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High-Density DDR3: Five Dual-Module 8GB Kits Compared

High-Density DDR3: Five Dual-Module 8GB Kits Compared
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Power users have been maximizing memory almost since the beginning of personal computing, often attempting to make workstation-class programs run as well on home computers as they do on lab machines. Memory manufacturers gladly filled demand by producing non-ECC memory at server-sized capacities, easily reaching the 1GB per module capacity limit of DDR1 many years ago. That 1GB limit became the baseline for high-capacity DDR2 modules almost immediately after compatible platforms launched, and that technology’s 4GB per module limit was reached within a few years. With the trend set, many of us expected 4GB DDR3 performance modules to hit the market way back in 2007 and the maximum 16GB capacity to be reached soon. However, DDR3 capacities didn’t follow former trends.

We could speculate about how demand for increased capacities might have dropped off as user expectations reached a plateau with 1080p animations or 12 megapixel images, but that still doesn’t explain why, for nearly two years, DDR2 was the only option for most users who wanted really high memory capacities in their PCs. DDR3 users were forced to use four modules (dual-channel) or six modules (triple channel) to reach 8GB and 12GB capacities, and anyone who wanted 16GB or more had to wait over a year for the release of super-expensive 4GB DIMMs. Even as 4GB DDR3 modules for notebooks became common, desktop DDR3 users faced the fear of paying eight times as much to double their memory capacity.

The breakthrough came late last fall, when G.Skill introduced several high-density kits priced “only” four times as high as similar parts half the size. Other manufacturers gradually followed, and today we finally have several 8GB two-module kits that most high-end builders can afford.

Rated at CAS 9 and priced between $400 and $500, manufacturer-approved data rates of 1,333 and 1,600 MHz appear to be the only noticeable difference between these modules. Curious to find the highest-performance parts within this budget range, we tested each set to find out the true limits of its stability, both at lower-latency and higher-frequency settings.

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  • 18 Hide
    micky_lund , February 3, 2010 7:20 AM
    ouch 400+ for 8gb ram?
  • 13 Hide
    liquidsnake718 , February 3, 2010 5:19 AM
    At an average of $200 dollars a stick I can safely say I am not an "Enthusiast" even though I love computers, hardware, consoles, games, and talking about computers.

    However my next build has almost been conceptualized (waiting for certain parts and prices), so DDR3 here I come.
Other Comments
  • 0 Hide
    jasonz001 , February 3, 2010 5:16 AM
    nice :o 
  • 13 Hide
    liquidsnake718 , February 3, 2010 5:19 AM
    At an average of $200 dollars a stick I can safely say I am not an "Enthusiast" even though I love computers, hardware, consoles, games, and talking about computers.

    However my next build has almost been conceptualized (waiting for certain parts and prices), so DDR3 here I come.
  • 18 Hide
    micky_lund , February 3, 2010 7:20 AM
    ouch 400+ for 8gb ram?
  • 0 Hide
    falchard , February 3, 2010 7:26 AM
    Its about twice as much as getting 8GB off 2GB Modules. So the price increase isn't too bad considering 4GB ram sticks are the largest you can currently buy. I am still waiting for that to dip in price and for the more massive ram sticks to come along. We have been max 4GB for quite some time now.
  • 1 Hide
    arkadi , February 3, 2010 8:38 AM
    4 now i can live with 12gb limit on my x58 mb. But it is good to know that ppl that really need more then that can do it for affordable price
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , February 3, 2010 9:59 AM
    Only problem I have with the review is where is the same tests on a AMD platform for all us AMD users that will be or are already looking at AMD AM3/DDR3 builds.
  • 1 Hide
    Crashman , February 3, 2010 10:01 AM
    micky_lundouch 400+ for 8gb ram?


    Yeh, ouch, but can you imagine paying $800 for it last summer? Newegg still has one of those super-expensive kits.
  • -1 Hide
    verrul , February 3, 2010 10:24 AM
    dont expect more than 4gb anytime soon there really is no need in a system to run more than 4 to begin with you really dont see any speed improvements past 4 and no program is built to handle that size of memory block currently. Sure there are the occasional special systems that use more than 4gb but not for a single program. Besides that there is the TDP and FCC inforced efficiency ratings they have to come in under ram is an energy hog for an overclocker
  • -1 Hide
    Crashman , February 3, 2010 11:04 AM
    terrybearOnly problem I have with the review is where is the same tests on a AMD platform for all us AMD users that will be or are already looking at AMD AM3/DDR3 builds.


