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Why did adding more RAM slow my computer down


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#1 alm8

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Posted 06 July 2012 - 07:11 PM

Hi, I was hoping somebody could shed some light on this. Let me start off by saying I read this tutorial (http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/tutorials/identifying-and-upgrading-ram/) but some of it I could not follow.

I have an Intel Pentium 4 @ 3.6GHz and am running Win XP Pro SP3 (32 bit). I was initially running on 2GB of RAM before the upgrade and then added another pair (2 x 1 GB). My BIOS shows 4GB of RAM so I'm pretty sure everything is installed correctly. On a side note my computer is only able to utilize 3GB of this 4GB of RAM (I understand it's because I'm not running a 64 bit version). I'm still a little confused as to why I didn't get a bit more, my video card is only 256MB. Any ideas?

My main problem, however, is that it seems that my computer takes longer to boot up and shut down. It's not an abnormal amount of time (an extra few seconds... maybe 5-10 more at shut down), but it seems slower to me. All the applications seem to start at about the same rate as before. Why am I not getting increased performance from the extra RAM? Did windows not configure something properly? Was I supposed to configure something?

I've attached screenshots of info from CPU-Z. I don't understand a lot of this information, but I'm thinking it might help out.

Thanks in advance.

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#2 jhayz

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 11:22 AM

5 to 10 seconds is no big deal for me as it is not noticeable. A 2 gig RAM for Win XP is highly sufficient for home users. It might be your system is bloated but again 5 to 10 seconds is not really critical.

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#3 alm8

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 12:06 PM

Sorry what do you mean about my system being bloated? Do you mean with startups and services? I have disabled all unnecessary startups and some services with CodeStuff's Starter long before the RAM upgrade.

I could understand if it didn't change, as you said 2GB is sufficient, but why would it become slower? Also do you see anything from the cpu-z reading that could be tweaked?

#4 Orange Blossom

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 12:41 PM

In addition to the amount of memory on a RAM stick, there is also a speed factor. The computer will use the speed of the slowest RAM stick. So, that is something to check. Also, if your computer can only utilize 3 GB of RAM, I'd remove one stick. It's possible the computer is taking a bit of time to decide which 3 of the 4 RAM sticks to utilize upon bootup. One thing I have found out: The more sticks of RAM in the computer, the more energy it uses.

In terms of performance, my thought is that with extra RAM, you'll see the performance differences more strongly if you run a lot of programs or if you run memory intensive programs. If you don't do such, chances are you won't see much difference in performance.

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#5 alm8

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 02:20 PM

In addition to the amount of memory on a RAM stick, there is also a speed factor. The computer will use the speed of the slowest RAM stick. So, that is something to check. Also, if your computer can only utilize 3 GB of RAM, I'd remove one stick. It's possible the computer is taking a bit of time to decide which 3 of the 4 RAM sticks to utilize upon bootup. One thing I have found out: The more sticks of RAM in the computer, the more energy it uses.


All 4 of my memory sticks are all the same spec: PC2 4200/4300 DDR2 533MHz, CL4, ECC. The only difference is the manufacturer.

I can see what you mean by the stick which can't be utilized, unfortunately I can't take one out. They have to be installed in pairs on my machine. Thanks for your help though!

#6 jhayz

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 08:15 PM

What is the total booting time of your system and along with the shutting down? You could take advantage of the 4 GB RAM sticks if you are running a 64 bit OS. Since you said they need to be in pairs.

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#7 Orange Blossom

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 01:57 AM

All 4 of my memory sticks are all the same spec: PC2 4200/4300 DDR2 533MHz, CL4, ECC. The only difference is the manufacturer.


I see that you have ECC RAM sticks. Are you certain you're supposed to be using ECC RAM? Obviously, your motherboard supports it, otherwise, you wouldn't be able to boot. I'd check your previous RAM to see if it was non-ECC. Mixing ECC and non-ECC RAM can cause odd things to occur as well. In some cases, one can't even boot. If by chance, you've mixed non-ECC and ECC RAM on the computer, I'd take out the ECC sticks.

Using ECC decreases your computer's performance by about 2 percent.


From: http://www.crucial.com/kb/answer.aspx?qid=3692

More about ECC RAM memory: http://www.tech-faq.com/ecc-memory.html

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#8 xXAlphaXx

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 11:12 AM

All 4 of my memory sticks are all the same spec: PC2 4200/4300 DDR2 533MHz, CL4, ECC. The only difference is the manufacturer.

I can see what you mean by the stick which can't be utilized, unfortunately I can't take one out. They have to be installed in pairs on my machine. Thanks for your help though!



533MHz? CPU-Z indicated it was functioning at 266MHz according to your screenshots, almost half what it should be at. That may be the extra 5 - 10 seconds there. It also could be the fact that it is ECC ram but 2% isn't really noticeable unless were talking about some big big numbers.


Adding RAM to a system doesn't always speed it up, but it does definitely increase the number of programs it can run in live memory and decreasing the amount of paging used from the hard drive. Using this paging from the hard drive slows the system down greatly which is why you will usually hear that more RAM = more speed, but if the programs you run aren't very intensive and didn't use the paging to begin with, you won't see a speed boost.


Think of it this way: You have a 2 seater car (in this analogy, this is your ram) But you usually drive with 3 people in your car (these are the applications you run.) You could stuff that third passenger into your trunk (paging file) but you would drive slower so you dont injure the guy in your trunk. If you added more seats to your car (more ram) you could drive faster because you dont have to put the third guy in the trunk. BUT, if you have 3 people in your car and you already have a 4 door sedan, adding more seats isn't going to speed you up, you would have to upgrade the engine in the car.

