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Author Topic: which is more important, system ram or video ram?  (Read 7472 times)
techidave
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« on: February 07, 2011, 03:24:23 AM »

I was looking to try and find out what is more important in a computer... system RAM or video RAM?  especially on those with onboard video and have a limited amount of memory.

I found the following in searching Google and wanted to see if others agree with it.  But it basically convers most of the componets in a computer:

CPU first
RAM second
HD third
Video Card fourth

CPU does the thinking
RAM Transmits that thinking
HD stores the info
Video card displays i
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Renegade
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« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2011, 03:30:46 AM »

I put 2 video cards in this box, but usually I don't worry much at all about it as I don't play games. Mostly I just want them for multiple monitors (running 3 now).
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Ath
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« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2011, 04:05:17 AM »

I'd even say that system-RAM is more important than CPU speed; if you have to choose, based on limited money ofcourse, between an i7-860 with 8 GB ram, or an i7-870 with 4 GB of ram, then choose the i7-860/8GB because of better performance in the long run and with heavy loads.
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techidave
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« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2011, 05:23:44 AM »

One of the reasons I am asking is this.  A client brought me their Compaq laptop, a V5000 Presario.  It had 512mb of Ram with 128meg allocated to video.  I know to increase it it to 2 gig (max) would help but she wants to put her money into a new one.  Understandable.

So the question is do I adjust the video ram to 64 meg or 32 meg (only other options)? I would to help it out as much as possible.  they only use it to do email, internet, photos of the grandkids.  Nothing intensive.
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Ath
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« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2011, 06:18:20 AM »

What's the OS? Most likely XP, and though XP does run better with more memory also, the increase of 64 or 96 MB isn't going to make much difference huh
Take into account the sluggish harddisk, and you've got a bad performing PC by its specs.
I'd indeed go for a new system, and not invest money in memory you (probably) can't re-use for a more modern PC.
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techidave
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« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2011, 06:22:07 AM »

it was on xp media center but I blew it away because it was slow.  I have xp pro on it now.  your right, it is a sluggish system.  5400 rpm with a 2 meg buffer on the hard drive and not much ram.

originally with all the HP games that was loaded on it, made it extremely slow and had spyware on it even when I restored to factory defaults.   Angry Sad
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f0dder
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« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2011, 06:48:58 AM »

It really all depends on what the system is going to be used for. What kind of work is the machine used for?

In your case, I assume we're dealing with a machine that uses system memory for the GPU, and lets you tweak the amount of memory allocated in the BIOS. Probably not used for gaming or any kind of intensive graphics use... With so little system memory, I'd select the minimum possible amount to be reserved for the GPU.
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- carpe noctem
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« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2011, 06:55:22 AM »

So the question is do I adjust the video ram to 64 meg or 32 meg (only other options)? I would to help it out as much as possible.  they only use it to do email, internet, photos of the grandkids.  Nothing intensive.
I understand your thinking on dropping the shared video memory size, but... I'd be inclined to wonder then why 512 isn't enough. The extra 64/96MB "gained" isn't really going to help them if they have some bloated crapwear (like AOL) gobbling up resources (which got answered while I was typing).

The resource balancing act could end up costing them more in the long run than just letting them get a new machine with current hardware that is up to the task of handling the current bloatwear.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2011, 06:57:10 AM by Stoic Joker » Logged
techidave
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« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2011, 07:14:33 AM »

the sad part of doing a factory restore was the spyware it had from the getgo on this machine.  I did another factory restore and then uninstalled all the bloat using Revo Uninstaller and it still had spyware.  nothing would remove it for good.  I couldn't do a clean install of xp media center since there were no cd's to do it with.

now that it is on xp pro, it is running much better and no spyware yet.   smiley
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techidave
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« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2011, 11:56:47 AM »

I changed the video RAM to 64 meg from 128 meg and it seemed to help.    I didn't time it or do any other tests to see if it actually was faster.

Which brings up another question:  Would a benchmark test actually tell me if it was indeed faster?  if so, which one?
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Paul Keith
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« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2011, 12:26:42 PM »

System ram is just generally more compatible to more needs so it's hard to argue against going for it.

Video ram, you only notice it when you need it. System ram you're thanking it once you need it.
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Gothi[c]
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« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2011, 12:50:14 PM »

It all depends on what you want to do.

If you're not a gamer or 3d artist, then you don't have to think twice about it. System ram for sure, it's general purpose, and benefits almost any application. It allows you to do more heavy multitasking, etc,...

If you plan on playing games, or work in anything else 3d (3dsmax/maya/blender/etc) the story changes a bit. The amount of video ram will be a key factor on how much (3d) stuff you can show on the screen at the same time. (Amount of vertices, texture memory, etc,...) this is important for games, but also for anything else 3d. (Say you are doing detailed architectural design or something in a 3d application, you will start feeling it when your card is showing more geometry on the screen than it can handle) - Unfortunately, it gets more complicated in this arena. You also want to look at the gpu and memory clock rates on your video card. - If you plan to get a video card you should be looking at gpu and memory clock rate, and amount of memory.

Almost any modern video card, integrated or not, will be able to handle the native resolutions for most monitors today, so if you're not doing anything 3d i wouldn't even worry about it.
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f0dder
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« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2011, 01:19:47 PM »

Gothi[c]: if you were doing any of that, you wouldn't be on a system with a GPU without dedicated vram, and with a mere 512megs of sysram - just sayin' smiley
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- carpe noctem
techidave
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« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2011, 01:45:56 PM »

 Grin Grin
You guys have reinforced my thinking that system ram is more important.  While some of the responses didn't really fit my scenario, they were indeed very informative and good for later use (maybe).

