHz (400MHz data rate)
Total Memory : 512MB SDRAM
Memory Bus Speed : 1x 133MHz (133MHz data rate)

This is from an old Gateway 2000 by the way...

Anyhow - all I'm shooting for is the simple prospect of upgrading the RAM to it's full potential. I've been to crucial.com, of course, and know what size I need and how much. They're asking $57 per stick of 512MB RAM (I need 2). After having been to pricewatch.com, however, and seeing scads of hem for less than $20 I'm wondering if I can save a few pennies by going that rout. The sound card I have picked out is about $250, so the less I spend now the sooner I'll be able to order it.

From what I've gathered I need a 168 pin type SDRAM. But what about buffered or unbuffered? What does PC133 mean? What's the difference between high density and low density? I also picked up on some information that some cards are for low latency applications (probably geared toward gamers). As I use this PC for recording (and I do have latency issues!), is this worth looking into?

Sorry about all the questions, but I'm assuming that most of this stuff is pretty much common knowledge amongst professionals. So hopefully shouldn't require any research.

As always, thank you...


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In reply to: Upgrading RAM...

Go to CRUCIAL.COM and do a memory test and go from there to be SURE you get the right stuff. My feeling on that system is that you would be fine with 1gb and a reasonable vid card even with those basic upgrades it will never be a major rocket ship gamer so I would not throw a lot of money at it. For major gaming these days it gets pretty sticky, minimum dual core, preferably Quad, lots of ram and vid ram BIG power supply etc..etc.. Have fun!

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Now or later

In reply to: Upgrading RAM...

The price difference between Crucial and other vendors is due it being new vs. any used or rehashed ram(doubtful sources). Plus, the guarantee they give to be it works and all that. Then it is SDRAM an older type, so getting new ia hard to come by. Of course, if you feel comfortable with the vendor buy it.

PC133= speed of ram and type
buffered&unbuffered = review your manual to see what you need
density, high&low = the physical placement of ram on stick, one side or both

FYI - Your system is dated and at those prices, you maybe better served looking into newer offering. Once spend on the old system, alot of it can't be crossed-over(swapped) into a new system once that time comes. It will be too much of technological leap for much of the h/w. Think a newer basic system like from eMachine which Gateway now owns. Even a "refurbed" system maybe leaps and bounds for your needs. As for recording latency, maybe that's your cue.

tada -----Willy Happy

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This meets your requirement might be worth

In reply to: Upgrading RAM...

looking at $16.06 ea 512MB DIMM New

If in doubt, check with seller.


* 512MB (Size)
* PC133 - 133mhz (Speed) works at PC100 if needed.
* Un-buffered
* Non-Registered
* Non ECC
* 6 Layered PCB (Highest Quality for Lowest Signal Noise = Best Performance)


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I wouldn't do this. Here's why and yes...

In reply to: Upgrading RAM...

Yes I own an i845 based system. This Pentium 4 system we have benchmarks far lower than it's CPU pedigree would indicate. Here's why.

A little history here first. In the days of the Pentium 4 socket 423 systems (there were a percentage point of 478 i845 systems too) the RAM that was being flogged was ... RDRAM. However RDRAM looked pricey, must be installed in pairs and could require we use CRIMMs. But back to the i845. It came about so people could use the then cheaper SDRAM but what happened was the poor CPU was throttled by the sluggish memory bandwidth. And no, there is no dual channel in this chipset.

I can write with authority that there is miniscule performance gain on your average Windows XP from 512MB to 1GB of SDRAM and this is on a 2.0GHz P4 socket 423.


Post final advice: Look at your video card. I've helped people with this beast and the big gain is to change the video card from what you usually find to even the lowly Nvidia fx5200 or fx6200.

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In reply to: I wouldn't do this. Here's why and yes...

Thanks so much for all the info everyone!

@ Bob...

"I can write with authority that there is miniscule performance gain on your average Windows XP from 512MB to 1GB of SDRAM and this is on a 2.0GHz P4 socket 423"

So by saying this are you indicating that updating from 512MB to 1.5Gig RAM would also reap minimal performance gain? This is part of my plight... I can justify spending less than $50 for even a small performance upgrade. But not more than that, as I'm sure that my latency issues are due to my sound card. I'm hoping to build a new machine next year sometime. That's why I was looking for an alternative to crucial.com recommendations. If you don't think it's worth it though I'll hold off.

"Look at your video card..."

The video card was replaced long ago with a Matrox G450 dual head, which came highly recommended from a reputable source. I could probably dig up specs on it if that would be helpful.

As a second alternative - I've also recently acquired a Compaq Presario with the following specs...

