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What to pay for your desktop DDR3 RAM in late January 2009

by Tarinder Sandhu on 23 January 2009, 15:35

Tags: Crucial Technology (NASDAQ:MU), Kingston, OCZ (NASDAQ:OCZ), Corsair

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DDR3 still too expensive?

Take a look at our 'what-you-should-pay-for-DDR2-RAM article' if cheaper DDR2 is of interest to you. Here we're looking at DDR3 pricing in late January 2009.

DDR3 scales higher than DDR2 and is supported on enthusiast-oriented, Intel-based chipsets only, including Intel's X38/X48, a few P35s and P45, and NVIDIA's nForce 790i (Ultra) SLI

With Intel launching Core i7 processors a couple of months ago and now available, in volume, in retail form, the DDR3-only platform, comprising of the CPUs and X58 motherboard, should provide a shot-in-the-arm and catalyst for dropping DDR3 prices.

Now, adding to this, AMD's partners have disclosed that the company will move on to a DDR3 memory-controller with a range of AM3-based Phenom II X4 CPUs, to be released imminently, so the future looks good.

DDR3's Achilles Heel has always been price, with a 4GB DDR3-1,333 pack costing around 3x a DDR2-800MHz's in late May 2008, but let's now see if this has changed in the last eight months.

Intel's Core i7 uses a tri-channel memory-controller that is best outfitted with either 3GB or 6GB of DDR3 memory, so that's why you see odd-numbered sets listed below. Further, the controller is sensitive to voltage adjustment because it's located right on the CPU. That's why Core i7-optimised kits run with lower-than-normal voltages. However, there's nothing stopping an enthusiast purchasing a kit and then using it on a non-Core i7 platform, albeit with potential modules spare.

We'd normally forego looking at DDR3-1,066MHz kits because the improvement over low-latency DDR2-800 memory is minimal. However, with you-know-what (Core i7) officially supporting the speed the majority of memory manufacturers have released appropriate tri-channel kits.

As always, UK-based HEXUS.community discussion forum members will benefit from the SCAN2HEXUS Free Shipping initiative, which will save you a further few pounds plus also top-notch, priority customer service and technical support backed up by the SCANcare@HEXUS forum. Crucial, too, offers free delivery and does so on all purchases.

Bear in mind that the stated memory may not be the cheapest around, and November and September prices, if available for a similar set, are shown in parenthesis.

What will be equally as interesting will be to see what effect, if any, the falling value of sterling - now $1.35 to £1 - has had on prices 

Lastly, HEXUS does not receive any kind of commission or kickback from the links; they're listed for your benefit only.

DDR3-1,066 (PC3-8,500)

2GB kits (2x 1GB)

Crucial DDR3-1,066 - CL7 - 1.5V - no heatspreaders - £50.59 at Crucial (£55.21 - Nov).

3GB kits (3x 1GB) - Core i7-optimised

Crucial DDR3-1,066 - CL7 - 1.5V - no heatspreaders - £82.79 @ Crucial (£83.41 - Nov).

4GB kits (2x 2GB)

Crucial DDR3-1,066 - CL7 - 1.5V - no heatspreaders - £79.34 at Crucial (£102.21 - Nov)

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

Crucial DDR3-1,066 - CL7 - 1.5V - no heatspreaders - £144.89 @ Crucial (£152.74 - Nov)

Crucial still appears to own the DDR3-1,066MHz space with a range of regular and Core i7-optimised kits at keen prices.

The biggest drop has been with respect to the 4GB kit, down from over £100 to under £80. Strangely, the 3GB kit costs more, even though the chips are the same. One reason Crucial does well here is that most enthusiast-oriented manufacturers have a sparse DDR3-1,066 catalogue.

 Note, however, that basic DDR3 is still around double the cost of comparable DDR2 - £79 vs. £41 for a 4GB, 1,066MHz kit,