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Pentium 4 upgrade worth it?

This forum is dedicated to the general computer related issues we all come across on a daily basis, such as e-mail/Internet/Operating System/virus/spyware, etc questions & problems.

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515
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Pentium 4 upgrade worth it?

Postby 515 » Sun Apr 08, 2012 4:43 pm

I've got a 3.0 GHz Pentium 4 with 1GB DDR2 400 MHz RAM, with a PCI Express x16 Sapphire Radeon X300SE video card with 128 MB on it. It runs XP Pro from an SATA hard drive. It's worked great for years, but since my CRT monitor died and had to be replaced by a widescreen LCD, it's performance isn't what it used to be. I think lack of sufficient video RAM is it's biggest problem, as I don't think 128 MB was really intended to work well with 1920x1080 resolution.

It looks like I can upgrade the video card to a VisionTek 900181 Radeon HD 2600 PRO with 512 MB of video RAM for $90, and get 4 GB of DDR2 533 MHz RAM for about $64 (replace the existing 400 MHz 1GB RAM).

I'd like to get a couple more years out of this machine, as everything else is working good with it. Think I'll see a decent improvement by upgrading the RAM and video card, or should I just suck it up and get a newer machine?

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Re: Pentium 4 upgrade worth it?

Postby Wowbagger » Sun Apr 08, 2012 5:09 pm

So you are looking at dropping $130 or so. That will give you quite the boost, but be aware that unless you go to a 64 bit OS, going to more than 2G of system memory won't be as much benefit as you might think - WinXP will have issues with more than 2G without a registry tweak, and even with the tweak, you will not be able to use more than 3.5G of memory for one program (and that will only leave .5G for all IO memory, including memory for the video card - and you will be bumping the video card to that, so you WILL have some issues).

For that machine I wouldn't kick the main memory past 2G.
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Re: Pentium 4 upgrade worth it?

Postby wavetar » Mon Apr 09, 2012 10:43 am

You should see a noticeable speed boost even with 'only' doubling the RAM, and swapping in the 512MB video card.

Wowbagger, could you detail the registry tweak? I'm not aware of it, and think it may be the root of some issues we're having with our work laptops, which have the 4GB of RAM installed & show 3.xx available. Thanks,

Todd
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Re: Pentium 4 upgrade worth it?

Postby alex » Mon Apr 09, 2012 10:51 am

The reason behind the whole 3.25 GB is because that's how much memory Microsoft wrote XP to be able to handle in 32bit mode. You have to make the jump to XP 64 bit to get more than 3.25 mb of RAM. I don't know off hand what the tweak will get you.

It does have to do with 32bit addressing only allowing a certain number of slots... any more than that the computer doesn't have enough bits in memory to address more memory if that makes sense.
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Re: Pentium 4 upgrade worth it?

Postby Wowbagger » Mon Apr 09, 2012 12:28 pm

OS design 510: OK class, sit down and shut up.

In any modern OS, there are at least 2 domains of execution: user space and kernel space.

Since the kernel space will have to access across all the programs running, it is helpful for the kernel to have all memory space available to it at all times.

HOWEVER: you don't want user space to have access to anything other than its own memory, not that of other processes.

Now, when the total system memory, including RAM, memory mapped IO such as video cards or IO device, etc. is less than one half the total virtual address space of the processor (e.g. <= 2G for a 32 bit address space CPU), then it is a simple matter to divide the virtual address space in half, and allocate half of that to user space, and half to kernel space (protecting the kernel space such that it can only be accessed by kernel space code).

When you have more than one half the address space populated, you have a few choices:
1) you don't allocate any more space to user space. No program can access more than 1/2 the address space (2G), however, the total address space accessed by all user space programs can be more than the address space of the processor (each program gets 2G, but a different 2G. The system will change the virtual to physical mapping as program is allowed to run its time slice).
2) You increase the amount of memory mapped to user space. This decreases the amount of memory visible to the kernel space, which can mean the kernel can no longer trivially do its job, but has to remap kernel space as needed to perform IO or other system tasks.
3) You ignore all memory past 2G.

Now, under Windows 32 bit, you simply CANNOT use more than 3.5Gbytes of RAM in any one process. Full stop. *IF* the motherboard supports PAE (physical Address Extensions) you can use the extra memory as a very high speed swap (bank switching - and we are back to the CP/M days...) to enable you to have many programs running, each accessing up to 3.5G of RAM.

The registry tweak to enable 3.5G user space is known to make Windows (more) unstable (stop sniggering in the back!)

Really: you want more than 2G of RAM, you want a 64 bit OS: Vista, Win7, or later.
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These same sorts of limits apply in the Linux world as well (and I am being correct in my usage here - I am talking about the Linux kernel, not the Gnu/Linux total runtime) - 32 bit only systems have trouble going beyond 2G. However, since the bulk of Gnu/Linux programs are Free, and the source is much more portable, having an almost totally 64 bit system isn't as difficult as it is under Windows.

I forget the actual Registry tweak for 3.5G - I have mostly suppressed the Lovecraftian horror that is the knowledge of the low level internals of Windows to the darkest realms of my mind, fenced in with the most powerful Gnu spells I know to cast.
This is my opinion, not Aeroflex's.

I WILL NOT give you proprietary information. I make too much money to jeopardize my job.

I AM NOT the Service department: You want official info, manuals, service info, parts, calibration, etc., contact Aeroflex directly, please.

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Re: Pentium 4 upgrade worth it?

Postby 515 » Mon Apr 09, 2012 12:49 pm

Thanks for the info... I knew I wouldn't be able to use all 4 GB, but thought that at least 3 GB would be useable.

So, it looks like I have these options:
Buy another 1 GB to fill the two empty slots on the motherboard, but I think the new RAM will run at 400 MHz to match the existing modules
Replace all the RAM with 533 MHz modules for a total of 2 GB.

Think it's worth it to replace all the RAM to go from 400 to 533 MHz? I don't think the motherboard supports RAM speeds above 533 MHz.

My gut feel is I won't notice much difference between 400 and 533 MHz, so maybe I'll save the $30 or so...


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