What to Buy
The scenarios are pretty simple: either youre buying a new system, or youre not. If you have an existing system based on DDR1, upgrading your memory means buying DDR1 modules. However, if you have an older system youre planning to upgrade with a new processor, it may be worth holding off and seeing what your memory needs will be when you perform that systems upgrade. If youre in the market for a new system, then the choice is a fork in the road: AMD or Intel? If youre going the Intel route, its really worth getting a socket T board that supports the new 900 series chipsets and DDR2 memory. As we noted in our
925X preview, the 900 series offers other useful new features, like four serial ATA ports supporting native command queuing. If you do go that route, spend the extra few dollars and get DDR2/533. Some companies are even starting to offer DDR2/667 already, though thats currently just for the overclocking set. Its unclear whether modules with the DDR2/667 label today will actually work in DDR2/667 systems when they arrive on the scene. The price premium is pretty serious, too, so for now, DDR2/533 is the performance sweet spot.
If you want to upgrade to an Athlon 64 today, youre choice is simple: DDR400. Given the natural efficiency of the Athlon 64s integrated memory controller, going with good quality, low-latency DDR400 does boost performance a bit. But weigh your decision carefully. If you can wait until autumn, you may be rewarded with support for new core logic and even DDR2 support for the Athlon 64.