Down We Go Again

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Memory prices continue to drop and new products emerge which at least claim to run faster.

For instance, TwinMOS announced its PC3700 module, saying that it was using 4.3ns modules. While this looks a little dodgy (the modules require 2.7V to run that way), at least that’s better than the near-or-at 3V some other makers are citing.

Personally, I think overclocking begins at home, and don’t like others doing it for me. That’s the problem we face with a lot of this high-speed RAM, essentially the manufacturers are overclocking it, which leaves you precious little room to do some yourself.

In any event, sooner or later, we’re likely to see modules come out that will use memory chips conservatively rated for less than 5ns, most likely 4.5ns.

That’s what I’m waiting for, simply because I don’t feel like buying RAM every month.:)

Even if you’re not aiming so high, all the competition up top is driving down prices just a little below. Corsair PC3500 has cracked the $90 barrier (for 256Mb), and name-brand memory that is at least called PC3200 can be bought for as low as $40.

I suspect we have more to go on this price drop.

Buyer Beware

Even the established memory makers are playing fairly fast and loose with the rules, so you can imagine what the less ethical are doing.

This really isn’t the place for extreme bargain hunting. Low-grade people buy low-grade memory. Only buy memory sticks (not modules, you can have decent modules stuck on cheaply made sticks) made by name-brand manufacturers.

Know exactly what the speed of the memory chips is. Don’t assume. I’ve seen modules claiming PC3200 or better that actually use only 6ns (or PC2700) RAM.

Know what the memory settings for the claimed speed are. You can get your dead dog to do 220MHz if your settings are low enough. You want the lowest memory settings available at a certain speed, just don’t look at the speed.

Look at the voltage. If I attached electrodes to your butt and turned the juice on, you’d probably move faster, too, but you wouldn’t want to make that permanent equipment.

You have people selling RAM nowadays that rate their chips at 2.9V volts. That’s like offering PIVs based on what they can do at 1.75V and charging you extra for it. They’re doing the overclocking, not you, and even worse, essentially charging you extra for it.

Look at reviews of memory where they cover all the items I’ve mentioned. Don’t take them literally, as in you’re guaranteed whatever overclocked number they got, but use them to at least eliminate the dogs from your lineup.

Don’t Learn The Hard Way

This is not a nice industry. It takes advantage of those who don’t pay attention to every single detail, especially when they can be riled up over something, and who are often irresistably drawn to a low price simply because they don’t have a lot of money.

I know I sound like a cranky nanny when I get on this subject, but there are a lot of people out to beat you, and they fine-tune their appeals to match your shortcomings and weaknesses.

Researching your purchases thoroughly is a very good habit to get into, not just for computers, but for life. It’s not a waste of time, it’s an investment, just as much of one as the cash you’re laying out.

The way I look at it, you can learn from the experience of others, and do the right thing right away, or you can be cinder-block head, and have it ripped off of you for a stiff price.

Which will it be? It’s your life, do you want to be a participant or a spectator?

Email Ed


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