when is 8gb useful?

afrobacon

Distinguished
Feb 20, 2008
396
0
18,790
1
right after i built my system i stumbled upon 4gb of ram for $20, so naturally i took it. being almost identical to what i had i saw no harm in just installing it. ever since then iv had 4x2gb pc6400, but iv never noticed my computer using more than 2gb.

does having that much make accessing time faster? or was it simply a waste of 20 bucks?
 

dragabain

Distinguished
Mar 11, 2006
72
0
18,630
0
The only time I've come close to using 4GB of ram on my machine was when I was ripping a dvd and compressing it. Games don't really need that much memory (as in 3GB+), although someone may say that there are one or two that can use that much.

Anyways to answer you question in a sentence:
The only way to utilize 8GB today, is to use video editing and compression software.
 

Lord Gornak

Distinguished
Jan 31, 2008
355
0
18,780
0
I'd have to agree with dragabain. Unless you are running several video/audio applications or running a server there isn't much need for the 8GB. However you could always create a large ramdisk and install a few programs onto that.
 

sailer

Splendid
Apr 9, 2006
4,970
1
22,810
8
I would call $20 for 4 gig of ram a waste, unless a 32 bit OS was being used. If a person is using the computer for task intensive pruposes, then 8 gig of ram can be very useful. Some early tests, such as the one Tom's did on Feb 15, also show some speed increases as Vista (64 bit of course) doesn't spend as much time accessing the hard disk. Right now, very few games will go over 2 gig usage, but expect that to change during the next two years.

I certainly wish I could run across 4 gig of ram for $20, but I haven't been so lucky. Then again, I have business computers which seem to ask for every bit of ram they can get.
 

afrobacon

Distinguished
Feb 20, 2008
396
0
18,790
1
right now im running winXP 64bit. iv recently started backup up my collection of dvd, which is when i noticed it finally crack the 2gb barrier. i was planning on upgrading(?) to vista x64 this weekend, just to test it out and see if i notice any difference.

in a few months i plan on converting this system to a htpc. will that help make the ram more useful?

iv also heard of disabling file paging (might be wrong term) for system performance gains. will that be something worth checking into?

 

Waspy

Distinguished
Jan 1, 2005
201
0
18,680
0
I don't think 8GB is very useful for normal users or gamers/power gamers. You need to be running a 64 bit OS...I know Vista can eat RAM for breakfast, but that OS is donkey anyways so I'd say stiff it.
 

sailer

Splendid
Apr 9, 2006
4,970
1
22,810
8
With SP1 coming out for Vista, it should pick up some of its performance. I've had XP64 Pro for a long time and prefer it to the 32 bit XP, but except for my gaming computer, I do business stuff that demands performance and lots of ram, which XP64 or Vista 64 give. Well, Vista 64 still lags a bit, but its not as bad as some people say and it is the future whether or not anyone likes it. M$ says the next OS will be purely 64 bit, so there won't be a choice of 32 bit XP, and by the time the next OS appears, the argument might not be over 2 gig or 4 gig being minimum, but whether 8 gig or something more is the minimum.

That said, Waspy is correct that for now, 8 gig is not all that useful for gamers or common users. It is showing some advantage in FSX, but that is a power hungry app to start with. But a year or two from now, who can really say what we'll be using ramwise. I know that I can't.
 

kansur0

Distinguished
Mar 14, 2006
140
0
18,680
0
What 8Gb of RAM is useful for is in Vista 64 to completely turn off disc cache. Then the computer never fetches to the disc whatsoever. I think I read that article mentioned in this thread. Of course there is the danger of a complete system crash if you happen to go over the 8Gb when disc cache is completely disabled but...if you think about it more system ram is just a natural evolution towards all functions residing in solid state memory. Look at the way hard drives are evolving now. Solid state hard drives should become commonplace in the next few years.

Illiminating disc cache is the way to go! As soon as I find some 4 4 4 12 2Gb sticks I am going for it!
 

Hatman

Distinguished
Aug 8, 2004
2,024
0
19,780
0
Except using 4 sticks of ram can commonly cause stability problems and completly ruins overclocking.

