Is all RAM equal?

GregUofMN

macrumors regular
Original poster
Nov 15, 2003
183
0
I've searched the forums here and I cannot get an accurate answer by reading the various threads on memory upgrades. I would like to upgrade my 15" AlBook (1.25MHz) with 2 sticks of 1GB RAM (from 512MB total). My laptop is running real slow expecially with some of my bigger programs running all at one time.

I've read threads that say "only go with Crucial" and others that say avoid Crucial like the plague. I would like to upgrade my RAM within the next couple of hours because it's that unbearable. Therefore, I don't really want to wait for shipping via an online site. I would also like to buy the enexpensive stuff, but I don't want to comprimise quality at all--to me, it's just not worth it... regardless of my time crunch.

Buying RAM through the local Apple store is just not in my budget. I live in Minneapolis and I just checked their website and it seems pretty rreasonable. How good are brands like ACP, VIKING INTERWORKS, CENTON, KINGSTON? Will they do the trick or should I hold out for something "top-shelf". Also, do I really need to back up my entire harddrive before installing?

Thanks!
Greg
 

skubish

macrumors 68030
Feb 2, 2005
2,669
0
Ann Arbor, Michigan
GregUofMN said:
I've searched the forums here and I cannot get an accurate answer by reading the various threads on memory upgrades. I would like to upgrade my 15" AlBook (1.25MHz) with 2 sticks of 1GB RAM (from 512MB total). My laptop is running real slow expecially with some of my bigger programs running all at one time.

I've read threads that say "only go with Crucial" and others that say avoid Crucial like the plague. I would like to upgrade my RAM within the next couple of hours because it's that unbearable. Therefore, I don't really want to wait for shipping via an online site. I would also like to buy the enexpensive stuff, but I don't want to comprimise quality at all--to me, it's just not worth it... regardless of my time crunch.

Buying RAM through the local Apple store is just not in my budget. I live in Minneapolis and I just checked their website and it seems pretty rreasonable. How good are brands like ACP, VIKING INTERWORKS, CENTON, KINGSTON? Will they do the trick or should I hold out for something "top-shelf". Also, do I really need to back up my entire harddrive before installing?

Thanks!
Greg
The key is to buy memory that is guaranteed to be mac compatible. If you use Crucial.com go to the memory selector to choose the appropriate memory for your mac. I have also heard datamem.com is also good.
 

GregUofMN

macrumors regular
Original poster
Nov 15, 2003
183
0
skubish said:
The key is to buy memory that is guaranteed to be mac compatible.

Some of the RAM that I've found online through various sites (ie, Datamem, ZipZoomFly, NewEgg, CompUSA, etc) meets the memory requirements in my Powerbook manuel, but on the site, the store leaves off the PB. How can this be? Shouldn't memory be able to be PC AND Mac friendly if it meets all the requiments?
 

amholl

macrumors 6502
Dec 21, 2004
269
0
Boston
owc is really cheap, and mac compatible. i got 512 mbs of pc2700 for 50 bux. it also has a lifetime replacement warentee thingy.
 

rickvanr

macrumors 68040
Apr 10, 2002
3,256
11
Brockville
GregUofMN said:
Some of the RAM that I've found online through various sites (ie, Datamem, ZipZoomFly, NewEgg, CompUSA, etc) meets the memory requirements in my Powerbook manuel, but on the site, the store leaves off the PB. How can this be? Shouldn't memory be able to be PC AND Mac friendly if it meets all the requiments?
It probably is, but who cares about 3%? I would just stroll down to the local store, I bought a 1GB RAM stick for my mini, worked fine, and I bought 4 addition 512MB sticks for my G5; also work great. If they don't work, return them.
 

FF_productions

macrumors 68030
Apr 16, 2005
2,824
0
Mt. Prospect, Illinois
GO TO CRUCIAL.com--figure out the exact ram u want--now go to www.pricewatch.com, and look for prices on that ram from different sellers, check their reviews and make sure their good enough to buy from. Thats what i did, I have a 25 dollar 256 mb chip (for my g3) on its way!
 

