RAM prices slid a lot the first half of the year, and it looks like they’re going to slide some more the rest of the year.
Today, you can equip a machine with two 1GB DDR2 800 modules for less than $100, and get two 2GB modules, same speed, for around $200. New motherboards can handle 8GB, and even today, you could put 8GB into one at not-too-outrageous a price.
And if prices go down more . . . .
For us, though, there’s a problem-and-a-half.
The half-problem is DDR3. That isn’t so reasonably priced, and probably won’t be for at least a year. The hottest mobos will want DDR3, but supplying it will cost an arm and a leg for some time to come. On the other hand, really loading up on RAM that you won’t be able to use on your next system might cool some jets a bit.
The real problem, though, are the operating systems. ANY 32-bit operating system, XP, Vista, Linux, OS X, is not natively going to be to recognize more than 4GB, with Windows, it’s more like 3GB.
To get to 4GB and beyond, you’ll need a 64-bit OS, and if you’re a Windows user, that means 64-bit Vista, which at best is an added cost, and at worst could cause some real headaches due to a negligible number of 64-bit programs, a few incompatibilities with 32-bit programs, and dubious driver support, though there are the curious.
Vista at least has SuperFetch, which does quicken load times, but how much are you willing to spend for quicker load times? No doubt some (especially if you’re loading game levels), enough for 4GB, but probably few beyond that.
I’m afraid this is a chicken or the egg story, and enthusiasts are the chicken. If we load up on the RAM and the 64-bit OSs, the apps and games will follow. If we don’t, they won’t.