Crucial DDR3 Memory Comparison and Purchase

Helping to show how to purchase memory and which brand to use for a modern computer is helpful to customers but showing any major differences is also helpful so I show two brands and test results.

Crucial System Advisor

A current computer using an AMD processor would use the AM3 motherboard and an Athlon II or Phenom II processor with multiple cores. You would also need a fast running memory to go along with these better processors and buying that memory can be confusing for consumers who do not know much about computers.

Crucial memory is made under the Lexar Media family and owned by Micron Technology, Crucial has both low cost computer memory and performance enthusiast memory for gaming and work computers. They also sell other types of memory for laptops and servers as well as solid state drives for computers for a full lineup of memory and related products.

To make this process of finding new or additional memory for your system Crucial has designed a program to scan your computer or a handy search process. The scanner is called the Crucial System Scanner tool and the Crucial Memory Advisor helps you find memory using the model number of your computer for prebuilt systems and laptops or models of motherboards, printers and other components that memory can go onto.

I received an 8 gigabyte kit with two matched memory sticks of DDR3 1333 666 MHz memory to compare against my current OCZ memory but I did not just get whatever kit Crucial felt like sending. I used the Crucial Memory Advisor to find this memory that would be the best for my system and would be compatible with it, guaranteed.

3DMARK 11

To find a good set of memory from Crucial you can use either tool but if you know the make or model of your system or motherboard that is usually the easiest and best. Using the scanner tool is also easy but if the tool does not recognize your system for whatever reason than using the model number and brand of motherboard or your premade computer model number may be all you need.

For a laptop this is the easiest way to find the matching memory you need like my Hewlett Packard laptop that uses the smaller sticks of memory for laptops. Using either my desktop or laptop computer the scan tool easily works for giving me recommendations for new memory and matching the current modules I have but finding the model number gets a better recommendation for my desktop.

I also found the make and models of every computer motherboard I use for all my computers and found recommendations for new memory modules for all of them. Each recommendation comes with several helpful answers to commonly asked questions about memory that can really help you if you are unsure of things, especially those catch words computer users like to throw around.

Common questions they answer are about matched pairs, dual channels and maximum amount of memory your system can use by model number of your computer, motherboard or laptop. These questions can help you not only get the right memory but to help you learn more about the memory and your computer which is always helpful.

Vantage & h264

I received the models that their Advisor recommended and it does work well in my system, better than the set I first purchased for my computer build. About six months ago my motherboard crashed and I was in need of a new motherboard but also wanted to update to the better DDR3 memory standard along with the better AM3 processor I already had.

In conjunction with an older article about Upgrading a Desktop Computer I wanted to buy the newer AM3 motherboard and only needed to purchase memory along with the motherboard. I already had the processor, hard drive, operating system and other components to use in the system from the previous computer build.

When upgrading from the AM2 to the AM3 motherboard I only need to upgrade the memory because I already had the processor that would work in either an AM2 or AM3 motherboard. Notice the 2 and 3 for the motherboard designation, the AM2 motherboard uses DDR2 memory modules and the AM3 uses DDR3 memory.

An AM3 processor can be used on an AM2 motherboard as I have been doing for a few years but you have to be careful that the Bios does support the processor. As far as upgrading memory you need to make sure your motherboard can support the memory modules you are looking to use and the Crucial System Scanner tool comes in quite handy for this.

BFBC 2 & WIC

I purchased memory modules and a motherboard based on both performance and cost so I could not get the parts I wanted but only what I could afford. After receiving the set of Crucial memory I have the chance to test the OCZ Technology memory modules I had purchased previously with the ones sent from Crucial.

Both sets of memory modules are the same frequency, 666 MHz, and had the same timing, 9-9-9-24, but both are not exactly the same as the Crucial memory uses the 1T command rate while the OCZ memory uses the 2T command rate. The difference of command rate is not of major importance as the command rate is simply the speed of the first communication with the memory.

The command rate is the cycle that the memory takes when first being used and is commonly either 1, 2 or 3 cycle with the lower being better as the less cycles it takes to first address the memory the better. But because this only happens once when the system first starts using memory for its current operation it only matters for the very first part of the operation or program.