CanadaRAM

macrumors G5
GregUofMN said:
Some of the RAM that I've found online through various sites (ie, Datamem, ZipZoomFly, NewEgg, CompUSA, etc) meets the memory requirements in my Powerbook manuel, but on the site, the store leaves off the PB. How can this be? Shouldn't memory be able to be PC AND Mac friendly if it meets all the requiments?
You have answered your own question: Yes, if it meets all of the requirements.

The other critical question you must ask is: What are ALL of the requirements?

What makes RAM Mac compatible or not, beyond the broad-brush description "PC2700 DDR333 MHz 200-pin SODIMM CL2.5 2.5V" is the logical organization of the rows and columns of memory on the module, and the Serial Presence Detect (SPD) settings programmed into the module.

The problem is you never get to see those requirements or the specific SPD settings of the module being advertised. So you have no way of knowing if ALL the requirements are met.

Your defense against incompatible modules is to buy from a seller who tests the RAM on Macs and guarantees compatibility with your specific model of Mac.
You'll notice that Crucial's price for RAM for your AlBook 15" 1.25 is quite a bit higher than for their generic SODIMM - this is because they have to use a special build for your machine.

Rick, it certainly is possible to put PC generic RAM in a Mac and have it work. The G5 tower is quite forgiving of out of spec RAM. The Mini is less so, and the iMac G5, Powerbook 15" 1.0 and 1.25 and 17" 1.0 and 1.33 are not at all forgiving. If you are comfortable with testing and returning RAM, you can take a chance on a cheaper non-tested module. But if you have to pay return shipping charges or restocking fees or drive downtown again to return it, then you've probably blown the price advantage.

The worst possible scenario is to have RAM that LOOKS like it is working, but actually fails or corrupts data when it is pushed hard. Final Cut Pro is famous for exposing flaws in RAM that don't ordinarily show up.

FF, let us know if the inexpensive module worked in the G3. The Beige G3 and to a lesser extent the Blue and White G3 are also picky when it comes to compatibility. For one thing, the 256 Mb module must have 16 chips on it, not 8 - most modern PC100 and PC133 256 Mb DIMMs won''t work because they are made with higher density chips than the memory controller of the G3 can read. If the one you get doesn't work, the guaranteed good unit is $34 from Data Memory Systems http://www.datamem.com/viewcat.asp_Q_C_E_1072
 

GregUofMN

macrumors regular
Original poster
Nov 15, 2003
183
0
CanadaRAM said:
You have answered your own question: Yes, if it meets all of the requirements.

The other critical question you must ask is: What are ALL of the requirements?

What makes RAM Mac compatible or not, beyond the broad-brush description "PC2700 DDR333 MHz 200-pin SODIMM CL2.5 2.5V" is the logical organization of the rows and columns of memory on the module, and the Serial Presence Detect (SPD) settings programmed into the module.

The problem is you never get to see those requirements or the specific SPD settings of the module being advertised. So you have no way of knowing if ALL the requirements are met.

Your defense against incompatible modules is to buy from a seller who tests the RAM on Macs and guarantees compatibility with your specific model of Mac.

Rick, it certainly is possible to put PC generic RAM in a Mac and have it work. The G5 tower is quite forgiving of out of spec RAM. The Mini is less so, and the iMac G5, Powerbook 15" 1.0 and 1.25 and 17" 1.0 and 1.33 are not at all forgiving. If you are comfortable with testing and returning RAM, you can take a chance on a cheaper non-tested module. But if you have to pay return shipping charges or restocking fees or drive downtown again to return it, then you've probably blown the price advantage.

FF, let us know if the inexpensive module worked in the G3. The Beige G3 and to a lesser extent the Blue and White G3 are also picky when it comes to compatibility. For one thing, the 256 Mb module must have 16 chips on it, not 8 - most modern PC100 and PC133 256 Mb DIMMs won''t work because they are made with higher density chips than the memory controller of the G3 can read. If the one you get doesn't work, the guaranteed good unit is $34 from Data Memory Systems http://www.datamem.com/viewcat.asp_Q_C_E_1072

Thanks! I'm still a newbie when it comes to knowing the nitty-gritty about certain specs regarding things like "SPD". I've been making sure all the other info was exact but I had no idea that their were other non- mentionable things that made it compatible.

From that alone, I'll definetely make sure it specifically says Powerbook compatible. I almost bought a couple sticks at CompUSA this afternoon but luckily they were all out of the generic memory.

