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Five Overclockable 32 GB DDR3 Kits, Reviewed

Test System Configuration

Much of the discussion involving these modules relates directly to the test platform we're using, so it's important to detail our configuration ahead of any questions that arise.

Overclockers have found wide variability between different samples of Intel’s Core i7-4770K, yet the CPU's dual-channel memory controller is usually more forgiving of high frequencies compared to the quad-channel controller found in its Core i7-4960X. My particular sample is better than average, reaching 4.6 GHz at 1.25 V core and DRAM data rates exceeding 3000 MT/s in several of my motherboard round-ups. Higher data rates are important in an overclocking test!

Asus’ Z87-Pro is among the elite memory overclocking motherboards in my stash, and it repeatedly proves itself capable across a wider variety of modules compared to my other top choices.

When I talk about Haswell’s thermal transfer problems, and large coolers barely outperforming smaller ones, Thermalright’s MUX-120 is the impressive smaller one I’m alluding to. This heat sink keeps my Core i7-4770K below 70 °C at 4.5 GHz and 1.25 V.

The reason I’m running the CPU at 4.50 GHz is the same as the reason I’m using PowerColor’s overclocked PCS+ AXR9 290X. I’m trying to build a system powerful enough to expose memory bandwidth bottlenecks in ordinary applications. I could try to do that with an ordinary Radeon R9 290X, but why would I want more noise?

Test System Configuration
CPUIntel Core i7-4770K (Haswell): 3.50 GHz, 4C/8T Overclocked to 4.50 GHz (45 x 100 MHz) at 1.25 V Core
CPU CoolerThermalright MUX-120
MotherboardAsus Z87-Pro: LGA 1150, Intel Z87 Express, Firmware 1707 (12/13/2013)
GraphicsPowerColor PCS+ AXR9 290X 4GBD5-PPDHE: 1050 MHz GPU, 4 GB GDDR5-5400
Hard DrivesSamsung 840 Pro MZ-7PD256, 256 GB SSD
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
PowerCorsair AX860i: ATX12V v2.3, EPS12V, 80 PLUS Platinum
OSMicrosoft Windows 8 Pro x64
GraphicsAMD Catalyst 14.3 Beta 1.0
ChipsetIntel INF
Benchmark Configuration
Autodesk 3ds Max 2013Version 15.0 x64: Space Flyby Mentalray, 248 Frames, 1440x1080
WinRARVersion 5.0: THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to RAR, command line switches "winrar a -r -m3"
F1 2012Steam Version, In-Game Test Test Set 1: High Quality Preset, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 8x AA
Metro: Last LightSteam version, Built-In Benchmark, "Frontline" SceneTest Set 1: DX11, Med Quality, 4x AF, Low Blur, No SSAA, No Tesselation, No PhysXTest Set 2: DX11, High Quality, 16x AF, Normal Blur, SSAA, Tesselation Normal, No PhysX
SiSoftware SandraVersion 2014.02.20.10, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / Multimedia / Cryptography, Memory Bandwidth Benchmarks
Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.