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I've got an itch: Topic 3 - RAM

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April 4, 2012 9:21:08 PM

Got the itch, but not ready to scratch!

I got the “time to build a new system” itch again. Keep in mind; this will be my 6th or 7th build, so I’m no noob.

Before I go into detail, see my signature of my current rig.

I use this mainly for Office applications (Word, Excel, and Finance/Budget programs), surfing the web, and movie watching. I usually have several applications running at once (i.e. Excel, Quicken, Outlook, IE, and downloading something), but I have not monitored my usages thru Task Manager, but I will. I don’t notice much bottlenecking, but I do demand a responsive system.

It’s also set up in a home network with my wife’s PC, my TV, Blu-Ray player, and Wi-Fi printer through a router. I’m not a gamer, but would like a powerful enough machine if I do play. In the future I would like to copy/convert my DVD collection to my PC.

Since I have several topics, I’ll break down it down into threads for the appropriate categories: CPU, Motherboard, RAM, Graphics, and Storage (SSD). I’ll use the PSU and case I have, as well as all the other components (monitor, printer, etc.).

After weighing the options to upgrade to the upcoming Ivy Bridge CPU and Z77 chipset motherboards, I think I’ll wait a while (until the bugs are fixed, if any. Remembering the Sandy Bridge motherboard chipset bug, requiring a total recall).

I don’t want to go the LGA 2011 route, as everything is way more expensive. Although I do like the latest SBM $2600 rig!

But that doesn’t mean I couldn’t do so “upgrades” within my current system.

So here I go (finally)…

Topic 3: RAM

I believe that my current DDR3-1600 memory will work in a Z77 motherboard (which I’ve pretty much talked myself out of anyways).

But I just want to know:

1.) Would this also work in a X79 motherboard? X79 are Quad channel, Z68/Z77 are Dual channel supported. I’ve read that the memory itself doesn’t matter, as long as they are the same manufacture, timings and speed. The kits they sell are just pieces matched up better from the manufacture.
I also read that Quad channel will operate with 1, 2, 4 or 8 sticks, as Dual channel will work with 1, 2, or 4 sticks. So a 2x4GB kit would work in a X79 motherboard?

2.) I have 8GB of memory, and have told others that 16GB is overkill for a gaming rig. With my usage, does that hold true?

3.) I also read that DDR3-1600 is the “sweet spot” for RAM speed, and any higher (1800, 2000, etc.) will reap no real benefit. Is this true? For the Ivy Bridge CPU also?

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a c 149 } Memory
April 4, 2012 10:25:11 PM
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Quote:
1.) Would this also work in a X79 motherboard? X79 are Quad channel, Z68/Z77 are Dual channel supported. I’ve read that the memory itself doesn’t matter, as long as they are the same manufacture, timings and speed. The kits they sell are just pieces matched up better from the manufacture.
I also read that Quad channel will operate with 1, 2, 4 or 8 sticks, as Dual channel will work with 1, 2, or 4 sticks. So a 2x4GB kit would work in a X79 motherboard?


This is correct. Quad channel kits are just marketing speak for 4 matched sticks. You can run any combination of up to 8 sticks in an X79 board. For the board to run in quad channel mode you need either 4 sticks or 8.

I have not seen actual quad channel vs non quad channel benchmarks but with dual vs single there is only a gain of 3 to 4 percent. The gain is surprisingly small.

Quote:
2.) I have 8GB of memory, and have told others that 16GB is overkill for a gaming rig. With my usage, does that hold true?


8GB is plenty for your stated uses but with DDR3 prices so low I would not consider 16GB overkill. ( See my later link. )

Quote:
3.) I also read that DDR3-1600 is the “sweet spot” for RAM speed, and any higher (1800, 2000, etc.) will reap no real benefit. Is this true? For the Ivy Bridge CPU also?


This is true for real world applications. The only real improvements are in synthetic benchmarks. 1.5v DDR3 1600 cas 9 is the sweet spot.

This is a great article and will answer most of your questions more completely than I can.

http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/memory/2011/01/11/the-...
April 4, 2012 11:13:08 PM

Nice article. I especially like the "Conlcusion of What to Buy."

But it stresses memory frequency over total size.

And in there 4GB vs. 16GB comparision, they had to reduce the timing to CL10 for 16GB, yielding (slightly) slower speed, but at 2133MHz. So lower ratings on a lower setting makes sense. But these are not much lower!
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a c 149 } Memory
April 4, 2012 11:41:19 PM

Personally I believe 8GB is sufficient for most people. If you use Photoshop or other photo or video editing software or you regularly work with huge files then I would go with 16GB or even 32GB. A RAM disk is also a pretty attractive option with DDR3 prices so low.
April 16, 2012 6:46:24 PM

Best answer selected by foscooter.
April 16, 2012 6:48:38 PM

Thank for the replys.

The sale at Microcenter was just too good to pass, so I picked up a i7 2600K for $199.99. Probably gonna sell the i5 2500K on craigslist for $100.00.

So I also picked up a 8GB DDR3-1600 kit (2x4GB), since the prices are "so low."
a b } Memory
April 16, 2012 7:06:54 PM

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