CPU Type AMD Athlon XP, 2133 MHz (16 x 133) 2600+
Motherboard Name FIC AM35 (3 PCI, 1 AGP, 2 DIMM, Audio, Video)
Motherboard Chipset VIA VT8375 ProSavageDDR KM266
System Memory 512 MB (PC2100 DDR SDRAM)
BIOS Type Award (11/28/02)
Communication Port Communications Port (COM1)
Communication Port ECP Printer Port (LPT1)

Video Adapter GeForce 6200 (256 MB)
Video Adapter NVIDIA GeForce 6200 (256 MB)
3D Accelerator nVIDIA GeForce 6200 AGP
Monitor Compaq 7500 [17" CRT] (12491537969260)

Audio Adapter Creative EMU10K1 SB Live! Audio Processor

I know it's not much newer than my Gateway. But perhaps I'd be better off upgrading it rather than my Gateway. The only thing I'd have to change over is the faster hard drive from my Gateway for audio files. Also crucial.com states that this board can take 2 sticks of 1Gig RAM. So that in itself should be a step up(?). Not looking forward to changing the hard drive and reinstalling XP to my Gateway though. But oh well...

Thanks a million for any advise!


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Windows XP and 512 Mb ...

In reply to: Wow!

is a perfect combination for the average user, who mails, browses, looks at photos, listens to music, does light gaming and some Office-like work (word processing, spreadsheets), even with an antivirus like avast or avg running in the background.


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In reply to: Windows XP and 512 Mb ...

That was fast Kees. Almost scary in fact!

I'm right with you as far as general use. When I upgraded the Gateway from 128MB to 512MB there was a significant difference. However I'm into more than just general use. And I'm really not sure now which of these two machines would be better for home recording applications. Or, for that matter, how much I should upgrade them before I cross the "overkill" line. From responses here and reading I've done it seems like I should switch my audio aps over to the Compaq, add some more RAM (the maximum 2 Gigs?), and slave-in the 7200 rpm drive from the Gateway. That, along with a new sound card (Echo Gina 3G is what I intend to order), should set me as well off as I can be with my current options. I just want to be sure which machine I should order RAM for, and how much would be enough (but not overkill).

I hope to tackle my first custom build next year some time, and put something together for audio purposes. But what I have has to get me by till then.

Again... Thank you.


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Sound recording ...

In reply to: Geez...

is (in .wav-format) 10 Mb a minute (700 Mb for a 70 minutes CD, 2 Gb for 3+ hours). Any hard disk is more than adequate to read and store and swap this to and from disk (virtual memory) in the background when necessary. You won't notice any performance gain with more memory once a certain minimum of RAM is met. And 512 Mb is way over that minimum.

Moreover, what's performance gain when speaking of sound? You wouldn't like music played twice as fast as normally. You can't record sound faster than it arrives.

Just my opinion.


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In reply to: Sound recording ...

"Moreover, what's performance gain when speaking of sound?"

I'm mostly concerned with latency issues that I have when using MIDI sync functions. In other words my PCs ability to sty in time with my outboard hard disc recorder while working with multiple audio and MIDI tracks. I'm fairly sure that a large part of these latency issues are due to my current sound card. But since I'm about to drop $250 on a new audio interface for my PC I want to make sure that I'm not going to have any more issues with performance once it's installed. This the RAM upgrade and possible change of PC's for recording purposes.

Again... Thanks for the quick reply!

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By the way...

In reply to: Okay...

I guess I didn't specify. When I say audio recording I mean multi track home studio recording. So I'm not just dealing with my mp3 collection or archiving my CDs.

Sorry for the confusion.

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That surely isn't average use.

In reply to: By the way...

So it could well be that extra RAM would be helpful. But a faster harddisk and espicially a faster CPU could do wonders also. The thing to go for is a new PC, I'd say, with a 2-core or 4-core CPU. A simple graphics card would be good enough. You'll prefer XP above Vista, I assume.


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In reply to: That surely isn't average use.

I probably should have been more specific from the beginning as to what I do with this poor old PC...

Anyway... We're back to the RAM question. Should I upgrade to the max and squeeze every last drop out of it? According to Bobs post above this might not be worth it (even if I can do it all for less than $50?). It was suggested to me several years ago that replacing the CPU would be a good idea too. But I honestly don't think that that would be worth the $$ at this point. Especially if I intend to put something new together in the next 12 months or so. Given that I'm thinking I might be better off putting a bit of cash into my second PC...

