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Anyone upgrade a T420 from 8 GB to 12 GB of RAM?

T400/410/420 and T500/510/520 series specific matters only
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eric99
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Anyone upgrade a T420 from 8 GB to 12 GB of RAM?

#1 Post by eric99 » Tue May 29, 2018 9:53 am

I think I know the answer, but I ponder if it would be worth upgrading the RAM on my T420 to 12 GB. At present I have two 4 GB sticks---not a matching pair; one came with the machine when I bought it; I added the other.

Has anyone tried this, and if so, did you notice any difference? With my usage I am sure it would make no difference 99% of the time. But I like to keep a reserve for that 1%. I am a normal user, lots of surfing, email, word processing, videos, occasional streaming, light photo editing, etc. The one resource-hungry thing I do is run a chess analysis engine that maxes the CPU at 100% and uses 2 GB of RAM. (I am a tournament chessplayer.) But even with 8 GB that has never caused it to access the page file, I am pretty sure.

I see 8 GB sticks on eBay for about $45. That's the upper limit of what I would spend to do this, but I am tempted, just to see what impact it has on the system.

Am I crazy?
T420, Win 10, Xubuntu 18.04
T61, Win 7 Pro x64, weak Thinklight
T60, workhorse till the cursor started to freeze

t140568
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Re: Anyone upgrade a T420 from 8 GB to 12 GB of RAM?

#2 Post by t140568 » Tue May 29, 2018 12:34 pm

I believe your assumptions of it not being helpful to be correct. I run 16gb in mine (just to have it maxed out and never have to wonder) but have not seen a boost in performance. If your cpu is maxed out you could put that money toward a better processor since they’re socketed in the T420 machines.
Some call me...Tim.
Present:
T420 - i7-3632QM/250gb SSD/16gb/FHD via converter board/AW-CB160H AC/Coreboot/Internal Logitech Unifying Receiver
T500 - C2D-P8700/64gb SSD/6gb/WUXGA

Past: X61T || X60T || R50 || X30 || T30 || A31p || 3xx || 600E || Intellistation Z Pro

jwjensen356
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Re: Anyone upgrade a T420 from 8 GB to 12 GB of RAM?

#3 Post by jwjensen356 » Tue May 29, 2018 1:17 pm

Went from 8 GB to 16 GB in my T420s. Change? Not much to speak of.

axur-delmeria
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Re: Anyone upgrade a T420 from 8 GB to 12 GB of RAM?

#4 Post by axur-delmeria » Tue May 29, 2018 1:26 pm

Have you ever hit more than 75% RAM usage? Has the system ever slowed down because it ran out of free RAM and started using the swap file?
If you answered "no" to either, then you probably don't need the RAM upgrade.
Daily driver: X220 4291-C91 i7-2620M

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eric99
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Re: Anyone upgrade a T420 from 8 GB to 12 GB of RAM?

#5 Post by eric99 » Wed May 30, 2018 9:35 am

Thanks for all the replies and advice. Being crazy, I ordered an 8 GB stick on eBay for $47. Will post here in a few days to report if it makes a difference, or if I just tossed away money for no good reason.
T420, Win 10, Xubuntu 18.04
T61, Win 7 Pro x64, weak Thinklight
T60, workhorse till the cursor started to freeze

turomini
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Re: Anyone upgrade a T420 from 8 GB to 12 GB of RAM?

#6 Post by turomini » Wed May 30, 2018 9:54 am

I went from 8 GB (4*2) to 16 GB (8*2) in my T420s
I went a little more maxed out than most, getting low voltage, low latency sticks (G.Skill F3-1600C9D-16GRSL).
I do notice its more stable under higher usage, and handles the higher usage better. This is with a traditional hard drive and not a SSD though. I know I was maxing out the ram usage, which is why I went with the max. As far as speed, no real difference, there might be something minute, but I have better timings also.

Don't bother getting the low voltage, low latency sticks if you aren't willing to try an unlocked bios, they locked the bios (at least on the T420s) I believe, so it won't preform any better in that regard.
Clearly it is supported though on the motherboard and CPU since I am running at 1.35v, and 8-8-8-24 timing according to CPU-Z.

TLDR: Its not worth upgrading unless you are heavily using your current ram, it won't speed up your system at all.
You are better off getting an SSD probably.

eric99
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Location: Wilkes-Barre, PA

Re: Anyone upgrade a T420 from 8 GB to 12 GB of RAM?

