The New Contenders
So, coming into Round 2, we have the five previous finalists and the five new contenders…
On-Track Data Advisor V5.00 – This is primarily a hard disk diagnostic, but it also includes a memory test. It is included here only because of On-Track’s reputation as a data recovery specialist. I used the 30-day trial download version for this test.
PC Doctor – Like BCM Diagnostics and QuickTech Pro, PC-Doctor is a suite of tests intended to provide the professional with a full set of diagnostics for system troubleshooting and customer support. Several tech support people requested that I test this product, as they believed it to be one of the best products around. There are many more different tests than either of the other two system diagnostics used in this comparison, and it even has a ‘remote diagnostics’ capability – but we are only interested in the memory tests for this article. This is apparently one of the main competitors for Ultra-X in the industry. PC Doctor was kind enough to send me a demo CD for this shootout.
Gold Memory Tester – This is a self-booting shareware product out of Czechoslovakia, and it also was highly recommended by several readers. Because it is shareware, it requires registration and a small fee to activate all features, though the unregistered version is not crippled in its ability to detect errors. I used the 30-day free trial to conduct this test.
PC Whiz WhatMem – Data Depot is another supplier of diagnostics products, of which WhatMem is only one product. I used the demo download version for this test.
Memtest – This is a Windows based utility for testing Ram. Generally, I would be suspicious of any memory diagnostic that runs under Windows, since much of the system memory will be allocated to Windows and unavailable to the application. I decided to give this one a try, however, as I saw some positive comments about it.
One product that I was not able to get a copy of is MicroScope from Micro 2000, Inc. This is another major competitor to Ultra-X products. Perhaps I can include it in an overall System Diagnostics shootout with products from Ultra-X, PC Doctor and others…
In order to make this shootout a bit more interesting, I identified three new defective modules (DDR SDRAM) with some difficult to identify errors. However, before letting the new arrivals compete in this round, they had to run through the Round 1 testing using the same nine modules. This time around, however, I disqualified a product as soon as it failed to detect one bad module since I already had the five previous finalists. Early elimination is not necessarily an indication of worse diagnostic capabilities than a product eliminated later, since the modules were not tested in any particular order.
Both On-Track Data Advisor and PC Doctor failed on the first module tested, leaving WhatMem, MemTest and GoldMemory in the running. On the second module, WhatMem failed to detect any errors and was eliminated. To my surprise, the Windows based MemTest correctly identified the next two modules as defective before getting disqualified on the fifth module. I would have assumed a Windows based diagnostic would be the least likely to identify most memory errors. In the end, however only GoldMemory remained, as it correctly diagnosed all nine modules as defective, making it finalist number 6.
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