Ups and Downs: Memory Timings Put to the Test

Benchmarks: How We Tested

While it’s next to impossible to find one single RAM module that will work on all four platforms, that won’t really affect our test results. We weren’t aiming to compare different platforms, but to see what kind of an impact best-case and worst-case timings would have on performance.

We used the fastest-possible memory configuration for each platform. For the Pentium 4 and Pentium 4 Extreme Edition on the Asus P4C800-E (Intel 875P), we used four 256 MB DIMMs from Corsair because they allowed us to set the fastest-possible timings of CL2.0-2-2-5.

This was not possible with two 512 MB DIMMs because the fastest ones we could find - also from Corsair - supported "a mere" CL2.0-3-2-6.

That means that we had to test all the other platforms because the Athlon 64 FX and the Athlon 64 would only run stably with four DIMMs and much slower timings, while the nForce2 board from Asus only ships with three DIMM slots. For the Athlon 64 FX, we swapped out the Corsair RAM for a matched pair of Legacy Electronics modules.

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SystemPlatformRAM UsedReason Why
AMD Athlon XPnVIDIA nForce2 Ultra 4002x 512 MB Corsair TWINX, CL2.0-3-2-6No faster 512 MB DIMMs available
AMD Athlon 64VIA K8T8002x 512 MB Corsair TWINX, CL2.0-3-2-6No faster 512 MB DIMMS available, 4x 256 MB only possible with slow timings
AMD Athlon 64 FXVIA K8T8002x 512 MB Legacy Electronics, CL2.0-3-2-6The fastest-possible RAM since no faster 512 MB DIMMs were available
Intel Pentium 4Intel 875P4x 256 MB Corsair TWINX CL2.0-2-2-5Fastest-possible RAM
Intel Pentium 4 EEIntel 875P4x 256 MB Corsair TWINX CL2.0-2-2-5Fastest-possible RAM
Best CaseAverageWorst Case
AMD Athlon XP2.0-3-2-62.5-3-3-63.0-4-4-8
AMD Athlon 642.0-3-2-62.5-3-3-63.0-4-4-8
AMD Athlon 64 FX2.0-3-2-62.5-3-2-63.0-3-2-6
Intel Pentium 42.0-2-2-52.5-3-3-63.0-4-4-8
Intel Pentium 4 EE2.0-2-2-52.5-3-3-63.0-4-4-8