DDR3 Memory Scaling: Intel's Core 2 Quad Examined

Test System Details: Corsair & Crucial DDR3, Gigabyte X48-DQ6

RAM: Crucial Ballistix DDR3 1600 & Corsair Dominator XMS3

We used two different types of DDR3 memory to reach the 6 GB capacity point, which we also used for the Core i7 and Phenom II X4 RAM scaling tests, since we did not have identical 2 GB and 1 GB DIMMs. Two Corsair CM3X2G1600C9DHX DIMMs provided 2 GB capacity each, and two additional Crucial Ballistix PC3-1800 modules added 1 GB each. Thus, the system ran with 2 x 2 GB and 2 x 1 GB DDR3 DIMMs in dual-channel mode. Although the Corsair timings are rated CL9, they supported CL8 timings at DDR3-1600 speed as well.

Motherboard: Gigabyte X48T-DQ6

This motherboard has been around for more than a year. The X48T-DQ6 is Gigabyte’s highest-end motherboard for Socket 775, with support for the flagship Core 2 Extreme QX9770 3.2 GHz quad-core processor. 

The X48 chipset is still the top model of Intel’s 4 series, but since the introduction of the LGA 1366 Core i7 platform and attractive P45 alternatives, the X48 has lost some of its appeal. We nevertheless decided to use this board, as it officially supports FSB1600 speeds and the fastest Core 2 quad core processor that was released. Both had to be the basis for our memory evaluation, as slower system configurations would return smaller differences between the different memory setups.

The X48T-DQ6 really is a beast, which becomes obvious when looking at its 12-phase voltage regulators, the massive Silent-Pipe heat pipe, and the number of integrated extras: these include 6+2 SATA/300 ports, twin Gigabit Ethernet, and FireWire 400/800 connections. However, the board is equally well-equipped from a software perspective, as it’s a great overclocking platform as well.