Although there are many companies that sell memory modules online, Crucial Technology is no ordinary online store. Since this Micron division was created in late 1996, Crucial has been selling their memory products directly to customers. But that's where its similarity with other online stores end.
Crucial memory products are completely designed, manufactured and certified by Micron, its parent company. Crucial just markets and sells them. Therefore, Crucial memory modules are first-party modules, unlike many other modules being sold. Note that while a memory module may bear memory chips from reputable companies, that doesn't say a whit about the design and quality of the PCB on which the chips sit.
What's the difference, you say? Well, third party memory modules are often made with the goal of lowering costs in order to compete better in the increasingly volatile market. One way to do that is to use fewer layers. But with fewer layers, there will be increased noise from adjacent traces which degrades the signals running through the traces.
There are also manufacturers who use lower grade memory chips. This can either be in the form of slower memory chips or lower quality chips. The slower memory chips are overclocked in order to produce faster yet cheaper DIMMs (Dual Inline Memory Modules) while lower quality chips will readily yield a cheaper DIMM at the cost of perhaps reliability. Needless to say, while both options may be acceptable to a home user, they are certainly not acceptable to users who intend to overclock.
For overclocking, a DIMM should have top-grade memory chips with a 6-layer PCB (printed circuit board). It should also support 4 clock lines. All those features reduce interference between adjacent traces and improve reliability. They also ensure a higher operating speed than would be possible with lower quality chips or PCBs.
All these and more are offered by premium RAM manufacturers. But most of these premium RAM manufacturers do not sell their RAM to end-users at all. They cater mainly to the OEM market. A few others like Kingston and Apacer do sell to end-users but only Crucial is currently selling directly to end-users via the Internet. Today, we will check out their top end-user DDR SDRAM solution - the 256MB Crucial PC2100 DDR SDRAM DIMM!