Considering upgrading memory, is it worth it?

By gubar · 9 replies
Nov 30, 2007
  1. Hi folks,

    I run an amd 3200+ with a gig of pc3200 ram and an nvidia 6800 128mb.

    It's always done me fine, but recently I've been using a lot of maya and photoshop. Large images, while having both apps open, causes hang, worse if I've got the net open too.

    If I upgrade to two gigs will I see a significant improvement in this? I'd like to be able to increase the size of my image files, but at the moment I can't.

    I can get this:

    CT12864Z40B DDR PC3200 • CL=3 • Unbuffered • NON-ECC • DDR400 • 2.6V • 128Meg x 64

    for £35 (gbp) per gig. It's basically the same as my current memory, but I'd have two gig sticks instead of two 512 sticks.

    Considering the rest of my machine is quite old though, I am just wondering if the memory would make working with multiple applications and large files more practical.


  2. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +421

    More RAM won't fix your system hangs. New RAM might...

    If you are prepared to buy the new RAM, when your computer is running, it will run better. But if the old RAM isn't the source of your hangs the new RAM won't fix it.

    I suggest running memtest overnight just to see if your RAM is faulty. Also it is probably worth checking out your Event Viewer in the Admin Tools control panel to see if that provides any clues to your problems.
  3. gubar

    gubar TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 105


    perhaps I should have been more clear. When I check the task manager, I can see that I am using virtual memory. I have also run mem-test recently and my current ram was cleared with more than seven passes.

    What I don't know is whether given the age of my system, another gig will give a significant improvement.

  4. Ironoak

    Ironoak TS Rookie Posts: 21

    It's not the clarity of your description, and he answered your question I think. Is there a way to test your bus speed to see if the extra ram is even worth doing?:eek:
    I just got this from Daveskater, go to and run there scan. It's free and will tell you if you can up your mem.
  5. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,975   +2,527

    Ahhh, Photoshop......

    Photoshop is a memory hog, and the rule of thumb is to have 3 times the amount of RAM installed than the largest image file you intend to work with. You must also set (in preferences) the maximum percentage of RAM you are willing to allot to PS. Normally about 50%. Oddly enough, the higher the amount of RAM installed the higher this percentage can be.It will still use the swap file and you should use disk clean-up to rid yourself of the temp files. As I said, the program uses a lot of system resources and you should be prepared to close your other apps so as to get the best performance from it. A boost to 2 GB of RAM would boost performance probably quite a bit, but no more since you would have to modify the OS (implement the "3 Gigabyte Switch") since Windows won't commit more than 2 GB to any one program in it's native configuration. This whole post does assume that your mobo will actually support more than the 1 GB of memory that's already installed.
  6. Ironoak

    Ironoak TS Rookie Posts: 21

    Thanks cranky for the info. I watched this thread because I run Photoshop as well. I didn't know that windows would only dedicate 2gigs per program. If I put 4gigs in my puter, will it run games better?
  7. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,002   +15

    read the ram guide in the guides forum
  8. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,975   +2,527

    And Now the Bad News.....

    A 32 bit Operating system and/or BIOS will only register about 3 GB of RAM at maximum. Ironically, in many cases you get the same amount of "available" RAM by only installing 3 GB in the first place. This is because the hardware addresses are subtracted from the 4 GB that can be memorized by 32 bits (places) of binary math. 2 to the 32nd power = 4GB. In practice 2GB of RAM installed in a 32 bit OS is about bagged the limit. You reach the point of diminishing returns rather rapidly as many, if not most of the programs are designed to operate within that number, most use much, much less.

    When you're dealing with Photoshop the file size doubles (from the original) every time you create a new layer. Adjustment layers are not as large an addition. However, to be able to revert to an original (unedited) file, (true non-destructive editing) Photoshop must store the original in memory as well as all the states of history you have asked it to. I think 50 history states is the default, if you want more, ya gotta pay with RAM. The number of history states you have chosen and the "bridge" are wholesale comsumers of RAM. When you're dealing with Photoshop Elements (3.0 and above), for all intents and purposes, you are actually running 2 separate programs, (organizer and editor) both of which can be piggish.
  9. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 17,244   +234

    You can increase the virtual memory too. I do this routinely on older machines that have less than 512MB system RAM and hard dirves under 80GB total
  10. Ironoak

    Ironoak TS Rookie Posts: 21

    ;) I'm glad I watched this thread, as I'm contemplating upgrading ram in both of my systems. I'm going to see if there is a guide for increasing virtual memory.
    Thanks again for all your time guys

    Edit: No guide needed. That was actually pretty easy to find. How do I know how much further pushing the virtual memory will help? Mine is currently set to 1536 mb to 3072 mb. Is it worth pushing it up further? Just curious, the extra ram has been ordered.
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