Memory Primer - Giordan on Graphics
For a designer or imaging professional, memory is one of the most important
components in your system. With all of the thousands of dollars that people
spend on it, it amazes me that they are not more discriminating over where
they purchase it. The general misconception is that all memory is exactly
the same, and that as long as the capacities are equal, you should just
take the cheapest price.
The first thing to realize is that all memory is not created equal, and that its critical that you purchase modules that are well made, and can deliver the speeds required by high-end imaging systems. The second thing to understand is the value that your memory supplier builds into the product. While you want to pay for additional quality or service, it is throwing money away to pay more to someone acting as a middleman, and who serves no purpose but to add on an additional 10-25% in cost.
Begin With The Manufacturers
There are some great memory manufacturers out there, who do the right thing
in making memory that works. These are companies that work closely with
CPU manufacturers as new machines are being developed, and make sure that
all of their modules are built to spec.
Manufacturers also tend to support their products better than a broker or other memory middleman. They usually offer a lifetime guarantee, and have knowledgeable personnel who can answer specific questions about installation and applications. One thing that I have learned over the years is that it is important to build a relationship with a vendor, and to take advantage of their expertise.
Manufacturers may be a little higher in price than a broker whos
looking to unload some inventory quickly. In this case however, the extra
price is probably worth it, given the development and support that comes
with doing business with them. In addition, they are savvy in the memory
marketplace, and over the long haul, they may be more competitive.
What Is A Memory Broker?
A memory broker will never advertise himself as such. This is someone who builds little value into the product, and is looking to simply mark it up, and move it out. It can be difficult to separate a broker who does nothing to the product, and a small but dedicated memory company looking to make its mark.
Since there is very little regulation over levels of quality in the memory business, it is difficult to know exactly what you are buying. And let's face it, you could be told that you are buying four-layer 60ns non-composite chips, but when you pulled them out of the box, could you tell if they were or not? Not only that, but when you installed them in your machine, you probably wouldn't notice the difference right away if they were sub-standard products. It is only over time that the problems would come to light, and that could leave you six months older, a few hundred dollars poorer, and facing frequent visits from Dr. Solomon.
I don't mean to make it difficult for the upstanding and legitimate companies that do advertise in the backs of the books, but the reality is that when I go to spend money on RAM, I need to know that the company is selling me a legitimate product, and that it will be around next year if I have a problem with it.
Catalog Houses.....The Hybrids
One of the fastest growing marketing tools for the computer industry has
been catalog sales. Computer catalogs such as Mac Mall, Mac/PC Warehouse,
and numerous others have built a very popular business model that many are
rushing to emulate. They base their success on very good prices, a one-stop
shopping approach, and very good service. I like buying things such as modems,
software, and other components through them, because they have a great selection,
and I know my order will usually arrive the next day.
In following the one-stop shopping model, it is not surprising to see these shopping catalogs selling memory. They list all of the upgrade options, aggressive pricing, and they have that person at the other end of the phone to walk you through basic questions and to ship your order right away.
Catalog houses are something of a hybrid between the memory manufacturer
and the memory broker. They certainly do not manufacture their own memory,
and they are adding a layer of cost to the product as they handle your order.
On the other hand, they are convenient to use, and you have a little more
assurance that the company will be in business long term. In addition, most
of them do offer the same solid guarantees and warranties that the manufacturers