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Thread: purchasing RAM - where?

  1. #1
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    Well, I am going to go ahead and get the RAM I need, just can't wait indefinitely for the gurus store (sorry). I am torn between Other World Computing (supporting the xlr8yourmac site) or Crucial (they seem to really make a strong case for their quality control and claim everyone else at lower prices are selling the left overs and rejects). Can anyone support the justification to pay so much more for RAM from a distributor like Crucial or can I trust in the OWC Lifetime Guarantee?
    thanks.
    (sure wish the gurus site would open tomorrow)

  2. #2
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    If you are talking about RAM for a Vintage Mac, OWC, otherwise, Crucial for SDRAM or DDR.

  3. #3
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    tm311's thoughts are ... as long as he can send things back RMA... he purchases the cheaper RAM and keeps sending things back till things work...

  4. #4
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    HUH?? *LOL* those are MY thoughts? Me thinks you might have me confused with another poster...I am no expert when it comes to buying ram.
    I have bought from OWC and had no problems though..FWIW. I have also bought from crucial and had no problems.

  5. #5
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    Have installed lots (like, say 100?) sticks from Crucial in the last 2 years in various Macs that have been shipped all over US - and a few to England. These are work machines - mostly imacs - so returns are a bad thing, cracking them repeatedly is a bad thing, and downtime is a very bad thing. Never one problem yet with Crucial RAM.

    Can't speak to OWC for memory as I have not purchased any, but from all I have read and learned, cheap RAM can be problematic over time. I don't know if OWC memory is "cheap" RAM or not, but I am not willing to find out by trial and error. Perhaps you have confidence in their quality, or don't mind testing the quality yourself... Other products I have seen from them have been just fine.

    I always thought Crucial prices were reasonable...I guess I don't shop enough. Personally, I'll give em a couple % to never have to think about it again.

    [This message has been edited by newbie (edited 30 October 2002).]

  6. #6
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    FWIW,

    So far as a single vendor goes, on this forum, over the past couple of years, the MAJORITY of problems folks have asked us to help them sort out, are with sticks of RAM purchased on the cheap from OWC. Folks have bought bad RAM on the cheap from a variety of other places.

    OWC hands down gets the award for volume of junk parts. Your mileage may vary.......

    On the other hand, I haven't heard complaints about RAM from Crucial, that I remember anyway.

    There are a couple of good discussions, maybe still in the archives about the RAM game, QC rejected RAM auctions, etc...

    The bottom line is literally this: "All RAM is NOT created equal". Caveat Emptor.

    8's

  7. #7
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    I posted a link - easy to find on Crucial site - or read thru MacGurus old site pages if you have an old link - search the Apple Discussions, too - I've seen one or two instances of Crucial RAM having to be returned mentioned on MacFixit Forum or MacNN's. There were some bad batches when Taiwan had power failures and had to restart production, been a couple years? since that happened. I'd guess early preliminary batches of DDR may have had their failures as motherboards, chips, and firmware all had to be tested to work together.

    If you buy direct from Crucial and use their guided RAM finder, you're fine. You could buy Crucial from 3rd party and get the wrong type of RAM - there are many many flavors even of PC133 CAS2 for various systems, error-correction, non-parity, and I wonder if some of that Crucial RAM is "seconds" that didn't pass their own tests and is sold on the open market? But buying direct seems safe - and right now prices for SDRAM are very very good. $35 256MB is 1/10th what it was 3 yrs ago!

    Gregory

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    tm311

    That was someones methood of getting/buying/using the cheaper/inexpensive RAM and end result worked but they had many returns.

    I should have searched the forums rather than relied on my memory for the exact quote and person that posted.

    Sorry
    Randy

  9. #9
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    I think a little balance needs to be brought to this debate. Out of hand, and lack of experience dismissal of a supplier is neither useful or intelligent.
    For my part, and I am in England, I have bought memory from the UK, I have bought it from the US.
    I have never had problems with UK suppliers, most of whom supply more expensive memory - or the same memory at higher prices! Crucial sell memory in the UK and the US and I have not had any problems with theirs either.
    However, I have bought a lot of memory from Coast to Coast and had many problems. At one point I was returning 30% of the memory I was buying. It finished with them when I returned $250 of memory and they denied that they had received it, leaving me with no other choice but to write it off.
    I then started buying from OWC.
    I have bought over 300 5v FPM modules from them and not had a problem - nada!
    I have bought around 120 PC100/PC133 modules, sdram and so-dimm and not had a problem - nada!
    I have bought Powerlogix processors from them and I have had a lot of problems - around 80% failure rate. With a range of problems such as DOA to dying after 8 months of use. I don't necessarily attribute this to OWC, but it does indicate that selling products that fail are not necessarily related to the price you pay, nor to the manufacturer being "branded" either.
    Let's face it, the majority of manufacturers in the US get their products made in the Far East in some place or other. Most of these factories produce the same product under an OEM name at a fraction of the price and can afford to because the "big boys" have paid for the R&D, tooling etc. So dismiss the cheaper products at the peril of your pride and your wallet - don't forget either that most of your bucks pays for big salaries and heavy advertising - and that plays no part in the manufacturing process.

