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I have a Dell Latitude 5420 Laptop. It has a 2nd-gen Intel i5 with Intel HD 3000 graphics. I have 4GB of ram.

I realize that this will never be close to discrete graphics, but would adding more system ram help gaming performance at all since the system ram is shared with the video chip? Also, how can I tell if my BIOS will support 1600 mhz ram? The memory I have now is 1333, and if it will make a difference, I'll buy 8GB of 1600.

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I think the question is, are you able to increase the amount of memory that is granted to the graphics card? – ioSamurai Jun 28 '12 at 19:49
I should add that there are 2 ram slots available and my current setup is 1 4GB stick. Memory is so cheap that maybe I'll just buy that extra 4GB stick. This is an interesting discussion! – SomeGuy Jun 29 '12 at 16:56
up vote 3 down vote accepted

No, not at all. In fact, because accessing RAM is the bottleneck on shared memory setups, extreme cleverness and engineering brilliance is used to permit the graphics subsystem to use as little system memory as possible. The more memory it accesses, the more time it spends accessing that memory, and thus the slower the graphics system goes. Worse, that also makes the rest of the system slower because other CPU memory accesses compete with graphics subsystem accesses.

The exception would be if all of your memory channels weren't populated. If you have one 4GB stick, adding a second will help a bit because it will give you two memory channels. if you have two 2GB sticks, then you already have all channels populated, so there's no performance benefit there.

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Of course, using RAM with lower latency will help performance somewhat. – Ben Voigt Jun 24 '12 at 6:21
@BenVoigt: It's generally minimal. Even comparing uncommonly slow RAM to uncommonly fast RAM, you see frame rate differences of 5% at most. It's certainly not a reason to replace your existing RAM. – David Schwartz Jun 24 '12 at 6:33
If you have 256 MB of system RAM granted to the graphics card, that's less than 256 MB of RAM available to hold graphics textures. If you grant it 512 MB of system RAM, it will need to do less frequent hard drive reads which are slower than reading from RAM. So I don't think it's accurate to say 'not at all'. However the question remains if adding more RAM will actually increase the amount granted to the graphics card. – ioSamurai Jun 28 '12 at 19:48
@libertas: That's incorrect for two reasons. First, textures don't spill from graphics memory to the drive, they spill from shared graphics memory to unshared system memory. Second, drivers for embedded graphics chipsets just won't let that happen. They'll limit to the memory they have, meaning more memory means less limiting and thus lower performance. (Essentially, more memory use means lower frame rates but higher image quality. In any event, he already has 4GB, so there's no texture spilling issue in the OP's case.) – David Schwartz Jun 28 '12 at 20:30
@DavidSchwartz That is very interesting, so what you mean is that the system reads textures from the hard drive into main memory, and then feeds them from main memory over to the graphics memory? That is, when I have a video game installed all of the textures are stored in my hard drive prior to the game grabbing them into memory. I had only assumed that the more memory available, the more textures could be stored causing less hard drive reads per minute of game time. – ioSamurai Jun 29 '12 at 13:43

My quick answer is YES.

Read below for details.

I was curious will RAM impact on Intel HD performances (I have dedicated GPU, but still wanted to know).

From my experience upgrading RAM will improve performances noticeably. First let me introduce RAM's.

  • Stock RAM was: 6GB (4+2) 1333MHz CL9 in Dual Channel mode

  • New RAM is: 16GB (8+8) 1600MHz CL9 in Dual Channel mode

In both cases CPU-Z was reporting that Intel HD 3000 graphic card memory size is 2108MB. I am also using 2nd gen CPU (Sandy Bridge), and my laptop (Asus N series, so it applies also to all N_5 models - N45/N55/N75) runs RAM at 1600MHz with 1.35V (its not in specifications on Intel's website, but this is running without any sort of overclocking or modding - just put them in sockets).

Windows experience index jumped from 5.9 to 6.9, which is nice, but now about real-world scenarios. Games that I have tested (with exact same settings) are:

  • League of Legends
    • old RAM: ~23 FPS
    • new RAM: ~30 FPS
  • Xonotic
    • old RAM: ~30 FPS
    • new RAM: ~40 FPS

Those frame rates are with around medium settings mostly (some are set on high) at 1920x1080 resolution (Anti-aliasing is off) with FRAPS recording. Without FRAPS frames are higher.

Unfortunately, I haven't putted FPS in recorded videos, so it is pointless to put it on youtube now.

Additionally, from youtube videos that I checked, I saw that from Single Channel mode to Dual Channel mode Intel graphic cards get about 10% better frame rates.

I know that this is 2 year old questions, but I think it can help to some people in future if they decide for such upgrade.

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Intel Sandy Bridge does not support DDR3 at 1600 MHz. That's for the Ivy Bridge to handle. The best you can do is 1333 MHz. I, too, am playing games using the HD 3000 and in my opinion, having more RAM allows more memory to be accessible for the GPU, since, at 4GB, a lot of it is otherwise consumed by different processes. Upgrading my memory to 8GB (DDR3 - 1333, with i5-2450m @2.50 Ghz) did provide, a noticable improvement to frame rates while playing games within the ability of the integrated GPU. Hope this helps. :)

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First statement is not true. I have Sandy Bridge CPU, and it supports DDR3 at 1600MHz. It is just not stated on Intel's website. – DRAX Oct 8 '14 at 15:05

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