Question Is it worth adding 4 GB to 8 GB of RAM

Jan 28, 2020
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I have a laptop with the following specs
1366x768 display
Ryzen 5 2500u processor
8 GB RAM
128 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD
At the moment, only 6.96 GB of RAM is usable because the iGPU takes 1 Gig as dedicated The gaming performance is okay for the price and also I only play old and/or casual games. The problem is in productivity, the low memory has become a bottleneck. I only have funds to add 4 GB more of RAM so I would appreciate some help clearing out some issues.

  1. Will the little gaming performance I have reduce?
  2. I know Intel had something called flex mode where 8+4 GB would run as 8 GB dual channel + 4 GB dual channel. Does Ryzen support this?
  3. Will I notice a significant gain in system performance?
  4. (not so important) Will the iGPU take more than 1 GB for VRAM now?
Thanks for reading this all through.
 

Darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator
AMD supports flex mode on some of their platforms, and that CPU supports dual channel memory architecture, but the real question is whether or not the motherboard is designed to take advantage of it. I'd be inclined to say it IS, but since I don't know the model of your motherboard it's hard to say. Even if it doesn't, which is unlikely, you are still better off with 12GB rather than 8GB if your productivity applications are running out of memory.

If you are not running out of memory resources OR at least using up about 75% of them, then you will probably not see ANY difference in performance.

Whether or not the iGPU can use more than any given amount of memory depends on the BIOS options. Everything is guesswork without knowing what the exact model of this laptop is including any sub model or express service tag information.
 

Darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator
Ok. So are you currently running out of memory resources while using your productivity applications?

Have you run HWinfo and monitored the memory resources to see what you are actually using with your highest resource draw in use? I wouldn't take windows resource manager to heart, it and task manager information are often not terribly accurate.

Run your most demanding application with one of your biggest type projects open, and see how much memory usage HWinfo is ACTUALLY showing. That will tell us whether adding memory is even going to do anything for you.

Monitoring software

HWmonitor, Open hardware monitor, Realtemp, Speccy, Speedfan, Windows utilities, CPU-Z, NZXT CAM and most of the bundled motherboard utilities are often not the best choice as they are not always accurate. Some are actually grossly inaccurate, especially with certain chipsets or specific sensors that for whatever reason they tend to not like or work well with. I've found HWinfo or CoreTemp to be the MOST accurate with the broadest range of chipsets and sensors. They are also almost religiously kept up to date.

CoreTemp is great for just CPU thermals including core temps or distance to TJmax on older AMD platforms.

HWinfo is great for pretty much EVERYTHING, including CPU thermals, core loads, core temps, package temps, GPU sensors, HDD and SSD sensors, motherboard chipset and VRM sensor, all of it. When starting HWinfo after installation, always check the box next to "sensors only" and de-select the box next to "summary".


Run HWinfo and look at system voltages and other sensor readings.

Monitoring temperatures, core speeds, voltages, clock ratios and other reported sensor data can often help to pick out an issue right off the bat. HWinfo is a good way to get that data and in my experience tends to be more accurate than some of the other utilities available. CPU-Z, GPU-Z and Core Temp all have their uses but HWinfo tends to have it all laid out in a more convenient fashion so you can usually see what one sensor is reporting while looking at another instead of having to flip through various tabs that have specific groupings, plus, it is extremely rare for HWinfo to not report the correct sensor values under the correct sensor listings, or misreport other information. Utilities like HWmonitor, Openhardware monitor and Speccy, tend to COMMONLY misreport sensor data, or not report it at all.

After installation, run the utility and when asked, choose "sensors only". The other window options have some use but in most cases everything you need will be located in the sensors window. If you're taking screenshots to post for troubleshooting, it will most likely require taking three screenshots and scrolling down the sensors window between screenshots in order to capture them all.

It is most helpful if you can take a series of HWinfo screenshots at idle, after a cold boot to the desktop. Open HWinfo and wait for all of the Windows startup processes to complete. Usually about four or five minutes should be plenty. Take screenshots of all the HWinfo sensors.

