The only real decisions here are how much memory to install, what size modules to use, and what brand to buy. For entry-level systems, we recommend no less than 256 MB, although Windows XP is happier with more. For mainstream systems, 512 MB may suffice, but 1 GB is better. For performance systems, workstations, and multimedia/graphics systems, install at least 1 GB, and more is better. Consider the following factors when choosing memory modules:
Use PC3200 DDR-SDRAM memory modules.
It’s generally less expensive to buy a given amount of memory in one module rather than two or more modules. However, the largest-capac- ity modules often sell at a substantial premium. For example, a 1 GB DIMM may cost three times as much as a 512 MB DIMM, rather than only twice as much.
For higher performance, use DIMMs in pairs if your motherboard has a dual-channel memory controller, as do all current Intel motherboards and some AMD motherboards.
Verify the memory configurations supported by your motherboard. For example, a particular motherboard may support 256 MB DIMMs but not 512 MB DIMMs. One motherboard may support 512 MB DIMMs in all four of its memory slots, but another may support 512 MB DIMMs in only two of its four slots. Check the motherboard documentation to determine the memory configurations your chosen motherboard supports. You can also visit the Crucial web site ( http://www.crucial.com) and use their memory configurator to verify compatibility.
Non-parity memory modules provide no error detection or correction. ECC modules detect and correct most memory errors, but are slower and more expensive than non-parity modules. Use ECC memory if you install more than 2 GB of memory and the motherboard supports ECC memory. For 2 GB or less, use non-parity modules.
PC3200 memory is available in CL3 versions and faster CL2.5 versions. CL2.5 memory is typically only 3% or so faster than CL3, so using CL2.5 memory seldom provides any real benefit to overall system performance. If CL2.5 memory is available for the same price as CL3 memory, go ahead and buy it, but don’t pay more for it.
Memory We use Crucial and Kingston PC3200 memory almost exclusively, and recommend that others do the same. Crucial produces CL3 memory, which we almost always use. Kingston produces CL3 and CL2.5 modules. We use the latter when memory performance is critical.
Avoid generic “white-box” memory. Such modules often use chips that failed testing by reputable manufacturers or were pulled from rejected modules, and are likely to cause data corruption and stability problems. We also generally avoid so-called “premium” or “performance” modules, which cost more but seldom provide much real increase in system performance.
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