As we mentioned when you arrived at our Performance Center, “Everyone wants their computer to be faster”, and memory is an important factor in the speed and performance equation. More has been written about memory issues in the last two or three years than has been written in all of the prior ten years combined. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to sort out the fact from the fiction. If you take your time and visit the memory manufacturers Web sites you will find a good deal of information buried there, presuming that you’re able to distinguish the difference between marketing magic and and facts. Then there are the retailers, the great majority of which only want to sell memory and are willing to echo just about anyone’s comments about performance as long as it sells product.
If you have arrived at this page from our site map or through a Internet search engine, you may want to click here and view the memory section of our Performance Center in frames so that you can use the menu to locate what you need.
In dealing with memory issues, let’s agree on some real facts:
- Memory “must” be correctly matched to your motherboard and processor (CPU). Purchasing memory based upon its own individual characteristics or performance specifications alone, without considering the specifications of the motherboard and processor, usually does not improve performance.
- Merely changing or adding memory will not always result in a performance improvement, and in some cases may even cause your computer to perform poorly. Think of it this way, would you try and put a motorcycle spark plug in your automobile? It might work, but then again it might not!
- Not all memory is alike! True, you can purchase EDO, FPM and SDRAM memory almost anywhere, but the terms “EDO, “FPM” and “SDRAM” are descriptive phrases and really don’t tell you anything about the performance specifications or quality of the memory modules themselves. Always determine first what your motherboard requires. This will result in your always A. getting exactly what you need; B. getting optimum performance from your existing components; and C. result in your not purchasing more than you need, either in performance ability or quality.
- The facts presented are not always the true facts! Read the fine print. Ask questions and don’t be afraid to ask why!
- Glossary of Memory Related Terms – This is a listing of just about all the terms that we can think of that are in any manner related to the memory topic. You may find it helpful in providing you with an understanding of what some of the terms used really mean.
- Introduction to Computer Memory – This review will provide with a historical perspective of the various memory types and how we went from 30 pin SIMM’s through to today’s Rambus and DDR memory. This is where you will be able to put the memory terms together with the memory types.
- A Pictorial View of Memory Types – Our pictorial review of the various types of memory. This will provide you with what you need to correctly identify all of the more popular memory types in use over the last several years, including EDO, FPM, SIMM’s DIMM’s, SDRAM, Rambus, DDR and DDR II. This will provide you with the information you need to visually identify the various memory types.
- How Memory Speeds are Determined – This our best effort yet in covering this difficult and often daunting subject. Here we try to put this subject into lay terms that most anyone can understand. You will find out just what those memory markings on the chips mean and their relationship to speed and performance.
- What is Memory Latency? – If you have read our review of how memory speeds are determined, then you may want to know what memory latency is and the impact it can have on performance. You can review a more in depth discussion here: Latency Basics.
- Is Your PC-100 SDRAM Memory PC100 Compliant? – Some memory retailers improperly use the term “PC-100” when describing the memory they are selling. There are “set in stone” specification standards for PC-100 compliant memory, and not all of the memory sold at computer shows and on the Internet was created equally. This review will show you how to identify PC-100 compliant memory. You will find the current specification standards for PC-100 SDRAM here, and you can review the Original PC66/100 Standards by clicking this link.
- Is your PC-133 SDRAM Memory really PC-133? – This review will help you correctly identify your PC-133 memory modules to insure that it is really PC-133 compliant and not an over-clocked PC-100 module. Information prepared in a plain English manner that provides you with the “why” your computer operates in the way it does, or perhaps why it doesn’t operate the way it should. You will find the current specification standards for PC-133 SDRAM here.
- DDR SDRAM versus Dual Channel RDRAM – RDRAM versus SDRAM, Distinguishing Fact From Fiction – In these two articles, we steer away from the controversy between the “old school” system manufacturers and the hyper-active over-clocking crowd with their super-tweaked personal computers and attempt to arrive at some real-world facts as it pertains to Dual Channel RDRAM, better known as Rambus, and its current competitor DDR SDRAM. We believe, as most computer users do, that real world means a computer does what we want it to do, when we want it to do it, with as little hassle as possible. This means we’re not sitting at the machine daydreaming about new power tweaks we can make, nor do we sit a browse all the hot tweaking sites for new developments. We sit at the machine long enough to do what we need to accomplish and nothing more.
- Rambus DRAM Performance – Samsung Semiconductor, Inc. is one of the major players with respect to DRAM manufacturing, whether it be EDO, SDRAM or Rambus DRAM. As a manufacturer, they are influenced or motivated by profitability as are their stockholders. Take a moment and review what they have written with regard to Rambus DRAM. You will also find additional information from one of the architecture specialists at Rambus, Inc. here: High-Speed DRAMs keep pace with high-speed systems.
- How Much Memory Do You Need? – That’s a difficult question, as it largely depends on how you use your computer, or intend to use it. Since most of our customers and visitors use Windows 98, Windows 98 SE, Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000, this will be our focus here. If you are using Windows 95, you only need to refer to Windows 98. We will review the minimum recommendations from Microsoft and then provide you with a real world approach based upon how you may want to use your computer. The memory demands for a computer used for Internet surfing, email and word processing are very different from that used for Internet content creation, graphics or video and sound editing. This link will help you determine how much memory you need. You may also want to review our Memory FAQ and Basic Upgrade Guidelines.
- Quick Memory Troubleshooting Guide – While this is not a cure-all for any memory problems that may arise, it will provide you with a good place to start in resolving memory issues. These articles will take you from the basics, through intermediate and on to running actual memory tests. This is not a substitute for special memory testing equipment, but it will take you close enough that you should be able to determine whether a physical failure has occurred or not.
- Memory FAQ Including Basic Upgrade Guidelines – Here you will find answers to some of the basic and intermediate questions that we receive about memory on a routine basis. These articles will help you with subjects as compatibility, basic timing issues, general upgrade questions and the correct way to install a memory module.
- Memory Trends – In this series of articles we will try and sort out fact from fiction on such topics as SDRAM as opposed to Rambus, or DDR DRAM versus DR DRAM (Rambus), as well as the currently under development DDR II.
- Systems we use for Calibration – If you would like to read more about the systems used for calibration and comparative testing, follow this link.
- Software Used for Benchmark Testing – If you would like to read more about the benchmark and testing software we use, follow this link.