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Tom's Hardware's 2009 Gift Guide: Part 1, For System Builders

Memory: Kingston HyperX 8GB DDR3-1600 Kit (KHX1600C8D3K4/8GX)

www.kingston.com
$259
By: William Van Winkle

At 2GB per modules, you're looking at (or through) a great enthusiast kit.

‘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.

  • the_silent_one
    Anytime you mention eyefinity, be sure to mention that ONE MONITOR MUST EITHER BE ON DISPLAYPORT OR ON AN ACTIVE DISPLAYPORT ADAPTER (not just any displayport adapter, but one that uses supplemental power). If people don't know this. They are in for a rude surprise. Also, if using a displayport to hdmi or dvi active adapter for eyefinity, make it the middle monitor.
    Reply
  • Bluescreendeath
    She would make a far better Christmas present than hardware components... ;)
    Reply
  • dhowie
    I think she should be on the gift guide, I can certainly bet most of us would rather have her then anything on here :)
    Reply
  • 1898
    Does she come with the retail version of the i7?
    Reply
  • 1898
    Obviously I meant to say i5 but seriously, why isn't there an edit button?
    Reply
  • nanotiberium
    I would like she to bring me the gift! :)
    Reply
  • FoShizzleDizzle
    Bet shes likes a good overcocking.
    Reply
  • FoShizzleDizzle
    overclocking*
    Reply
  • gtvr
    FoShizzle gets the Freudian slip of the day award
    Reply
  • kencolestud69
    Sarah, you make christmas better for us(tech geeks) each year.
    :P
    Reply