Quality is important, but for general use and some overclocking, cheap quality ram is available.
Generally the botom price stuff is junk, but go up a price notch and you'll find quality in well known brands.
I use Kingston "value ram" modules for my own system and it overclocks nicely up to a point, where a more expensive and dedicated overclocking ram would be desirable to push it any further.
I'm not advising that you overclock, I'm simply pointing out that ram that will overclock successfully is generally of good quality.
You will always see the "bargain" ram advertised. If the specifications of the ram are available, you'll see the numbers are higher on the cheap stuff. Higher numbers mean longer latencies (more time to do the job) and more wait cycles.
A general guide is the CAS latency figure, like CAS 2.5 or CL4 or you may see timings displayed as 8-4-4-4 in the spec. Something like 6-3-3-2.5 would be faster and generally indicates better quality. Usually, the number opposite the highest number is the CAS latency figure. so in the first example, 8-4-4-4, the last number "4" is the CAS latency figure. Some will display the figures as 4-4-4-8, where the first number will be CAS, (opposite the high number).
Standard decent PC3200 DDR RAM (400mhz) should be CL3 for example.
As far as your Boot problems, I can't be sure, it could be BIOS settings, CPU, mainboard, PSU or mainboard jumper settings, and of course RAM.
Typically fairly old PC's have the RAM and Front Side Bus speeds, CPU multiplier, CPU voltage and RAM voltage settings adjustable by mainboard jumpers. If they are not correct, boot may not occur and /or damage may occur to one or more components.
More modern mainboards auto detect and configure the hardware at the first post. From here, you tweak it up to your components rated specification in BIOS.
Most of the time, these days, mainboards detect the hardware at post and do a fair job of auto configuring the hardware as long as the BIOS has auto configuration parameters selected.
More advanced system configurations are generally only available if the auto settings are switched to manual or advanced setup.
All mainboards (that I know of) have a RESET CMOS or reset bios defaults jumper near the battery or somewhere else on the mainboard. If you think the board should boot and it doesn't, then unplug the PC, place the jumper cap in the "reset" position and leave it there for 30 seconds, then place in back into the operating mode position. This should reset CMOS to BIOS defaults and if your hardware is compatible, you should get a post. (after you plug it back in of course!)
I hope that helps.
Edited by Congo, 22 May 2005 - 01:56 AM.