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06-08-2009 09:39 AM
Yes, I realize the HP documentation says only up to 1 GB can be put in a slot of the a1730n desktop.
But after checking documentation on the AMD and ASUS websites, I found the Athlon processors support up to 2 GB in a slot,
and the ASUS M2N series motherboards also support up to 2 GB in a slot.
I was hoping the HP documentation was wrong, but it seems it is in practice correct. I tried putting 2 GB stick in a slot,
and indeed it didn't work.
Does anyone know why can't a 2 GB stick be put in a slot? I assume it is something HP did. Can that be fixed?
06-08-2009 11:02 AM
1. This is an OEM board, not a full retail from Asus. 1GB is the limit.
2. OS is not going to see more than 3.2GHz of RAM. Therefore, populate all four slots with 1GB modules bringing the total capacity to 4GB. 3GB of physical memory is more than adequate for 97% of the users.
06-08-2009 12:29 PM
Thanks! As it happens, I was just reading your helpful posts about power supplies the other day. I'm interested that because more and more rental and condo apartments are heading towards so-called "smart-metering" where people are billed individually for electricity. I'm not ready to do anything about that yet. I'm sort of hoping that by the time I'm ready to do things, power supplies might be even more efficient and green than now. But, anyway, I noticed you were very helpful.
I understand, more or less, about the limits of what memory Windows Vista will use. And though some hardware will, I understand, directly use the memory space beyond that, I don't think this a1730n has any or much such hardware in it. In fact, even though I'm using 32 bit Windows Vista, it is set to use memory extensions beyond the 3 GB. I'm not sure how that works, or what for, but it is definitely turned on and activated. It still only reports about 3 GB. Anyway ... I wonder what the situation will be with respect to Windows 7's memory usage.
I realize it is an OEM board --- NODUS-M3 --- but the ASUS website has not only information about specific motherboards but, rather to my surprise, a generic one for M2N. The NODUS-M3 is supposed to be a version of that. I've also seen references to the MCP51, which I've seen on the motherboard, working with 2 GB sticks.
Of course it is possible that one modification HP had made to the NODUS3 version was that it not work with 2 GB sticks.
I realized the a1730n had a 4 GB maximum. So I guess I'll have to get some 1 GB sticks and go for 4 x 1 GB instead of 2 x 2 GB.
06-08-2009 01:55 PM
Your CPU runs slower if you have unused RAM.
1. It takes longer to boot with more RAM.
2. It takes more CPU clock cycles to manage the additional RAM.
3. It takes more power to run the additional un-used RAM.
To find out how much RAM is need for your rig, boot PC and use it for one day. Make sure that Task Manager is running in the background. Launch your most demanding proggies to tax the memory load. Check the Peak Commit Charge in Task Manager at the end of the day. If this amount is less than the maximum installed physical memory by 200MB or more, then you will not benefit with the addition of RAM.
Example: 2GB RAM. Peak Commit Charge is 1.8GB or less. No need for more RAM.
PC vendors add 4-8GB of RAM to sucker-in noob buyers. You're paying more $ for stuffs that you don't need.
Most people don't run the PC at 100% load 24/7. Therefore, look for an efficient 300-350W PSU to save more $ when the PC is idling. A high quality 350W 80 plus PSU should achieve 80% efficiency at 70W output. Paying more $ for an 80 plus GOLD label will raise the efficiency to 87% at 70W output.
The nominal idle load of a modern PC is 65W. You'll save about 4W with an 80 plus PSU, and 10W with an 80 plus GOLD PSU. You need to run the 80 plus GOLD PSU for 100 hours to save 1KwH of electricity. The average cost of 1KwH of electricity in the US is 15 cents.
The best way to save $ on electricity is to connect the PC and monitor to an AC power strip with an ON/OFF switch. A PC in the OFF state will still draw between 3 and 10 watts. Shut down the PC and also at the power strip ON/OFF switch when not in use. This will kill all power to the PC and monitor.
