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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Desktops > Where do you buy your RAM?

Where do you buy your RAM?
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krx
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Aug 30, 2005, 02:39 PM
 
I've been getting an education elsewhere on this site about buying RAM. Apparently there's a big difference between buying RAM that's "compatible" w/your machine and RAM that's been "tested and guaranteed" to work on your machine. The latter is what's generally recommended - but there's a big difference in price.

For example, I just bought a 256 MB chip for my iMac 333 from OWC for $50. Apparently I could have got it even cheaper ($44) atDMS. The same size chip would have cost $119 from Crucial or $109 at Techworks.

With my newer iBooks I'll play it safe and get the higher grade RAM. But I wonder what people think about saving $$$ on RAM for older iMacs, etc.?
     
tooki
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Aug 30, 2005, 06:59 PM
 
Newer Macs (the last 2 years or so) are VERY, VERY picky about RAM, so I prescribe Crucial for them.

But for older models, I've had good luck with OWC's product, and I have heard good things about DMS as well. A G3 iMac should be totally fine with non-premium RAM from a reputable vendor.

tooki
     
CanadaRAM
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Aug 30, 2005, 09:45 PM
 
Originally Posted by krx
I've been getting an education elsewhere on this site about buying RAM. Apparently there's a big difference between buying RAM that's "compatible" w/your machine and RAM that's been "tested and guaranteed" to work on your machine. The latter is what's generally recommended - but there's a big difference in price.

For example, I just bought a 256 MB chip for my iMac 333 from OWC for $50. Apparently I could have got it even cheaper ($44) atDMS. The same size chip would have cost $119 from Crucial or $109 at Techworks.

With my newer iBooks I'll play it safe and get the higher grade RAM. But I wonder what people think about saving $$$ on RAM for older iMacs, etc.?
Don't quite follow the logic there, because the lowest priced RAM, Data Memory Systems, is indeed tested and guaranteed compatible with the iMac G3....

How will you know that the RAM for the newer machines is higher grade? the price?

There's an outfit on eBay who is advertising "High performance" Mac RAM at $299 per gig --- when there is ABSOLUTELY no difference in performance between any two compatible Mac RAM modules -- the Mac sets the speed. So is their expensive RAM better? No way, and there's no way I would trust a company that makes excessive and unprovable claims.

My advice is to choose the company for their reputation and customer service, then buy the RAM they recommend - In the USA Data Memory Systems gets my vote, I have dealt with them for over 5 years. Try this. Phone them, and time how long it takes to get someone on the phone -- someone who really knows what they are talking about with Macs and answers your questions accurately. Now try that with any other vendor.

Thanks
Trevor
CanadaRAM.com
     
krx  (op)
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Aug 31, 2005, 12:17 AM
 
Originally Posted by CanadaRAM
My advice is to choose the company for their reputation and customer service, then buy the RAM they recommend
Okay, so what you're saying is that the brand or manufacturer of the RAM - Micron, Samsung, Kingston, Techworks - isn't as important as the vendor - the actual store you buy it from - like OWC, 18004Memory, or your favorite, DMS. Correct? I know you said this before but I didn't get it - sorry. I have heard good things about DMS but didn't see the "tested and guaranteed" for my specific iBook piece. In fact, I just now went through the selection process on DMS and didn't see any mention of this. Their homepage says, "All computer memory sold by DMS is tested in our on premises test lab and carries a lifetime replacement guarantee. We sell only Grade A Memory to assure the best quality possible." But this didn't seem as strong a guarantee of compatibility as I've seen elsewhere (on Crucial.com, for example). Perhaps it is??

Also, I was under the impression that generic RAM is riskier than name brand, but I gather you disagree. DMS RAM is generic, no?
     
SpaceMonkey
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Aug 31, 2005, 12:30 AM
 
Originally Posted by krx
I have heard good things about DMS but didn't see the "tested and guaranteed" for my specific iBook piece. In fact, I just now went through the selection process on DMS and didn't see any mention of this. Their homepage says, "All computer memory sold by DMS is tested in our on premises test lab and carries a lifetime replacement guarantee.
Bolded the relevant bits for emphasis. Seems like saying the same thing as "tested and guaranteed" to me.
     
CanadaRAM
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Aug 31, 2005, 01:43 AM
 
Originally Posted by krx
Okay, so what you're saying is that the brand or manufacturer of the RAM - Micron, Samsung, Kingston, Techworks - isn't as important as the vendor - the actual store you buy it from - like OWC, 18004Memory, or your favorite, DMS. Correct? I know you said this before but I didn't get it - sorry. I have heard good things about DMS but didn't see the "tested and guaranteed" for my specific iBook piece. In fact, I just now went through the selection process on DMS and didn't see any mention of this. Their homepage says, "All computer memory sold by DMS is tested in our on premises test lab and carries a lifetime replacement guarantee. We sell only Grade A Memory to assure the best quality possible." But this didn't seem as strong a guarantee of compatibility as I've seen elsewhere (on Crucial.com, for example). Perhaps it is??

