Is Your Memory Module Really PC100 Compliant?

Is your Memory Module PC-100 Really Compliant ?

Memory prices are at their all time low, and the price swings appear to be settling down again. Common sense tells us that if all the memory modules of a specific type are created equal, then their pricing from one retailer should be relatively equal, or at least close except for the occasional blowout deal. Unfortunately, in spite of this calming of the memory market, there is still a wide disparity between some retailers and others.

Recently we began a survey to see where our pricing stacked up, and what we found was that while we were within the mean average, there were a number of resellers that were pricing PC-100 modules well below that mean average. All things considered, we decided that maybe quality was the issue, so we decided to order some of these low priced modules to see what they were made of. You’ll be amazed at what we found.

We chose 10 of these low-priced resellers that were advertising PC-100 compliant modules at seemingly cheap prices and ordered four (4) 64MB memory modules from each, 40 modules in all. As the modules arrived, we labeled each as to their origin, the cost per module as well as all of the data provided by the retailer at the time of sale. Rather than verify the data on the actual chips on the modules, we decided to wait until after completion of the testing, as we felt the average user would probably not check the actual chips upon receipt.

As an OEM, it is important that we check the memory we sell and insure that it performs to, and exceeds, specification. Over the years we have invested heavily in test equipment just for this purpose. We ran our tests on each of the 40 modules we had received as against the PC-100 Standard that had been developed just for this purpose. You may want to review our Introduction to Memory issues, especially the area in reference to PC-100 and its compliance with the PC-100 Standard. PC-100 compliant modules should operate at 125 MHz without any errors. Our test results of these 40 modules were amazing to say the least.

The Results (01-16-00)


4 Modules tested at 100MHz – Pass/Fail

4 Modules tested at 125MHz – Pass/Fail

Source #1 Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Fail Pass
Source #2 Pass Fail Pass Pass Fail Fail Fail Fail
Source #3 Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass
Source #4 Pass Pass Pass Pass Fail Fail Fail Fail
Source #5 Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Fail Fail Fail
Source #6 Fail Fail Pass Pass Fail Fail Fail Fail
Source #7 Pass Pass Fail Fail Fail Fail Fail Fail
Source #8 Pass Pass Pass Pass Fail Fail Fail Fail
Source #9 Fail Pass Pass Fail Fail Pass Pass Fail
Source #10 Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass

*Data relative to each of the resellers we dealt with and the modules they provided has been retained in our files and can be made available to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

Of the 10 resellers we selected, only 1 provided us with 4 SDRAM modules that actually met the PC-100 Standard. Of the remaining 9 retailers, 4 provided us with replacements, not once, but twice! Although they apologized because none of the modules provided performed as advertised, and their offer of replacements was a nice gesture, the total turn-around time was five (5) weeks. Much too long for someone waiting to either repair or upgrade their computer or build a new one. The remaining 5 retailers were extremely difficult to deal with and actually violated their own return policies. As you can see by the numbers and the customer support, the experience was not at all a good one. In defense of 4 of the retailers, we feel that they honestly believed that their products were compliant, but made no independent verification of their own.

Had we been the average consumer with little or no information about memory performance, or a method by which to actually test the modules, and had not been able to decipher the data on the actual chips, we would have been at the complete mercy of at least 5 of these sham artists. They wasted little time in telling us that the “problems” we were experiencing were being caused by another component in our PC’s, and not the memory they sold to us. “Caveat Emptor”, let the buyer beware!

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Given our experience with some of these resellers, and from the point of view of the consumer, we felt that it was important that we provide a reasonably accurate method by which the application speed of most memory modules can be determined. It should be obvious to the reader that, as with most electronic devices today, we have no methods by which to help you determine whether or not the memory chips you are concerned about are black market items or whether or not they have been counterfeited by re-marking them. We can, however, help you make some determinations about commonly available SDRAM modules.


Determining the application speed of SDRAM Modules

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This page updated: 11/01/2000

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