Navigating the Memory Upgrade Jungle

Resource Exclusions?

When it comes to older or less popular systems, some memory producers follow manufacturer recommendations rather than testing beyond them. For example, Intel’s early SE440BX is documented as having limits of 128 MB per module and 384 MB total, but has proven 100% stable using 768 MB via three 256 MB 16-chip DIMMs. These are the same modules used in the newer RC440BX and SE440BX-2, allowing two platforms to cross-reference the same modules. This provides a good basis for judging the completeness of a memory manufacturer’s documentation, so let’s examine a few :

  • Apacer : SE440BX not listed, but the similar RC440BX is listed as supporting 256 MB/module
  • Corsair : SE440BX not listed, but similar SE440BX-2 is listed at 256 MB/module
  • Crucial : 256 MB modules listed for SE440BX
  • Kingston : 256 MB modules listed, as well as the motherboard’s full 768 MB capacity
  • Mushkin : 256 MB modules listed, as well as the motherboard’s full 768 MB capacity
  • PNY : SE440BX listed with the artificial 128 MB per slot and 384 MB motherboard limits, and no availability, but the correct modules are listed for the SE440BX-2
  • Viking : 256 MB modules listed for SE440BX

Crucial, Kingston, Mushkin, and Viking correctly listed the largest compatible modules in spite of poor documentation from Intel. Apacer, Corsair, and PNY offer the correct modules, but list them only for other boards that have the same memory limit ! The lesson is simple : If you don’t like what you see at one site, check others.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.