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Mainstream-Ready? DDR3-1600 Shootout

Mainstream ready?

How do you define mainstream in an enthusiast market dominated by value-seeking overclockers ? Everyone loves performance. Yet, even in enthusiast circles the average buyer is looking for the best value. A memory budget limit of $200 should be reasonable for a mid-priced performance PC, and kits over $300 should be reserved for big-spenders, but that leaves a huge grey area in the middle.

Vendors and readers alike have been asking for a DDR3-1600 (PC3-12800) shootout ever since our DDR3-1333 Comparison, but we waited for these parts to reach mainstream prices before obliging. By the time 2 GB kits finally reached out price point, the reality of living with Windows Vista and its huge memory demands had finally set in.

That left us in another tight spot. Should we compare the sub-$200 2 GB kits an average enthusiast can afford, or should we instead choose the 4 GB capacity that performance buyers really want ? Capacity was the dominating factor for us.

The average buyer might instead choose a DDR2 configuration, but that would only be a short-term solution. Intel’s new socket is on the way, with mainstream parts following the high-end release by only a few short months. Today’s article comes in anticipation of tomorrow’s needs.

9/26/08—Update : Our tests in this story were conducted on an ASUS X48-based motherboard chosen for its overclocking capabilities in our X48 Motherboard Comparison, Part 2. However, the benchmarks in that piece were run using a pair of 1 GB (single-sided) memory modules, resulting in the observed performance.

We didn’t see the same yields in this comparison of 4 GB kits made up of double-sided modules—clear from our overclocking results across the board. We weren’t the only ones to notice the shortfall, though. We’ve been talking to representatives at Corsair, who say the company’s own 4 GB kit should be able to do more than 1,800 MHz, whereas we clocked them under 1,700.

As it turns out, Corsair’s testing reveals that you may need a northbridge voltage manually set to 1.61 V in order to achieve optimal overclocking of these 4 GB kits with the X48’s memory controller. Given the 1.25 V stock voltage of X48, we wouldn’t recommend running voltages that high for prolonged periods of time. However, it is worth noting that faster frequencies should be possible for many, if not all of these kits.

  • emp
    Unless you guys know something that I don't (which is perfectly possible), as far as I understand the X58 will have a DDR3-1066 standard, which in my eyes makes DDR3-1333 the more coveted overclocking without breaking the bank. Unless DDR3-1600 makes a REAL improvement in overclocking capabilities (and I don't think it does, isn't that one of the features the IMC is supposed to bring?), I'd like to see more DDR3-1333 round ups, which in my opinion will be the more sought after memory with the masses.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    Rumors are all over the place on the new CPU, with support for up to DDR3-2000 rumored as an option for tuners (read, overclockers). This memory overclocking mode is also rumored to be available at stock CPU speeds.
    Reply
  • cangelini
    empUnless you guys know something that I don't (which is perfectly possible), as far as I understand the X58 will have a DDR3-1066 standard, which in my eyes makes DDR3-1333 the more coveted overclocking without breaking the bank. Unless DDR3-1600 makes a REAL improvement in overclocking capabilities (and I don't think it does, isn't that one of the features the IMC is supposed to bring?), I'd like to see more DDR3-1333 round ups, which in my opinion will be the more sought after memory with the masses.
    Heya emp! It'll officially be doing DDR3-1066 out of the gate. However, you're probably going to see motherboard vendors enabling 1333, 1600, and 2000 as well, which is why we were hoping some of these modules would hit that number with overclocking.
    Reply
  • cangelini
    lacritsI recent the online survey I am promted when trying to continue in the article! There was no way for me to "x"-out the message, I had to answer in the "applet http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Applet " itself. I don't trust such content and would like the option to not answer in the applet at all!If I see this crap repeatadly here at Toms when viewing articles or reading other content I'll stop visiting this site altogether.. I've been a frequent visitor for years.. But this is not acceptable from a security stand point!
    I'll look into the issue you're talking about lacrits--thanks for the heads-up.
    Reply
  • geok1ng
    Sub optimal results for DDR3 2x2GB kits. To compensated for the increased tRD and timings over DDR2 counterparts DDR3 kits should achieve DDR3 1333 CAS5, DDR3 1600 CAS6 and DDR 1800 CAS7, numbers that not a single kit in the article was capable, showing that 2x2GB DDR3 kits are much more slower than 2x1GB parts. DDR3 ony makes sense on the 2:1 divider, so we are talking about DDR3 1600-1800 speeds for optimal performance but at this range only a few Motherboards accept tRDs of 6, and most cant even handle tRDs of 7. Until further results i still advocate the use if DDR2 2x2GB kits capable of CAS5 tRD5 operation mostly on the 1150-1250Mhz range, all of them south of the $200 mark...
    Reply
  • itadakimasu
    However, you're probably going to see motherboard vendors enabling 1333, 1600, and 2000 as well, which is why we were hoping some of these modules would hit that number with overclocking.

    this is said like its not happened.... my most recent build on a gigabyte p45 board is running 2gb of ocz platinum ddr3-1333 @ 750mhz like a champ...

    this was built well over a month ago and there were several boards then supporting 1600 fsb and ddr3-2000.

    my ram defaulted out at its stated 7-7-7 timings @ 667mhz stated speeds.
    Reply
  • emp
    Yep, I figured as much on my own, cangelini. However DDR3 1333 in my opinion is getting there to the "acceptable" price range, but DDR3-1600 still has a long way to go. I'd like to see soon after Core i7 and the X58 chipset is released an article about the effect of DDR3-1066, DDR3-1333, and DDR3-1600 on overclocking, I believe that's when we'll be able to make an informed decision on which are "mainstream ready & accepted"
    Reply
  • cangelini
    itadakimasuthis is said like its not happened.... my most recent build on a gigabyte p45 board is running 2gb of ocz platinum ddr3-1333 @ 750mhz like a champ...this was built well over a month ago and there were several boards then supporting 1600 fsb and ddr3-2000. my ram defaulted out at its stated 7-7-7 timings @ 667mhz stated speeds.
    It hasn't--X58 isn't out yet. The response was to emp's question on Nehalem =)
    Reply
  • eodeo
    X58 isn't out yet.
    whats the point of this review than?

    ddr3 hardly offers a solid 1% over ddr2 while the price would suggest otherwise. Same goes for the i7. How fast will it have to be to compare to 3.6ghz core2 quad? at what price?

    face it, ddr3 is useless to us, and only reason any sane person would even be considering it is due to intel making it mandatory for the i7.

    sure it will be nice one day in the future. So, 'till the future comes, in a year or two, stick with ddr2 pc800, you dont need any faster anyways.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    eodeowhats the point of this review than? ddr3 hardly offers a solid 1% over ddr2 while the price would suggest otherwise. Same goes for the i7. How fast will it have to be to compare to 3.6ghz core2 quad? at what price?face it, ddr3 is useless to us, and only reason any sane person would even be considering it is due to intel making it mandatory for the i7.sure it will be nice one day in the future. So, 'till the future comes, in a year or two, stick with ddr2 pc800, you dont need any faster anyways.
    LOL, I know you meant PC2-6400. Because PC800 is DDR...RDRAM.
    Reply