  10. #10
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    Point taken.

    How about this:

    Several months ago, our email server (G4 450) starts throwing type 11 errors for the gateway app. I yank the memory: 2 sticks, one that came with the box from Apple, and a second unlabeled one. They have both been in the box for about 2 years (up 24/7), and have never produced type 11 errors before.

    I replaced both with one stick I had handy (happened to be from Crucial, cause that's who we normally buy from), and the errors vanished.

    So, did one fail? Have not taken the time to test either one yet; if we assume one did, is it a lower grade (cheap), or a manufacturing defect?

    Although I generally agree that many generic products are a good value, everyone must decide for themselves what risks they are willing to accept Regarding "cheap" memory. The risk is downtime, the hassle of returns, or even worse, strange behavior or stability problems that are tough/time consuming to diagnose. Hope I don't sound like a rich snob or a worrrier, but $5 or $10 more on name brand RAM buys me a little more sleep at night.

    Maybe $5 or $10 more in your wallet instead of in your motherboard makes you sleep better at night.

    [This message has been edited by newbie (edited 31 October 2002).]

  11. #11
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    Newbie,
    I understand where you are coming from, but if you ask the question "What creates a brand name?" you tend to get the answer, first advertising, second, more advertising.
    Quality ensures longevity as does customer service in retaining customers.
    OWC have provided me with both, I have no complaints as far as memory is concerned, nor the fact that they have either replaced or refunded me for the bad Powerlogix processors - not their own product.
    Given that OWC also put stickers on all of their memory with serial numbers and part numbers, and those serial and part numbers appear also on my invoices I cannot see why you seem to think that this is a problem in the making. Couple this with the lifetime guarantee that they give...... where is the issue?
    Had I spent $5 to $10 more I would have spent an extra $3000+ on the memory - and for what? Nothing that I haven't had already.
    I think that you should reconsider the verdict that you have issued without full knowledge of the facts and, like me, you will sleep more soundly at night.

  12. #12
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    Baggy -

    Not beating up on OWC; never used their RAM so I can't say one way or the other. Experience such as yours, especially with the volume that you have purchased, goes a long way to dispell the thought that they only sell "cheap" RAM that may be more problematic than "premium" RAM.

    This has turned into a philisophical debate. . .

    I agree that advertising makes a brand; I guess we differ in that my experience in other things (I have not the foggiest idea of how RAM is made) is that usually there are differences between manufacturers, and your expericence is that there are not differneces. I do not hold that the most advertised or most expensive product is best, just that there may be differnces, even if they are very slight. I rarely buy the most expensive product, but I have been burned by cheap products that were inferior to a branded or premium product. It is up to the consumer to decide if there is a differnce, and, more importantlty, if it matters for the intended use.

    I am sure others can/have addressed IF there is actually a detectable difference between RAM; I can't. I have seen this in other industries I am/was intimate with, so I am assuming it may exist with RAM.

    As I consider RAM here in the work environment critical, I am willing to pay a little extra. I guess I could save money and buy commodity RAM, and test it all. I choose not to. I could certainly see how folks on a very tight budget, or who have the skill/enjoy the process of testing and verifying hardware would choose the lowest priced products, and in the long run save some bucks compared to me, and be confident that what they have is "quality", because they have tested it and proven it.

    Reminds me of a couple PC buddies who love to tinker; alway bragging about how they picked up a CDRW drive for $18, fiddled with drivers for a day and a half, and finally used a hack to get it to work. They enjoy the process; it's not even about the money, it's the challenge. I happily pay $50 for a CDRW as long as it is plug and play and does not hiccup for the next couple years. I don't enjoy the challenge, riddle, or mystery. Come to think of it, that's why a prefer Macs to PCs; anybody who thinks that Macs cost a little more because of manufacturing costs has their head in the sand...just look at Apple's profit margin, right? Best in the industry. But I still buy Macs just because they (usually!) present less riddles, challenges, and mysteries.

    Right, wrong, or otherwise I treat RAM the same way. Each user should decide if they are risking something (and what it's worth to them to accept that risk) when they buy a commodity product.

    I hope we are helping the new users make an informed decision, not bad mouth a vender.

  13. #13
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    Newbie,
    Good response, thank you. The reason I jumped in on this was because there has been a lot of bad-mouthing about OWC, and in my experience they are not bad guys at all.
    I agree entirely about low-grade memory, that was my experience with Coast and their garbage. Personally I do spend some time trying to find alternatives to the mac products that are offered mainly because we are seen as a soft target by manufacturers when a lot of the kit out there that works for pcs also works for macs, but the mac price is three of four times higher.
    So, I try to even it out a little. Not one of the mac vendors in the UK, for example, carry Lite-on cdrws, yet they work perfectly with Toast 5. Most of them now don't even carry internal cdrws, only external. Why don't they do this? Money. They can make ten times the margin on a Plextor or Yamaha, so they keep the myth going.
    I acknowledge the reason that we all buy macs to avoid the pitfalls of PCs and are happy to pay more for the privilege - I've been doing it for 15 years and have never bought a PC in my life - but there are certain things that I feel are worth experimenting with and there are some things that don't work out.
    If it wasn't for the fact that this was my business I would probably do the same as you do, but when the savings get magnified two or three hundred times it definitely is worth it.

