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Intel Core i7-3770K Review: A Small Step Up For Ivy Bridge

Ivy Bridge Memory Scaling

A deliberate effort went into extending Ivy Bridge’s memory overclocking ceiling and adding more granular settings. In theory, scaling memory bandwidth up could have a big impact on integrated graphics performance (more throughput certainly helped AMD’s A8-3850). So, is it worth spending extra on modules rated for higher data rates?

A synthetic like Sandra 2012 demonstrates sizable gains. Bandwidth literally doubles as we move from two channels of DDR3-1066 to DDR3-2133.

Real-world performance improvements trail off a lot faster though, likely because memory isn’t the most debilitating bottleneck.

Assuming you use a high-end Ivy Bridge chip with a discrete GPU, does faster memory affect our other benchmarks? WinRAR is notoriously sensitive to bandwidth changes, and it easily shows where more throughput helps…and where it ceases to make a difference.

It definitely makes sense to buy a DDR3-1600 kit, and even DDR3-1866 nudges performance forward a little. Stepping up to DDR3-2133 really doesn’t do anything though.

On the other end of the spectrum, well-threaded compute-intensive titles like 3ds Max give you nothing back in return for installing faster memory.

Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.