After many hours of testing, I can put down my thoughts and experiences with the 2GB SO-DIMM modules. The first and most important is to understand that 32bit operating systems, like Windows XP and VISTA 32Bit cannot utilize the full 4GB of memory. So you have to use a 64bit operating system, like XP 64bit, VISTA 64bit or Linux/Unix/Solaris/etc... Apart from the operating system, your CPU must also be 64bit. The motherboard's BIOS must also be capable of recognizing all the installed memory.
In our case, we used a laptop for our tests, the Asus A6JA, which didn't recognize the full 2x2GB modules. Instead, it reported 2946MB installed. We updated to the latest BIOS but this didn't fix the issue. Moreover, the installed (default) processor, am Intel CoreDuo T2300, isn't 64bit, so we couldn't test the memory under a 64bit operating system. Our tests were done with Windows XP SP2 and Windows VISTA 32bit operating systems.
First, let's compare the Crucial 2GB PC2-5300 and SuperTalent 2GB PC2-5300 SO-DIMMs. Both memory modules are based on Micron chips, so we would expect similar performance. However, the SuperTalent modules were slightly "faster", since their default timings are 5-5-5-13 vs 5-5-5-15 for Crucial. That makes a difference, as most of our tests showed. In short, the SuperTalent 2GB SO-DIMMs proved to be "faster" than the Crucial 2GB SO-DIMMs under several tests. There were tests however which went the other way. While benchmarks did show improvements when upgrading to 2GB, we are not so sure about 3D gaming, since the 3D Mark 06 index score only improved by one point.
Passing to the all possible scenarios, a laptop user could have pre-installed at this laptop:
- 1x 512MB SO-DIMM
The easiest case, since upgrading to 2GB with a single module will show significant improvement.
- 1x1GB SO-DIMM
Most currently sold laptops come pre-installed with 1GB SO-DIMM running at 533MHz. What can you expect after upgrading to 2GB SO-DIMM at 667MHz speed? Of course there's going to be an improvement in overall performance, but it also depends upon application and operating system. We didn't see such great improvements when upgrading from 1GB at 533MHz to 2GB at 667MHz operating speeds. We saw the biggest difference when running SuperPI, where we had a drop of 3secs (in favor of 2GB). Again the % improvement is very low.
Passing to performance under VISTA, the differences are more or less the same. We assume that VISTA 64bit would benefit the most from 2GB or more, memory configurations, but we cannot be sure since we weren't able to test this. A user might think of pairing 1GB with 533MHz and 2GB with 667MHz speeds. Thats not a good idea, since all results showed significant drop in performance in all benchmarks.
Concluding this roundup, both SuperTalent and Crucial 2GB SO-DIMMs will improve to some degree, your everyday tasks, especially with "next" generation operating systems, like VISTA. Of course, the price for upgrading is great, since not many vendors are shipping such modules. If you are thinking of buying 2x2GB SO-DIMMs, be careful, since there are several factors to keep in mind.
The SuperTalent 2GB PC2-5300 SO-DIMM costs around $70 less than Crucial's 2GB PC2-5300 SO-DIMM and earns our best buy award: