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Selecting the right memory can either be a very simple or an extremely complex affair. If you are not into overclocking, you can simply get any memory product that matches your platform’s requirements : any branded DDR2-800 memory kit should work with today’s Athlon 64 X2 or Core 2 Duo motherboards. However, users who seek to increase memory performance by tweaking operating parameters, or by increasing the memory clock speed, need to spend some time to figure out what they want, and to identify the RAM product that will be perfect for them. In the battle for this market, new enthusiast products from G.Skill, OCZ and Patriot strive to dethrone the current king, Corsair’s PC10000 Dominator series.
If you want to dig into high-end memory, be prepared to spend two to three times as much as for mainstream RAM. Accordingly, I would like to point out up front that memory tweaking and overclocking does not have as much of a performance impact as it used to have some years ago. Although a memory clock speed upgrade results in a linear increase in memory bandwidth, this increase is not necessarily reflected by benchmarking software. In fact, memory tuning has a rather small impact on overall performance, as our benchmark results will show. The reason for this is the efficient L2 caches found on every x86 processor today : smart caches not only improve overall system performance, they also diminish the performance difference between high-end RAM and mainstream memory. From our experiences, we can clearly say that spending extra money on a faster processor will usually give you a better performance increase than devoting it to high-end memory.
However, you can only receive the best performance enhancement if you work on all components, so let’s get started with the memory. Welcome the title holder Corsair Dominator PC10000, and the challengers G.Skill F2-6400, G.Skill F2-8500, OCZ FlexXLC, OCZ Reaper and the new Patriot PC2-10100.