Ups and Downs: Memory Timings Put to the Test

RAM Games: Zooming In On Timings

It's a fact that modern systems need just scads of memory - 512 MB at least, although 1 GB isn't exactly rare anymore, either. Things get a bit more complicated once you stroll down to your local computer store, where they have a huge selection of DDR400 RAM modules from innumerable vendors in all imaginable variations. So what should you look out for? Should you really listen to what the friendly salesperson has to say?

In any discussion of RAM, somebody is bound to drop the term "CAS latency", or CL for short. But there are a slew of other factors that also affect how fast your RAM is. In this article, we'll take a closer look at these factors and explain the concepts behind the cryptic numbers given to the different modules.

Then we'll move along to the real purpose of this article - determining how a given system will perform on best-case, average and worst-case memory timings. We ran 19 individual benchmarks on all the available platforms (Athlon XP, Athlon 64, Athlon 64 FX, Pentium 4, Pentium 4 EE) in order to get you the dirt on the timings.