Review: A RAMbling Review of RAM - Crucial Memory

Save time, increase productivity with RAM (March 27th, 2006)

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Product Manufacturer: Crucial Technology, A Div. Of Micron

Price: $148.99 US (prices vary)

The Good

  • Easy to install. Crucial Memory Advisor Tool is easy to use. Excellent support.

The Bad

  • None found.

I wrote to Crucial to request one of their Gizmo! USB flash drives and they offered evaluation RAM instead. This was months ago. I thought, what could you say about RAM? It either works or it doesn't. As a long-time Crucial customer, I'm already partial to their products and didn't know if RAM would make a good review, but other products got the better of me.

Staying on top of the game

As a reviewer, it is good to stay current, but equipment expense is always an issue. I often request interesting and useful products without considering the hardware requirements. For example, I received Avid Xpress for video and film editing, which I could install, but couldn't run on my current equipment. Then, I received the Adobe Creative Suite 2 and found I could only use one application at a time, and therefore couldn't review Adobe Bridge, nor do any productive work. After receiving Lego Star Wars from Aspyr and found I couldn't even install it. I got fed up and bought a 1.67 GHz G4 PowerBook with 512 MB of RAM. Now, I was in business or so I thought.

I still couldn't run the Adobe suite correctly nor use Avid Xpress, which requires at least 1 GB of RAM. Lego Star Wars finally worked, but it acted a little wonky. So, I bit the bullet and contacted Crucial who kindly sent me enough RAM to max out my PowerBook, 2 Gigabytes. While I thought I'd be able to finally review these other products sitting around, I never expected the results I got.

Identifying your ram

First, I used the Crucial Memory Advisor Tool to identify the RAM I needed (DDR2 SDRAM, PC2-4200S-444) and requested same. (Apple Computer's PowerBook Memory Configuration page hasn't been updated since my PowerBook was released, so Crucial's tool was more reliable.) This is second-generation double data rate RAM, with a theoretical bandwidth at a maximum of 4.2GB per second. Installation instructions are shipped with the RAM or you can use your PowerBook's manual. It was simple. After one bad restart, where I discovered I hadn't quite seated the RAM properly, I fixed the problem and was good to go. And go is putting it politely.

Most Mac experts recommend you install as much RAM as you can, and I never believed it. My G4 desktop only has 384 MB of RAM, but Tiger works ok, but I did have to install a processor upgrade in that machine. I've always run lean on RAM, except on my Mac Plus. Well, that was a mistake born out of ignorance and poverty.

RAM saves time

After the RAM, I reinstalled and tested out Lego Star Wars. The game finally worked as advertised. I also discovered that keyboard-based games are not my forté. Next, I put the Adobe suite to the test. I got so involved in editing previously scanned photographs, I still haven't had time to test Adobe Bridge or Avid Xpress. I used to wait as much as a minute and a half for some of my scanned files to load. As I am archiving antique slides, I scanned them at 4000 dpi, some with digital ICE applied, which yields files over 100 MB. Scanning time has been cut almost in half. After editing, some of those files with layers grew to 350 MB. It took me 1:15 min. just to open the files. My tests after RAM installation brought the open-file time down to 15 seconds. That's saving a whole minute just to open files, never mind applying filters and special affects. Photoshop CS2 even launches twice as fast. Saving files was shaved down to seconds too. Finally, I can work more efficiently and effectively. A minute a file translates into hours of saved time.

Writing product reviews is also easier because I can blithely open BBEdit, Photoshop, Acrobat, Safari, Eudora, Stickies, and MS Word at the same time without experiencing any slowdown. I've read the various advertised time tests increased RAM yields, but I wasn't a believer. The tests never measured the things that I do. Well, I'm a believer now that I've tested the RAM difference myself.

Over the years, I've read about under-spec RAM on help pages and the trouble it caused. I've never had a hint of a problem with Crucial RAM though. If a problem ever crops up, they have a lifetime warranty and excellent customer service, so the RAM is worry-free.

Even though RAM is inexpensive compared to the "old days," when you have medical and tuition bills to cover, any price can be too much. Let me just say that the timesavings is worth the financial squeeze. Now, I just need a terabyte hard drive to save all those video and photo files I can finally turn into family heirlooms.

by ilene hoffman, Reviews Editor


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