My own tests have proven to me the speed and buffer size of a hard drive can make all the difference in the world in how fast a computer runs.   Its just one of several ways to "speed up" a computer.  The system in question above had a 5400 RPM with a 2mb buffer in it.  Even a different 5400 with 8mb buffer would make enough difference to be noticeable.
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f0dder
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« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2011, 02:06:51 PM »

Not sure how much harddrive buffer size matters, tbh, at least not above the 8meg mark. When comparing a 2meg vs. 8meg buffer size harddrive, the drive with 8meg cache is almost guaranteed to be larger. This means more platters (and thus more read/write heads) and/or higher data density, which by itself means higher data transfer rate. Also means a 500gig 5200rpm drive is likely to be faster than a 200gig 7200rpm drive.
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- carpe noctem
techidave
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« Reply #15 on: February 07, 2011, 02:20:35 PM »

I am not sure how hard drive caching works.  I first learned about hd buffers back on some old Pentium 100mhz machines that I upgraded to a Pentium 166mhz cpu to try and speed them up.  I did like 4 of these, some it mad a difference on and some it didn't.  For those that didn't, they had an old seagate hd with 256kb buffer on them.  I don't remember if it was a 4200 or 5400 RPM drive or not.  Once I replaced it, then the machine was as fast as the rest of them. 

F0dder, if I am reading your last sentence correctly then I disagree.  in my own tests I have found just increasing the drive speed and leaving the cache alone does make SOME difference.  But it may not be enough to justify the difference in price.
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f0dder
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« Reply #16 on: February 07, 2011, 02:28:14 PM »

Depends on which size you're going from and to, as well as which OS you're using, and your workloads (for sequential reading or writing, HDD cache shouldn't matter a lot - smaller and/or scattered reads/writes is a different matter). Can't remember the URL of the article, but it's probably been Anandtech or Tomshardware that found almost no difference when going from 8meg cache and beyond.

PS: a drive so old that it only has 256kb buffer might mean it's only capable of doing PIO access mode, whereas 2meg cache could be a DMA mode... which means a lot, especially CPU usage wise.
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- carpe noctem
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« Reply #17 on: February 07, 2011, 05:05:21 PM »



CPU first
RAM second
HD third
Video Card fourth


FWIW, that sequence follows the age old path of going from the most difficult (or least possible) to replace component to the easiest.

Upping a CPU is difficult for most people to do since it requires a bit of know how and mobo dickering - and may not be possible depending on the socket requirements for the new CPU.

RAM is problematic for the average user since there are several things to consider (speeds, matching, etc.) to get the best out of what you have. Also possible to mess up your mobo or SIMMS if you get careless while removing or installing things.

Most times, a new HD is just a nuisance to replace unless the old one is still working -  in which case all you need to do is transfer (not copy) the old drive over to the new one and let BIOS recognize it on first boot.

Vid cards are easy once you get over that nasty bruise on your credit card. Pick one that works with your available slot, set your video to VGA, shut down, remove the power cord, yank the old card, slot the new one, reboot and install the new drivers - or run the setup program depending. Absolute cake.

After that the only other thing you should to do is install your old graphics card on your Mum or little sister's PC - you big techno hero you! thumbs up
 Grin
« Last Edit: February 07, 2011, 05:07:02 PM by 40hz » Logged

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f0dder
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« Reply #18 on: February 07, 2011, 05:20:17 PM »

Vid cards are easy once you get over that nasty bruise on your credit card.
On dekstop machines, anyway smiley
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40hz
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« Reply #19 on: February 07, 2011, 05:28:42 PM »

Vid cards are easy once you get over that nasty bruise on your credit card.
On dekstop machines, anyway smiley

True. None of my beloved servers even have video cards! Grin Cool
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #20 on: February 07, 2011, 06:04:55 PM »

My 2p would be:

RAM and hard disk as these seem to be the major bottlenecks in most systems.

Just building a new system and contemplating using a solid state hard disk for the system drive - probably more bang for the buck as memory upgrades or CPU upgrades provided you are happy with a smallish system drive.

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Ath
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« Reply #21 on: February 07, 2011, 06:12:39 PM »

@Carol,

Why aren't you going for top performance and buying an Intel CPU for the same amount of money as the AMD CPU, but with 25 to 50% better 'tsjakka' through the opcodes undecided Thought it was speed you're after? And next thing is bang for the buck?
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #22 on: February 07, 2011, 06:18:20 PM »

I like building with AMD chips - and feel Intel is the chip manufacturing quivalent of MS !! Plus you can guarantee with AMD systems that you activate VM technology - with Intel it is hit and miss even within the same product series.
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« Reply #23 on: February 07, 2011, 08:46:26 PM »

@Carol: You could save yourself UKP20 and get the 955BE, same chip as the 965BE.  Only difference is the default multiplier of the 965 is one step higher - something that can easily be rectified in the BIOS for the Black Editions.
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Paul Keith
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« Reply #24 on: February 08, 2011, 01:37:09 AM »

Ok, I have a side question to this:

How much estimated ram is needed for how much HD space for it to run decently. (Let's say cheap HD and not SSD)

Let's assume things like defragging, antivirus scanning, consideration for non-pro but high spec requirement programs like Blender and Photoshop...multi-monitor multi-tasking of common applications (say MS Word + Firefox + Chrome + Opera all opened with 25-50 tabs)
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