    Tom's Hardware has recently been getting very similar overclocking and timing results between AMD and Intel systems when using the same modules and DIMM voltage. That's why the high-end system for the last two System Builder Marathons used the same RAM both times.
  • 1 Hide
    anamaniac , February 3, 2010 11:13 AM
    What about 16GBm 1066MHz DDR3 DIMM's? Only $1,700 a piece. =D
    Granted, however, it is server ECC memory, and was never designed to be in a desktop. (Would love a 2P rig running dual 4GHz sexacore Gulftowns with HT, with 9 DIMM's per socket, running (18 DIMMs x 16GB/DIMM) 288GB of RAM.)

    http://www.amazon.com/HP-Memory-240-pin-PC3-8500-registered/dp/B002I8SHK2
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , February 3, 2010 11:32 AM
    anamaniacWhat about 16GBm 1066MHz DDR3 DIMM's? Only $1,700 a piece. =DGranted, however, it is server ECC memory, and was never designed to be in a desktop. (Would love a 2P rig running dual 4GHz sexacore Gulftowns with HT, with 9 DIMM's per socket, running (18 DIMMs x 16GB/DIMM) 288GB of RAM.)http://www.amazon.com/HP-Memory-24 [...] B002I8SHK2

    Nobody will use more than 12GB of memory, 16GB should be enough for anyone.
  • 1 Hide
    sir_malaki , February 3, 2010 11:45 AM
    I've been using 8GB of G.skill Ripjaws 1600 (4x2GB) for about a month on a AM3 based system and love it. Very easy to overclock, although not all the time - just playing to see how fast I can push the Phenom IIx4 965 Black Box. Stock is 3.4GHz, made it to 4.4GHz before showing signs of memory/cpu issues (getting warm, need to get better cooling).

    The only complaint I have is how tall the heat sinks are, in a mATX case space is a premium. The memory is cool looking though. I bought it from Newegg for $219.99 USD
  • 0 Hide
    pocketdrummer , February 3, 2010 1:50 PM
    What ever happened to the Socket 1366 component reviews? All I see here anymore is the 1156 components. I realize that it's more "mainstream", but those of us who made the plunge into the "enthusiast" platform want to know more! How about the "Five Triple-Module 12GB Kits Compared"? ugh...
  • 0 Hide
    coldmast , February 3, 2010 1:59 PM
    thank you again Tom's for debunking myths
  • -1 Hide
    megamanx00 , February 3, 2010 2:05 PM
    I'll tell you what's limited demand for higher RAM Density..... The darn persistent 32-bit OS. I still say Vista should have been 64-bit only. Wish the university would have provided the 64-bit Vista when I was still going there, but hey they gave 32-bit to me free so I can't complain :D 
  • 1 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , February 3, 2010 2:06 PM
    Another interesting article. Big thank you for mentioning the "heatspreader myth".
  • 1 Hide
    volks1470 , February 3, 2010 3:07 PM
    Well this is good, but why are RAM prices still high in general?? I remember back in April I bought two A-Data 2GB 1333MHz DDR3 sticks for $50. Now i'm seeing prices around $85-$100 for basic RAM. Ridiculous!!
  • 2 Hide
    Craxbax , February 3, 2010 3:30 PM
    Ram prices aren't going up. The dollar is going down in purchasing power!
  • 1 Hide
    cangelini , February 3, 2010 4:02 PM
    pocketdrummerWhat ever happened to the Socket 1366 component reviews? All I see here anymore is the 1156 components. I realize that it's more "mainstream", but those of us who made the plunge into the "enthusiast" platform want to know more! How about the "Five Triple-Module 12GB Kits Compared"? ugh...


    We'll have more of these within the next month!
  • 3 Hide
    rpmrush , February 3, 2010 4:19 PM
    I still haven't seen any need to run more than 2GB of ram even when gaming and benching in Vista. For those with 12GB, your just filling up your X58 board cuz you can. There is zero need for anything beyond 4GB in the current 32bit environment. Even with a 64bit OS (I have Vista 64bit and Win 7 64 bit) the majority of all programs are 32bit. For those who actually utilize 64bit programs, well 8-12GB might be useful. Anyone with 64 bit Win7..load up 64bit Internet Explorer and open 10 different tabs and watch your ram get filled up..lol
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