DDR3 On A Budget: Six 6 GB Memory Kits

Finally, 6 GB Gets Affordable

Have DDR3 prices finally hit rock bottom? DDR3-1600 reached $30 per 2 GB module several weeks ago, making it completely competitive in price-per-performance with DDR2. Available in both dual-channel and triple-channel kits for $60 and $90, these aren't last year’s high-voltage parts, but instead completely modern 1.50-1.65 V modules, fully compatible with Core i7, Phenom II socket AM3, and future Core i5 platforms.

But those were June's prices, and several of the modules that qualified for our “sub-$100 triple-channel roundup” have since gone up to as much as $130. Meanwhile, prices for the DDR2 that still competes for attention in AM2+ and LGA 775 platforms have remained relatively flat. A few of today’s contenders haven’t yet been hit by the higher cost bug, but we see it as only a matter of time before the cheapest models get more expensive or the more expensive models get cheaper. Either move will result in all six sets once again settling into the same price class.

Today’s comparison is about value, so the products lagging behind the upward pricing trend have a distinct advantage no matter how long it lasts. With daily updates logistically difficult, tomorrow’s readers should instead find our test data far more useful than any value conclusions when using future prices.

Value for us is defined by how much performance we can extract from a part, rather than how much it’s specified to provide. Overclocking and under-latency test results are thus more significant to us than rated settings, yet some people refuse to overclock by a greater amount than specified by the module manufacturer. Here’s a short list of how today’s samples are marketed.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Low-Cost DDR3 Rated Timings and Voltage
Row 0 - Cell 0 TimingsVoltage
A-Data DDR3-1333 CAS 7, model AX3U1333PB2G7-3P7-7-7-201.65 V
Corsair DDR3-1600 CAS 8, model TR3X6G1600C88-8-8-241.65 V
Crucial DDR3-1333 CAS9, model CT3KIT25664BA13399-9-9-281.50 V
OCZ DDR3-1333 CAS 7, model OCZ3X1333LV6GK7-7-7-201.60 V
Patriot DDR3-1333 CAS 7, model PVT36G1333LLK7-7-7-201.65 V
Super Talent DDR3-1600, model CAS 9 WB160UX6G99-9-9-281.65 V

The only company to rate its part at standard voltage, Crucial’s higher-latency DDR3 can be viewed as the only parts in today’s lineup that don’t require overclocking techniques to reach rated speed and timings. Our overclocking tests will be the equalizer, since we apply the same voltage limit to every set.

Before we move on to overclock testing and value assessment, let’s take a closer look at each product in today’s comparison.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • aspireonelover
    Great review, this helped me determine with determining about DDR3 6GB kits. Since I'm in the middle of building my core i7 rig. thx!
    btw, isn't there any cheaper ram on the way as well?
  • Crashman
    These were all available for under $90 at the July 3 price deadline. Amazing what's happened since, eh?
  • pirateboy
    rather silly not to include any gskill ram
  • neiroatopelcc
    Is 1.65v really needed?
    I recently built an i7 mashine with 2x6gb ocz gold modules.
    Instead of running them at their rated 1600mhz @ 1.65v I decided to go for 1333 @ 7-7-6-17 - and that @ stock 1.5v ; I don't really get the point of feeding them more juice just to get timings a tad lower, or frequency a tad up.
  • hixbot
    With the minimal performance gains from high-end RAM, glad to see an evaluation of the "cheap" stuff. Good work.
  • bk420
    I wish these came in 2 or 4 packs also!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • inmytaxi
    OCZ DDR3 3x 2 GB kits, the Gold and the Plat at 1333 and 1600, dropped below 100 bucks at NewEgg and ZipZoomFly three months ago. They've been $89 - 99 PLUS a 20 rebate with FREE shipping there on and off since April.

    The statement at the heading is inaccurate.
  • monkeysweat
    what about kingston ram?
  • itadakimasu
    I picked up some 12gb ocz platinum 1333 kits for $135, and 140 off of amazon. Found them using bing.com/cashback.
  • xanubisx
    do not use ocz's xmp set the memory yourself. On my memory the 1600mhz with xmp i tried the xmp 1600 setting and it cooked my i7 cpu. After the shitty rma process i installed the memory and set all the timings myself and found out that the xmp profile set the qpi voltage to 1.4 when it runs fine on 1.105 (i think) the default qpi voltage anyways i learnt my lesson ocz might have cheap memory but dont use the xmp.