Value RAM Roundup: Computing On a Budgetby Wesley Fink on April 11, 2005 4:26 PM EST
- Posted in
The MemoriesThe first task in our look at Value RAM was to define Value RAM. With top memories selling for $250 to $400 (or even higher) for a 1GB kit, we decided that a price limit of $200 for a 1GB kit (2x512MB DIMMs) of DDR memory would be our cut-off. Admittedly, this excludes some good value Samsung TCCD kits from companies like PQI and Patriot, but these products are really just good buys and marketed by the companies as Performance memory.
We requested Value RAM for our review from Corsair, Kingston, Mushkin, OCZ and Transcend as a representative cross-section of the memory industry. We asked these manufacturers to supply a 1GB kit (2x512MB) of a Value RAM product or products that sold on the web for less than $200. We asked them to supply whatever RAM they wished that met these criteria, which we would be comparing in performance to other Value RAM products in a memory roundup.
All the manufacturers supplied one or more samples for testing except Corsair. Corsair emailed us, stating that "Our policy is not to send Value Select parts for review for a variety of reasons. After a quick discussion here we decided to stick with that policy and sit this one out." When we asked for clarification, Corsair expressed concern that we would be testing performance and overclocking of their Value products when memory chips change frequently on these products. The concern is that the overclocking performance we would report in a roundup today might not be what a customer would get tomorrow because chips change frequently in value products. Corsair recommended that customers looking for overclocking and enthusiast level performance should purchase Corsair products that are geared to performance and overclocking, where results are consistent.
The Value RAM roundup resulted with seven memory pairs from four manufacturers.
|Web Price (1GB)
($91 on sale)
|EM Series PC3200
|PC3200 Value Series
(Winbond - Value VX)
The seven memories represent quite a range of choices in memory under $200 for a Gigabyte. First, we were pleasantly surprised that all of the memories except one now actually cost below $150 for a Gigabyte. That one memory, OCZ PC3200 Gold, will still interest many Value RAM buyers because it represents the revival of Winbond BH5 chips, which were discontinued from the market over 6 months ago. We are told that Winbond is manufacturing BH5 again from old dies, and we will be testing this Value RAM at the higher voltages possible on the DFI nForce4 motherboard.
The other big surprise is also from OCZ. We learned (when OCZ introduced their VX memory at DDR500 2-2-2 speed) that there would also be a Value Series version of the VX. What we did not expect was that the new "Value VX" would cost just $115 for a Gigabyte of memory. These are the same chips that were top-performers in a recent memory review. The Value Series uses unbinned chips, so performance is not guaranteed, but we were still anxious to see if this or the new Value BH5 might be the proverbial "silk purse from a sow's ear" for the cheap computer enthusiast. We all like to get something for nothing - or, at least, for very little money.
As you will see from the results, there were quite a few surprises in Value RAM performance. This includes a few very cheap but solid performers that will satisfy many users, and a couple of memories that are as mundane as we expect of Value RAM. For those of you looking for dynamite performance at cheap prices, we also found that silk purse amongst the Value RAM candidates.