Cheap but decent RAM?

GanChan

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jun 21, 2005
595
24
I want to upgrade my 2012 Mac Mini from 4G RAM to 16G (2x8). I'm seeing good prices on brands like NEMIX and Timetec Hynix, but I don't know anything about these products (which could just be a matter of my own ignorance). How much more likely is "budget RAM" to fail or prove defective than, say, OWC? do you have any personal experiences or recommendations regarding cheap but decent RAM modules?
 

radamo

macrumors member
Dec 5, 2019
39
11
Long Island, NY
is there that much difference in price when looking at more known brands like Crucial? Sorry, I don't have any experience with the brands you mentioned.
 

GanChan

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jun 21, 2005
595
24
It;s not a huge price difference, but it makes me wonder what I'm getting for a few extra dollars from this brand as opposed to that brand.
 

hobowankenobi

macrumors 65816
Aug 27, 2015
1,041
299
on the land line mr. smith.
Only a handful of large companies make actual RAM. Many other brands buy the chips and assemble the sticks. Fairly safe to stick to the big boys, with a lifetime warranty.

OEM manufacturers for Apple and other major brands:

Micron (sells direct as Crucial as well)
TSMC
Hynix
Samsung
Toshiba/Sandisk
Nanya

RAM is a commodity, so prices fluctuate by both supply and demand, and sometimes by manufacturer. I tend to recommend Crucial (Micron) because they have easy ordering and good service...but sometimes they don't have a good price on a particular product.

OWC gets their RAM assembled (as do many other consumer brands), and have great service and great quality in my experience. Not the cheapest, but cheap RAM may not be worth its price...if there are any issues. Found this list, and at least historically, this was accurate:

The differences between unbranded and OEM memory modules are fairly small, but typically come down to things like:

  • PCB layout (optimized for electrical noise, proper signals termination, etc.)
  • quality of solder used (in theory, should be whatever is recommended for use on the equipment bonding the DRAM to the PCB; in practice, I suppose it could vary [lead vs. lead-free, purity/formulation of solder, quality of solder joints, etc.)
  • gold vs. tin leads (e.g., amount and quality of the plating on the "fingers" where the memory module plugs into the socket)
  • DRAM binning (e.g., quality of DRAM used--just like slower CPUs are actually faster ones that failed high(er)-speed verification, DRAM is graded on speed and latency, with slower speed/higher latency DRAM going onto different memory modules).
  • Testing (the number of tests performed and the amount of time tested, for example, memory meant for overclocking may get additional factory testing).
  • Warranty length
 
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Velin

macrumors 68000
Jul 23, 2008
1,583
1,044
Hearst Castle
I'd avoid OWC. And I'm not the only one who's run into problems, esp. if you are a pro-level user and are on your machines a lot. Link 1. Link 2. No doubt people will pipe up about not having any OWC RAM problems. I'm telling you we run an office using older Pros and iMacs, and we've had many problems with their RAM, across multiple machines, across many years.

Crucial, rock-solid. Never a problem or failure. But it is more expensive.