Which 32 GB Memory Kit Should You Buy?
The best memory kit in today’s round-up must necessarily be the one that runs at the highest data rates and/or supports the tightest timings. In other words, Corsair's Vengeance Pro DDR3-2800 is the only 32 GB memory kit elite enough to win our Tom's Hardware Elite honor.
That recognition does leave me in a bit of a bind though, since G.Skill took the rules of our contest into account (including the motherboard and settings we told everyone we'd use), and correctly determined that DDR3-2400 would be best-suited to the test platform. Most of us would call that working smarter, rather than harder. And the smart choice for owners of Asus' Z87-Pro will want to pair that board up with the right kit. The right kit should qualify for an award, too.
A value-oriented award was always a possibility in this overclocking-oriented story. But one didn't appear likely until after I saw how wise it'd be to pair our platform with a $310 DDR3-2400 kit. Rather than optimizing for all-out data rate or the lowest latencies, G.Skill tuned for motherboard limitations.
And that opens up yet another can of worms. It would seem that Asus has been winning the DRAM overclocking component of my motherboard round-ups with excessively loose timings when its board is set to aggressive data rates. Sure, I could add DDR3-2800 bandwidth testing to those pieces. But Asus might very well respond by optimizing platforms for data rates no higher than DDR3-2800 (rather than its current DDR3-2400 tuning).
So, which memory would I choose? As a motherboard reviewer, I'm inclined to go with the kit that works best for motherboard round-ups. Since many of today's boards sneakily apply CPU overclocking whenever XMP mode is enabled, I run application benchmarks with XMP disabled. A perfect module set for me would begin with an SPD value of DDR3-1600 CAS 9, such as Patriot’s Viper 3 PV332G240C1QK.
But then I need to add overclocking stability tests. Topping out at DDR3-2693, Patriot’s DDR3-2400 kit just doesn’t add much to motherboard evaluations that employ a DDR3-3000-capable CPU. On the other hand, competing samples default to DDR3-1333 CAS 9 settings that are below our recommended minimum for performance evaluation. That means you'll continue to see me using two different sets of memory for my stories: the Patriot Viper 3 for benchmarks and Corsair Vengeance Pro for overclocking. The best place I can think to put G.Skill's value-leading kit is in my own PC.
At $310 for 32 GB of G.Skill’s DDR3-2400, I can’t fault anyone who follows my lead.