06-08-2009 02:36 PM
Thanks again, for lots of helpful information.
Well, boot time is never fast. But I'm using a 4 GB USB drive for Ready Boost on one of the a1730n computers and will probably add that to the other, as 4 GB USB drives have gotten more inexpensive.
Indeed, I realize that adding more RAM, the number of banks almost inevitably increases so that the CMD rate changes from 1T to 2T which is, I know, slower.
I'll try the method you suggested to check out how much RAM is actually needed.
One concern I have is that people occasionally send us huge photos that we open in Adobe Photo Elements. That might be when we need the most RAM.
Although Windows Vista doesn't use the memory just below 4 GB, all the explanations do say that some of the x86 architecture hardware does use that space. I assume if one has only 2 GB in the machine, then the x86 architecture hardware must use some of the space just below 2 GB. So Windows Vista wouldn't get the full 2 GB. Although, again, these a1730n's don't have any exotic hardware in them. I still use the 6150LE onboard video as we don't really need more video capabilities than it has.
Thanks for explaining about the power supplies. The power supply unit that comes in the a1730n is 350W, I think. Maybe 380W. I did check once. And indeed as you suggest that seems appropriate. Since I'm leaving the video alone, I can't see any real need for a higher wattage psu. I upgraded one a1730n to an Athlon 64 X2 5600+ (Brisbane) but that has the same 65W rating as the Athlon 64 X2 4600 that had been in it. It's working fine. (I did realize to upgrade to BIOS 5.07.) ... I had heard of 80 plus, but not gold 80 plus. Thanks for telling me of that.
By the way, though we've done a few upgrades --- the a1730 computers are now out of warranty --- I should mention that all in all we've been very pleased with the HP a1730n computers.
06-08-2009 10:11 PM
If you have un-used physical memory as defined by Task Manager, then adding more RAM will not improve system performance! There are several key factors that could make a significant contribution to "speed":
1. The OS. A fresh-install OS without pre-load crapware running in the background is best. XP is still the quickest OS for most users.
2. A fast hard drive with a small dedicated C partition for the OS. We can maintain the read/write speed of windows files at the 90% mark by limiting the OS partition to 20GB or less. Having one large hard drive can reduce the read/write speed by 50% or more because windows data can be scattered at the inner-most region of the disc's platter.
3. A fast graphic card. Complex video and graphics load faster with a more powerful, dedicated GPU.
A 32-bit windows OS cannot take advantage of more than 3.2GHz of physical memory. No amount of tinkering is going to overcome this limitation.
My custom PC (E7400 CPU) is capable of speed up to 4.2GHz, but it's cruising at 2.4GHz (underclocked) 99% of the time. I have 2GB of DDR2 RAM running at 500MHz (effective 2000MHz FSB) with 5-5-4-10-2T timing. Peak memory load of 800MB under XP Pro SP3. Boot time is 24 sec. Shut down time of 2 sec.
06-09-2009 07:41 AM
As it happens, a greater factor in the amount of RAM may be the voltage. The a1730n computers are set to start at 1.8V and that can't be changed.
At the moment I can't see any such 512 MB sticks available at most vendors, so that rules out 2 x 1 GB + 2 x 512 MB, and means looking at 2 x 1 GB or 4 x 1 GB.
Of course that's true about the OS, but we're fairly pleased with the Windows Vista that came with the a1730n computers, and just not about to spend the time to downgrade it and install XP. Especially not with Windows 7 on the horizon.
The Nvidia 6150LE that came with the a1730n computers isn't at all impressive, I admit, but it does seem to do everything that we need. At this point, I can't see that it is much of a bottleneck. And faster video cards also seem to generally need higher wattage power supplies. Similarly I don't see hard drive access as being much of a bottleneck.
