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Do You Really Need More Than 6 GB Of RAM?

Test Settings

Test System Configuration
CPUIntel Core i7 920 (2.66 GHz, 8.0 MB Cache) Overclocked to 3.20 GHz (BCLK 200)
CPU CoolerSwiftech Liquid Cooling: Apogee GTZ water block, MCP-655b pump, and 3x120 mm radiator
MotherboardAsus P6T Intel X58/ICH10R Chipset, LGA-1366
RAM3.0, 6.0, and 12.0 GB DDR3-1600 Triple-Channel Kits CAS 8-8-8-24 at 1.65 volts
GraphicsZotac GeForce GTX2 60 896 MB 576/999 MHz GPU/Shader, GDDR3-2484
Hard DriveWD VelociRaptor WD30000HLFS 0.3 TB, 10,000 RPM, 16 MB Cache
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
PowerCooler Master RS-850-EMBA ATX12V v2.2. EPS12V, 850W, 64AOptical
OpticalLG GGC-H20LK 6X Blu-ray/HD DVD-ROM, 16X DVD±R
Software
Operating SystemMicrosoft Windows Vista Ultimate x64 SP1
GrpahicsNvidia Forceware 182.08
ChipsetIntel INF 9.1.0.1007

Because we didn’t have a single brand of modules to represent all three test capacities, we were forced to use different brands to represent different sizes. Crucial Ballistix filled the 3 GB void with three 1 GB DDR3-1600 modules, while Kingston’s 2 GB DDR3-2000 modules were used in 6 GB and 12 GB configurations. In order to assure performance parity, memory timings were matched at 8-8-8-24 and 1N, and all available BIOS sub-timings were “locked” at those detected for the slowest (Crucial) modules.

We also updated several of our benchmarks to 64-bit compatible versions, ahead of the full-site transformation that’s scheduled to take place soon. Because today’s article preceded any unilateral agreement, further changes in the suite are likely to accompany future articles.

Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
Call of Duty: World at WarPatch 1.1, FRAPS/saved game High Textures, No AA / No AF, vsync off Ultra Textures, 4x AA / Max AF, vsync off
CrysisPatch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 64-bit executable, benchmark tool Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA Test Set 2: Very High Quality, 8x AA
Far Cry 2DirectX 10, Steam Version, in-game benchmark Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra High Quality, 8x AA
World in ConflictPatch 1009, DirectX 10, timedemo Test 1: High Details, No AA / No AF Test 2: Very High Details 4x AA / 16x AF
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunes 8Version: 8.1.0.52 (x64) Audio CD "Terminator II SE," 53 min Default format AAC
LAME MP3Version: 3.98 64-bits (07-04-2008) Audio CD "Terminator II SE," 53 min wave to MP3
TMPEG 4.6Version: 4.6.3.268 Import File: Terminator 2 SE DVD (5 Minutes) Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9
DivX 6.8.5Encoding mode: Insane Quality Enhanced multithreading enabled using SSE4 Quarter-pixel search
Xvid 1.2.1Display encoding status = off
Mainconcept Reference 1.6.1MPEG2 to MPEG2 (H.264), MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG2), Audio: MPEG2 (44.1 kHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 KB/s), Mode: PAL (25 FPS)
Productivity
Autodesk 3ds Max 2009Version: 11, Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)
Grisoft AVG Anti-Virus 8Version: 8.0.134, Virus base: 270.4.5/1533, Benchmark: Scan 334 MB Folder of ZIP/RAR compressed files
WinRAR 3.80Version 3.80, WinZIP Commandline Version 3.0, Compression = Best, Dictionary = 4,096 KB, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)
WinZip 12Version 12.0, Compression = Best, Benchmark: THG-Workload (139 MB)
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark VantageVersion: 1.02, GPU and CPU scores
PCMark VantageVersion: 1.00, System, Memory, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks, Windows Media Player 10.00.00.3646
SiSoftware Sandra XII SP2Version 2008.5.14.24, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / Multimedia, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • EQPlayer
    I run 8GB in my rig because... having open memory slots doesn't jive well with my OCD. Haha. /facepalm
    Reply
  • Try opening a PSD file from a 21-Megapixel camera with 3 or more layers in Photoshop and see the difference.
    Reply
  • Great info for the Vista crowd. What about DDR2 and XP? Betcha there are more of us than youse guys.
    Reply
  • whitewhale1
    can someone help me with what apps will utilise more ram?

    im currently researching building a workstation for photoshop and some 3d modelling to be imported and rendered in CS4

    any help much appreciated im no hardware guru :)
    Reply
  • Crashman
    Great info for the Vista crowd. What about DDR2 and XP? Betcha there are more of us than youse guys.

    It's generally accepted that XP uses less RAM than Vista, so you should be fine with 4GB (which, with 32-bit XP, will yield around 3GB of usefull address space).
    Reply
  • shades_aus
    @Thomas Soderstrom
    What the heck is that image on the front with all the memory modules!
    Can you supply a link with a bigger pic??? That's just insane!
    Reply
  • curiousgeorgieo
    Hey guys I was wondering: What if you had a 9g game loaded completely on a ramdrive (64bit+software) then kept the remaining 3 for regular ram?
    Reply
  • Tindytim
    I got 12 for all your application pleasure baby *wink*
    Reply
  • Crashman
    shades_aus@Thomas Soderstrom What the heck is that image on the front with all the memory modules!Can you supply a link with a bigger pic??? That's just insane!
    It looks like a memory testing machine or burn-in rack to me...I'm not sure where the site found it.

    curiousgeorgieoHey guys I was wondering: What if you had a 9g game loaded completely on a ramdrive (64bit+software) then kept the remaining 3 for regular ram?
    That's a great idea! Because it takes sooo long to copy an entire game from the hard drive to "anything" (even RAM), most users won't even try it. But you would get super-fast map loads!
    Reply
  • Try using several VMs in parallel and you'll be happy to have more than 3 GB. I'm using one VM for work (image of my work notebook with VPN etc.) and one for online banking (mainly because my old smartcard isn't supported in 64bit OS, little bit of a catch22).
    Reply