Best to upgrade: RAM or Video card?

Discussion in 'Installation & Compatibility' started by Pragmatix, Jun 8, 2007.

  1. Pragmatix

    Pragmatix

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    I recently upgraded to Home Premium, love it so far and am wondering how I can get the most out of my existing system while upgrading a thing or two. I should mention that I'm basically happy the way things are running right now but my performance scores are relatively low and I'm used to the snappiness of XP on this box...so I'm looking to make it a bit better w/out spending too much money (<$100). Also, I am not a gamer and do mostly low-level stuff.



    My specs with their performance scores are as follows:



    3.2gh Celeron processor (score: 3.9)

    RAM 1gh (score: 2.6)

    128 MB Geforce 5200 (score: 2)

    250G hard drive



    I'm wondering if I should add 512MB of RAM bringing it to 1.5G (in order to get 2G I would have to buy two 1G sticks of RAM b/c my mobo only has two memory slots and right now there are 2--512MB sticks). I found a deal on 1G of Crucial memory for $43 after rebate.



    OR (and) should I buy a new video card which would have to be PCI. If so, is the key to get at least 256MB? I was looking at these:



    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814145087

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814143032



    And is it weird (dumb) to "upgrade" to the same card just with more memory?



    One last thing is would making such minor upgrades actually be noticeable while surfing, emailing, editing documents and photos, playing music, etc.?
     
    Pragmatix, Jun 8, 2007
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  2. Pragmatix

    WAW8

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    First of all, you're not going to get the snap of XP -- period. Test after test has shown Vista slower than XP, time after time.



    If you're looking for overall improvement in responsiveness, more RAM is the way to go. 512MB more would be good; 1GB more would be better.



    If you want run games, a much better video card would help, but even there, performance lags in Vista, plus then, you're up agains CPU performance limits as well.



    So, my vote would be for the RAM.
     
    WAW8, Jun 8, 2007
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  3. Pragmatix

    Jason

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    Ram is best bang for buck performance mod. You can always turn down the visual styles to give your video card a breather. But you can't do much about the amount of ram you have. Another vote for ram. Vista loves it soo much. 2GB will give you the best experience, I used to run 2gb then 1 stick broke so now I only run 1.5gb there is a slow down but its still much better than 1gb.
     
    Jason, Jun 8, 2007
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  4. Pragmatix

    Jason

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    BTW, I have 2 desktop PC's which both got a windows rating of 1.0 mainly because the video cards did not support Aero, so I turned down the gui visual effects and some other unused services as well as features such as search indexing. Theses two PC's are nearly as fast as they were when running xp.
     
    Jason, Jun 8, 2007
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  5. Pragmatix

    Pragmatix

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    Thanks! That was exactly the kind of info I was looking for. My first instinct was to go for the RAM...that was before I knew that a performance score even existed. When I discovered the performance index and my video score I started wondering. It's good to know that even 512MB of RAM will make a difference.
     
    Pragmatix, Jun 8, 2007
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  6. Pragmatix

    VistaRocks

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    I vote ram also. You can pick up a 1g stick pretty cheap right now, get it before it goes up. I run 2g and everything is nice and smooth.
     
    VistaRocks, Jun 8, 2007
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  7. Pragmatix

    Pragmatix

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    RAM it is! I ordered 2 gigs today...can't wait to see what it does.



    I went to CompUSA yesterday to check the performance of PC's running Home Premium. I used flip 3D as a sort of litmus test and found that all of them scrolled through windows much more smoothly than on my machine. Some had rather high performance scores but others had lower scores and only 1G of ram which leads me to wonder: does newer hardware simply run better w/Vista, and is DDR2 ram that much faster than DDR? I have to admit I was a little disheartened when I saw new $500 machines performing so much better than my older box that I've put about $750 into (including the new ram)...I'm still new to computers and on my first generation so the rapidly changing market is still a bit of a shock to me.



    An unrelated question: I installed Vista on my desktop and activated it. I also installed it on my laptop without activating so I can check it out. Now I've decided to activate on the laptop as well (even though Aeroglass doesn't work with the Intel 915 chipset so I'm stuck w/Basic). I was planning on ordering another copy of Premium from Campustech b/c it's cheaper than any copy of Basic that I've found. Is this what I have to do or is there a way I can use the install DVD I already have and somehow get and pay for a new activation code? (Edit) Just checked out buying "additional licenses" on MS website...it costs $143 for Home Premium Updgrade license, $90 for Basic Upgrade...or I can pay $70 for another Premium Upgrade disc from Campustech. I also just noticed that there are more differences between Basic and Premium than just Aeroglass.
     
    Pragmatix, Jun 10, 2007
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  8. Pragmatix

    Camride

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    Unfortunately your system is going to be alot slower than most budget systems out now. Your hardware is a little old, so it will have a harder time running Vista as smoothly as what you've seen on display computers. The RAM will help, but unless you upgrade to a new MB/CPU/GPU you're not going to have the best performance. Unfortunately hardware changes so quickly that what you paid a bunch of money for a year or two ago is now outdated and not worth much. One thing that would help your performance is getting a faster cpu. Celeron's are slow by nature, even with a higher Ghz rating they just can't handle much.



    As far as which copy to get for your laptop, get Home Premium as cheap as you can get it. Basic is a bad route to go as it's missing a ton of features and the price difference isn't really there to make it worth it. If your laptop won't run Aero then just disable it.
     
