DDR Now?

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Crucial dropped the price of DDR, and people are starting to ask, “Should I?”

The answer is, “There is no one answer.”

We Don’t Even Know When We’re Going to Have A Good Overclocking DDR Board Yet

You’d have to be crazy or desperate to buy a DDR board right now. The Ali boards have some performance problems. The AMD boards are generally not overclocking-friendly. Outside of one example, the Via DDR boards haven’t arrived yet. Hold your horses.

Once that issue gets settled, the best way to determine whether or not an upgrade is good for you is to use the Bang for The Buck Index.

BBI is highly dependent on whether or not you sell your old equipment, and what price you can get for it. If you do sell,
your net cost will be a good deal lower.

On the other hand, if you trade equipment all the time, your acceptable BBI is probably a good deal lower than it would be for others.

I Just Bought A KT133A Board And A Ton of PC133

You’re going to end up spending $250-300 for 256Mb of DDR and a mobo for roughly 10-15% improvement (closer to 10% for office applications, closer to 15% for games) once we figure out 4-way interleaving for DDR.

Is that worth it to you?

(In all these cases, your net cost may be less if you decide to sell your older equipment). Assuming you don’t, we’re looking at a BBI of over 2000 (which is not very good).

I Have A Ton of PC133 and a KT133 board

You can either spend another $130 for a new mobo KT133A mobo and expect a bit more than a 10% improvement, or you spend $250-300 for 256Mb of DDR and a mobo for roughly 20-25% improvement (closer to 10% for office applications, closer to 15% for games) once we figure out 4-way interleaving for DDR.

Either way, we’re looking at a BBI index of about 1000-1200 (not great, but better than those who just bought a new mobo)

I Have A Ton of PC133 and an Intel board

You’ll have the cost of a new processor (and improvement from that), but your BBI for going to DDR is still around 1000-1200.

I Have An Old Piece of Junk And Need A New Processor, Mobo and RAM

You can either forfeit that 10-15% improvement by buying a KT133A board now; you can forfeit maybe 5% and spend about $30 more (and have a few overclocking headaches) by buying an AMD760-based board, or you can wait maybe two months for the best Via board to come out.

Once we have a good DDR mobo, I think anybody putting together a new system would be foolish not to go to DDR.

RAM Is Cheap Now, Should I Buy DDR Now, and the Mobo Later?

This is a very tough call.

The only way the price will go significantly downward is if demand for computer systems drops by 10% or more, and memory prices collapse along with it. Not inconceivable, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Memory companies would start
losing an absurd amount of money if it did, enough to justify shutting down plants.

It’s a bit more likely they’ll jump significantly upward. I would not be surprised to see DDR pricing get erratic in the short term, especially if supplies run short. I don’t find it likely that it’s going to double in price and stay there.

Buying now is buying patience insurance. You’re locking in a price, now. It probably won’t make much difference if you’re patient enough to wait out any price bumps in the next few months. It may make a big difference if you decide two months from now that you have to have DDR NOW at the same time everybody else decides they want it.

A Very Individual Decision

There’s no right answer here, no slam-dunks. It’s not something you need to move heaven and earth to get if you just bought something. On the other hand, if you’re getting ready to buy something; once we have a trustworthy platform, it would be silly to spend about the same for lesser technology.

Finally, whatever you do, this is not going to be a standard with a very long-life. If you’re not hurting now, you should consider skipping this stage of evolution and spend your money in 2002.

What you shouldn’t expect to do is spend money now and figure you can reuse most of it in an upgrade a year from now.

Email Ed


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