Conclusion

So there we have it, 18 different types of memory benchmarked to within an inch of their life and to prove what? Well, one thing we’ve proved is that while even value memory may offer sustained levels of high speed operation, when you want to make it to the scary end of the spectrum above 250MHz you generally need to pay the price premium associated with “enthusiast” modules. Cheaper stuff may get you close, but at the very high-end we're afraid you really do get what you pay for.

If you're happy to settle for fast rather than fastest, it seems that reputations and price tags count for little in this game. Good chips on a poorly designed PCB and poor chips on a great PCB will both leave you wanting. And even if you have the best and fastest memory on the planet you still need a motherboard that can do it justice.

Evaluating performance at more reasonable frequencies is slightly easier, but also slightly fuzzier. Some of the benchmark results varied so widely that it was hard to understand what was really going on, and with various tests favouring different attributes and the surprisingly similar stock performance from many of the modules on test, it was almost an exercise in identifying the “Top Dogs”, the “Turkeys” and “The Rest”.

We hope you enjoyed this roundup and gleaned at least some information from the effort that went into it. As we hope you’ve seen, or will see when you glance through the benchmark results, memory is a very complex subject and pinning it down in performance terms isn’t as simple as you might imagine. We won’t let that stop us trying though.

Finally we’ll pick out some winners. Remember that for our purposes, overclocking is more a pleasant bonus than an essential feature, and though we have made allowance for overclocking performance it hasn’t been given the same weight that it might have been given were we writing this roundup purely for enthusiasts.

Finally, benchmarks do a great job of highlighting strengths and weaknesses in products but it’s important to keep things in perspective. Most of us would not notice any tangible performance differences between even the fastest and slowest modules on test here when run at the processor’s default speed unless we were specifically looking for them. That’s not to say that faster isn’t better, it’s just not as critical as some would have us believe.

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