By: William Van Winkle
Your favorite Christmas jingles have at least two verses, so why not follow suit with one of our gift guide recommendations? In November 2009, we effusively bestowed our Best of 2009 award on Crucial’s CT2KIT51264BA1339 dual-channel kit. Tom’s Hardware author Thomas Soderstrom found that there was more to the DDR3-1333 CAS 9 modules than met the eye, including a DDR3-1522 configuration profile. No higher voltage settings necessary. No heat spreaders. Just regular value memory able to go toe-to-toe against some of the premium Ballistix models and easily trounce competing DDR3-1600 offerings.
In fact, with just a slight voltage overclock from the default 1.5 V to 1.65 V, this Crucial kit easily surpasses comparable memory options. This raises an interesting question: if Crucial’s mainstream DDR3-1333 kit can so readily pour on the juice without the benefit of a heat spreader, what exactly are customers buying when they pay for that metal sheath? This raises another investigation for another day, but if you’re wondering why we’re touting plain, mainstream memory sticks instead of something that looks like it should be dangling from a noble fir: plain and simple, the value of this kit remains stellar.
In only February of this year, Crucial’s 2 x 4 GB kit cost $434. Today, the same kit in a 3 x 4 GB configuration for triple-channel systems costs $188.99 on Crucial’s site. That’s 50% more memory for less than 50% of the price. Talk about some holiday cheer! We gave Crucial our Best of Tom’s award largely on the basis of its performance versus price ratio. In a nutshell, you just get more bang for the buck, and that hasn’t changed at any point in 2010.
For better or worse, 2010 has been a pretty poky year on the DRAM scene. We haven’t seen any new formats, speed breakthroughs, or even innovating enthusiast permutations. In such an environment, the only card that vendors seemed willing to play was price drops as DDR3 volume continued to push DDR2 back into the shadows. This suits us just fine, but it also means that the story this season is about value, not bling. We'll take it. Stepping up to 12 GB on our X58-based build clearly bolsters its enthusiast cred.
- CPU: AMD Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition
- Motherboard: Gigabyte 890FXA-UD5
- Memory: Patriot 4 GB DDR3-1600 Memory Kit (PGS34G1600ELK)
- Power Supply: Corsair Professional Series AX1200
- Primary Storage: OCZ RevoDrive X2
- Secondary Storage: Western Digital Caviar Green 3 TB
- Graphics: Diamond Radeon HD 6870 (6870PE51GXOC)
- CPU: Intel Core i7-980X Extreme
- Motherboard: Asus Rampage III Formula
- Memory: Crucial DDR3-1333 12 GB Memory Kit
- Chassis: SilverStone Fortress FT02B-W
- Graphics: MSI GeForce GTX 580 (N580GTX-M2D15D5)
- Heatsink: Noctua NH-C14
- Optical Drive: LG BH10LS30 Blu-ray Burner
- Sound Card: Creative Labs X-Fi Titanium HD