Besides, RAM is rated for the speed of each DIMM. That's independent of the (single/dual/triple/quad channel) configuration.
800mhz single channel = 6.4 GB/s
800mhz dual channel = 12.8 GB/s
in any case, my original point was that using 4 sticks in a dual channel motherboard would revert the system to single channel mode.
4 sticks in a dual channel motherboard would run in dual channel mode. 3 sticks wouldn't, though.
But how (if even true) is this relevant in the light of giving advice to the OP, who can not hope to afford 4 sticks anyway?I've gone down this road before, 4 sticks will run in single channel mode unless it is explicitly mentioned by the motherboard manufacturer that their motherboard (chipset, configuration) supports dual channel when all slots are populated.
As to relevance, DDR2 is on the way out. The OP might be able to pick up some of it second hand. It's good to know what will work and what will not.
As someone with a similar age PC (AM2+ mobo, Phenom 2, DDR2, Radeon 4890, 500gb HDD,) I've recently been through something similar.
Your best bets to improve performance in my experience are (in decending order of bang for buck:)
Another 2GB DDR2. It's getting expensive now but if you can find 2nd hand it'll stop your swap file working overtime.
A modern GPU. I've just ordered a Radeon 7870 Myst Edition (essentially a slightly nobbled 7950,) but any modern GPU from the Radeon 7850 upwards (or Nvidia equivalent) will make a big difference to you gaming. This is a lot more expensive (around £130+ for a 7850) but has the added advantage of being portable to your new machine.
An SSD. 128gb boot drives are available for £80-£100 and 256gb start at not much more. This was the single biggest all round speed increase I've made in 1 upgrade since my first 3d accelerator card. EVERYTHING gets faster and it'll do any remaining swap file work much quicker than your HDD. Again, this is something you could take to your new build.
Your PSU is more than capable of running virtually any modern single GPU solution so that, your HDD, a new GPU/SSD + any optical drives and presumably your case would all be capable of carrying over into a new system. You'd only be looking at tossing the RAM you purchased and the CPU/Mobo combination.
Ah! The swap file option. Indeed, getting your OS on an SSD also gives it a much faster swap file (the OS stores memory on the hard drive when RAM is over capacity. Getting the Swap file on SSD gives you a performance boost under heavy load). It is also a nice investment into the future.An SSD. 128gb boot drives are available for £80-£100 and 256gb start at not much more. This was the single biggest all round speed increase I've made in 1 upgrade since my first 3d accelerator card. EVERYTHING gets faster and it'll do any remaining swap file work much quicker than your HDD. Again, this is something you could take to your new build.
Even with an SSD, running out of physical memory and starting to really use the swap file wrecks performance. SSDs are orders of magnitude faster than HDDs in latency, but they're still orders of magnitude slower than physical memory.
Yep. First get more RAM. Then maybe look into an SSD.
Can we delete 2+ pages of utter crap and just put "buy 2Gb of RAM" as the 2nd post? :)
Creator of Steam Greenlight LITE
You can get 2GB of DDR2 for around £25? Twice the price of DDR3 I think. I only have sticks of 1gb lying around. :P
If you can't find any decently priced sticks I've got two of these 2GB DDR2 800MHz sticks just gathering dust in an old mobo I'm not using. I could throw them in the post for you but it'd probably take a while to get over there to the other end of the planet.
Thanks for the offer Skalpadda, I appreciate it, however a friend has come to my rescue. He (my friend) recently upgraded his PC to an i5 3570k, and is going to lend me his old CPU and motherboard.
The good news is that I can keep using my current GPU, PSU, and HDD, as they should all work fine with the on-loan motherboard and CPU. However, I'll need to buy some new ram that's compatible; the motherboard he's lending me is an ASUS - M4A785T-M, and the CPU a AMD AM3 955 Black Edition.
I would ideally like 16Gb of the fastests ram the motherboard supports, that way I'm sort of future proofed for when I can afford to upgrade myself. Looking around the internet seems to suggests the fastest I can get is PC10600/1333MHz, though the motherboard site is unclear (it says it supports 1800 over-clocked?).
In terms of brands - I've heard G.Skill is reliable(?), which has led me to this: http://pricespy.co.nz/product.php?p=1598330
Is there any reason why that would be a bad choice?
Also: Thank you everyone for the responses, I relise their was a disagreement regarding some of the information put forward, but the discussion that come of it was very helpful (maybe not so much for me now, but I'm certain others will find it useful.)
While it's always possible that requirements will increase in the future, 16GB is a crazy amount of RAM at the moment. If you have the money to burn sure, but 8GB will be more than fine for any gaming. If you feel like you need more at some point in the future adding another stick is one of the easiest and cheapest upgrades you can make.
I don't know how much a NZ dollar is worth or what prices are normal down there, so I can't comment on that, but setting aside some money for an SSD or a better graphics card seems like it'd be a better investment.
It would be better to buy 8 GB DDR3-1333 now, and then when you upgrade later on you can upgrade to 16 GB or more, with whatever happens to be the standard memory at the time. DDR3-1600 has already become the standard, and by the time you need an upgrade, there's a good chance we'll be buying DDR4. So you don't really get much future-proofing from having 16 GB of memory that will be old and slow.
fair points, thanks guys.