Introduction

When we released our initial comparison of HyperMemory and TurboCache last week, we received quite a bit of feedback requesting tests with budget systems. We do stand by our testing methodology - we use the highest end equipment to build a system around the component that we are testing. This removes all bottlenecks from the rest of the system and demonstrates the capabilities of a particular piece of hardware. But that doesn't mean that we aren't willing to look at the performance picture from a different angle as well.

Evaluating performance in a low end system is not useful for comparisons because we lose the ability to grasp where all the bottlenecks and performance issues come into play. Ideally, we would test all hardware with all other combinations of hardware in order to describe completely what's going on in every case. Unfortunately, this is an impossible task (though that doesn't mean we haven't considered it). In this case, it does make sense to decrease the performance of one component in the system in order to evaluate the impact on graphics performance.

Both HyperMemory and TurboCache claim an increased dependence on system RAM. The architecture of TurboCache seems to make it even more of a candidate for system RAM dependence as the pixel and ROP pipes can operate directly in system memory.

While it may be true that budget systems are beginning to ship with 512 MB or even 1GB of RAM, getting a hold of PC3200 that runs at 2:2:2:6 is a little over budget for most cheap systems. This extended investigation into the impact of system memory performance on budget graphics hardware will probe the effects of running slower memory timings as well as PC2700 memory. Right now, 3:3:3 DDR400 can be found for very low prices, but we'll test with the slower RAM to cover our bases.

So, read on to discover the facts about budget graphics cards and system memory performance. The results just might surprise you.

DDR400 3:4:4:12 Graphics Performance
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