    Best wishes to you all.

    Tony

  14. #14
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    Baggy -

    Can't argue with that.

    100% correct that the Mac community gets worked over, me included. The only question is, where do new or at least not savy Mac users find out what works and what does not?

    I guess we need more Baggys (and MacGuru sites) with the knowledge and experience to spread the word so the Mac masses can get the facts, not the hype as to what works!

    Cheers.

  15. #15
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    LeVitus's Mac OS 8 for Dummies helped me decide what brand of ram. TechWorks. He's nationaly published so his rep is on the line and he states he's never had a problem with this brand.

    I bought my first sticks from OWC in '98 and I've never had a problem. Guess who makes TechWorks. Crucial. They're an expensive brand but OWC still beat everybody in price.

  16. #16
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    I have been in the process of upgrading my macs (9500, 7500, Power Tower Pro) this past year and have bought substantial amount of OWC's cheap 128MB memory. Unfortunately, I did get one bad pair of 128MB sticks a few months ago. But OWC promptly replaced the memory for me. On balance I think their service is superb; they have very reasoable shipping charges and I have found their tech support over the phone to be excellent. I continue to purchase my mac upgrade needs from them.

    The bad memory did caused a major problem for me though and I thought it might be helpful to report on this in case others got into a similiar situation.

    After I placed the memory into my 9500 /G3 and rebooted I got a system bus error. I tried rebooting with extension off but that did not help. I removed the memory and then found that my 9500 would not boot up at all. All I got was a brief start-up chime and then nothing- a black screen. The hard drive did not spin-up; I could not use the start-up CD. I tried replacing the hard drive ; tried resetting the PRAM; took out the PRAM battery for 24 hours; put in the orginal processor card; reset the CUDU numerous times; changed the existing memory stick locations, and still nothing. I came to the conclusion that my motherboard was toast and of course I was very despondent. I was getting ready to purcahhse a new motherboard, when few days ago I read on macGurus forum about the xl8r emergency floppy disk that resets pram settings. I got a copy and tried it out . Success! My computer would boot up. The original drive was corrupted and so had to reformat it and re-install the OS.

    Moral of the story: bad ram can cause some major problems and headaches but with the info on this forum I was able to get the problem solved.

    Hopefully others with bad ram will not have to go through what I had to.

    Brian

  17. #17
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    I'm going to have to go buy some floppies! that's for sure. I've had to reformat and even LLF some SCSI drives just from testing, moving them around, trying to install OS X on unsupported systems.

    People with the new Sonnet G4/800's are begging for memory tester and finding that not all of their RAM is up to running @ 800 and/or Jaguar as well. Wish I'd bought EDO instead of 4k FPM (2k per bank) but well see.

    What is it that the XLR8 utility does that say TechTool Pro/Lite doesn't do in clearing the PRAM? I need to look into this.

    Micron makes the RAM that TechWorks sells? Always? Interesting, 'cause TechWorks sure is expensive but was led to buy there back in the late 80's when there were very few places for users to buy memory. that and The Chip Merchant.

    Gregory

  18. #18
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    Bought 4 - 128MB (buffered and dampered) sticks from OEM PCWorld a little over a month ago for my 8500/180 upgraded w/Newer G3/300/1MB w/OS 9.0.4 and no problems. $35ea w/30 day money back guarantee and lifetime warranty.

  19. #19
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    Gentleman,

    Sorry if the tone of my remarks about OWC put you off. There is no vendor out there who sells RAM or any other gear and it always 100% of the time works with NO exceptions.

    Baggy I think it's great you have had such good luck with them. Even with a discount, you have spent some serious cash with them. They darn well better make sure things are right!!

    IMHO, the acid test for a company is how well it treats the guy that is buying for only one machine.

    warm regards,

    8's

    [This message has been edited by crazyeights (edited 09 November 2002).]

  20. #20
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    8s, I first started buying a few dimms to see how they were to deal with, I paid their normal prices and got excellent service.
    Because of the range of things that they sell I was able to use them to expand my business beyond that which would have been possible had I been restricted to buying from UK distributors - we get ripped off badly here. I now order decent quantities on a regular basis and get a small discount - let me know if you can do any better!
    You are absolutely right about nobody getting everything right but when things have been wrong they have put it right - I get the odd order with something sent wrong, but then I get that if I order here so it is nothing out of the ordinary or worth getting upset about.
    I also get tremendous help and satisfaction from the Gurus forums as well and regularly refer people here - I think everyone that gives good service should receive the acknowledgement they deserve.

    "The only man who doesn't make a mistake is the man who doesn't do anything."

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