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Product: Windows Vista (32 & 64-bit)
Company: Microsoft
See Pricing  Purchase at
Review By: Andre Da Costa

with Byron Hinson & Fernando Fhualpa contributing

Memory Performance

Table Of Contents
1: Introduction
2: Pricing & System Requirements
Setup & Installation
4: Initial Impressions
5: Windows Activation 2 & Daily Usage
6: Connectivity & Networking
7: Application Compatibility, Control Panel, & Security
8: Windows Defender
9: Windows Internet Explorer 7
10: Windows Calendar, Mail, Meeting Space

11: Multimedia & Media Center
12: Windows Photo Gallery
13: Windows DVD Maker
14: Gaming in Windows Vista
15: DirectX 10 & Open AL
16: Graphic Card Performance & Misc Gaming
17: Windows Media Player 11
18: Windows Sidebar
19: Advanced Features

20: Backup, System Restore & Recovery
21: Windows ReadyBoost
22: Diagnostics & Performance Tools
23: Help/Support, Themes
24: The Forgotten Children
25: Developer Technologies in Vista
26: Developer Technologies 2
27: Memory Performance
Conclusion & Online Resources

With Windows Vista, it’s a must to have good fast memory installed in your PC. The best memory costs a lot of money, especially once you reach above 1GB sticks. In this short piece about Memory performance under Windows Vista we are testing out numerous sticks against both the Windows Experience Rating as well as the amount of Physical Memory you have on boot. We also state what difference it makes in the feel of speed from the operating system.

Corsair CM2x512-8500 (XMS Series) – 1GB - $239

  • Code XMS8505 V1.1

  • Packet : Twin module PC8500 DDR2

  • Clock DDR : 1066Mhz

  • Latency : 5-5-5-15

  • Size : 1024MB, dual channel install pair

More specifications:

  • Match pair of 2 X 512MB 240pin DDR2

  • Latency : 5 Cas Latency, 5 RAS# Precharge, 5 RAS to CAS Delivery, 15 RAS# Active to Precharge, 2T Command rate

  • SPD programmed at Jedec standard 800Mhz 5-5-5-15-2T

  • Voltage : 2.2V

  • Implemented using 64M X 8 DDR2 SDRAMs

The Corsair memory was an expensive 1GB pack of 2x512 memory, we ran the plain Windows Vista benchmarking tool on this memory at the latency value of 4-4-4-12 to maintain stability of both the system and of the memory. Remember that all the benchmarking we are doing here is for Windows Vista testing only, it’s simply to show what memory size and speed is best for users to go with right now and the most expensive will not always be the best.

Test Setup

  • AMD 5000+ X2 AM2 Based Processor

  • Soundblaster X-Fi

  • ATI X1900 XT 512MB Graphics Card

  • Samsung SpinPoint 250GB SATA II Drive

Windows Experience Rating: 4.5

Physical Memory Used on Boot:  49%

The 1GB stick of memory we used with this test still performed very well in Windows Vista and for a basic user this is probably the perfect size memory to go with, if you are running just basic programs and not playing any new games that are out right now, 1 GB will probably suit you. If you want to be running Office 2007, Games for Windows or running Media Center and Media Center extender, you will need more memory.

Using the Corsair memory my plain start up showed that (when I ran Outlook 2007) 68% of my memory resources were already used up. If you compare this to the usage on the Crucial sticks (45%) you can see the need for more RAM installed in your system.

Overall performance in Windows Vista with 1GB of ram isn’t bad and the speed of the OS is still decent enough for general tasks, but when you are gaming in Vista you really start to notice the drag on resources.



Crucial BL2KIT12864AL804 2GB kit (1GBx2) - $399

  • Part Number: BL2KIT12864AL804

  • Module Size: 2GB kit (1GBx2)

  • Package: Ballistix Tracer 240-pin DIMM (with LEDs)

  • Feature: DDR2 PC2-6400

  • Configuration: 128Meg x 64


  • Error Checking: NON-ECC

  • Speed: DDR2-800

  • Voltage: 2.2V

  • Memory Timings: 4-4-4-12

  • Specs: DDR2 PC2-6400 • 4-4-4-12 • UNBUFFERED • NON-ECC • DDR2-800 • 2.2V • SLI-Ready • 128Meg x 64

The Crucial kit is more expensive than the Corsair pack but this time it is a total of 2GB in a 2x1GB pack, remember that Vista takes up a lot more memory than Windows XP ever did. If you went for 2GB of the Corsair memory you are looking at spending over £300 whereas with Crucial’s excellent ballistics memory you will be around the £260 mark.

Test Setup

  • AMD 5000+ X2 AM2 Based Processor

  • Soundblaster X-Fi

  • ATI X1900 XT 512MB Graphics Card

  • Samsung SpinPoint 250GB SATA II Drive

Windows Experience Rating: 5.9

Physical Memory Used on Boot: 26%

As you can see, the Crucial memory shows a large improvement in the Windows Experience Ratings, this is mostly due to the fact that it is a couple of larger size memory sticks, but the Crucial Memory performed better too even with just 1GB installed on our Vista test machine. This was a surprising result as the Corsair memory is well known to be a very good stick of memory.

Overall speed in Windows Vista was excellent, everything performed better thanks to the extra memory installed in the system, games finally ran smoothly and it helped show what a good gaming system Vista will become in the future.


Mushkin EM2-6400 2 GB Kit (2x1GB) - $263

  • Frequency: 800MHz

  • Latency: 5-5-5-12

  • Parity: Unbuffered

  • Voltage: 1.9V

  • Pins: 240

  • Module: 128Mx64

  • Chip: 64Mx8

The Mushkin kit is the cheapest out of the three packs and the good news is that it works very well in Windows Vista, the latency is slower than that of both the Crucial kit and the Corsair kit, but not enough for most general users to notice.

Test Setup

  • AMD 5000+ X2 AM2 Based Processor

  • Soundblaster X-Fi

  • ATI X1900 XT 512MB Graphics Card

  • Samsung SpinPoint 250GB SATA II Drive

Windows Experience Rating: 5.9

Physical Memory Used on Boot: 26%


As you can see, the Windows Experience Rating was the same as on the Crucial set of sticks, this is simply because the rating can’t currently go any higher than 5.9. So because of this we had to just the performance of the machine itself and in general desktop work such as Internet Explorer, Word, Outlook and such like, the Mushkin performed just as well as the 2 GB of more expensive crucial memory, but in gaming it was slightly slower, although this was not very noticeable. So overall I have to say that if I was on a budget I would happily pay out for the 2 GB of Mushkin memory, remember that 2 GB of cheaper memory is ALWAYS better than 1 GB of very expensive memory as you machine will make full use of it.

So overall it seems that the best package from these three companies for based on price and performance is Crucial's excellent set, but for pricing the Mushkin pack is fantastic value for the 2GB's you get. Finally the Corsair memory while very expensive is some probably the best on the market, but paying such a high price for 2GB's or more seems way over the top for general PC use when you don't notice a major difference in performance.

  • Best for Price: Mushkin

  • Best for Price against Performance: Crucial

  • Best overall performance: Corsair

 « Developer Technologies 2 Conclusion & Online Resources »


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