Thanks again!!!
 

GregUofMN

macrumors regular
Original poster
Nov 15, 2003
183
0
FF_productions said:
GO TO CRUCIAL.com--figure out the exact ram u want--now go to www.pricewatch.com, and look for prices on that ram from different sellers, check their reviews and make sure their good enough to buy from. Thats what i did, I have a 25 dollar 256 mb chip (for my g3) on its way!

OOOOH, I forgot about Pricewatch! Thanks!
 

GregUofMN

macrumors regular
Original poster
Nov 15, 2003
183
0
New question!!!

Do any big name, local retailers carry name brand, mac-compatible memory so I can purchase tomorrow instead of waiting 3-5days for online delivery??
 

budugu

macrumors 6502
Sep 8, 2004
433
0
Boston, MA
Yes!

ALL RAM is equal and for the most powerbooks/ibooks you are safe to go to Newegg and buy the PC2700 notebook (200pin) memory - 1 GB stick of kingston/Kingmax or eqv. is like 100$ ... Donot waste money on crucial or any other big brand names ...yes might be better but ... the kingMax 1GB module never gave problem in powerbook over an year ... and i use kingston RAM in HP PA-RISC workstations too and never had an issue with 24 hr operation over the last 6 months or more ... and the RAMs have a decent warranty ...

There is no latency and density support difference now accross board in laptops (macs/intel when using DDR) - And 2700 can even run at 2100 in old ibooks and stuff... so that is the best buy...

PS: The density issue that one of the top posts mentions is from a bygone era of SD-RAM and the max desities supported by really old computers ... donot worry any generic PC 2700 - 200pin laptop memory wll work fine ...just be sure to insert the RAM module all the way !
 

~Shard~

macrumors P6
Jun 4, 2003
18,388
42
1123.6536.5321
budugu said:
ALL RAM is equal and for the most powerbooks/ibooks you are safe to go to Newegg and buy the PC2700 notebook (200pin) memory - 1 GB stick of kingston/Kingmax or eqv. is like 100$ ... Donot waste money on crucial or any other big brand names ...yes might be better but ... the kingMax 1GB module never gave problem in powerbook over an year ... and i use kingston RAM in HP PA-RISC workstations too and never had an issue with 24 hr operation over the last 6 months or more ... and the RAMs have a decent warranty ...

There is no latency and density support difference now accross board in laptops (macs/intel when using DDR) - And 2700 can even run at 2100 in old ibooks and stuff... so that is the best buy...

PS: The density issue that one of the top posts mentions is from a bygone era of SD-RAM and the max desities supported by really old computers ... donot worry any generic PC 2700 - 200pin laptop memory wll work fine ...just be sure to insert the RAM module all the way !
I'm glad your RAM is working fine, but I should mention that the Kingston RAM at NewEgg is not Kingston's Mac-compatible RAM, it is their ValueRAM PC Generic (KVR-) series that is not guaranteed for Macintosh. Kingston Apple RAM (the KTA- series) is good RAM, but the KVR- series is another story.

In general, if you are buying RAM online, choose a well-known vendor who tests and guarantees compatibility with your Mac and has a lifetime warranty - and for what it's worth, this then would not include NewEgg or most PC discounters since I'm pretty sure they don't offer a Mac compatibility guarantee.

CanadaRAM knows what he's talking about, so pay close attention to what he has to say. He can correct me if I am mistaken on any of my comments. :cool:
 

GregUofMN

macrumors regular
Original poster
Nov 15, 2003
183
0
Thanks for all your help everybody. This is such a great resource for those of us that don't have the slightest clue on what we need.

I just purchased 1GB 200 Pin DDR PC2700 333Mhz 128x64 CL 2.5 SODIMM All Mac & PC's (Samsung Original) through Datamem.com with next day shipping. With datamem.com, I guess I'll know that it is exactly compatible with my 1.25MHz G4 Powerbook.

Thanks again,
Greg
 

CanadaRAM

macrumors G5
budugu said:
ALL RAM is equal and for the most powerbooks/ibooks you are safe to go to Newegg and buy the PC2700 notebook (200pin) memory - 1 GB stick of kingston/Kingmax or eqv. is like 100$ ... Donot waste money on crucial or any other big brand names ...yes might be better but ... the kingMax 1GB module never gave problem in powerbook over an year ... and i use kingston RAM in HP PA-RISC workstations too and never had an issue with 24 hr operation over the last 6 months or more ... and the RAMs have a decent warranty ...

