Four time's the charm
Continual improvements in CPU technology have limited the potential of high-speed system memory as a means of increasing performance for everyday tasks. Better-specified RAM does make sense if you're intent on running integrated graphics, however, as they pull their framebuffer from the main pool of system memory.
Appreciating that there aren't quantum leaps in performance for systems housing discrete graphics cards, faster memory therefore makes sense if it can be purchased as a relatively cheap upgrade over generic RAM. Taiwanese manufacturer G.Skill splits its desktop range into no fewer than 12 brands, which are further differentiated into various speeds, latencies and modules. The RipjawsX line is home to a veritable cornucopia of modules ranging from DDR3-1,333MHz to DDR3-2,400MHz speeds. Today, we're taking a look at a quad-module pack rated at DDR3-2,133MHz.
Known as F3-2133C9Q-16GXL, four 4GB modules constitute the 16GB capacity. Primarily designed for Intel's X79 platform, which works optimally with quad-channel memory, there's no reason why the sticks cannot be used with the more popular Z77/Z87 and FM2/AM3 platforms driving mainstream Intel and AMD CPUs, respectively.
Given a direct choice on dual-channel platforms we'd always opt for two higher-capacity sticks instead of four, leaving room for straightforward expansion in the future.
The same kit is also available in a 32GB configuration (4x8GB modules) and the shipping latencies of 9-11-11-31 can be considered decent for memory running at this speed. Build quality remains good, with two aluminuim heatsinks forming a large surface area on both sides. Standing 40mm tall, there should be no problem in installing them in any system.
Above-average timings and speed means that the modules require 1.60-1.65V for operation, which is the most we'd like to put through any modern integrated memory controller for a sustained period of time. Newer platforms, such as Intel's Haswell, can run the speeds at 1.60V; older chipsets require 1.65V. As usual, the modules are outfitted with SPD timings for easy-as-pie configuration in the BIOS: simply load 'profile' 1, save, and boot into the operating system.
Prising away a heatsink shows that Samsung supplies the chips mounted on the 8-layer PCB. The K4B4G0846B modules are used on a variety of G.Skill memory packs and we have previously seen them on the company's TridentX memory rated at 2,400MHz CL10, thus boding well for overclocking.
Backed by a limited lifetime warranty and currently available for £140 or so - memory prices have spiralled in recent months - let's now see how they perform on our Z87-based Haswell platform.