#7 Post by eric99 » Sun Jun 03, 2018 4:59 pm

I installed the 8 GB stick last night, upgrade to 12 GB overall.

As expected, it makes no perceptible difference for web-surfing, videos, word processing, etc. But here's the funny thing: The system is slightly snappier when playing around in Settings and File Explorer. Not a big difference---it was not slow before---but enough to notice. I played around quite a bit today just to see if this stayed consistent. It did. Go figure.

Might be due in part to the new RAM stick matching the 1333 MHz speed of the original RAM stick. The stick I replaced was rated 1600 MHz. I always heard that if you installed RAM that was 'faster' than the motherboard was programmed for, it would run at the maximum speed the system would allow. That's just a guess.

Anyway, it was not a great investment of cash, but it satisfied my curiosity. And now I have extra RAM to use, hoard or sell.
T420, Win 10, Xubuntu 18.04
T61, Win 7 Pro x64, weak Thinklight
T60, workhorse till the cursor started to freeze

WarMachine
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Re: Anyone upgrade a T420 from 8 GB to 12 GB of RAM?

#8 Post by WarMachine » Sat Jun 09, 2018 12:15 pm

Hello eric99,

Thanks for your report. It's interesting and... predictable ! ;)

You mentionned that the most intensive application was the chess one and that it used the CPU power. If you have a look in the task manager and if the RAM is not 100 % used then it means that you will not see big difference with a larger amount of RAM. The same for the CPU.
So, we can assume that you only will notice the 12 GB of RAM when you load a lot of applications. For exemple, I presume your laptop will be more comfortable to use if you have your chess application running with, at the same time, your internet browser with more tabs than average. In certain conditions, the fact that you have two different sticks of RAM can be a disadvantage, not really perceptible, but in theory and with benchmarks you'll find under certain circumstances that your laptop is infact not as snappy as before. That's because you have two different sticks of RAM and the Dual Channel is not active anymore. And when you know that the Dual Channel allows the RAM to work simultaneouly in emission and reception of data, it's clear that the applications which are coded to rely on this type of functioning will not perform as well as if you had two identical sticks.

So it's better to have a pair of identical sticks.4 (2x 2 GB) is better than 3 (2+1), 8 (2x 4 GB) is better than 6 (4+2), 16 (2x 8 GB) is better than 12 (8+4), and so on... When we see the prices of the RAM nowadays, the buying must really bring something, luckily, you haven't paid too much.

In the same vein, I had a client recently who wanted to buy a new graphics card because Autocad (used only for 2D project) stopped badly. He had a GTX560. I tried to learn more and he said me that he had a message related to the RAM. But he was persuaded that his graphics card was too old. I explained him the role of the components in his PC, and as the CPU had an IGP, I asked him to unplug the 560 and use the IGP instead. The day after that, he says me the problems are still here. So, I sent him compatible RAM for his PC, and since then, everything works fine.

:)

W.
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thinkpadcollection
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Re: Anyone upgrade a T420 from 8 GB to 12 GB of RAM?

#9 Post by thinkpadcollection » Sun Jun 10, 2018 3:59 pm

12GB is not dual channel mode. 8 + 4. 2+2, 4+4, or 8+8 is dual channel mode and helps with performance and bandwidth maxed out, both helpful for CPU and integrated GPU.

Download CPU-Z, very small program and check what CPU-Z says on "memory" tab and for more details on each slot, use "SPD" tab.

Cheers, thinkpadcollection

TonyJZX
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Re: Anyone upgrade a T420 from 8 GB to 12 GB of RAM?

#10 Post by TonyJZX » Mon Jul 02, 2018 7:18 pm

I currently have the oem samsung ddr1333 4gb x 2 and upgraded for a while to the basic corsair value select ddr3 1600 8gb x 2 which was just a tester for a work machine... ie. my work upgrades high end laptops for big time dba etc work - this was when ram was cheap.

I didnt see any difference but then my T420 is a low end machine... i5 2540 w/ samsung ssds that just does mainly rdp work and general messing around.

I think if you're a PS jockey or a big time Excel basher then go to 16gb however saying that I feel that the 420 platform is getting too old in the tooth for real intense work unless you have a hacked i7 3820m etc. thing.

thinkpadcollection
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Re: Anyone upgrade a T420 from 8 GB to 12 GB of RAM?