    Camride, Jun 12, 2007
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  9. Pragmatix

    cyclic

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    Sorry I didn't see this thread sooner, because of the 3.2gh Celeron processor the system wont respond that much better for throwing RAM into it, it will improve some things but your 'bottleneck' is the CPU it has a minimal amount of L2 cache and just doesn't have the sheer grunt for performance, it will always be in the lower performer division regardless of the amount of RAM it has, what you really need to give it a proper boost is a better class CPU, any Intel other than a Celery has more L2 cache and the performance increase is exponential when you add more RAM then. Level 2 cache is a block of memory actually on the CPU die so even though the average CPU's have L2 cache measured in Kbytes it is running it at full CPU speed, 3.2 Ghz for example so allthough a level 2 cahe of 512Kb doesn't seem much better than 256 or 128 the effect on the CPU performance is considerable.
     
    cyclic, Jun 13, 2007
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  10. Pragmatix

    Pragmatix

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    Hmmm...very interesting. That kind of changes things. I'm going to poke around and see how much non-Celeron processors cost and decide if it's something I want to do. Will, of course, see what kind of changes occur just by installing the memory and decide if I want to live w/that. Thanks though for the info...this is quite an adventure.



    Edit: Well I just did some poking around thinking this is going to be very complicated figuring out what will work w/my mobo, etc. and it turns out that at NewEgg I have exactly 6 choices for my 478 socket mobo. One reviewer had this to say about the 3.0G P4 processor (for 81 USD): "Perfect upgrade for the $$$ if you don't want to bother replacing everything for vista." It has an L2 cache of 1MB. I might give it a shot.



    Edit2: This has opened a whole new can of worms...I also have a box that's running Linux which has a cheap PC Chips LGA775 mobo. Now my head is starting to spin...wondering if I should buy a Core2Duo processor and a gig or two of DDR2 ram and make this my Vista box...which would mean returning the ram I just bought and possibly dealing with a Vista re-activation hassle...but it may be worth it. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
     
    Pragmatix, Jun 13, 2007
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  11. Pragmatix

    cyclic

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    A 1Mb L2 cache will make your machine fly better than 'red bull' and I would certainly make it my first line for upgrading, you will see the difference as soon as the machine boots, well actually whilst it's booting, things on the POST screen will fly past and you wont be able to read most of them, that's a pretty good clue as to what you can expect performance wise............then if you get more RAM when you can save a few more pennies we could be looking at world domination here [​IMG]

    Seriously though it is the best path and I am confident you wont be disappointed with the results.
     
    cyclic, Jun 14, 2007
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  12. Pragmatix

    WAW8

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    OK, your original post said you wanted to upgrade a thing or two and you wanted to keep the cost under $100. So, given that any new CPU is probably going to cost a lost more than that, and that 1GB of memory can generally be had for under $100, quite a few of us recommended more RAM as your best buy.



    Once you open the questions up to different machines, different CPUs, new motherboards, it's going to get a lot more complicated, and a LOT more expensive. Duo-core CPUs, DDR2 memory, new state-of-the-art motherboards, of course they're going to give you a stronger performance in Vista, but that isn't what you asked. You asked about inexpensive upgrades to your existing machine.



    If you really want a Vista-oriented machine, your best bet (for the dollar) would be to buy a new machine with Vista already installed. You simply won't be able to build one for what you'll pay for a pre-built system -- unless you want the fun of building it yourself, and what's that they say on the commercials? That's priceless <G>.
     
    WAW8, Jun 14, 2007
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  13. Pragmatix

    Pragmatix

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    Gotcha, and that's what I have to decide. I'm still on my first computers ever and there would be a great deal of satisfaction in building a machine, mostly out of what I currently have, that performs well w/Vista. I've got some thinking to do...
     
    Pragmatix, Jun 14, 2007
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  14. Pragmatix

    Jason

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    If you can find a p4 which will fit your motherboard socket, you can get them for cheap. Under $100 on ebay. if you throw even a 2.4ghz p4 which is what I run in my desktop and have about 1.5GB 333 ddr ram w/ a 128 mb Radeon 9200 (doesnt support aero) it is decently fast.

    Still those 2GB ram you bought will help a slow cpu. More cache(RAM) means less hard drive activity or swamp file, which means less # of times the cpu has to talk to your ATA controller. This way it will go straight to the ram more often. So you will see a performance boost. But like said the cpu is likely the bottle neck here. I'd throw that ram in...save up about $400 bucks go look on ebay and find a descent custom built pc. You can keep patching your old pc, but eventually you will need a new motherboard and when all said and done you will have spent the same amount as a new pc which is probably still faster.

    Ex: http://cgi.ebay.com/NEW-Intel-P4-3-...QQihZ001QQcategoryZ140075QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem
     
    Jason, Jun 14, 2007
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  15. Pragmatix

    kingofnexus

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    Yeah dont spend much now and save up for later. Building a decent computer is cheaper than buying one in store, but building a not so good comptuter yourself is more expensive than buying at the shops.

    Shops get technology which is nearly a year old for the most part and overpriced too for the latest stuff. But this is way off topic. Get more ram ;)
     
    kingofnexus, Jun 14, 2007
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  16. Pragmatix

    WAW8

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    OK -- you're original post said you wanted to "upgrade a thing or two" and you wanted to spend less than $100. Given those constraints, several of us recommended that you buy more RAM. 1GB of DDR RAM can be had today for around $80 and will get you some improved performance.



    Now, you're talking about changing CPUs or even going to a new mobo with new CPU and memory.



    That's a whole different discussion.



    My suggestion is that rather than clutter this thread with a whole different topic, that you start a new thread asking about building a new Vista-oriented machine. Also, as you did in your original post, indicate any constraints you have (i.e., $$$). That way, you will be members commenting on their results in building/acquiring Vista-oriented machines.
     
    WAW8, Jun 14, 2007
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