What have we come up with in this roundup, you may ask? Firstly Kingmax, Crucial and Mushkin have all been able to produce something with their initial DDR-2 offerings as they are consistently faster then the other modules. We have also discovered that overclocking the memory doesn't give too much of an increase in performance but with this said we weren't running the memory 1:1 (which tends to offer improved performance) with the processor as unfortunately our new 775 chip doesn't like to do 289MHz FSB. Looking at the Kingmax modules you can clearly see that 1GB kits give you a little bit more power compared to just 512MB.
Mushkin say DDR-2 operates cooler then the original DDR yet they have still chosen to include a heat spreader. In all honesty, it wouldn't be in true Mushkin style if they didn't include a heat spreader. There is no denying it is a bit of a waste but Mushkin do have one of the nicest looking modules we have seen.
TwinMOS sent us their Value memory for the roundup instead of their performance Twister 2 series which was a bit disappointing as you can see their normal DDR-2 memory really didn't stand out from the pack much at all.
Kingmax and Crucial have both got a very plain looking module which isn't uncommon from either company yet they were always that little bit faster then the competition. We have seen this type of scenario before in our original DDR roundup articles. Kingmax and Crucial both are fighting it out for Editors Choice yet we do have to lean slightly towards the Kingmax modules thanks to it not only being one of the fastest modules in the pack it is also the most price conscious. Kingmax seem to be ready to hit the DDR-2 market nice and hard and if they keep this up they will really stand out form the pack.
Corsair "XMS2" is not exactly what we would call performance DDR-2 memory. Sure it is up there but it doesn't really warrant the performance branding at the moment as there isn't anything special about it such as low latencies like the "XMS" name would usually imply.
We wouldn't go as far as saying Corsair is misleading the consumer but it's just something to look out for when buying. According to Deal Time, our online price comparison tool, you'll pay up to 58% more for XMS2 (pricing here) compared to Value Select (pricing here) when essentially you are getting the same thing as far as performance is concerned. Like Mushkin they have chosen to use a heat spreader yet Mushkin didn't name their modules Super Extreme Fast DDR-2 (for example) because all DDR-2 memory is the same at the moment since the technology is only new and no chip suppliers have had a chance to produce many (if any) performance parts yet.
Kingston like TwinMOS have a very basic module here and is something what people will look at who are on a budget. The Elpida chips don't seem to be doing much for Kingston nor does the single sided Samsung chips for TwinMOS. Both Micron 32 X 8s and Samsung 32 X 8s are extremely close and seemed to be sneaking ahead consistently.
What one is best for you at this point in time? Depending on availability we would recommend Kingmax and Crucial. You can clearly see there is not a big difference in performance since the vast majority of DDR-2 modules use the same SPD timings at the moment so you will probably go with what you feel most comfortable with. Don't waste your money spending extra for a heat spreader because you think your modules will run faster - they won't until enthusiasts memory companies such as Corsair have a larger range of performance DDR-2 chips to choose to place on their PCB in the coming months.
Editor Note - Since DDR-2 memory is a new technology and it is still maturing and given the fact we couldn't properly overclock the RAM, we haven't provided any ratings or awards in this roundup - just our initial impressions, much like a preview.
In up and coming DDR-2 articles we will provide ratings and awards as usual but at this stage we feel as if we shouldn't.
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