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Review: Which Memory?

by David Ross on 8 December 2002, 00:00

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Which Memory?

RAM is RAM isn't it, right? Wrong. You know that and I know that. OK then RAM at 150cas2 is RAM at 150cas2 isn't it? No, its not -it varies from stick to stick quite dramatically. In this test, we will look at the following types of RAM:

· Crucial
· Kingmax
· SynMax (VCM)

The PQI RAM as I'm sure you all aware is sold as PC133, as is the Crucial. However the Kingmax and SynMax are sold as PC150 and PC166 respectively.
We will test single sticks of RAM vs. 2 sticks of the same brand whereever possible.

On we go. :)

The Test System:

· Iwill KK266-R
· Latest (35102A) BIOS
· T-Bird at 1.35ghz
· 150FSB
· Win2K SP2

Test Time

With the FSB cranked up to 150mhz, and all the memory timings set to fastest we are all set to get down to the nitty-gritty of RAM testing. Up first was the Crucial.With one stick of 128mb in there, the KK266-R sprang to life and it all seemed perfectly stable. Here is the first set of results:

Respectable score, it beats the ass off the reference systems (we'll ignore the P4 ;) )

OK, next. Does a stick of 256mb give the same or higher readings? We didn't know, so in goes a 256mb stick of Crucial.

As you can see, it's both up and down. It does seem to make a difference. We don't know if this was caused by the amount of memory, or the configuration of the RAM itself - we didn't have anymore spare Crucial for testing. Onto the PQI

We had two sticks of this, 128mb on each. In went both of them, and too our horror we weren't greeted by the BIOS screen after powering up. A bit of fiddling around later revealed that one stick was not going to be up for the 150fsb, but the other was ready to go.

Quite a surprise from the PQI, which is in fact the cheapest RAM in our test. ALU is slightly lower than the 256mb Crucial, but FPU is up quite a bit.

Onto the PC150 rated KingMax. This RAM actually looks very different to the others, and to most other DIMMs I have seen. Its very small physically.

The Kingmax PC150 memory modules are using what they call TinyBGA in their manufacture.The stick of RAM produced is much smaller and allows for higher electrical performance and better heat dissipation.


It had no trouble at all booting and benching at 150mhz. We tested both 128mb sticks individually and then both together, and this is what we found:

KingMax 128mb A

KingMax 128mb B

KingMax 2x128mb

These results are in my opinion shocked. As you can see, each single stick is about level with the PQI stick, but once both are thrown in the pot, FPU is lost and ALU increases. Is this telling us something about the difference from 128mb to 256mb? The Crucial seemed to act in the same way as this.That's the 'conventional' RAM out of the way. This Virtual Channel Memory is what I wanted to get my grubby mits on.When this stuff arrived it was in a nice little red box, with a clear window bit so you could peek inside and have a nosy, anyway onto the important bits.This entire test was going to be run using the 0307 BIOS, but the new BIOS was required to allow the Iwill to fully use the VCM RAM.

SynMax 128mb A

SynMax 128mb B

SynMax 2x128mb

As you can see, the two different sticks performed similarly but once put in together, performance drops as with all the other tests. Strange.That's all the memory tested, side by side it looks like this:


The quality of RAM does affect its performance. VCM does make an improvement on the memory scores. With the more expensive modules the quality control is far better, with scores being fairly consistent from stick to stick. However the cheap, PQI RAM shows poorer quality control in that one stick runs at 150fsb, and the other just refuses to do it.