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Does Memory Performance Bottleneck Your Games?

Test Settings And Benchmarks

Test System Configuration
CPUIntel Core i7-3960X (Sandy Bridge-E): 6C/12T 3.3 GHz, 12 MB Shared L3 Cache, LGA 2011 Overclocked to 4.4 GHz (44 x 100 MHz) at 1.325 V Core
MotherboardAsus P9X79, BIOS 3203 (11/26/2012)
CPU CoolerCoolink Corator DS 120 mm Tower w/Zalman ZM-STG1 Paste
RAMG.Skill F3-17600CL9Q-16GBXLD (16 GB) DDR3-2200 CAS 9-11-9-36 1.65 V
Graphics2 x MSI R7970-2PMD3GD5/OC: 1010 MHz GPU, GDDR5-5500
Hard DriveMushkin Chronos Deluxe DX 240 GB, SATA 6Gb/s SSD
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
PowerSeasonic X760 SS-760KM: ATX12V v2.3, EPS12V, 80 PLUS Gold
OSMicrosoft Windows 8 Professional RTM x64
GraphicsAMD Catalyst 12.10

Intel’s LGA 2011 platform gives us the flexibility to test both dual- and quad-channel memory configurations. Asus’ P9X79 was retained from our previous case round-up, with an upgraded C2-stepping Core i7-3760X CPU.

Due to its 100 MHz base clock, the P9X79 motherboard sets G.Skill’s old DDR3-2200 CAS 9 to DDR3-2133 CAS 9-11-9-28. We used the same memory and timings for our DDR3-1600 C9 test. Our reduced-latency configuration uses this memory at DDR3-1600 CAS 7-9-7-21.

If you own a pair of Radeon HD 7970 graphics cards, there's a good chance you're looking to game at 2560x1600 or better. We started at 1920x1080 and worked our way up to 5760x1080.

3D Gaming Benchmark Configuration
Aliens vs PredatorUsing AvP Tool v 1.03, SSAO/Tesselation/Shadows On Test Set 1: High Textures, No AA, 4x AF Test Set 2: Very High Textures, 4x AA, 16x AF
Battlefield 3Campaign Mode, "Going Hunting" 90-Second Fraps Test Set 1: Medium Quality Defaults (No AA, 4x AF) Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Defaults (4x AA, 16x AF)
F1 2012Steam version, in-game benchmark Test Set 1: High Quality Preset, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 8x AA
The Elder Scrolls V: SkyrimUpdate 1.7, Celedon Aethirborn Level 6, 25-Second Fraps Test Set 1: DX11, High Details No AA, 8x AF, FXAA enabled Test Set 2: DX11, Ultra Details, 8x AA, 16x AF, FXAA enabled
Metro 2033Full Game, Built-In Benchmark, "Frontline" Scene Test Set 1: DX11, High, AAA, 4x AF, No PhysX, No DoF Test Set 2: DX11, Very High, 4x AA, 16x AF, No PhysX, DoF On
Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.