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Memory Prices

A writer asks:

From Simon G./22/M/Livingston, NJ

DDR2 Random Access Memory chip compared to DDR3 RAM

Both DDR2 and DDR3 are small, check the notches for determine which is which

Is it just me, or does computer RAM not follow the same cost over time ratio that other computer hardware does? I bought 4 GB of DDR2 1066 MHz RAM over a year ago for $64 from newegg, and now the cheapest similar RAM is $78. I know that I got a good deal on the RAM I got, but I haven’t seen similar deals for DDR2 RAM recently. DDR3 is more common at this point, and almost seems cheaper. Is demand for DDR2 still high enough to drive prices up? Can I expect DDR2 prices to decrease, or should I just upgrade my system to DDR3 (which would also require me to upgrade the motherboard and probably CPU)?

Actually, because the demand for DDR2 has dropped, so has production. This a allows the prices to rise. It is always a challenge to buy memory at the ‘bottom’, because prices will drop for a while, and then as soon as demand is expected to drop, so does production, allowing prices to rise again. The manufactures are in this to maximize money and they have some incredible economists at play hear. Trying to outsmart them is harder then trying to outsmart governments (investing in many chip makers), Wall Street Quants, and Manufacturing designers.

The other factor is seasonal shifts in pricing. Prices of most technology is lower in December and August (back to school season), June (graduation, Fathers Day) compared to the rest of the year. Of course a companies need to make quarterly profit goals also affect the ratio, as does the last ship to tip over in the pacific. Long story shorter (if only slightly), I would not expect to see significant drops in DDR2 as that is ‘past its prime’, since most memory is sold to ‘new computers’,rather then the upgrade strategy some of us use. With DDR3 being the current standard, your DDR2 is a decreasing marketplace.

The extra $20 for DDR2 will be far less then a new motherboard and CPU. Depending on what your needs are, I would start saving for a new computer all together. A fresh OS install will probably be your biggest increase in speed. Win7 has the readyboost feature as another way to help with cheap speed for older computers. In addition, you will probably get more speed increases on all your other components from graphics card, to the CPU chip. Of course, performance increases depends on why you need the speed, and what your budget is.

Benchmark speed increase of DDR3 over DDR2

Often the speed difference from one level to the next is not that significant. This study shows minimal improvements. It may show up differently in other computers and operating systems. But typically will not be significant increases. In my experience OS and other factors are more significant.

Typically, I am recommending spending $400-600 for  a notebook for most people. If it gets slow in 12+ months, purchase again, sell your old computer for $50. Rinse, repeat as necessary. By the time you get to 3 years, you will still be cheaper with a far better computer then if you tried to future proof your investment at $1,200-1,500 today for far less money. Especially if you take into consideration not having to have all $1,500 up front. It may not be the greenest, unless you are reusing the computers or passing them on to others here or abroad, but it is most cost effective. This equation does not take into account the time to reload your computer with programs and data. But more then a few people recommend the practice even if you are on the same computer periodically. It also provides a measure of solid backup.

What is your strategy for minimizing your cost and maximizing your productivity for computing?  And how has it evolved over the years?

December 21, 2010 - Posted by | How To, Purchasing | , ,

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