Just use 4gb 2x2 you wont notice any difference. If you want to spend more money for for some ddr2 1066.
 

sailer

Splendid
Apr 9, 2006
4,970
1
22,810
8
You're right about having over 4 gig and getting stability problems hatman. But I don't overclock my business computers. Reportedly, SP1 for Vista is supposed to fix that, but I don't have any direct experience with it yet, so I can't say whether the fix is a good one or not.

I full agree, for the time being, a 4 gig 2x2 setup is good. Not sure about the money spent for DDR2 1066, though, as some of it seems to merely be overclocked DDR2 800 with a raise in the voltage. In such a case, I can raise the voltage and overclock to 1066 myself.
 
Vista 64 loves ram. It will try to anticipate your needs and load things into ram in anticipation of your request. This will not show up as ram being used. If you are doing lots of multitasking, extra ram can help. Some programs are 64 bit capable and will use lots of ram to improve performance. I went to 8gb because it was cheap. I think things are a bit snappier, but I have done no testing.

The only downside I know of is that it is harder to overclock 8gb. For stock operation, it should not be an issue.
 

leon2006

Distinguished
Feb 12, 2006
1,904
0
19,960
76
http://www.tomshardware.com/2008/02/15/vista_workshop/

Above is the article on speed with more ram for vista-64...

Memory need is a function of specific applications....I run design simulations tools that use whatever memory is on my pc...8 Gbyte. At work i use a computer with 36Gbyte the program use it as well to max.

For games and regular office applications 4Gbyte is more than enough...

Memory is cheap our time is not...For my need that $20 is well spent...
 
I found that article pretty disappointing. "Where's the beef ?" The article talks about a test setup but they did no real tests. Sure they talked about what happens if ya turn the swap file off and "yeay we had no problems at 8 GB". But again, where's the beef ?

Where's the benchmarks ? Where's the results with 2 GB, 4 GB, 8 GB ? I don't really wanna know that "yeah well theoretically of you don't have to write to the HD, it should be faster". I wanna know the numbers. They said that Windows ran fine at 8 GB with no swap file but at 2 GB they ran outta of memory loading 3 GB files....well duh !

They also say "Our testing brought us to a clear conclusion: if you often use several memory hungry applications simultaneously, then there's really no way around upgrading your system to 8 GB. Working with applications, and especially switching between them, is much more efficient than with a typical 2 GB configuration."

Again, 1) I saw no test results and 2) "no way around upgrading to 8 GB ? I see nothing explaining why 4 GB is this huge roadblock.

All I got out of this article is "I bought 8 gigs of RAM and here's my attempt to justify it". If it's better it should benchmark better. And if it's multitasking argument, I wanna see what the tester is multitasking. And not some silly "I downloaded SP1 while running a backup, while running writing a DVD while running my AV scans while defragging my drive, while running a find and replace in a 2 GB word file wile editing a PhotoShop Image while compressing a movie...."

Machines can multitask but humans can't. While it is valuable to be able to run programs in background while getting work done, the test should have some semblance of reality. An intelligent user, runs AV scans and backups at night for example. And if you are editing a movie while editing a photo while editing a word file, you are not doing any of those things well.

I have no problems with normal things.....like having some programs open and playing a game....that is something that happens everywhere....I routinely do that during lunch at the office. I fan PCMark and Futuremark with a many as 10 programs open including Adobe Acrobat and Designer open, AutoCAD open others and I still failed to generate significant differences in benchmark results between having all 10 programs running and having all 10 programs off.

What the reviewer failed to acknowledge is that these page file writes are not repeating which is why I figure he didn't back up the claims with benchmarks. Let's say you have those 10 programs loaded .... even when you load the first one, windows will stick some of it in Virtual memory (VM). Right now I have over 1 GB of physical memory free. Yet:

AutoCAD 360MB in memory / 356 MB in VM
Firefox 119MB in memory, 95 MB in VM

The assumption that Windows will not offload memory to VM if there is physical memory available is a myth. When I load 3D Mark, the system may offload parts of those 10 running programs but then those programs are simply idle. There's no swapping going on for the next 15 minutes or so while the benchmark completes. The only way multitasking generally becomes an issue is if the machine is being forced to switch its focus from task to task 2 task 3 every few seconds and the reality is very very few users find themselves in that situation.