Compaq Presario 6430nx
CPU Type AMD Athlon XP, 2133 MHz (16 x 133) 2600+
Motherboard Name FIC AM35 (3 PCI, 1 AGP, 2 DIMM, Audio, Video)
Motherboard Chipset VIA VT8375 ProSavageDDR KM266
System Memory 512 MB (PC2100 DDR SDRAM)
(see above post for more details)

This board can handle 2 Gigs according to crucial.com. But they want $80 for two 1 Gig RAM sticks. I'm trying to keep it below $50 so I can still afford my new audio interface (and groceries!). And I can move the 7200rpm hard disk from the Gateway to the Compaq for a faster drive speed (Compaq has a stock 120 Gig, 5400 rpm drive - see below reply @ Bob for more details).

Thanks Kees!

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Post script...

In reply to: Yep...

As far as graphics cards go I currently have on hand a Matrox G450 dual head (in the Gateway), and a Geforce 6200OC dual head (in the Compaq). And I'm pretty stuck on my dual monitor setups (who wouldn't be!?).

And yes... XP is MUCH preferred over Vista in the audio community right now.

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I'd like to compare ...

In reply to: Wow!

The old hard disk to what new you'd entertain first. If you have some elder 5400 RPM drive then you have found some bang for the buck.

-> G450. Great time for its day but I can take bets your fx6200 would fly by it with a sonic boom noise on benchmarks. Unless you are using the dual display feature I think it's time to shop for a 50 buck fx6200 card.


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In reply to: I'd like to compare ...

I'm not sure which "old" hard disk you mean Bob. I can tell you off hand though that the one currently in my Gateway is a 100Gig 7200rpm drive that was recommended to me by the folks at tweakheadz.com (<--respected computer music forum). And also that the hard disk in the Compaq is a 120Gig 5400rpm drive (dual platter - if that matters) that came with it. Assuming that the original drive has to remain in the Compaq (for proprietary purposes or whatnot) I could slave in the 7200rpm drive from the Gateway (replacing it with a smaller 5400 rpm drive I have lying around), and at least reap maximum possible sequencing and multitracking performance benefits that way. Though I can only guess that the slower drive would still bottle neck things a bit (OS and applications on the 5400rpm drive, and audio files on the 7200rpm drive would still be better than just the slower drive alone, right?).

And I do use the G450 dual display feature. Quite heavily in fact. The Compaq has an after market dual display card as well. A Geforce 6200OC. Not sure which of these is "better", but those are my options right now...

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Just replaced an 120GB 7200 RPM...

In reply to: Well...

And the new drive makes me want to see how far I can shot putt the old drive. The new drive screams compared to the old drive which was great for it's day.

Remember the G450 was very good for its day. If it works I'd stand put there but if you can move to anything made in the last year you will see the display speed pick up.

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In reply to: Just replaced an 120GB 7200 RPM...

The Matrox seems to work fine. I don't think I'll be buying a new vid card untill I get a new PC. All I'm really worried about at the moment is figuring out which PC I should use for audio aps, and thus which one I should upgrade the RAM and install my new sound card in. I can only assume that the processing speed is better on the Compaq, being a slightly newer machine. But if the difference will be miniscule compared to the Gateway I don't want to both switching the faster hard disk over. I can max out at 2 Gigs of RAM in the Compaq, and 1.5 Gigs in the Gateway. Whichever machine would be more worth the upgrade...

Thanks Bob!

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More news...

In reply to: Gotcha...

Just heard back from a nice chap over at the Studio Central forums who explained to me that, under no uncertain terms, my Compaq would definitely be the machine to use as a dedicated audio workstation. In fact he pretty much recapped your reply about the Pentium 4 issues Bob.

So... Anyone care to point me in the direction of some decent inexpensive RAM for the following PC?

<b>Compaq Presario 6430nx</b>
CPU Type - AMD Athlon XP, 2133 MHz (16 x 133) 2600+
Motherboard Name - FIC AM35 (3 PCI, 1 AGP, 2 DIMM, Audio, Video)
Motherboard Chipset - VIA VT8375 ProSavageDDR KM266
System Memory - 512 MB (PC2100 DDR SDRAM)
BIOS Type - Award (11/28/02)
Communication Port - Communications Port (COM1)
Communication Port - ECP Printer Port (LPT1)

According to crucial.com I need two 1 Gig sticks, but I'm trying to keep it under $50 if at all possible (they want $80 at crucial). What's the method for searching for compatible RAM anyway? (Give me a fish/teach me to fish!)

Thanks so much to everyone for all their advice and discussion!

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More (not upgrading) RAM

In reply to: Upgrading RAM...

Truthful, best advice: go get a duo core, current machine. You are trying to do what I did: chasing some malfunctioning, performance ghost around a machine that would be better used as a print server. I UPGRADED my machine, the problems disappeared. I'd stay with XP right now, so you don't end up chasing Microsoft ghosts around the new box. Remember, XP (not the physical chips!) limits you to 4GB of RAM, but you'd probably be fine with 1GB.

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