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After nearly a year of waiting, we finally have the "industry standard" PC2-6400 Compare Prices on PC2-6400 Memory that many have wanted for AM2 platforms. Pushed forward by Core 2 overclocking, AMD actually got the ball rolling last spring by fully supporting the standard back when the Core 2 Duo was still a rumor. Looking forward to Intel's upcoming FSB1600, one has to wonder what took the industry so long to deliver a product that should have been in high demand!
Previous-generation PC2-6400 modules have been "enthusiast" parts that required manual BIOS configuration, something that was not possible on some motherboards, and raised a compatibility issue for some builders. Early DDR2-800 prices - up to double those of the DDR2-667 components they were based upon - killed many hopes of overclocking to save money.
The emergence of industry standard parts assures automatic configuration for rated speeds at their default voltage (1.80 V for DDR2 DIMMs), and a compatibility guarantee for all PC2-6400 capable motherboards. Standardization also extends these high-bandwidth parts into preconfigured system markets, with mass-market-friendly prices sure to put smiles on the faces of value-seekers.
Standard PC2-6400 is so new that most manufacturers are still struggling to bring it out at full volume. Others have instead lowered the cost of performance parts to mainstream prices, with improved technology that allows stability at the standard voltage of 1.80 V. Rather than fuss over which products represent "standard priced standard parts" and which are "value-priced performance parts", I used Web prices to determine which major PC2-6400 manufacturers offered value pricing, and personally invited all of them for a bit of friendly competition.
The result is an eclectic mix of products both plain and ornate. The actual price cap for this comparison is $250 for two 1 GB modules, and one of the ten kits cost too much to be covered by this article's title!
Of course, compatibility is just as important as cost. Qualifying products for this comparison should support DDR2-800 automatic configuration at standard voltage using SPD values. Parts that didn't make the grade - due to pricing or compatibility concerns - will still get the full test treatment, but are excluded from final consideration.