I have always over bought RAM. I never put less than 2 GB in an XP box.....never put less than 1 GB in a Win2k box, never put less than 512 MB in an NT4 box and I'd never put less than 4 GB in a Vista box. But as the OP said, he's never seen his system use more than 2 GB.....to which I'd say "then you should have 4". Cause if you just had 2 GB, you'd see Windows paging more cause it always seems to wanna have half the RAM free. It's pretty simple to see if 8 GB will benefit you.

-With 4 GB in, open all the programs you are likely to have open on any given day at one time. Run PCMark and 3DMark and anything else you wanna run. Record the numbers.
-With 8 GB in, open all the programs you are likely to have open on any given day at one time. Run PCMark and 3DMark and anything else you wanna run. Record the numbers.

If there's not a statistically significant difference between what you recorded under both scenarios, then the 8 GB isn't helping ya any. For a mainstream Vista PC, I'd be more inclined to invest in memory with faster timings at 4 GB then boosting run of the mill memory to 8 GB. There are instances where the extra 4 GB will help. For example, when multiple virtual machines are used, such as those provided by VMware and Microsoft Virtual PC, we are outside "mainstream user".

Finally, the author's comments on "issues" with using 8 GB should be considered:

"Nonetheless, even veteran users should expect to encounter a few setbacks when using 8 GB of RAM. Be prepared to encounter driver problems, and not just on exotic hardware. Some system tools may also spring a nasty surprise on you."
 

afrobacon

Distinguished
Feb 20, 2008
396
0
18,790
1
thanks for the information; i think i will do what JAckNaylorPE said and benchmark my system while multitasking with both 4 and 8 installed; only on both xp64 and vista64, if theres a difference ill test 6gb. if i dont see much of a difference ill attempt to trade them for a hdd or something

thanks for the help
 

bombasschicken

Distinguished
Jan 31, 2006
192
0
18,680
0
In all reality.. You wont be able to utilize all 8 gigs for normal use. I use 8 gigs in my rig only cause I do MSSQL database management and when you get a database with 5 million+ rows, memory quickly becomes an issue. Since I upgraded to 8, (and turned off the swap file) I have had no problems. I have been able to use up to 7gigs at a time.
 


Hey if ya get ambitious :) ...... I would love to see those benchmarks with different superfetch settings in the registry:

http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/windows-vista/change-superfetch-to-only-cache-system-boot-files-in-vista

It may have an effect on how much RAM Vista uses so you may want to try the 3 options listed above as well as disabling altogether.
 

Atavist

Distinguished
Mar 1, 2008
12
0
18,510
0
I too was intrigued by that article. In particular, the following passage:

"Because the applications are being run in an emulation environment, it is difficult to judge their performance objectively, but most apps runs slightly slower than in a native 32-bit system. Microsoft claims that especially memory-hungry software may even run faster, but at any rate, the tests showed only marginal performance differences.

Another issue with 32-bit applications is the maximum memory chunk each process is able to address, namely 2 GB. This limit can be adjusted to 4 GB using a few special settings."


I took that to mean that in Vista32 each process (I imagine that multiple threads for apps that support it still only amount to one process) has an absolute maximum of 2GB allocated to it, whereas in Vista64 that ceiling can be increased to 4GB. Have I misunderstood that?

If my undestanding is correct, I suppose it will still depend on the particular application whether it can do anything useful with those extra 2GB. To my mind that raises the question whether games (personally, from a performance perspective, that's all I'm interested in) might be tweaked (in-game options, .ini files, mods whatever) to make full use of the extra memory. e.g. I could envisage forcing the software to preload pretty much the entire game so as to eliminate loading times... I'm guessing it won't work quite like that, but if there is some mileage to be gained from 8GB 64-bit systems for gaming, I'd love to know. Thanks
 

Not to mention the price cuts for the current Vista DVDs.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080229/wr_nm/microsoft_vista_dc

The Crucial Ballastix pwn when it comes to OCing (most/some other RAM with D9 chips too). Seen these chips go to 1100+ with lose timing and voltage increase.
 

dengamle

Distinguished
Apr 18, 2007
223
0
18,690
1


The 4GB is for 32-bit processes, and the application must be "flagged" for it to work.

A 64-bit process has currently 8 terabytes of user space to play with ...


Edit: if I care to read your post better, I would be able to respond better, I think :) The above is valid in 64-bit Vista. In 32-bit Vista you can increase it to 3GB, and then both Windows and the application must be "flagged".
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY