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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Before you buy memory sticks we strongly advise you use a manufacturer that has a website memory configurator.


Gone are the days when you can slap in any old memory stick as long as the specs match! Several motherboard models wont accept sticks that have memory "chips" on both sides of the sticks, and as a result will refuse to boot!

If you read your motherboard manual; several of them have memory QVL lists (qulaified vendor lists) and charts that show where to install your memory (slot configurations) as well as designations of SS (single sided) or DS (double sided).
Memory slots are generally color coded, blue slots & black slots are commonly seen as are other colors. The color designation primarily designates a pair of slots which are on the same memory channel. This is crucial to understand, as "paired" memory matches must be on the same channel to achieve optimum performance, or system start-up.

These QVL lists are not inclusive of the only memory sticks that will work with your board, these QVL lists are often misinterpreted by users as meaning if you buy sticks made by memory manufacturers on the list; you will securing sticks that will work with your system, that is NOT necessarily correct. The memory makers will most likely have sticks of the same spec your board or system requires but will not function in YOUR system.
I strongly suggest you rely on a greater authority of which sticks will work with your board or system; the memory manufacturers themselves.

Most all the memory manufacturers will bend over backwards to ensure you are satisfied with your memory purchases from them, their memory selectors "guarantee" the models they suggest are tested and compatible with your board or mass manufacturered system (Dell, Compaq, Gateway etc) for premium performance.

By premium performance; I refer to dual channel operation when your board supports dual channel mode. Dual channel mode is VERY desirable to attain when possible. Dual channel can enhance total system performance by as much as 20%! The most common memory sold are dual channel memory kits; these kits are matched pairs of memory sticks, same model numbers, same individual on die chip maker! The small chips on the ram sticks are most often not produced by the ram stick manufacturer, but rather produced by another corporation, the ram stick maker then buys the chips in contract bulk sales.
This is where much of the problem comes in, just buying sticks that are selected by manufacturer & specification only (example = PC3200 x 512mb) will not ensure you get sticks that have individual chips made by the same supplier! The presence of mismatch chips often results in a pair of memory modules that will not boot or best case; wont perform in dual channel mode.

If you have existing memory installed in your system and wish to add more, I suggest several things prior to purchase.
If you have one stick installed and wish to add another stick, you will need to research the existing memory stick to see if that model is listed as compatible for your board, a stick can function in single channel mode but not in dual channel mode. The sticks listed in the memory configurators will be models that work in dual channel mode!

If you are very lucky and your existing ram module is listed as compatible by model number, then you may want to roll the dice and try to purchase one more stick of the exact model number in an attempt to make a dual channel kit. This is risky business & often does not work!

I personally prefer to cut my risks, sell off my existing memory on ebay and purchase a dual channel kit of modules of the size (512mb& 1gig) which are listed on the memory makers website for compatability. This approach will lessen the chance of your purchasing memory which will not perform as expected thus deepening your investment to attain your goal of performance enhancement!

When you choose a memory manufacturer's website configurator and input your system; the result will be a whole range of selections, memory bandwidth (PC 2100, 2700, 3200) = the higher the memory bandwidth the better the system will run, but more $$$$ also you will be given options for size of modules (512 & 1 gig etc.), CAS latency (the smaller the CAS number the faster the memory and the more expensive) Most all manufacturers will have high performance memory modules which are substantially more expensive, for those system owners that want the fastest possible and are willing to pay!
I will take the beating for the following statement "Only very serious gamers and overclockers will desire the high perfromance memory" the average user will see NO benefit when installing high performance memory sticks.

Another common choice users struggle with; the choice between buying 4 x 512 sticks or 2 x 1gig sticks. Niether choice has a "performance" improvement over the other. Each stick of ram uses about 10 watts of power so 4 sticks will use more power than two sticks. From an investment stand point, if one stick becomes defective you only lose one stick, not the vaule of the larger stick, but this point may be of less value as most ram is guaranteed for life.
In days previous we used to be able to buy 4 x 512 cheaper than 2 x 1 gig but I dont think that applies any more ?

Food for thought; The 32bit version of Win XP is for the most part maxed out using 2gigs of memory, even gaming. Dont buy more than you need!
Windows Vista however runs better at the starting points of 2 gigs and runs even better with more! There is no configuration to get 3 gigs to run in dual mode configuration, 2 gigs of ram in dual channel mode will run just as fast as 3 gigs in single channel mode, so; more is better is not always true. :laugh:

If you are not a serious gamer, than one gig of memory "should" make your system run well for you. If you enjoy multi tasking and have a dual core processor, then you would be better served installing two gigs of memory.


Here is a partial listing of memory manufacturers that have memory selectors:


Crucial
http://www.crucial.com/



Corsair
http://www.corsairmemory.com/corsair/configurator_search.html


OCZ
http://configurator.ocztechnology.com/


Patriot
http://www.patriotmem.com/configurator/index.jsp


Gskil http://www.gskill.com/configurator.php


Samsung
http://www.memorystore.com/config_system.asp?cboMFG=101


These makers above are in no way intended to be exclusive for quality consideration; although our hardware staff have discussed experiences with these makers and we have all agreed these manufacturers will not disappoint you! The level of tech support is outstanding and the RMA process is a non-hassle experience.

If you have any questions; please post a new thread in the "RAM & PSU " hardware section, your questions will get an immediate response.
 
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