Also, I was under the impression that generic RAM is riskier than name brand, but I gather you disagree. DMS RAM is generic, no?
Yes: what I am saying is that manufacturer of the memory doesn't matter so much as the integrity of the company selling it. Kingston, Samsung, Micron, etc. make hundreds of different configurations of memory, and only a few are Mac compatible. So you just can't say that "Samsung is best" for example -- because it makes all the difference which specific Samsung (or M or K or ...) you are offered. 95% of Samsung modules won't work in your machine.

We need some consensus on what "generic" means.

Apple doesn't make RAM, so all RAM for Macs is made out of chips from about 6 foundries -- off the top of my head IBM, Micron, Samsung, Hynix, Siemens and Infineon, plus maybe 1 or 2 other less often used. These chips may be assembled onto boards from the same factory, or onto third-party circuit boards (in which case they are called, for example, Samsung-on-Third). The assembler also writes the settings of the RAM into the Serial Presence Detect chip on the module. This is important, because otherwise identical RAM can be rendered useless for Macs with a wrong SPD setting.

Apple uses RAM from 4 or 5 of the main suppliers, whichever they can contract at the best deal. The RAM, other than the SPD settings, is the same RAM that can be used in PC desktops and laptops. There is one other issue, RAM can be built with various chip configurations -- you can make a 512 Mb PC133 module out of 8 chips or 16 chips - but only the 16 chip version will work in the Mac because the memory controller of the Mac G4 machines can recognize only certain configurations of rows and columns on the module, and certain densities of chips.

So Generic in the sense of Mac RAM really means "RAM that has not been specifically tested for Mac compatibility".

The cheapest generic RAM on the market is PC RAM that has not had its SPD settings set properly (because it is an extra step that costs money) or is made with a cheaper build (fewer, high density chips that aren't compatible), or Grade B circuit boards that do a poor job of handling noise and signal timing. Generic RAM parts also liable to change configuration without notice, which means what worked in a machine last week may not be the same part sold this week. PC2700 2.5V CL2.5 DDR SODIMM is by no means adequate to describe all the compatibility of a module. So generic RAM is a risk for Mac compatibility on several levels.

A good RAM vendor will test the RAM that they purchase, ensure that the SPDs are correct and the constuction is good, put a lifetime warranty on it and then guarantee its compatibility with specific models of Mac. It is immaterial at that point whether they are Micron or Samsung or Infineon chips, because the module has been guaranteed to be what your Mac needs -- on their website you choose a module for your specific model Mac, not just a generic "PC2700 2.5V CL2.5 DDR SODIMM"

The "name brand" you are buying, then, is the brand of the vendor, not the manufacturer. Kingston sells RAM they assemble with a variety of foundry's chips, Crucial sells RAM made with Micron chips, but also sells Samsung and subcontracts assemly to other companies, Samsung makes both chips and finished modules, but does not sell them retial, but through vendors like DMS, OWC, 1800, and others.

So finally, the Samsung 1 Gb Powerbook module you buy from Apple is the exact same one you can get through other vendors (at a much lower price) - and as long as the vendor has tested and verified the SPDs, you can't say that the vendor's is generic while the same Apple sold module is not.

Thanks
Trevor
CanadaRAM.com
     
Wickedkitten
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Aug 31, 2005, 06:12 AM
 
Ebay, You can find a lot of people that ship from Hong Kong and their prices are masses lower than ram from say Crucial but you are still getting quality ram.
     
only120xs
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Aug 31, 2005, 07:05 AM
 
Crucial's customer service is phenomenal from my experience, you know you're getting something that will work, and their prices are pretty good for guaranteed ram. They get my vote for sure.
     
krx  (op)
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Aug 31, 2005, 12:21 PM
 
CanadaRam, I took you up on the "DMS Challenge" - I called, got someone (immediately) on the phone who promptly put me on w/someone who could - and did - answer all my questions about their product. Simply put: I'm sold. I ordered a 512 MB module "tested & guaranteed" to work on my iBook - and for a great price. Thanks for the help.
     
CanadaRAM
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Aug 31, 2005, 12:41 PM
 
Originally Posted by Wickedkitten
Ebay, You can find a lot of people that ship from Hong Kong and their prices are masses lower than ram from say Crucial but you are still getting quality ram.
LOL. RAM isn't made in Hong Kong, its imported from Korea (Samsung, Hynix) and Japan (NEC/Elpida) and Germany (Siemens) and USA (Micron) just like everyone else's. If you want to take a total crapshoot about what you are actually getting, without having any assurance of warranty replacement next week, let alone next year from [email protected], then be my guest and go fishing on eBay. Good luck, You'll need it.
     
   
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