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What to pay for your desktop DDR3 RAM in late November 2008

by Tarinder Sandhu on 27 November 2008, 14:22

Tags: Crucial Technology (NASDAQ:MU), OCZ (NASDAQ:OCZ), Corsair, G skill

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DDR3-1,333 and DDR3-1,600

DDR3-1,333 (PC3-10,666)

2GB kits (2x 1GB)

OCZ Gold - 9-9-9-26 latencies - 1.7V - aluminium heatspreaders - £ 49.51 @ MemoryC.com (£51.88).

3GB kits (3x 2GB) - Core i7-optimised

Kingston DDR3-1,333 - CL9 - 1.5V - aluminium heatspreaders - £81.24 at eBuyer.co.uk (n/a).

4GB kits (2x 2GB)

Crucial DDR3-1,333 - CL9 - 1.5V - no heatspreaders - £108.09 @ Crucial.co.uk - (£114.70).

6GB kits (3x 2GB) - Core i7-optimised

G.Skill DDR3-1,066 - 9-9-9-24 latencies - 1.5V-1.6V - integrated heatspreaders - £163.70 @ MemoryC.com (n/a).

DDR3-1,333MHz memory is similar in price to DDR3-1,066MHz so it's prudent to go for a higher-speed set if performance is the name of the game. The 3GB/6GB Core i7 kits fall nicely in line with 2GB/4GB pricing, but you'll have to toggle with a Core i7 920/940 reference clock to hit the higher DDR3 frequency.

DDR3-1,600 (PC3-12,800)

The Intel X48 chipset and NVIDIA's nForce 790i Ultra both support DDR3-1,600 memory natively, using pre-programmed SPDs - XMP for Intel and EPP2.0 for NVIDIA - that are activated by a one-click BIOS setting. XMP and EPP2.0 memory is actively marketed as such by vendors.

Now, though, certain Core i7 X58 boards are advertised supporting DDR3-1,600MHz+ speeds out of the box, intimating overclocking the CPU or, if you have ultra-deep pockets, purchasing the unlocked Core i7 965 Extreme Edition and setting the memory ratio above 1,066MHz. 

DDR3 natively operates at 1.5V, but DDR3-1,600 may require 1.8V to function at its rated speed. 

Only enthusiasts that want the very best performance - and are willing to pay for it - should look at this frequency, we feel.

2GB kits (2x 1GB) 

Corsair Twin3X DHX DDR3 - 9-9-9-24 latencies - 1.8V - DHX heatspreaders - £73.54 @ Scan.co.uk (£83.30). 

3GB kits (3x 1GB) - Core i7-optimised

G.Skill DDR3-1,333 - 9-9-9-24 latencies - 1.5V-1.6V - integrated heatspreaders - £106.10 @ MemoryC.com (n/a).

4GB kits (2x 2GB)

Corsair Twin3X DHX DDR3 - 9-9-9-24 latencies - 1.8V - DHX heatspreaders - £133.95 @ Scan.co.uk (£145.20)

6GB kits (3x 2GB) - Core i7-optimised

Corsair XMS3 DDR3-1,600 - 9-9-9-24 latencies - 1.8V - XMS heatspreaders - £241.02 @ Scan.co.uk (n/a).

Low-volume DDR3-1,600MHz represents relatively poor value as you start to build on capacity. It's 30-40 per cent more expensive than DDR3-1,333MHz and the bandwidth gains aren't as impressive. Again, consider it if you need to push a system to the limit, otherwise opt for the 1,333MHz stuff instead.