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Memory: G.Skill RipjawsZ F3-17000CL9Q-16GBZHD (4 GB x 4)

Tom's Hardware's 2011 Gift Guide: Part 1, For System Builders
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$249.99
www.gskill.com

So you’ve rolled into a new X79 Express-based platform with four memory channels and need at least 16 GB of RAM. Hey, who doesn’t? G.Skill gives you a high-performance option that, in a pinch, could probably be used to saw the branches off a Christmas tree for composting. We make no claims about the dissipation efficacy of the Ripjaws Z-series (try pronouncing that—go ahead) heat spreader, but it definitely looks cool without being gaudy.

These 4 GB DDR3 modules feature 9-11-9-28-2N timings and run at a default of 1.65 volts. A command rate of 1T runs fine at stock levels, but you’ll want to drop down to 2T for heavy overclocking. If you’re trying to tuck under a large CPU air cooler, keep an eye on these module’s 1.58” (40 mm) height. Like a good memory vendor should, G.Skill warranties the Ripjaws Z for life.

The -HD version of this kit ($179.99) is for standard performance levels. The -ZHD set shown here is specifically designed to push beyond 2133 MT/s. One perhaps predictable caveat is that these modules ought to be run in XMP mode for maximum benefit, which is no problem—if your platform supports XMP. G.Skill currently shows the Asus Rampage IV Extreme and P9X79 Deluxe as being the only two qualified motherboards for this kit. No doubt, the modules will work fine on other platforms, but exercise caution and check your return policies accordingly (we had trouble at first on Intel's DX79SI board, which has since been solved with a firmware update).

There are higher-end alternatives, to be sure. You can drop over $600 on some 2400 MT/s CL9 quad-channel kits. But early reports are already showing these Ripjaws Z overclocking above 2300 MT/s. Given that, we’d be inclined to put some of these sticks in your stocking and pocket the savings for the next holiday season. Besides, we already showed in Intel Core i7-3960X Review: Sandy Bridge-E And X79 Express that memory scaling on this enthusiast-oriented platform is of limited utility in most applications.

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