It's all ram to me
May 17, 2006 6:33 PM   Subscribe

What's the difference between all these types of laptop memory anyway?

I'm thinking of getting one of the spiffy new macbooks and know I want more memory for it. Cause I don't want to pay apple's insane memory tax I was looking online and wow prices seem all over the place for memory. What's the difference between all these different types of memory? For instance is why would I ever get this memory when I could get this for half the price? Yes the specs are slightly different but what does that mean?

Trying to do a search on this stuff is totally useless 'cause all I'm getting from google is people who want to sell sell sell me memory sticks.
posted by aspo to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't really know. The only difference I see between the two is the CAS latency, which shouldn't be the reason for such a large cost differential.
posted by j at 6:51 PM on May 17, 2006

You're paying for the CAS latency between those two chips. I was just looking at these memory upgrades because I'm planning on getting a MacBook myself in the very near future. The difference between the two chips you mentioned is CAS latency, which determines the responsiveness of the RAM to new requests from the CPU.

See the latest article from Tom's Hardware here.
posted by onalark at 6:55 PM on May 17, 2006

Wow, that's the cheapest price I've seen for a 1GB PC5300 DIMM anywhere (I've been shopping for 2x1GB for my Macbook-to-be today, too). Maybe it's a typo?

The difference? 1. Lower CAS, which in my opinion, doesn't affect performance that much? 2. Higher quality chips from a fab with better quality control. They both have a lifetime warranty, but the odds of you returning the cheaper one in the future is much greater. But man, that's cheap. I'll bite.
posted by zsazsa at 7:03 PM on May 17, 2006

This thread is useful and on point. Personally, I've never found any visible difference between regular RAM and value RAM. But I only use computers for light video games, web browsing, and not-so-intensive stuff.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 7:03 PM on May 17, 2006

Also, read this thread on To summarize, buying RAM is one of the most challenging aspects of buying/upgrading a computer because brand matters, and components with the same specifications but from different manufacturers can have vastly different performance.

If you want to take the chance of buying cheap generic RAM, you should be prepared to take the chance of the RAM arriving dead, overheating, or (worst case) corrupting your data.

When you buy RAM from Corsair, Crucial, Mushkin and (worst case extreme rip-off) Apple, you're paying for the guarantee that the RAM will perform as ordered.

Good luck, and let me know what you decide and how it goes, I'll be ordering soon too!
posted by onalark at 7:05 PM on May 17, 2006

By the way, I just noticed that the black MacBook is selling for $200 more than the white, the only difference: a $45 hard drive upgrade.

I don't know about you but I'm not going to pay $155 for the black.
posted by onalark at 7:50 PM on May 17, 2006

Actually, I think they're fudging the CAS numbers. The only CAS numbers I see for DDR2 667MHz memory are 4 and 5. I'm guessing the expensive memory is CAS 5 (2.5 * 2) and the cheap stuff is CAS 6. That seems out of spec to me. I won't be buying it.
posted by zsazsa at 7:53 PM on May 17, 2006

I suspect that Mac memory upgrades are going to get much simpler now that they are using Intel CPUs and chipsets.

Newegg has some corsair value select memory that looks like it meets the spec for $90. There are people who've had trouble using it in Macs, but pretty much all the recent reviews by Mac users have been favorable.
posted by Good Brain at 9:57 PM on May 17, 2006

DDR2 RAM only exists in CAS latencies 3-6. For DDR2-5300/5400 (667Mhz) which is what the Macbooks use, CAS 5 is it. If that company can't get their memory specs right, I'd avoid them like the plague. There's no way a small vendor can be putting out better memory than the high-end memory manufacturers like Corsair, Crucial, Mushkin, and OCZ.
posted by junesix at 10:19 PM on May 17, 2006

Are you upgrading to 2GB? It's $500 on apple's website, $360 on Go with crucial. (or another third party; i'm not affiliated with crucial, just a happy customer).

Upgrading to 1GB? $100 from apple, $165 from You'd be hard pressed to sell the included 512MB for more than $65 to make up the difference.
posted by cactus at 10:21 PM on May 17, 2006

Good Brain: I suspect that Mac memory upgrades are going to get much simpler now that they are using Intel CPUs and chipsets.

RAM is RAM is RAM. The fact they're using Intel chips will make no difference on the availability of RAM and its prices.

Memory upgrades can be a pain in the rear if you aren't an uberdork... unless you follow the directions of the vendor on purchasing the right RAM. I have used Crucial for over 6 years now, and love them. You tell it what kind of computer you have, and bingo, it tells you what memory modules they guarantee will work with your computer.

This is what they suggest for the MacBooks. If you look closely, the specifications for the RAM for all three models is identical, but they have different SKUs. They do this for seeing if you use their advisor program (they have different refund policies).

As for the site you are linking to, their "hyper" module smells funny to me. Apple firmware on the memory module? Are you serious? Does that mean they've programmed the Apple name into the SPD on board? I'm always wary of anyone who insists on using a gazillion logos and "seals of quality" to convey they have a quality product.

Personally, I wouldn't buy memory from those people. Mushkin, Corsair, even PNY or Kingston would be better IMO. Good luck, no matter which path you take.
posted by jeversol at 10:49 PM on May 17, 2006

As a follow-on to this question, where in the UK can I get a pair of 1GB chips for the MacBook?
posted by salmacis at 3:08 AM on May 18, 2006

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