Memory is most definitely one product that can become hot or cold in an instant. With price fluctuating on a daily basis, playing the memory market is like playing the stock market. Due to the prices fluctuating so much, one day people can be interested in purchasing it and the next they may not which makes it interesting as there really isn't any other piece of hardware that adjusts its price like this.
Ever since the release of the Intel Springdale and Canterwood chipsets, memory has become huge thanks to the increase in performance it can give when running in Dual Channel mode.
In the past few months we have seen memory speeds hit an enormous 533MHz DDR thanks to the high overclocking ability of the Intel Pentium 4. Some companies have been able to achieve as high as 600 MHz DDR on their sticks giving people the chance to see some massive bandwidth. While all speeds above DDR400 are not official, with some extreme cooling and a lucky processor, you really can get some excellent memory bandwidth which results in some overall pleasant performance.
Currently memory is a numbers game and people want to purchase what ever is giving the most "theatrical" bandwidth shown in SiSoft Sandra. Spending hundreds of dollars on memory at this moment isn't uncommon and people will simply choose to go for 2 X 256 Meg sticks in stead of 2 X 512 Meg sticks so they can simply purchase the fastest memory on the market.
Most of the memory we are looking at today is in the shape of 512 Meg modules. In the past 512 Meg have been slower when gaming but gave an increase in loading times. These days we not only see the increase in loading times but it seems to be ahead of the smaller 256 Modules. We will look into this later on but first we should have a look at what particular modules we are looking at today in Part 2 of our gigantic 33 page Dual Channel DDR round up - brace yourselves!