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RAM question - please help!!!

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Last response: in Systems
July 7, 2008 2:18:43 AM

Hey everyone,

new member here, great site - been checking it out for a while now. Well to make a long story short, I am 80% complete in building my 1st pc., specs are: Striker II Formula, Q9450, 2xWD 500gb HDs, 2xEVGA 9800 GX2s in SLI, 1000W Galaxy PSU, Thermalright 120 CPU cooler, blah blah blah.... I am stuck on the ram. Been reading mixed opinions on whether to run pc6400 vs. 8500 and 4x1gb vs. 2x2gb. I really like the crucial ballistix tracers, but they only come in either 1 gig sticks in 8500 or 2gb sticks in 6400. Second set are the dominators which are 2x2gb at 8500 but with less eye candy. What would be the wisest route to go. BTW, I will be running Vista 64bit, and money is not an issue. Thanks in advance!

More about : ram question

July 7, 2008 2:36:52 AM

I have another questions. WHY!!

9800GX2 in SLI is a terrible investment. That's $1000 for video cards! What games do you play and what resolutions?

Look at ATI cards. Currently proudly smacking nVidia around. Plus you don't have to deal with nVidia's crappy chipsets.

Don't buy 4x 1GB. Some motherboards don't like that configuration and it limits your upgrade options. Get DDR2-800 (6400) you don't need higher.

Who the hell cares about eye candy? its RAM for crying out loud. A good 4GB kit is here: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820220269

Seriously reconsider your build.

July 7, 2008 2:37:26 AM

Don't get WD 500GB, get WD 640GB (WD6400AAKS). It uses a new technology (PMR) that makes it much faster.

I'd get the 2x2GB sticks. If anything, they allow you to reach 8 GB later without throwing away any sticks.
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July 7, 2008 2:40:02 AM

I hadn't see shadowduck's reply. I agree with him. You're better off with a GA-X48-DS4 or Asus P5E Deluxe X48 and a pair of HD 4870 cards. nVidia chipsets aren't that great compared to Intel's, and that's putting it mildly :) 

July 7, 2008 3:25:46 AM

I agree with both comments above, the system you listed would be a terrible waste.

I don't think you would find any conflict of opinions about RAM from anyone that really knew what they were talking about. Using Vista 64 you would want at least 2x2gb but more likely 4x2gb or 2x4gb(very expensive and not much around).

I have written about RAM quite a number of times but the situation is very confusing and bears repeating due to the manufacturers confusing methods of marketing.

JEDEC is the governing body that certifies memory speeds and the speeds for DDR2 are 400, 533, 667 and 800 all at 1.8v. A lot of RAM is capable of higher speeds at higher voltages but anything sold at anything other than the speeds and voltage listed above are sold at their overclocked speed. Most RAM currently on the market will have several speeds programmed into their SPD (Serial Presence Detect) chip and a couple might be JEDEC settings and a couple might be EPP (Enhanced Performance Profiles) settings. Most motherboards will recognize RAM at it's JEDEC settings which is why a lot of people get their RAM and plug it in and wonder why it isn't running as fast as it was advertised to. The CPU you are buying has a 1333FSB which means in order to run 1:1 with the RAM all you need is 667. Now I assume you might want to overclock well that's fine because with buying DDR2 800 you can get the FSB to 1600 running 1:1 before you have to worry about overclocking the RAM. Most quality DDR2 800 will overclock quite a bit so even if you get your FSB to 1700 or 1800 you will be fine with DDR2 800. The problem is that not all DDR2 800 is created the same. Take a look at the examples below.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

They all have similar timings but the Mushkin is capable of them at the standard 1.8v where as the Tracers need a very high 2.2v. This tells me that the Mushkin are using better chips (likely the same chips as the G.Skill) and with a small increase in voltage would be able to out perform the Crucial product.

Here are two more examples, they have exactly the same timings at different voltages.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
and then this has the exact same timings at the JEDEC standard 1.8v
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

So what companies do to cover for inferior chips is increase the voltage to reduce timings to a level easily obtained by better chips.

When your looking for RAM the important things to look for are timings and voltage. Try to find something with the standard 1.8v and decent timings and if you need to you will be able to either loosen the timings or increase the voltage slightly and reach higher speeds.
July 7, 2008 5:12:58 AM

Thanks for all your help guys, seriously. Shadowduck, I will look over the GPUs as that is the only comp. I haven't purchased yet, to be honest, you are the 1st person that doesn't recommend the GX2, and I read these forums as well as others. Let's put this is way, if you could get them at $300 a piece would it be worth it then? I already bought the HDs, so too late for that.
July 7, 2008 2:29:54 PM

Well, see the bright side. My own WD 500 GB disks are still working perfectly after a year. At least they're reliable.

A 9800GX2 will beat a HD 4870, so yeah, with both at $300 it's better to get a 9800GX2 than a HD 4870 for a single-card PC. But, for a dual-card setup, Crossfire is more efficient than SLI, and especially than Quad SLI, so the advantage of the 9800GX2 cards will be less than you expect. For example in Crysis you won't see much difference between one 9800GX2 and two of them. You'd also have to deal with nVidia's chipset and drivers. The power consumption and heat with two 9800GX2 cards is also a bit excessive IMO. Anyway, can you actually get them for $300, new and with warranty?

