Memory: Kingston HyperX 8GB DDR3-1600 Kit (KHX1600C8D3K4/8GX)
By: William Van Winkle
‘Tis the season to make the switch to DDR3. According to industry tracking and analysis firm iSuppli, 2010 will be the year that DDR3 finally outsells DDR2, so if you weren’t convinced that DDR3 was a smarter investment before, hopefully the wisdom of the masses (Ed.: and the adoption of DDR3 by all of Intel's and AMD's newest platforms) will persuade you now. We’ve already seen how Core i5 can deliver loads of performance at bargain prices. AMD unlocked Black Edition chips are famous for doing the same. Whichever platform gets used, you still need a high-performance but affordable pile of memory to run on that board in a dual-channel configuration. With Windows 7 64-bit here for the holidays, we know that 4GB of system memory is no longer necessarily enough, especially if you want to indulge in XP Mode or other virtualization-based approaches. These days, 8GB is the way to fly.
You might suppose that a pair of 4GB modules makes sense—and it does in terms of slot capacity. If you have four slots on a dual-channel board, ideally you want to leave a pair open for future expansion. The trouble is that today’s 4GB DDR3 modules start at $200. Kingston’s only 4GB module (KVR1333D3N9/4G) still inexplicably lists for $394.49 on Newegg.com as of this writing. But even figuring $200 per module, that’s $400 for 8GB of DDR3-1333, or $450 if you want to step up to DDR3-1600. For nearly half the price, you bet—four 2GB modules makes more sense.
As always, the HyperX line stays attractive, clad in simple blue heatspreaders that get the job done without excessive bling. Kingston tends to be one of the more conservative memory vendors, so it makes sense that the SPDs on these modules are programmed to JEDEC standard settings: DDR3-1333 MHz at 9-9-9 latencies and 1.5V. However, the kit is certified to run at DDR3-1600 and CL8 at 1.65V. Moreover, we know that the kit will easily scale beyond those data rates.
Some overclocking-oriented enthusiasts may still have a bad taste in their mouths from the days when running four sticks on a board could cause serious stability issues. While it's entirely true that you simply won't get the headroom out of four modules that you will out of two, I’m confident in saying that four modules will run stably if you're using a solid motherboard.
In any case, don’t feel that the higher-profile vendors of the world have a lock on high-performance DDR3. This Kingston DDR3-1600 kit will go toe-to-toe with the best of them, which is one of the reasons we partnered with Kingston for last year's Overdrive overclocking competition.