Maybe it is because I've upgraded CPU's and memory on computers before, but they seemed like the easiest upgrades. Installing the latest Norton 360 edition noticeably slowed things down. After switching from the AMD 64 X2 4600+ to the 5600+, I notice the a1730n is as speedy as before. I don't expect a huge increase in speed moving from the 533 MHz that came with the a1730n's to 800 MHz, but, again, it seems like an easy upgrade to do.
06-09-2009 11:06 AM
It's all in your head with the CPU upgrade (placebo effect). I've been designing custom PCs for over 20 years. Norton 360 V3.0 doesn't care about an extra 500MHz. You may save a few seconds with a full Norton system scan. However, the nominal CPU overhead imposed by Norton should not materially impact system performance as the CPU clock speed increase from 2.4GHz to 2.9GHz.
JEDEC RAM will boot and run well with 1.8V. The MB must support DDR2 800 (memory divider) to take advantage of the faster RAM. Again, the main reason for DDR2 800 or 1066 RAM is to overclock the CPU. Putting DDR2 800 RAM in a stock HP is like pouring good milk down the toilet.
06-09-2009 12:10 PM
Thanks for your comments, which I think are mostly correct. Again, I very much appreciate your helpfulness.
It was the overhead during ongoing anti-virus protection that was noticeable. I wasn't expecting the Norton upgrade to make the a1730n noticeably slower. as obviously Norton would have tried to avoid any such effect. So I was surprised. But both I and another person noticed it was. And I actually didn't expect the results of the cpu upgrade to be noticeable. After all, I realize the cpu is only one part of the equation when it comes to speed. Perhaps it is MOSTLY a placebo effect, but I do notice the a1730n isn't as slow. It is not ALL in my head, as the Windows Experience Index, even if it isn't the most wonderful benchmark, noticed a small improvement. Indeed, only a small improvement.
That's partly because I wanted to be cautious and stay with a 65W cpu. I've seen reports of successful upgrades to 6400+ etc. but I didn't want to go to 89W or 125W and end up having overheating problems.
I've found there's a lot of RAM out there --- no doubt intended for overclockers ---- that requires 1.9V, 2.0V, etc. for the starting voltage. The a1730n's motherboard and BIOS are indeed set to the JEDEC standard 1.8V and don't provide a way to change that. It is well established they support 800 MHz DDR2, but it has to be able to work at 1.8V. I realize you're right that since I'm not over clocking, 800 MHz DDR2 won't make much, if any, difference. Indeed at some clocks, the 800 MHz RAM operates at the same speed as 533 or 667 MHz RAM anyway.
Fortunately I'm ok with that. I'm not a hardware person. Most of the hardware upgrading I've done was simple stuff: 8 bit network cards with 16 bit ones! I've only upgraded a few hard drives over the years, and found that complicated enough that I'm reluctant to get into it. But then my goal isn't to re-build these a1730n computers. Marginal upgrades to make the most of them is fine with me.
You're right there are psychological factors in all this. I know, for example, that the Nvidia 6150LE isn't much of a video card! So in my head I want to upgrade it. But then it has done everything we need it to do. We don't do any gaming. And while we do some graphics editing, it is just of photos, not videos. So even though the 6150LE bugs me. But an upgrade to even a cheap 256 MB PCI video card would probably be an even more marginal upgrade than the other upgrades! A high performance video card would be overkill and might lead to having to upgrade the psu's.
Upgrading from 10 mbs networking to 100 mbs networking was definitely a noticeable improvement. But I was comfortable doing that.
Better psu's might be in the future, as I've mentioned, for the sake of being greener. But since I'm not a hardware person, I'm not anxious to get into that.
Even though the warranty is over, do I really want to completely re-build the a1730n computers? Nope.
Again, thanks very much for all your helpfulness. It is appreciated.
06-10-2009 04:21 PM
There was a result I didn't expect.
I realize the Windows Experience Index isn't exactly the best benchmark around. But, interestingly .... switching from 533 MHz DDR2 to 800 MHz DDR2 resulted in the Windows Experience Index showing no change for the memory perfromance score, but it increased the processor performance score very slightly.