#11 Post by thinkpadcollection » Tue Jul 03, 2018 7:39 am

One appreciate 16GB if doing heavy work with large data and heavy software. I do see the difference even with normal use on 16GB. And I use SSD in both T420 and Latitude 3350, only difference in memory size is Latitude's is 8GB while T420 has 16GB and is just a touch slower. Both using matched pair. Not 12GB (4GB+8GB), matched pairs enables full bandwith in both especially when you have integrated GPU results in smoother video and programs responds nice. Both are running win 10 Pro.

PS: 8GB or 12GB is still considered limited and good for light use even on 7 and more so with 10.

Cheers, thinkpadcollection

Annecy
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Re: Anyone upgrade a T420 from 8 GB to 12 GB of RAM?

#12 Post by Annecy » Tue Jul 17, 2018 10:35 pm

t140568 wrote:
Tue May 29, 2018 12:34 pm
I believe your assumptions of it not being helpful to be correct.
I run 16gb in mine
(just to have it maxed out and never have to wonder)
but have not seen a boost in performance.
The T420s I just/recently bought off of eBay
was being pr/offered with 4gb RAM ...
Before shipping ... the seller (@ no cost)
upped the RAM to 8gb RAM :eek: 8)
SO my "situation" became ...
whether to "up" ...
from 8gb to 16gb RAM instead of ...
whether to up ...
from 4gb to 8gb
OR from 4gb to 16gb RAM ...

Not sure what I would have done :??:
probably would have gone for 16gb ...
Now likely (for now) will stay @ 8gb :SH!:
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2017: T61 14.1"ws
2018: T61p 6457-V9K ¦ T60 2008-4AU & 2613-CTO ¦ T420s 4174-BB4
2017: 2 OtC MS-W7s

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turomini
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Re: Anyone upgrade a T420 from 8 GB to 12 GB of RAM?

#13 Post by turomini » Tue Jul 17, 2018 10:47 pm

For the T420/T420s, I would recommend 16GB if you plan to continue using the laptop long term from now and also plan on being a heavier user. Only because I think production of DDR3 memory has decreased recently and will continue to. Of course this doesn't matter if you don't mind buying used.
I might be wrong on this assumption though.

t140568
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Re: Anyone upgrade a T420 from 8 GB to 12 GB of RAM?

#14 Post by t140568 » Tue Jul 31, 2018 2:39 pm

Annecy wrote:
Tue Jul 17, 2018 10:35 pm

The T420s I just/recently bought off of eBay
was being pr/offered with 4gb RAM ...
Before shipping ... the seller (@ no cost)
upped the RAM to 8gb RAM :eek: 8)
SO my "situation" became ...
whether to "up" ...
from 8gb to 16gb RAM instead of ...
whether to up ...
from 4gb to 8gb
OR from 4gb to 16gb RAM ...

Not sure what I would have done :??:
probably would have gone for 16gb ...
Now likely (for now) will stay @ 8gb :SH!:
That sounds like a sweet deal!
t140568 wrote:
Tue May 29, 2018 12:34 pm
I believe your assumptions of it not being helpful to be correct.
I run 16gb in mine
(just to have it maxed out and never have to wonder)
but have not seen a boost in performance.
I think I need to change my opinion slightly. I would add: If you plan on running any virtual machines you should max out the RAM. I have since found myself doing this recently and with 16GB I never run out. I tried running with 8GB and it was lacking the "oomph" that 16GB provides.
Some call me...Tim.
Present:
T420 - i7-3632QM/250gb SSD/16gb/FHD via converter board/AW-CB160H AC/Coreboot/Internal Logitech Unifying Receiver
T500 - C2D-P8700/64gb SSD/6gb/WUXGA

Past: X61T || X60T || R50 || X30 || T30 || A31p || 3xx || 600E || Intellistation Z Pro

skx
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Re: Anyone upgrade a T420 from 8 GB to 12 GB of RAM?

#15 Post by skx » Wed Aug 01, 2018 12:14 pm

eric99 wrote:
Wed May 30, 2018 9:35 am
Thanks for all the replies and advice. Being crazy, I ordered an 8 GB stick on eBay for $47. Will post here in a few days to report if it makes a difference, or if I just tossed away money for no good reason.
Sure it will make a difference, but not for everyday office usage. But it will make huge difference for virtualization! If you have the funds, do it, but I prefer matched ram pairs. I still need to allocate my money wisely. Just bought 4gb ram stick.
ThinkPad X220: i5-2520M CPU 2.5GHz - 8GB RAM 1333 MHz - SSD 860 EVO 250GB - Debian
ThinkPad X230: i5-3320M CPU 3.3GHz - 8GB RAM 1600 MHz - SSD 860 EVO 500GB - Debian

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