Price Guides February 2004: Memory and Soon-To-Be-Obsolete AGP Video Cardsby Kristopher Kubicki on February 10, 2004 4:12 AM EST
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Welcome back to this week's installment of the Price Guides. Last week's Guide was actually one of our most read guides of all time. Give yourself a pat on the back. As always, don't forget to check out or own RealTime Price Engine, and our Vendor Ratings.
Memory continues to be a particular thorn in the PC market. Those of you who follow the enthusiast market particularly closely know that Winbond has totally run out of the BH5 chips. Unfortunately, it looks like they have also run out of CH5 chips as well and so we will start to see memory dry up that is based on those chips.
With that news, it's becoming more obvious that the dated PC2100 is on its way out. Most memory has been up over the last couple months as much as 10%. The price on Mushkin's Green (Value) modules is down this week, but this is more due to their recent changes in memory ratings. For those of you who didn't notice the name change a few months ago, this is Mushkin's new naming scheme:
Green - Value
Blue - Midrange
Black - Enthusiast (Formally called Level II)
For those of you who ski, you'll immediately recognize the same colors are used for identifying levels on a ski hill. They must do a lot of skiing out there in Denver.
We made some other significant changes to our memory listings. As you will see, most of our modules have a "Value" and "Performance" listing for each type of module. Hopefully everyone will be able to note the deltas easier with this clarification on memory types.
Continuing our analysis... It appears PC2700 is also on the rise. Several manufacturers have begun pulling back on PC2700 in favor of PC3200. PC3200 is here to stay for the rest of the year, and with some of the major sources of enthusiast Winbond chips drying up, it looks like prices might stabilize and climb slowly for some time to come.
If you are a new system builder, you really can't go wrong with PC3200 anymore. All motherboards/processors support it, and unless you need special registered memory for Opteron/Athlon64 FX, you have plenty of options. Two sticks of Corsair PC3200 256MB or Mushkin PC3200 256MB Black are both excellent choices for midrange systems. Don't forget to buy in pairs so that your CPU/Northbridge can take advantage of dual channel capabilities. For those of you who have KT600/400A/400 based motherboards, you can save a couple bucks buying a single stick instead since the older VIA northbridge does not support dual channel enhancements.
For those of you who wish to clock a little higher, Mushkin and OCZ seem to be good choices. Unfortunately right now we are only tracking OCZ's "Premium" (Value) line, but in the upcoming days we will be adding their Gold, EL and Platinum lines as well (so check back frequently). Check out Wes's more recent articles concerning DDR400/433/466 performance on some of these modules. If you know what you're doing, getting an extra 5% boost isn't uncommon by selecting the right memory. Since Corsair, OCZ and Mushkin rely heavily on those vanishing Winbond chips, don't expect their prices to start dropping anytime soon.