Dual-Channel DDR3: Who Makes The Best 4GB Kit Under $150?

Latency, Overclocking, And Bandwidth

Today’s comparison is more of a race than a value analysis, so we begin our tests by finding the highest stable memory speed supported by our platform for each memory kit.

The only three memory kits able to reliably exceed the DDR3-2000 barrier are those already rated to do so. G.Skill goes a step further by also exceeding DDR3-2133, which is the next full step beyond DDR3-1866 in a market where standard parts come in 266 MHz increments. The ability of several sets to exceed DDR3-2000 also adds a higher setting for our latency tests.

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Best Timings at 1.65 V
Row 0 - Cell 0 DDR3-2000DDR3-1866DDR3-1600DDR3-1333
G.Skill DDR3-2000 CAS 9 F3-16000CL9D-4GBTD7-8-7-197-8-6-186-7-5-166-6-5-12
PQI DDR3-2000 CAS 9 MFAFR521PA70017-9-7-227-8-7-216-7-6-186-6-5-15
Super Talent DDR3-2000 CAS 8, WP200UX4G88-8-7-197-7-7-166-7-6-145-6-5-12
Team Group DDR3-1600 CAS 8 TXD34096M1600HC8DC-DN/A9-8-7-217-7-6-186-6-5-15
Patriot DDR3-1600 CAS 8 PVV34G1600LLKBN/A9-8-7-228-7-6-196-6-5-16
Crucial DDR3-1333 CAS9 CT2KIT25664BA1339N/A9-9-8-218-8-7-186-6-6-15
Kingston DDR3-1600 CAS 8 KHX1600C8D3T1K2/4GXN/A9-9-9-158-8-8-147-7-7-13
PNY DDR3-1600 CAS 8 XLR8 MD4096KD3-1600-X8N/AN/A8-8-8-187-6-6-16

Not only is G.Skill able to reach exceedingly-high speeds, these modules pushed CAS 7 latency at DDR3-2000. PQI’s hard-to-find parts are not far behind, while Super Talent reached CAS 7 at DDR3-1866.

Old timers who think DDR3 latency numbers sound high must be reminded of how these apply to response time. Because latency is measured in memory clock cycles that are the inverse of frequency, DDR3-1600 CAS 8, DDR2-800 CAS 4, and DDR-400 CAS 2 would all have the same response time. Half of today’s samples are quicker than DDR3-1600 CAS 8.

G.Skill had the best latencies at DDR3-2000, so its lead in Sandra is unsurprising.

Super Talent leads the latency chart at DDR3-1866, and is similarly rewarded in Sandra Memory Bandwidth.

G.Skill and Super Talent tie in Sandra Bandwidth at DDR3-1600, which makes some sense only if Super Talent’s lower tRAS is a match for G.Skill’s lower tRP.

Super Talent leads at DDR3-1333, but it’s not like anyone actually plans to run this memory that “slow.”

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • neiroatopelcc
    And yet I would never recommend anyone to buy memory running faster than 1600mhz.
    Add another $50 and buy two cheaper ddr3-1600c9 sets instead. More beats faster.
  • ksa-_-jed
    the bottom line is there no big different worth the extra money.
    I think is better to stick with the 1600mhz
  • jrharbort
    I'm still glad with my choice to stick with the crucial modules in all my builds for nearly a year now. Nice article, was very informative, but I don't think it will effect my overall choice on future builds.
  • wow those trident's are very impressive.
  • mr_tuel
    I bought my OCZ 6GB 1600MHz triple-channel kit for $85 last May. It will now cost my ~$160 to buy another :-(
  • SchizoFrog
    What happened to Corsair and OCZ? This is just another article for you to advertise certain brands, shame on you Tom's...
  • neiroatopelcc
    I'm sure they're not present in the article, because they simply didn't want to send any modules in time.
    Besides, corsair is usually middle of pack, and ocz has compatibility issues on every second motherboard or something. Not the biggest of losses.
  • madass
    "We recommend G.Skill’s Trident DDR3-2000 specifically for mid-budget overclockers who believe in the importance of memory speeds beyond those we’ve found to be beneficial to program performance."
  • idisarmu
    4gb is no longer the optimal capacity. RAM prices are going up component-wise. 4gb of DDR3 1600 was down to about 95-100 dollars at one point, but now the price has gone up $10-15. Meanwhile, the price of 2x4gb kits have gone down from about $420 to $260-300 (This is for ddr3 1333)

    I think that if someone is building a new PC, it is now better to invest in 8gb in a 2x4gb kit than it is to invest in 2x2gb. You will eventually upgrade to 8gb anyway (next year or in 2 years), so why don't you just buy the 8gb in 2 sticks for only a slight % increase of Cost/GB
  • dalta centauri
    Here I am running 4gb of ADATA DDR2 ram at 800MHz and others have 250$ worth of ram in their computers. I think it's time to upgrade :D
    (Darn, 300$ down the tube)