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PC RAM Guide

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Last updated on 27th July 2013.

Hello Builders and Pros !

This my second guide on the guide list. If you are looking to upgrade that PC crappy RAM or selecting DDR3 RAM for your brand new build , this is the guide that you need. This guide isn't technically detailed on each and every thing , just good enough for someone to pick up the perfect RAM for their PC. So lets go.

Before we start off , here's some notes -
1. This guide will go through stuff you need to look for choosing the perfect RAM and nothing else.
2. This guide has no details on how to OC RAM. Only info about Intel XMP is provided.
3. While every effort was made to make this guide as descriptive as possible , some info might be outdated or not be suited for your case. In that case check the last time this guide was updated and whether your PC is DDR3 capable.
4. This guide is ONLY FOR DDR3 memory. Before you continue , check whether your motherboard and CPU support DDR3 memory. If not , this guide may not be suitable for you.
5. While I recommend Intel XMP's , I DO NOT recommend over clocking RAM as it might cause harm to the motherboard , RAM , CPU or anything else. If you do so , you agree you do it at your own risk , I am not responsible for anything caused for any damage caused.

So lets go -
//Distinguishing between RAM's -
There are several ways to distinguish between DDR3 memory -
By Frequency
By Capacity on each stick
By Total Capacity
By Memory Modules
By Cooling type
By Voltage
By CAS Latency
And so on.

We will begin with Frequencies -
//Frequencies - Frequencies are the speed at which RAM runs. DDR3 frequencies vary from to 1066 and go upto 2800MHz when XMPed. Below is the frequencies I suggest for DDR3 RAM for all type of uses -
( This is for PC's only )

Home and Office use -
Minimum - 1066MHz
Recommended - 1333MHz , 1600MHz
Overkill - 1600MHz+

Gaming uses -
Minimum - 1333MHz
Recommended - 1600MHz , 1866MHz
Overkill - 2133MHz and above

HTPC's -
Minimum - 1066MHz
Recommended - 1333MHz , 1600MHz
Overkill - 1600MHz +

Video and Photo Editing -
Minimum - 1600MHz
Recommended - 1866MHz , 2133MHz
Overkill - 2133MHz+

AMD APUs -
Minimum - 1600MHz
Recommended - 1866MHz , 2133MHz , 2400MHz
Overkill - 2400MHz+

Make sure your CPU and Motherboard supports the RAM Frequency the RAM has preferably on XMP and stock or atleast one.

//CAS Latency - For high performance Along with higher Frequencies a lower CAS Latency is necessary too. CAS Latency is therefore amongst the most important things to consider especially if you are looking for high performance. Here's a guide on choosing -

1066MHz -
Minimum - 9
Recommended - 7
Overkill - Below 6

1333MHz -
Minimum - 9
Recommended - 8
Overkill - 7

1600MHz -
Minimum - 11 , 10
Recommended - 9 , 8
Overkill - Below 7

1866MHz -
Minimum - 11
Recommended - 10 , 9
Overkill - Below 8

2000MHz -
Minimum - 11
Recommended - 10
Overkill - 9 or below

2133MHz -
Minimum - 11
Recommended - 10
Overkill - 9 or below

2200MHz and Above -
Minimum - 12 , 11
Recommended - 10
Overkill - 9 or below

Keep in mind that lower CAS latency is not really needed for Home and Office , HTPC users , so minimum will satisfy the average user. Also there is no requirements for CAS latency on CPU's and Motherboard.

//Capacity -

Home and Office , HTPC's -
Minimum - 1GB ( 1x1GB )
Recommended - 2GB , 4GB ( 1x2GB or 1x4GB ) , 8GB ( 2x4GB )
Overkill - 4GB+

Gaming -
Minimum - 4GB ( 1x4GB )
Recommended - 8GB ( 2x4GB )
Overkill - 8GB+

Video and Photo Editing -
Minimum - 4GB ( 1x4GB )
Recommended - 12GB ( 1x4GB+1x8GB or 3x4GB ) , 16GB ( 4x4GB , 2x8GB )
Overkill - 16GB+

This table is for total capacity and on the right in brackets are the quantity and capacity for each particular stick. For overkills , choose your capacity and quantity.

//Voltage
Intel has set a voltage limit of recommended maximum of 1.5V+5% (1.575V) on the 2nd , 3rd and 4th Gen of Core i3 and i5 , Pentium and Celeron CPU's. This is not for the Core i7's though. This is in order to protect the CPU. So RAM's with voltage 1.5V or below can be called multi platform RAM's as both Intel and AMD CPU's support these RAM's. Even in the event of you putting a RAM above the 1.5V limits of Intel , the motherboard is likely to set it to the voltage and adjust the frequency accordingly , don't trust the motherboard. ASUS has a MemOK! function which requires a press of the button and the motherboard automatically sets the RAM on the highest settings possible while ensuring 100% stability. AMD's have a high voltage limit so don't worry as long as its 1000V :p 

//Cooling
Now the easiest way to distinguish between RAM's is by their coolers. Some RAM's come with no Heat sink while the others come with Heat sinks. Some RAM's with Heatsinks come bundled with Fan(s). Some RAM's like the Corsair Dominator and Dominator GT come with Removable heatsinks , which can swapped up for better ones or be liquid cooled as well. Some like the Kingston HyperX H20 come with factory installed water blocks. A Home , Office and HTPC will never need this as these PC's wont put RAM's to their limits. For gamers and editors this is truly necessary as there is a consistent full load on these RAM's. Heatsinks in most cases are enough , however fans can be helpful either. Unless you plan on extreme overclocking water cooling is a overkill. Keep in mind that these RAM's are much expensive as well. Compared to that , RAM's with heatsinks are much cheaper and VFM. I therefore recommend a RAM with a heatsink for all purposes and a Fan if necessary.

//Recommended RAM series -
A-Data XPG v2
A-Data XPG Gaming Series v2.0
Corsair Dominator
Corsair Dominator GT
Corsair Dominator Platinum
Corsair Vengeance
Corsair Vengeance LP
Corsair Vengeance Performance
Corsair Vengeance Pro
Corsair XMS3
Crucial Ballistix Smart Tracer
Crucial Ballistix Sports
Crucial Ballistix Sports XT
Crucial Ballistix Tactical
Crucial Ballistix Tactical Tracer
G.Skill Ares
G.Skill Ripjaws
G.Skill Ripjaws X
G.Skill Ripjaws Z
G.Skill Sniper
G.Skill Sniper Low Voltage
G.Skill Trident X
GeIL EVO Leggara
GeIL EVO Veloce
Kingston HyperX ( all RAM's )
PNY XLR8
Patriot Signature
Patriot Viper 3

Here's some recommended brands -
Corsair
Crucial
G.Skill
GeIL
Kingston

Coming soon -
MacBook Air RAM compatibility list with model no's for particular devices ( possibly another guide particularly for Mac RAM )

More guides on the way. Until then , check out my
PSU guide
. Thanks for reading and Have a Nice Day.

Credits -
Me
Tradesman1 ( Suggested Capacity and CAS Latencies for their respective parts )
My pug ( didn't poop while I was writing :)  )
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