@ausch30: Thanks, that was very educational.

Based on that, it looks like this is a really good choice, isn't it:
Mushkin 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) $65, 5-4-4-12 at 1.8V
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820146731

(I did a search for "4GB 1.8V DDR2-800" at Newegg and this has the best timings of all the results.)

July 7, 2008 5:19:39 PM

If you can get it new for $300 buy just one. Like aevm points out the extra $300 you spend on #2 won't increase performance enough relative to the cost to be worth it.

See if you can return the RAM and the 790i. I am telling you from experience in my shop, you are not going to like the headaches you will have getting it to work right. Don't even think about overclocking it either due to data corruption issues.
July 7, 2008 6:50:40 PM

Ok, one GX2 it is then. And I bought the Mushkin you guys recommended. As far as the price on these GX2s, the seller got them using the step up program but in the end decided to get different cards altogether, and is willing to sell them @ $300 each, but I have to buy both. BTW, my board is 780i not 790i, if that makes any diff. Once again, thanx for all the help.
July 7, 2008 8:35:37 PM

No, 780i/790i both suffer from the same issues. Still sell it.

Buy both for $600 then and sell one on eBay. Make the investment back.
July 7, 2008 9:11:42 PM

I know it seems like a hassle but shadowduck is right. The 780i and 790i are really just the year and a half old 680i with a few improvements and still are no where near as good as Intel's chipsets. You could probably get about $400 for one of the GX2's on Craigslist or Ebay or if you decide to sell both then after selling them you could pretty much end up with a free 4850 or $100 4870. Nvidia chipsets are nothing but a headache, stay away.
July 8, 2008 4:55:14 PM

Like I said before OP- eye candy on RAM is completely dumbass.

Buy high quality RAM, not something that looks good, but performs like garbage.

Mushkin makes excellent RAM. Look at their DDR2-800 kit with 5-4-4-12 timings. 1.8v some of the best RAM out there.
Link: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820146731
July 8, 2008 5:31:37 PM

shadowduck said:
Like I said before OP- eye candy on RAM is completely dumbass.


Yeah, but there is a large demand for such things. How else do you explain the Antec 900, or Britney Spears?
July 8, 2008 7:50:09 PM

Dumbasses are going to destory the earth.
July 25, 2008 2:08:25 PM

ausch30 said:
JEDEC is the governing body that certifies memory speeds and the speeds for DDR2 are 400, 533, 667 and 800 all at 1.8v. A lot of RAM is capable of higher speeds at higher voltages but anything sold at anything other than the speeds and voltage listed above are sold at their overclocked speed. Most RAM currently on the market will have several speeds programmed into their SPD (Serial Presence Detect) chip and a couple might be JEDEC settings and a couple might be EPP (Enhanced Performance Profiles) settings. Most motherboards will recognize RAM at it's JEDEC settings which is why a lot of people get their RAM and plug it in and wonder why it isn't running as fast as it was advertised to. The CPU you are buying has a 1333FSB which means in order to run 1:1 with the RAM all you need is 667. Now I assume you might want to overclock well that's fine because with buying DDR2 800 you can get the FSB to 1600 running 1:1 before you have to worry about overclocking the RAM. Most quality DDR2 800 will overclock quite a bit so even if you get your FSB to 1700 or 1800 you will be fine with DDR2 800. The problem is that not all DDR2 800 is created the same. Take a look at the examples below.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The all have similar timings but the Mushkin is capable of them at the standard 1.8v where as the Tracers need a very high 2.2v. This tells me that the Mushkin are using better chips (likely the same chips as the G.Skill) and with a small increase in voltage would be able to out perform the Crucial product.

Here are two more examples, they have exactly the same timings at different voltages.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
and then this has the exact same timings at the JEDEC standard 1.8v
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

So what companies do to cover for inferior chips is increase the voltage to reduce timings to a level easily obtained by better chips.

When your looking for RAM the important things to look for are timings and voltage. Try to find something with the standard 1.8v and decent timings and if you need to you will be able to either loosen the timings or increase the voltage slightly and reach higher speeds.


That's just a whole lotta awesome right there. Thanks for clearing that up so nicely, ausch!

I just have a related questions. What about when the voltage is listed as a range? Like this Geil RAM? Are those timings they list for the max voltage or the min? And why would they need to list the voltage as a range in the first place?
July 25, 2008 2:39:45 PM

Two theories:

1. evil marketing guys, trying to confuse you so you can't do a proper comparison with the competing products.

2. incompetent marketing guys, making things difficult just because they don't know better

July 25, 2008 3:30:39 PM



As you can see here there are a variety of voltages and I think that's what their advertising. It's marketing guys trying to confuse you by putting low timings and 1.8v somewhere in the same listing. Even if it is 1.8-2.0 the average person just sees 1.8 and they think they must be good.

Another theory I have is that they've tested them with several motherboards and some require higher voltages for stability.
July 25, 2008 3:49:04 PM

Yeah, I figured it was just evil marketing people (my wife is in marketing, so that wouldn't surprise me ;)  ). So I guess that safest and most reasonable thing to do would be to just get the lowest timings listed at 1.8V (no range). Thanks again!