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By : Chris Angelini
We actually received two 6GB memory kits in time for our Core i7 coverage and had the chance to put them both through their paces. Depending on your approach to the platform, each has its own redeeming qualities.
OCZ’s DDR3 PC3-10666 kit, for example, operates at up to 1,333 MHz, which is already faster than the Core i7’s integrated memory controller is rated to run. And yet, OCZ is still able to get aggressive 7-7-7-20 timings out of these modules at 1.5V. A pair of XMP profiles also facilitates hands-off 8-8-8-20 and 7-7-7-20 settings at 1.6V, if you’d rather let your motherboard do the tweaking for you.
Of course, you’re probably already aware that i7’s integrated memory controller is very sensitive to DRAM voltage, so gone are the days of OCZ’s huge EVP guarantees over and above the JEDEC voltage specs. But OCZ does go up to 1.65V on its protection—right up to Intel’s maximum recommended voltage level.
The kit includes three 2 GB modules, totaling 6 GB. Granted, you could easily get away with a trio of 1 GB modules instead if you were looking to build on a 32-bit platform. But the i7’s triple-channel architecture, coupled with a solid foundation of 64-bit drivers and optimized applications, represents a great opportunity to break past the 4 GB barrier and adopt a 64-bit environment.
If you’re overclocking the Core i7 920 and concerned about the lack of multiplier flexibility, Corsair’s Dominator-based TR3X6G1600C8D kit gives you a little extra frequency headroom at the cost of timings. The 1,600 MHz kit is another step up beyond Intel’s official 1,066 MHz controller speed, though that isn’t stopping third-party motherboard vendors from supporting speeds as high as 1,800 MHz. Needless to say, with the right board, these Corsair modules shouldn’t have any trouble at 1,600 MHz.
In order to realize the kit’s 8-8-8-24 timings, you’ll need to be running the modules at 1.65V. In order to guarantee compatibility at boot-up, the modules’ SPDs are programmed to 9-9-9-24 at 1,333 MHz. Selecting the available XMP profile gives you the faster 1,600 MHz settings.
As with the OCZ kit, Corsair’s attractive Dominator package consists of three 2 GB modules. The two kits are priced within $50 of each other, too. So your choice will likely come down to which attribute is more important : extra frequency headroom with the Corsair kit or tighter timings at 1,333 MHz with OCZ’s offering. Either one would be a real holiday treat.