Edited by xXAlphaXx, 23 July 2012 - 11:22 AM.

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#9 alm8

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Posted 02 September 2012 - 11:43 AM



All 4 of my memory sticks are all the same spec: PC2 4200/4300 DDR2 533MHz, CL4, ECC. The only difference is the manufacturer.

I can see what you mean by the stick which can't be utilized, unfortunately I can't take one out. They have to be installed in pairs on my machine. Thanks for your help though!



533MHz? CPU-Z indicated it was functioning at 266MHz according to your screenshots, almost half what it should be at. That may be the extra 5 - 10 seconds there. It also could be the fact that it is ECC ram but 2% isn't really noticeable unless were talking about some big big numbers.




About the CPU-Z screenshots, I know they show that the RAM is functioning at 266MHz, but isn't it reporting it that way becuase they are dual channel? Sorry, I do not really understand the ouput from CPU-Z, so if you could clarify that, that would be great.

As far as the ECC and Non-ECC, I am sure that I did not mix the two. All 4 RAM sticks in my system are ECC. My motherboard supports both, but obviously they can not be mixed.

I am still a little confused as to why the boot time is 5-10 seconds longer, unless it has something to do with the frequency you mentioned? And thank you for the analogy, I understand that RAM won't always increase the speed of the system if I wasn't using it to it's potential to begin with, but what I'm really wondering is why it got slower?

Just a side note, I recently enabled Hyperthreading on my CPU. I can not say that I have seen a measureable difference.

Edited by alm8, 02 September 2012 - 11:46 AM.


#10 xXAlphaXx

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Posted 02 September 2012 - 12:50 PM

Enabling Hyperthreading on your CPU is an excellent thing to do, especially with that particular processor (1 core 2 threads). Again thats more of a capacity upgrade by enabling hyper threading. With it enabled you can run more active applications or higher intensity applications, but the speed of the processor is still rated at 3.6Ghz per core. (Which is actually quite fast. Average processor speed currently is around 2.2 - 2.8Ghz for standard* processors.)

Definition of Hyperthreading:

Intel's proprietary HT Technology is used to improve parallelization of computations (doing multiple tasks at once) performed on PC microprocessors. For each processor core that is physically present, the operating system addresses two virtual or logical cores, and shares the workload between them when possible. The main function of hyper-threading is to decrease the number of dependent instructions on the pipeline. [source]

The CPU is a bit more complex and has many different things that play into the speed and performance of the processor. Things such as cores, clock speed, fsb rate, L2 cache, Hyper-Threading, and Turbo-Boost technology will all determine how well your processor functions. These are a bit harder to explain but their is an excellent analogy I use that explains it pretty simply.

But, to check if your hyper-threading is working properly, open your Task Manager (ctrl+shift+esc) and then click on the performance tab. Look at the CPU usage history and if it looks like two charts side by side then it is working properly. If it looks like one solid chart then it is not functioning as intended.

As for the 5-10 second boot time, my guess is still the clock speed of the RAM combined with the fact that it is ECC RAM is what is slowing it down. I couldn't find much information on your motherboard but I suspect that it may only support a max RAM clock rate of 266Mhz. Unless the previous RAM operated faster than that, then I am going to guess a BIOS setting.

The ECC is a good thing as it adds error checking but it will add those few seconds to the boot time. I am guessing the error checking is what is slowing you down. However, if it is a BIOS setting and not a motherboard limitation then perhaps we can speed up the RAM a bit so it is booting quicker than it was before hand.




*I say standard processor as a processor that is installed in a computer when it is purchased. Their are many other faster premium processors out there that are running around 3.8-4.0Ghz+. Not to mention you can over-clock your processor where, theoretically, their is no limit on the speed. Over-clocking will most likely void your warranty nine times out of ten and can increase the heat on the processor exponentially so it is not generally recommended.

Edited by xXAlphaXx, 02 September 2012 - 12:55 PM.

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#11 alm8

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 01:37 PM

But, to check if your hyper-threading is working properly, open your Task Manager (ctrl+shift+esc) and then click on the performance tab. Look at the CPU usage history and if it looks like two charts side by side then it is working properly. If it looks like one solid chart then it is not functioning as intended.

As for the 5-10 second boot time, my guess is still the clock speed of the RAM combined with the fact that it is ECC RAM is what is slowing it down. I couldn't find much information on your motherboard but I suspect that it may only support a max RAM clock rate of 266Mhz. Unless the previous RAM operated faster than that, then I am going to guess a BIOS setting.

The ECC is a good thing as it adds error checking but it will add those few seconds to the boot time. I am guessing the error checking is what is slowing you down. However, if it is a BIOS setting and not a motherboard limitation then perhaps we can speed up the RAM a bit so it is booting quicker than it was before hand.



Hyper-threading is working properly, there are two charts side by side.

After some research I found out that the clock speed of the RAM is indeed 533 Mhz. Although it is showing 266Mhz, my memory is DDR2 (Double Data Rate), therefore 266 x 2 = approx 533 Mhz. I also checked my BIOS and I did not see a RAM setting that I could change, unless I am missing something.

I am begining to think that because I have more memory sticks installed (now 4 after the upgrade @ 1Gb each, instead of only 2 @ 1 GB each) that are ECC, my boot time has increased because the computer has to "process" or "address" this extra memory.




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