This is probably the part you’ve all been waiting for…what brand of SDRAM is the best overall, let’s take a look at the candidates:

Advanced Megatrends

The Advanced Megatrends SDRAM has had the greatest success rate I have personally confirmed with the motherboards tested on this site. Out of all of the motherboards reviewed there were only about 5 that weren’t completely stable when using the Advanced Megatrends SDRAM (2 of which weren’t stable with other modules as well). The reason for the immense success of the Advanced Megatrends SDRAM is the manufacturing process the modules are produced by. Their newer SDRAM modules are produced using an 8 layer PCB (rule of thumb: more layers, the better) and use NEC or Toshiba chips. The price on the Advanced Megatrends SDRAM is very competitive (around $119 for 32MB) although you can still find some generic modules for much cheaper. The only problem with the Advanced Megatrends SDRAM is that you can only order it from one place, Megatrends Technologies, I have never had any problems with them personally however there have been a few cases where customers received service they weren’t too happy about. It all depends on how much you want high quality SDRAM I guess.

Corsair

Corsair’s SDRAM used to be among the best, and for some time it was, however the inability of quite a few motherboard manufacturers to perform sufficient testing on Corsair modules caused them to slowly lose their place at the top of the hill. Fortunately Corsair seems to be making a comeback with their newer SDRAM modules, their 64MB SDRAM DIMM w/ onboard EPROM rivals some of the best out today. However the price on Corsair’s SDRAM is still out of the each of many

Fujitsu

Fujitsu SDRAM has been often referred to as the entry level SDRAM module, however I have yet to personally test any so I cannot comment much on their manufacturing process. I will post more information once I can get my hands on a few sticks of their SDRAM.

Samsung

We have all heard the wonderful praises for Samsung SDRAM, however most of you have probably wondered if the unbelievable claims about their SDRAM are dumbfounded or actually substantiated. Let me just say this now, they are definitely substantiated! What makes Samsung SDRAM better than most of the competition? It’s basically this: motherboard manufacturers have very easy access to Samsung SDRAM, and lots of it, so naturally they are able to test their motherboards with readily available modules more efficiently than modules they have to search long and hard for. The stability of Samsung SDRAM is on par with that of Advanced Megatrends SDRAM if not greater, be aware of imitation modules that simply use Samsung chips. The Samsung manufacturing process is second to none, a truly excellent innovation. I have only personally used Samsung SDRAM once in my lifetime and I was truly amazed, I will try to get my hands on some more modules for testing so I can further extend this comparison of SDRAM brands.

SmarTech

SmarTech SDRAM has found its popularity among MTech motherboard users simply because it is the absolute best SDRAM to use with the most picky of MTech’s motherboards, the Mustang. Using NEC chips and a 6 layer PCB SmarTech SDRAM will work in nearly any configuration you throw at it, although it still takes a back seat to the newer Corsair modules as well as the Advanced Megatrends and Samsung sticks. When using SmarTech SDRAM however you may have to be a bit more generous with your memory timings in the BIOS Setup utility, however for the most part anything a Megatrends module can do a SmarTech module can do. Finding SmarTech SDRAM is another discussion though…lately it has become quite a rarity, good luck finding some =)

SDRAM vs EDO - Benchmarks

If you are still not convinced of the minimal performance increase SDRAM offers over EDO, here are a few benchmarks to back up the earlier claims.  The test system was an AMD K6-233 on an ASUS TXP4-X (TX based) Socket-7 motherboard, the only variable that was altered during the tests was the RAM configuration.  The BIOS timings were set at the lowest possible setting to ensure that the Business Winstone tests would complete successfully, 2 x 32MB sticks of Corsair SDRAM were used in the SDRAM tests and were then swapped out for 2 x 32MB Micron EDO SIMMs for the EDO tests. 

Business Winstone 97
SDRAM EDO
K6-233 (66 x 3.5) 54.9 54.2
K6-208 (83 x 2.5) 55.5 54.8

At the 66MHz bus speed, there is hardly any difference in performance when using SDRAM vs when using EDO (about 1% increase with SDRAM) even when using the 83MHz bus speed the performance increase is minimal.  Right now the only reason to go with SDRAM (unless you take into account future use of your RAM modules) is the increased stability at higher bus speeds, that's all. 

Conclusion

So what is the final verdict…is SDRAM all hype or the future of the memory industry? Right now, there is absolutely no logical reason to opt to purchase SDRAM over EDO if you’re on a tight budget. If you can afford it however, you are better off buying some high quality modules and using them with much more ease than EDO SIMMs. Gold is just as shiny as Aluminum Foil…does that mean that Aluminum Foil is just as good as gold? SDRAM can be very similar in appearance but very different in reality, remember that in theoretical applications all SDRAM is created equal…however by saying that I couldn’t be further from the truth.

ECC & EEPROM

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