Tom's Hardware's 2010 Gift Guide: Part 1, For System Builders

Memory: Crucial DDR3-1333 12 GB Memory Kit
By: William Van Winkle

Your favorite Christmas jingles have at least two verses, so why not follow suit with one of our gift guide recommendations? In November 2009, we effusively bestowed our Best of 2009 award on Crucial’s CT2KIT51264BA1339 dual-channel kit. Tom’s Hardware author Thomas Soderstrom found that there was more to the DDR3-1333 CAS 9 modules than met the eye, including a DDR3-1522 configuration profile. No higher voltage settings necessary. No heat spreaders. Just regular value memory able to go toe-to-toe against some of the premium Ballistix models and easily trounce competing DDR3-1600 offerings.

In fact, with just a slight voltage overclock from the default 1.5 V to 1.65 V, this Crucial kit easily surpasses comparable memory options. This raises an interesting question: if Crucial’s mainstream DDR3-1333 kit can so readily pour on the juice without the benefit of a heat spreader, what exactly are customers buying when they pay for that metal sheath? This raises another investigation for another day, but if you’re wondering why we’re touting plain, mainstream memory sticks instead of something that looks like it should be dangling from a noble fir: plain and simple, the value of this kit remains stellar.

In only February of this year, Crucial’s 2 x 4 GB kit cost $434. Today, the same kit in a 3 x 4 GB configuration for triple-channel systems  costs $188.99 on Crucial’s site. That’s 50% more memory for less than 50% of the price. Talk about some holiday cheer! We gave Crucial our Best of Tom’s award largely on the basis of its performance versus price ratio. In a nutshell, you just get more bang for the buck, and that hasn’t changed at any point in 2010.

For better or worse, 2010 has been a pretty poky year on the DRAM scene. We haven’t seen any new formats, speed breakthroughs, or even innovating enthusiast permutations. In such an environment, the only card that vendors seemed willing to play was price drops as DDR3 volume continued to push DDR2 back into the shadows. This suits us just fine, but it also means that the story this season is about value, not bling. We'll take it. Stepping up to 12 GB on our X58-based build clearly bolsters its enthusiast cred.

  • alexttlyrocks
    I'm only reading this article to look at the chicks
  • rohitbaran
    ^ Keep reading!
  • dogman_1234
    Wait until SB and BD.
  • Radeon 6870 girl ... someone forgot to photoshop her ^^
  • LuckyDucky7
    Alternative title:
    Gift Guide Part 1, for Deep Pockets :)
  • squanto
  • cangelini
    LuckyDucky7Alternative title:Gift Guide Part 1, for Deep Pockets
    Phenom II for under $100? You must have those pockets that are sewn shut at the top, for decoration! =)
  • Bluescreendeath
    girls > computer parts that we already know about
  • Silmarunya
    Nice review, but I'd have liked to see advice for different budgets. For example, you could recommend a budget, mid range and high end product. For example, I'm currently in the market for a discrete sound card, but don't such an expensive one. On the other hand, I wouldn't be satisfied with a Phenom II X2. It's still a great article, mind you, but it'd have been nice to see some love for every end of the market.
  • Onus
    ntrRadeon 6870 girl ... someone forgot to photoshop her ^^No, it's the taint that a Diamond product radiates. They're #2 on my personal "Do not buy" list, right after Belkin.