Next, run something demanding like Prime95 (With AVX and AVX2 disabled) or Heaven benchmark. Take another set of screenshots while either of those is running so we can see what the hardware is doing while under a load.


*Download HWinfo



For temperature monitoring only, I feel Core Temp is the most accurate and also offers a quick visual reference for core speed, load and CPU voltage:


*Download Core Temp




Ryzen master for Zen or newer AMD CPUs, or Overdrive for older Pre-Ryzen platforms (AM3/AM3+/FM2/FM2+)

For monitoring on AMD Ryzen and Threadripper platforms including Zen or newer architectures, it is recommended that you use Ryzen master if for no other reason than because any updates or changes to monitoring requirements are more likely to be implemented sooner, and properly, than with other monitoring utilities. Core Temp and HWinfo are still good, with this platform, but when changes to CPU micro code or other BIOS modifications occur, or there are driver or power plan changes, it sometimes takes a while before those get implemented by 3rd party utilities, while Ryzen master, being a direct AMD product, generally gets updated immediately. Since it is also specific to the hardware in question, it can be more accurately and specifically developed without any requirement for inclusion of other architectures which won't be compatible in any case. You wouldn't use a hammer to drive a wood screw in (At least I hope not) and this is very much the same, being the right tool for the job at hand.

As far as the older AMD FX AM3+ platforms including Bulldozer and Piledriver families go, there are only two real options here. You can use Core Temp, but you will need to click on the Options menu, click Settings, click Advanced and put a check mark next to the setting that says "Show Distance to TJmax in temperature fields" and then save settings and exit the options menu system. This may or may not work for every FX platform, so using AMD Overdrive is the specific, again, right tool for the job, and recommended monitoring solution for this architecture. Since these FX platforms use "Thermal margins" rather than an actual "core/package" temp type thermal monitoring implementation, monitoring as you would with older or newer AMD platforms, or any Intel platform, won't work properly.

For more information about this, please visit here for an in depth explanation of AMD thermal margin monitoring.

Understanding AMD thermal margins for Pre-Ryzen processors





*Download Ryzen Master




*Download AMD Overdrive



Also, posting screenshots, when requested, is helpful so WE can see what is going on as well and you can learn how to do that here:

How to post images on Tom's hardware forums



Further, HP offers no information on whether the VRAM can be increased other than saying it is automatically configured based on the amount of installed system memory. Having worked on a number of these type systems before my assumption is that it CAN support UP TO 2GB of VRAM, but whether it WILL or not is another matter and I cannot find any verification one way or the other, not even through HP. I just get the same canned answer. Besides which, with the specifications of the Vega 8 graphics you have it is doubtful that you'd see a lot of benefit from more VRAM anyhow, although you might see SOME depending on the game. At that resolution and the AA settings that the Vega 8 graphics are capable of even using, 1GB of VRAM is probably enough.

If you see a small bump in performance, that would be great, but I'd focus more on whether or not it offers any benefit to your application usage.

What productivity applications, exactly, do you use, and also check the usage as explained above.
 
Jan 28, 2020
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Thanks a lot. I think I'll take the 4 GB. I use Android Studio, Chrome and Intellij IDEA concurrently. Sometimes I run an android virtual machine too. Performance usually starts dropping at 90% memory usage. Thanks for your answers.
 
First check your current ram configuration.
If you have 4GB+4GB installed, then there will be no space to add another 4GB.

Use CPU-Z to check ram configuration.

2nd - you really should be getting 8GB+8GB instead of 8GB+4GB, to activate in dual channel mode.
 

Darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator
Most laptops that HAVE a dual channel memory architecture, and to be honest, even most desktop memory architectures these days, really don't care whether the memory is the same capacity or not. Pretty much all architectures these days have some form of FLEX mode that will allow you to use an 8+4GB configuration where it will be 4+4GB in dual channel and the remaining 4GB in single channel.
 

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