RAM - I'm Confused!!

  EazeePC 10:02 23 Nov 2006
Locked

I have just bought the following PC

Compaq Presario
Pentium 4, 3.06GHz
256mb DDR RAM
80g/b h/d
64mb Intel Extreme graphics card
Windows XP

I picked it up on the cheap so not a bad deal but i am confused about the RAM when it comes to buying new games etc!

On Task Manager it says the following
Physical Mem 256420
Cache 130688
Available Mem 57032

Firstly, is this normal? Why is the available memory much lower than the physical? What is cache?
Secondly, when i am looking at games that require 256mb to run, have i got enough memory?
Is it the Physical or the Available RAM that determines if i can run these games?

Also the DVD R/W is 4x (which i believe is a bit slow) but with it being a DVD drive is the CD speed greater than 4x?
I.e will games that require 8x, 16x or 32x CD-Rom work on this speed of DVD drive?

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks

  ed-0 10:36 23 Nov 2006

firstly lets see if you have a graphics card or if the graphics on your computer is on-board. If it is on-board it will take a big chunk of your physical memory.

To do this just right click my computer and pick properties.


Under computer, at the bottom, how much ram does it say you have.

  ed-0 10:41 23 Nov 2006

lets try and clear up some of the easy ones.

"Also the DVD R/W is 4x (which i believe is a bit slow) but with it being a DVD drive is the CD speed greater than 4x?
I.e will games that require 8x, 16x or 32x CD-Rom work on this speed of DVD drive?"

Yes the cdrom section of the DVD writer will be a lot faster. It should be at least a 32X cdrom. You could check by posting the make and model of the cdrom. To get this information, open my computer and right click on the dvd drive, pick properties, then hardware.

Then just post the code number of the drive. Someone will check the speeds for you.

  EazeePC 10:46 23 Nov 2006

i cant check the make and model of the dvd at the moment cos i am at work.
but i do know that when you right click my computer it states 256mb RAM.
it describes the the graphics card as 'shared' if thats any help?

  ed-0 10:59 23 Nov 2006

if it states 256Mb then you will have a separate graphics card. You can check this by looking at how the monitor cable is attached to the rear of the computer. If the connection is horizontal and at the bottom of the case, it's a graphics card.

If the connection is vertical and in the metal oblong box that also has the keyboard, mouse and usb connections. Then you a shared graphics chip.

So back to your memory:-

" On Task Manager it says the following
Physical Mem 256420
Cache 130688
Available Mem 57032

Firstly, is this normal? "

It is normal for a computer with limited physical memory, that is probably running a lot of programmes. What that is saying is that you have just 57Mb of available memory. Windows and your programmes are using the rest.

As we are unsure what you want the computer to do, suspect gaming. Just for normal running most of us here would suggest you increase the amount of physical memory it has. If you want to do a bit of gaming, then you need to look at the graphics side of things. I would suspect that you would need a superior graphics card.

If you have a way of transporting this free programme click here and save the results to file. this will tell you what we may need to know to help you.

  EazeePC 11:08 23 Nov 2006

"If the connection is vertical and in the metal oblong box that also has the keyboard, mouse and usb connections. Then you a shared graphics chip."
This how it is setup at the back of the case, so i guess that is using a lot of memory?
Usage wise, i'm not looking to run the new top spec games as i rely on my xbox for that.
I would just like it to run a bit faster and allow me to have some games installed, mainly stuff like football manager!
I got a copy of Pirates of the Carribean with it and after installing it plays ok, i havent noticed any problems and the requirements for that are the max that my PC is running at the moment in terms of RAM and graphics, so hopefully a little tweak here and there is all i need.

  ed-0 11:34 23 Nov 2006

" This how it is setup at the back of the case, so i guess that is using a lot of memory? "

If it's running at 64Mb, then that is a quarter of the total ram. Thats a lot to loose.Most modern system class 512Mb of ram as the minimum. Most use 1000Mb for a bit of photo editing and dvd work, while gamers can use 2000Mb up wards. I would think you need to add more ram and quite possibly get a graphics card for it, though I'm no gamer.

If the PC you are talking about is connected to the internet, download that everest home program.

Just to see what is running in the background, open task manager > performance. In the bottom left it will tell you how many processes you have. Can you post that.

  EazeePC 11:49 23 Nov 2006

I had a look at that this morning and it says the following:

Handles 5977
Threads 319
Processes 30

I couldnt tell you what they all are tho!!

  ed-0 12:24 23 Nov 2006

30 processes is fine, about low to average. these take a chunk of your physical memory. Most are essential.

I think you need to add more ram. post back when you can with the make and model of the motherboard. We may be able to tell you how cheap it would be to upgrade it. You may also be able to insert a cheap graphics card that would give you that extra memory back and increase what you can do in gaming.

  EazeePC 09:27 24 Nov 2006

I havent been able to get the make of the motherboard but i noticed last night that the free memory fluctuated between 60,000 right up to 140,000 - is this normal?
I also noticed on the processes that a program called Prefx or Prevx was installed and it was using a lot of memory. I found this program very annoying as it queried every action i made on the PC so i have uninstalled it.
Would this account for the increased available memory at all??

  ed-0 09:44 24 Nov 2006

" free memory fluctuated between 60,000 right up to 140,000 - is this normal? "

It can do. You will see more memory when just starting up but as you open and use programmes the memory available will drop. Antivirus scans can kick in at set times, when the computer is idle or after start up. These will take a large chunk of memory.

Prevx is a malware beta programme, was when I tried it, that monitors changes on the computer. If you run a AV, firewall and are up to date with windows updates, you don't really need it.

You can stop these programmes from loading when windows starts. Just go to

start > run > and type " msconfig ", without the quotes. Pick the start up tab and untick all except your antivirus and firewall, if you have a different one from windows. click here Click apply and it will ask you to restart.

Do that. You will get a message saying you are running the system configuration utility, when you restart, just put a tick in the box to " not show this again ".

If you find there is a programme that you want to start with windows and it does not, just go back and put a tick in it's box.

Check the number of processes and the amount of free ram, after the restart.

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