I recently had the fortune to come upon a new quad core Intel Core i7-960 (A major upgrade for me). It's rated at 3.2 GHz and I've read that the FSB speed is 1066 mhz. I've also read that it is compatible with DDR3 800 or DDR3 1066. My question is, should I buy 1066 RAM to match the FSB speed, or should I buy 1333 or 1600 speed with the intent of tightening up the timings? Or, should I buy 1333 or 1600 with the intent of OCing the processor?
That depends mostly on what you will be using the machine for. To give you a bit of an idea, here is what I did. (I built my machine about 14 months ago, so things obviously will have changed some.)
I use my computer for work: writing software, word processing, internet, etc. No gaming or things in that line. I have an Intel Core i7 Processor i7-930 2.80GHz 8 MB LGA1366 CPU, and G Skill F3-12800CL7T-6GBPI memory. Just a few days ago I wanted to add more memory, so I went out and bought this memory: G Skill F3-12800CL9T-12GBRL.
If that still doesn't give you some tips or answer your questions, please let me know!
You want documented ram compatibility. If you should ever have a problem, you want supported ram.
Otherwise, you risk a finger pointing battle between the ram and motherboard support sites, claiming "not my problem".
One place to check is your motherboards web site.
Look for the ram QVL list. It lists all of the ram kits that have been tested with that particular motherboard.
Sometimes the QVL list is not updated after the motherboard is released.
For more current info, go to a ram vendor's web site and access their ram selection configurator.
Enter your motherboard, and you will get a list of compatible ram kits.
While today's motherboards are more tolerant of different ram, it makes sense to buy ram that is known to work and is supported.
The i7-960 has the nehalem architecture with the integrated ram controller.
You overclock it by adjusting the BCLK.
When you do that, the ram speed will be adjusted also, so it is worthwhile to use ram that will operate at higher speeds without overclocking.
Do not worry about what ram speed gets selected with your oc. It matters little in real application performance.
Fortunately, DDR3-1600 ram is not much more expensive than 1333 or less.
Real World - More GB's of RAM is best, configured in 3x__GB vs the slightly slower 6x__GB, and the DDR3 1600 doesn't require any BCLK (OC) in the vast majority of the X58 MOBO's. Further, the DDR3 1600 improves performance in most every App and adds FPS to the GPU - reason more data can be pushed in a quicker period of time. The 'best' performance is from DDR3 1800 & 2000 BUT requires a BCLK >=160 MHz in other words an OC, and in particular DDR3 2000 is tricky to remain stable. DDR3 1600 is EASY to run.
Keep in mind you MUST set the DRAM Frequency or use XMP in the BIOS to achieve anything faster than the default DDR3 1066.
Bloomfield is based on the Nehalem micro-architecture.
Enjoy that processor!!
BTW: You need memory at 1.65v or lower DRAM voltage.
Thanks for the information. I ended up buying 8GB of Kingston HyperX 1600 CL9. It supports XMP and runs at 1.65v. Super excited!
A buddy got his order lost by UPS, so Newegg sent him all new stuff. UPS ended up finding it, and he gave me his order. Got that processor, an Asus Rampage III Extreme mobo, WD 600GB 7000RPM (if I remember off top of head), and a sweet aluminum case. Now that RAM is out of the way just need a PSU and video card. But I think I'm going to use my old stuff until I get some more money.
RAM at even 'SPD', in the case of LGA 1366, 1066 perhaps IF the CAS Timings are exact matches, but otherwise hodge-podge almost never works at Rated speeds and CAS Timings. I've seen this debate 100+ times and most all were failures.
Frequently, even two sets of matched pairs might not work together in Dual Channel LGA 1155 at Rated speed. Example, F3-12800CL9D-8GBXL one kit has no problem running 1600 but two kits combined very frequently run at 1333 no matter what you try to do.
I'm more into KNOWING the outcome than subjecting my important data to guesses, corruption, failures, etc.
The few bucks savings often end up as a complete waste. While I appreciate a philosophy like @ronjarvis I'm not one to by other's junk; I'm the boss and not the employee and I never buy/sell/trade with my employees.