There is no latency and density support difference now accross board in laptops (macs/intel when using DDR) - And 2700 can even run at 2100 in old ibooks and stuff... so that is the best buy...

PS: The density issue that one of the top posts mentions is from a bygone era of SD-RAM and the max desities supported by really old computers ... donot worry any generic PC 2700 - 200pin laptop memory wll work fine ...just be sure to insert the RAM module all the way !
'Cept for one important issue: your 12" Powerbook has quite different requirements from his 15" 1.25 GHz.

Also: how would he ensure he gets the same configuration of module from Kingmax as you got 6 months ago?

I agree there is no issue with latency. But that's not where the problem is, never has been.

Density is still an issue. Crucial changed their builds for their SODIMM modules last year, and had to issue separate 16-chip builds for the Powerbook G4 because their PC SODIMM was no longer compatible. There have been similar problems with the Kingston ValueRAM series. You have no way of knowing when a manufacturer re-engineers their modules and what effect that will have on compatibility.

Blanket assurances of compatibility, especially based on small sample sizes, can be unreliable.
 

skreety

macrumors newbie
Jun 23, 2005
8
0
Pleasant Grove, UT
Manipulating Crucial Prices?

I bought a 512 MB stick of Ram from Crucial for my iMac last year, and I've been very happy with it. Now I'm trying to buy Ram for my recently ordered Powerbook 15". :)

The thing that bugs me about crucial is that it seems to give you different prices for the same stick of Ram. A few days ago I went to crucial.com and the 512 stick for PB 15" was $58.70. After I ordered my PB last night, I went back on and it was something like $66 ($70.11 with shipping). I thought, "Hm, Crucial advertises through macrumors.com, maybe they'll give you discount for navigating from the ad on macrumors..." I tried it, but it was even more expensive!

So far, I hadn't even logged into my crucial account yet. I thought, "Surely they'd give a break to a returning customer." I cleared the cookies for crucial first, then logged in, and the price was over $80! I got yet another price from my PC at work today (around $77). Right now it is $70.01 (from my iMac at home).

What the heck is going on? Do Ram prices change like the stock market? It seems the prices get higher for savvier users (e.g., people who would be on a mac discussion board or who have purchased at crucial before). How can this be good for their business? Most importantly, does anyone know how to manipulate crucial to give you the best price?
 

finalcoolman

macrumors 6502
Apr 15, 2005
254
0
Infineon makes the BEST RAM, period. As long as you buy the right type, it will work with ANY computer.
 

CanadaRAM

macrumors G5
finalcoolman said:
Infineon makes the BEST RAM, period. As long as you buy the right type, it will work with ANY computer.
(Sigh) That's like saying "This lottery is great! As long as you choose the right numbers, you're guaranteed to win!"

So, how will you tell what's the right type?

I can show you two Infineon models, exactly the same chips, same speed same capacity. One will have SPD's set correctly for a Mac, one won't.

I have no doubt that the one or two or one dozen Infineons you have installed work fine -- in the machines you have installed them in. However, you cannot extrapolate a general statement from a small sample size. I have recommended and/or installed something over 10,000 modules. I'm beginning to think I can form some conclusions on the matter... :p

Back to the basics: You need to find a RAM seller who is willing and able to test the RAM in a Mac and guarantee that the Infineon (or Samsung, or Micron or Hynix or...) RAM is compatible with your specific model of Mac.
 

AlmightyG5

macrumors 6502
Jul 7, 2005
284
0
~Shard~ said:
A couple friends of mine have bought from 1-800-4MEMORY and have had no issues whatsoever.
Thanks i'll probably buy from there...im just curious if Crucial RAM will give better performance compared to cheaper brands...
 

dubbz

macrumors 68020
Sep 3, 2003
2,284
0
Alta, Norway
AlmightyG5 said:
Thanks i'll probably buy from there...im just curious if Crucial RAM will give better performance compared to cheaper brands...
I doubt it. AFAIK, most Macs have fairly moderate timings so should be no difference as long they're rated for the same speed (MHz).