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Choosing the Best Suited Memory

Choosing the Best Suited Memory

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The most important concern when choosing system memory is compatibility. Make sure your system can support the memory you are buying. For example, do not purchase DDR2 memory if your computer only provides DDR memory slots. For brandname PC users, check your PC manual or manufacturer website/customer service for memory support information (such as memory type, speed, capacity), and go to your motherboard manual or manufacturer if your PC was self-built (DIY users). Your motherboard’s manufacturer Web site will typically list the different memory from different manufacturers that have been tested with your motherboard. The memory in this list are virtually guaranteed to be compatible, however, that doesn’t mean memory not found on the list will not be compatible. You can also check the memory module maker's Web site for this type of information no matter what type of user you are. Last but not least, figure out how many empty memory slots there are on your motherboard before purchase – you'll have to replace existing memory if all the slots are full.

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Mainstream Users

For most users, compatibility may be the only thing that requires attention. Choosing memory that is compatible for your motherboard/system is enough. A capacity of 512MB is the minimum for today's computers, and a larger capacity should be more useful than faster timing/latency parameters when the total memory is under 1GB.

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Performance is vital for gamers pursuing the highest performance. Timing/latency numbers mean a lot here, as are higher speed ratings, which are definitely preferred – make sure your motherboard supports them. The latest 3D games are very demanding in terms of memory, so 3GB is the standard choice when running a 32-bit operating system.

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Overclockers should look for products with the highest speed ratings (and the fastest latency parameters). The highest supported voltage should be taken into account as well since you'll have to increase voltage when overclocking the memory to the limit.

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Workstation/Server and Other Crucial Applications

Reliability tops all for these crucial applications since you cannot afford a system crash here. Workstation and server must usually runs 24 hours a day without a break, so the ECC function is definitely required for these systems.

Professional software is always memory hungry - especially for 3D related work. 2GB is absolutely necessary for workstation users. This desire for memory is even truer for servers. Simply put, the more memory the better - 2GB is just the starting point. Registered memory is always preferred for servers – actually, most server motherboards require this, and it is also recommended for workstations for memory capacities above 2GB.

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« Memory Glossary
ECC and Registered Memory »
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