After this instant this number no longer matters and does not have much impact on operations and programs but it does make a difference in both stability and the number of memory sticks. If your system uses three memory sticks you may be able to use a command rate of 1T but if you have four sticks you may only be able to use 2T.

Cinebench & 7 Zip

I am not going to go into this anymore as it can get confusing, if you’re not already confused, and I really prefer not to mess with settings in Bios for both the memory and processor. I am just using the stock settings the memory sticks are using when I install them and not overclocking any of the hardware for ease of testing and a more stable computer.

My test system is an Asus M4N57TD motherboard with V1403 Bios, Windows 7 64 Bit Home Premium, two Galaxy GTX 460 1GB in SLI, a Seagate 7200 RPM Hard Drive, Tuniq Ripper 1000 Watt PSU. I am using the OCZ DDR3 1333 memory modules that came in a kit, part number OCZ3G1333LV8GQ and the Crucial memory part number CT2KIT51264BA1339.

My testing was a simple set of tests using Futuremark’s PCMARK Vantage and 3DMARK 11, Cinebench 11.5 Open GL and CPU image rendering benchmark, 7 ZIP compression/decompression benchmark, World in Conflict Real Time Strategic Game Benchmark, Battlefield Bad Company 2 First Person Shooter with Frames Per Second testing and h264 High Definition Video Rendering Test.

Each test simply checks various programs and systems of the computer and gives a test score for the test that you can use to compare the memory which is the only thing that changes from one set of tests to the next. I am running each test three times using each memory configuration and averaging the results as well as following general testing procedures like halting anything that can change the tests such as antivirus software and rebooting between each test.

My results are not all that surprising to me with all the tests being better as you go from lower memory amounts to higher ones with Crucial being slightly higher in results for the same amount of memory against the OCZ brand. The Crucial memory only has two sticks of memory at 4 Gigabytes each while the OCZ I purchased has four sticks of 2 Gigabytes each.

This may be the reason for the slightly better results when comparing the two sets at the same memory amounts but the surprising one to me, sort of, is using both brands. When I mix the two Crucial sticks of 8 GB with 2 of the OCZ memory for a total of 12 GB the results actually go down.

Some memory sticks just do not like to play well with others, I am not saying which is being nice here, but it does show that getting all the same memory sticks can improve your results. Matched pairs of memory which are the same exact memory sticks that have been tested to perform the best together by the company and sold in kits are the best kinds of memory to buy.

The results of my testing that show a drop in the results when mixing the memory can be one reason for the drop in scores while another can be that one matched pair is a higher amount than the other. Many of the benchmark scores and results are not all that much of a gain going from a lower amount to a higher one but the biggest differences is going from 2 to 4 GB.

My Windows 7 64 Bit system can use up to 16 Gigabytes of memory but when you go down to 2 GB the system just does not work up to its potential. For my results I have to say that a minimum of memory for the newer computer with an AM3 motherboard would be 4 GB of memory, 2 just does not perform well enough.

For general gaming and computer use 6 and 8 GB of memory works well and gives enough overhead to ensure you will not run out of memory when a few programs are running at the same time. If you have a 32 bit operating system you will be limited to 4 GB but if you plan on doing any video editing, Blu-ray movie viewing or gaming in current system demanding video games 6 or 8 Gigabytes of memory are recommended.

This does mean you would have to plan ahead and have a 64 Bit operating system if you want to use more than 4 GB of memory or upgrade your operating system to the 64 bit version. A 64 bit operating system is slightly different than the 32 bit version, basically a 32 bit system handles half the amount of memory information than a 64 bit system.

I do believe that a 64 bit system works better and being able to use more memory makes this easier on your system for memory hogging programs and some games that use more memory. Real time strategy games are one type of game and some first person shooters that use a lot of memory such as the current Crysis 2 would do better with more memory.

Programs like video and photo editing, Adobe’s Premiere Elements and Photoshop, also use a lot of memory and whenever you run programs in the background more memory is better. While many of these programs will work with 4 GB having more memory means they will work that much better and having memory that works best together, matched pairs, means the best possible performance.

Finding memory for your system using some sort of automatic scanner or a simple way using the model number of motherboard or computer just makes things easier for customers wanting the right memory. Check out Crucial.com for your computer memory for both desktop and laptop systems and memory upgrades whether you need more or are building your own computer.

Crucial Website