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Ram Comparison:
is More Better?

Written By: Stephen 'Waterdog' Waits [03.19.01]

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ZDNet's Winstone benchmarks are essentially scripted sequences for a variety of real world business applications. They're here to stress the work side of things and add a little more legitimacy than simple gaming benchmarks. Some of us are able to tear ourselves away from games long enough to get some work done, the Winstones will let us know how much RAM we need for that.

The Business Winstone pulls its scripts from a variety of common business applications. It's pretty much a Microsoft dominated suite, but some others make it into the mix. From the Microsoft camp we have FrontPage 2000, Access 2000, Excel 2000, PowerPoint 2000, Project 98, and Word 2000; rounding out the rest is Lotus Notes R5, Norton Antivirus 2000, Winzip 7.0, and Netscape Communicator 4.73. The scripts execute a series of 'typical' tasks and produce a result in arbitrary Business Winstone units.

Here we see diminishing returns from increasing memory size once you get past 384MB. The increase in performance, especially for Win2k, is quite striking until you hit 512MB when gains bottom out. Overall, Win2k makes better use of the extra memory.

Content Creation is similar to the Business Winstone test in that it scripts a series of actions from a variety of common content creation applications. Dominates by Adobe and Macromedia, this benchmark is a little more taxing on the system as the applications are considered a little more high end than those included in the Business Winstone tests. From Adobe we have Photoshop 5.5 and Premiere 5.1, Macromedia pitches in with Director 8.0 and DreamWeaver 3.0, Netscape Navigator 4.73 and Sonic Foundry Sound Forge 4.5 bring up the rear. Again, the scripts execute a series of 'typical' tasks for each application and produce a result in arbitrary Content Creation Winstone units.

Content Creation loves memory, at least until you get up to 384MB, then it slows down a bit and gains drop, even reaching a tiny, but small negative value for WinME and 512MB. Overall the gains are much higher than that of the Business Winstone, surely a result of more demanding 'high end' applications like Photoshop and DreamWeaver. Again ME sees less of a benefit from more RAM than 2k, with its gains dropping more sharply as memory size increases.

3DMark 2001

It's new, it's hip, it's cool, and it just wouldn't be a benchmark session without a little loving from Mad Onion. Still working on selling my internal organs to buy a Geforce 3, so these tests were conducted with a trusty old MX card. The scores aren't that impressive, but I've run them at both 640x480 and 1024x768 so I can at least feel a little better about breaking 3000 (though at a lower resolution.) All tests were run at 32 bit color, well, because 16 bit is ugly.

'Work' applications love memory, exhibit clear patters, but 3DMark 2001 is another story. Here we see gains across the board for ME, but there's not much consistency. Granted the values for each gain are rather small, none getting much above 5%, so there are small error factors to be considered. On the 2k side we see a reversal with smaller gains than with ME. Additionally, there's a drop of 4.28% going to 512MB from 384MB, something to keep in mind.

Upping the resolution doesn't appreciably change the memory demands. Gains remain small, but this time Win2k gets the upper hand with the biggest gain coming in at 3.44% for 256MB. ME gains are small and consistent across the board, and the loss that 2k suffers with 512MB is again small, but still enough to get me thinking.

Let's See Some GAMES benchmarked!

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