DDR2 SDRAM prices began dropping significantly last summer as the world prepared for DDR3-only Core i7 platforms, culminating in today’s ultra-low-priced, four-gigabyte dual-channel kits. For as little as $25, users of this older technology can step up to memory levels that had been reserved for only the upper echelon of last-year’s buyers.
Who needs 4.0 GB RAM? At these prices, does it really matter? Most systems eventually get clogged up with rarely used programs such as second or third instant messengers, redundant spyware blockers, and other once-useful tools that have become parasites while users, still mindful of the program’s former effectiveness, often don’t want to bother removing. The accumulation of junk can affect any operating system.
Windows Vista users will see an even greater benefit by adding RAM, since the OS dynamically increases the number of cached files as RAM is increased, in order to make programs launch faster. And users of memory-intense processes such as video encoding and high-resolution photo editing should already be familiar with the benefits of increasing the amount of work they can store in RAM…while decreasing the amount that must be cached to a slower temporary file on the hard drive.
But today’s review isn’t aimed at showing anyone why he or she necessarily needs more memory, as we’ve already covered all the basics and even a few specifics in several articles. Instead we’ll consider which budget kit is most appropriate for value-seekers, overclockers, and most importantly, value-seeking performance enthusiasts.