Navigating the Memory Upgrade Jungle

Summary: Check Multiple Sources!

Taking a brief look at modern memory technology allows one to comprehend just how many problems that could manifest themselves during the memory upgrade process. Fortunately, several vendors have offered their assistance to make the process less painless ; unfortunately, none of them were perfect.

It was easy to locate DDR and DDR2 products for most systems, but some manufacturers went a little farther than others to help buyers make their purchases. In terms of older memory types, Crucial’s and Kingston’s SDRAM lists complement each other, but Mushkin, PNY and Viking were the only brands to offer RDRAM part numbers.

Crucial made acquisition easiest by offering a wide variety of SDRAM and DDR products for direct purchase. Kingston also offered factory direct sales, but at slightly higher prices. Mushkin’s factory direct pricing was good, but their Advisor tool required local access to the system being upgraded. Crucial takes the lead here, though their notice to install modules in pairs should be more prominent.

Corsair and Viking deserve special mention for cutting the number of steps required to find a module to two : You simply enter the model number of a motherboard or system, and select from a list of systems using that model number. Mushkin shortened the process even more through automatic detection, but again, some purchasers won’t be able to use the program.

The systems work well overall, though imperfections persist. Since there is no one ideal site, we recommend checking multiple sources before spending your hard-earned money.

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