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I'm not new to computers, but somehow I've missed the fact that there are different types of memory when it comes to being buffered or not. What's the difference between the two? The only thing I've noticed is the price difference between the two.

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Buffered (also called Registered) RAM has additional hardware (a register) that sits between the memory and CPU, and will store data (buffering the data) before it's sent to the CPU. This is meant for reliability in systems that have lots of memory and lots of memory modules (think large servers), because in those systems more memory modules means more electrical demands, so buffering/registering the data reduces electrical load.

You don't really have to concern yourself with it if it's just some home machine, as it does tend to be more expensive (because it's more complex and intended for servers and machines of that class) and slightly slower (because of the memory buffering).

Also, some memory also is classified as ECC RAM, which has additional circuitry to determine if data has errors and correct them if so. It's also more expensive, and intended for reliability, and it's usually a paired feature with buffered/registered memory.

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    They also have slightly different connectors, which I only learned after the fact: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… – Ehtesh Choudhury Jun 25 '13 at 16:50
  • @EhteshChoudhury How do I know if I should buy the unbuffered or buffered version of otherwise the same RAM w.r.t. form factor and speed? Since the unbuffered and buffered are different I suppose I need to buy the correct version? Or are both okay? — I asked someone in the computer store, he hadn't heard about un/buffered at all before, surprisingly – KajMagnus Jan 23 '17 at 15:42
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    @KajMagnus - if it's a home desktop machine or laptop, your choice should probably almost always be unbuffered RAM. Buffered (and by extension, any fancy RAM concepts like ECC) memory is very uncommon for consumer machines, and buffered RAM modules are typically not compatible with the memory slots you see on regular desktop computers. If you are unsure, use the Crucial Memory Compatibility tool to see what your system supports. – wkl Jan 23 '17 at 15:58

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