when twice the ram means half the speed.

Anyone want to explain to me why my PC runs twice as fast with 2GB of RAM as it does with 4GB?

Seriously: I get less than half the frame rates in World of Warcraft or Flight Simulator X on the same hardware when I double the RAM.  This happens regardless of operating system: XP, Vista 32-bit, or Vista 64-bit.

(It’s a C2D E6300 on an Intel 965-series chipset board.)

What the high holy hell is going on?  Did I buy Slobavian bargain RAM by accident, or what?


19 thoughts on “when twice the ram means half the speed.

  1. Dustin says:

    Are they all rated the same speed? And not just clock speed, but timing? They probably have to run at the lowest possible speed at which all DIMMs can run, so your previously speedy ram gets hobbled by the new, slow stuff.

  2. Jason says:

    Is you hard drive churning? If so, try disabling virtual memory, with 4 GB of RAM I doubt you need it.

    Right Click on “My Computer” and select “Properties.”
    Click on the “Advanced” tab and click on the “Settings” button in the Performance Box.
    Click on the “Advanced” tab and click on the “Change” button in the Virtual Memory box.
    Then inside the “Paging file size for selected drive” select the “No paging file” option and click the “Set” button.
    Check each drive listed at the top and make sure that option is selected, but by default Windows only uses a paging file on the C: drive. You will need to reboot for it to go into effect. If you start getting out of memory errors you can turn the page files back on.


  3. Phil says:

    4GB, while it is the theoretical maximum for a 32 bit Windows version, is not that useful. All the recent NT kernel OSes (Windows 2000, XP, and Vista; maybe 4.0 too, but that one is long since obsolete) present opening programs with a virtual 4GB space for operations- if needed, they hit the page file for the space.

    However, that 4GB is virtual only. From what I’ve seen, going to 4GB on a 32 bit Windows version is pointless since it won’t ACTUALLY use all of it.

    I’d also ensure that the new memory is of the right speed and that it doesn’t cause a slowdown of the bus. Some motherboards back the bus speed down a bit if all RAM slots are filled- they can’t supply the needed voltage to run all the memory at top speed at the same time.

  4. Cathy says:

    It is time to get Macs they are so much better.

  5. Phil says:

    Cathy, the adults are talking.

    When somebody asks for assistance with Windows/Linux/MacOS/the old family abacus, it is NOT an invitation to jump in with comments like “You should toss it out and get a Windows/Linux/MacOS/old family abacus because those other things suck.”

    Folks choose computing platforms based on what gets the work done within a set of other constraints. For some folks, Macs are definitely NOT “so much better.” For others, they are. We aren’t all cut from the same cloth.

  6. Marko says:

    In all fairness, I do have a MacBook as well, and it does work without any trouble at all. The main reasons for keeping the Vista box around are World of Warcraft and FS X. The MacBook will play the former tolerably well, and the latter not so much.

    The Vista box, annoying as it is on occasion, has an nVidia 8800GT in it, and the *only* thing it does better than the MacBook is playing games. It’s basically a big-ass PlayStation with a keyboard.

  7. You could have counterfeit RAM or something. What about completely replacing the original RAM with the new stuff and running those “benchmark” tests again? If the new stuff works just as well you can eliminate bad RAM from the possibilities.

  8. Jason says:

    You said you just rebuilt this system? What predicated that? Whats the motherboard spec? Ram brand/model #? NewEgg links are helpful. Processor spec?

    Personally, I run an EVGA nVidia 8800GT, ASUS mobo, dual core 3.0g proc, 4GB of Crucial Ballistic (4-4-4-12), and Vista HP64, and I’m playing EVE at the speed of awesome. I don’t see why in the world you’d be dragging like that in WoW unless you’ve got a) stankass bad ram or b) mismatched ram that isn’t registering correctly.

  9. Jason says:

    belay last regarding processor, I found that.

    Knowing the mobo and ram specs can help. Also, and don’t beat me, but what kind of case/PS are you using? Smaller poorly vented cases can cause heat issues, and using power supplies that can’t hack it can drag ass on the video cards…

  10. Gewehr98 says:

    Marko, you may have just discovered a common problem with 32-bit Windows as it approaches the built-in 4 Gigabyte memory limit. The OS actually uses more resources managing the overhead of that extra 1 Gigabyte of memory than if the capacity was kept down below 3 Gigabytes. Folks are learning that when they upgrade their 32-bit machines to 4 Gigabytes, WinXP reports something less than that amount (often closer to 3 Gigabytes) as available to the system, even though the power-up BIOS POST display shows all 4 Gigabytes installed. The extra memory, instead of being a performance boost, is often not even usable.

    You’re also dealing with a considerably larger pagefile since you upgraded to twice the memory. I ended up going back down to 2 Gigabytes on the quad-Xeon IBM workstations in our home, because they never really used the full 4 Gigabytes under XP Pro. The solution is to go with a 64-bit OS, but that’s not particularly attractive if you have 32-bit hardware.

  11. Marko says:


    it’s an Intel P965 series mobo. The case is a CoolerMaster with ventilated mesh front, 120mm rear case fan, 80mm front fan, and side duct over the CPU fan. The power supply is a 550W Antec. The original RAM (2x1GB) came with the system (a Gateway which has been recased because the factory case sucked big rocks off the ground), and the additional RAM (2x1GB) is PNY-branded. No idea about the timing specs for either brand, though, but they’re both the same speed rating (PC4300/DDR533).


    I’m running 64-bit Vista right now, but that particular issue has popped up in all three iterations of Windows I’ve tried so far: XP 32-bit, Vista 32-bit, and Vista 64-bit. That makes it a hardware issue, most likely.

  12. guy says:

    “No idea about the timing specs for either brand, though”

    As others have mentioned that could be your problem.

    It could also be an issue with the memory no longer running in dual channel mode. Some motherboards get freaky when you throw in more than two dimms or when they are mismatched.

  13. guy says:

    Oh I forgot to mention one thing.

    If you go into your memory settings the timing might be set to “Set by SPD” or somesuch. That means the motherboard is asking the memory what it wants to run at and setting it for lowest common denominator.

    If it turns out to be a timing issue you can override that by setting the timing manually

  14. blocksworld says:

    Is the motherboard/CPU hardware 64bit, or is it faking it in software?

    an extra layer of translation is exactly what you’re trying to prevent by adding RAM. No good if the OS adds it back in because it doesn’t have enough fingers and toes to count your memory words.

    I’m not a wintel guru, tho.


  15. Andrey says:

    I’m afraid detailed enough guide on how to fix this wouldn’t fit into comment box. Problem most likely lies in timings mismatch between old and new memory (keywords for Google – CAS, TRAS, TRP, TRCD). If BIOS in your PC is good enough to have those settings and you are ready to spent few hours playing with them (time estimate includes reading 🙂 – you may have a chance to fix it.
    Bulletproof method – buy 4Gb of the same memory.

  16. drstrangegun says:

    Put in 3Gb and see what happens.

  17. Jason says:

    My guess would be (and it is just a guess) timing issues between brands/types of RAM.

    My recommendation?

    If your mobo will support it. I had zero issue with the last Crucial rebate I used. As a matter of fact, I’m adding that to my cart and checking out now. That price can’t be beat.

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