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Voltage and timings: What's the best value?

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Last response: in Memory
April 8, 2010 6:41:05 AM

I'm curious about the relative importance of voltage and timings, and how each affects real-world overall computing experience.

I'm building a system around an i7 930 processor, and am in the market for a 3x2GB set of DDR3. CAS7 seems to be right within my budget (not willing to pay the premium for CAS6), but there's a lot of variety still: 1.5V vs. 1.5-1.6V vs. 1.65V, frequencies from 1033 to 1600, command rates of 1N vs. 2N, etc. Which factors are most important? Should I always go with the tightest timings or always the lowest voltages, or is it a case of diminishing returns? Does lower voltage allow for more aggressive overclocking or cooler temperatures under load? Is 2N really that much slower than 1N?

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a b } Memory
April 8, 2010 11:08:12 AM

Simple. PC3-12800 and CL7 or CL8. As for voltages, 1.65V is max, so anything lower than that is better.

Mind you, I've got G.Skill Ripjaws PC3-16000 DDR3 2000MHz 9-9-9-27 1.6V RAM, but I'm running it at 1330MHz @ 7-7-7-20. G.Skill says that these modules can however run at 1600MHz 6-7-6-18.
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April 9, 2010 2:58:43 AM

shortstuff_mt said:
The best price/performance RAM IMO is DDR3 1600 CAS 7 RAM with the lowest voltage rating possible. This RAM is excellent, it's DDR3 1600 CAS 7 RAM that runs at 1.5v.

G.SKILL PI Series 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7T-6GBPI - Retail $184.99

Interesting, I've had that set recommended to me before. Not a bad price point, but are there any potential issues with the 2N command rate? Does this mean it's not possible/recommended to bump up the command rate to 1N?

I also found this set from Mushkin with slightly tighter timings and better price, but with higher voltage and lower frequency. Is it better or worse value per dollar in terms of real world performance?
a b } Memory
April 9, 2010 3:54:42 AM

For the nominal price difference, I'd go with the G.Skill.