At the lowest end of our testing, we have a 16GB DDR3-1333 9-9-9 kit on hand.  When DDR3 was first released, the main speed available was DDR3-800, but enough time has passed that this has phased out and now 1333 MHz is the new ‘minimum’.  With the prices of memory as they are, this kit from G.Skill currently retails for $75, meaning that a massive amount of memory is available for all at a reasonable level.  To put this into contrast, I remember spending ~$240 on a 2x2 GB Kit of DDR2-800 5-5-5 about 5-6 years ago – we can now get four times the capacity for less than a third of the price.

DDR3-1333 sits at the bottom end, but within months we can imagine DDR3-1600 taking that spot – as we will see with the next kit, for $5 more we get a faster product.

Visual Inspection

Our first kit features G.Skill’s Ares branding – the Ares kits that G.Skill sell are essentially meant to be the lower profile but colored heatsinks.  These heatsinks in all honesty may not be entirely necessary for cooling, but they are firmly bonded to the memory modules and removing them would be a large task and more than likely damage the module.  I have seen horror stories of chips being removed along with the heatsink, making the memory unusable.  As a result we cannot directly observe which ICs are being used in our kits for this review.  A quick word in the ear of G.Skill and they will not tell us the information, under the guise that it is classified and if the competition wants to know what G.Skill are using, they will have to buy a kit and break it themselves.  Given how small the margins are in memory sales (as well as potential market stagnation after the credit crisis), I’m not surprised with the level of secrecy.

Anyway, back to the kit:

The standard packaging at G.Skill is a rather efficient plastic container holding each of the modules.  The packaging is easy enough to open, though I also found it fairly brittle, meaning small shards could break off and be easily lodged in feet.  Inside the box itself is a piece of card to advertise the kit and protect the modules from each other.  We also get a small G.Skill sticker for the computer case.

JEDEC + XMP Settings

G.Skill
Kit Speed 1333 1600 1866 2133 2400
Subtimings 9-9-9-24 2T 9-9-9-24 2T 9-10-9-28 2T 9-11-10-28 2T 10-12-12-31 2T
Price $75 $80 $95 $130 $145
XMP No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Size 4 x 4 GB 4 x 4 GB 4 x 4 GB 4 x 4 GB 4 x 4 GB

MHz 1333 1600 1867 2134 2401
Voltage 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.650 1.650
tCL 9 9 9 9 10
tRCD 9 9 10 11 12
tRP 9 9 9 10 12
tRAS 24 24 28 28 31
tRC 33 33 37 38 43
tWR 10 12 14 16 16
tRRD 4 5 5 6 7/6
tRFC 107 128 150 171 313
tWTR 5 6 8/7 9/8 10/9
tRTP 5 6 8/7 9/8 10/9
tFAW 20 24 24 25 26
tCWL - 7 7 7 7
CR - 2 2 2 2

 

Memory In A Nutshell F3-12800CL9Q-16GBXL: 4 x 4 GB G.Skill RipjawsX Kit
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  • vegemeister - Friday, October 19, 2012 - link

    Stop using 2 pass for benchmarks. Nobody is trying to fit DVD rips onto CD-Rs anymore. Exact file size *does not matter*. Using the same CRF for every file in a set (say, a season of a television series) produces a much better result and takes less time (you pretty much avoid the first pass). Reply
  • IanCutress - Friday, October 19, 2012 - link

    The 2-pass is a feature of Greysky's x264 benchmark. Please feel free to email him if you would like him to stop doing 2-pass. Or, just look at the 1st pass results if the 2nd pass bothers you.

    Ian
    Reply
  • rigel84 - Friday, October 19, 2012 - link

    Hi, I don't know if I somehow skipped it in the article, but if I buy a 3570k and some 1866mhz memory, wouldn't I have to overclock the CPU in order for them to run at that speed? I'm pretty sure I had to overclock my RAM on my P4 2,4ghz, in order to use the extra mhz.. Does my memory fail me or has things changed? Reply
  • IanCutress - Friday, October 19, 2012 - link

    No, you do not have to overclock the CPU. This has not been the case since the early days :D. Modern computer systems in the BIOS have an option to adjust the memory strap (1333/1600/1866 et al.) as required. On Intel systems and these memory kits, all that is needed it to set XMP - you need not worry about voltages or sub-timings unless you are overclocking the memory.

    Ian
    Reply
  • CaedenV - Friday, October 19, 2012 - link

    as there is an obvious difference with ram speed for onboard graphics, the next obvious question is one of how much memory is needed to prevent the system from throwing things back on the HDD?

    The reason I ask is that 16GB, while relatively cheap today, is still a TON of ram by today's standards, and people who are on a budget where they are playing with igp are not going to be able to afford an i7, and much less be willing to fork over ~$100 for system memory. However, if there is no performance hit moving down to 8GB of system memory it becomes much more affordable for these users to purchase better performing ram because the price points are even closer together between the performance tiers. As I understand memory usage, there should be no performance hit so long as there is more memory available than is actively being used by the game, so the question is how much is really needed before hitting that need for more memory? is the old standard of 4GB enough still? or do people need to step up to 8GB? or, if nothing is getting passed onto a dedicated GPU, do igp users really need that glut of 16GB of ram?

    Lastly, I remember my first personal build being a Pentium 3 1GHz machine for a real time editing machine for college. I remember it being such an issue because the Pentium 4 was out, but was tied to Rambus memory which had a high burst rate, but terrible sustained performance, and so I agonized for a few months about sticking with the older but cheaper platform that had consistent performance, vs moving up to the newer (and terribly more expensive) P4 setup which would perform great for most tasks, but not as well for rendering projects. Anywho, I ended up getting the P3 with 1GB of DDR 133 memory. I cannot remember the actual price off hand (2001), but I do remember that the system memory was the 2nd most expensive part of the system (2nd to the real time rendering card which was $800). It really is mindblowing how much better things have gotten, and how much cheaper things are, and one wonders how long prices can remain this low with sales volumes dropping before companies start dropping out and we have 2-3 companies that all decide to up prices in lock step.
    Reply
  • IanCutress - Friday, October 19, 2012 - link

    With memory being relatively cheap, on a standard DDR3 system running Windows 7, 8 GB would be the minimum recommendation at this level. As I mentioned in my review, in my work load the most I have ever peaked at was 7.7 GB, and that was while playing a 1080p game with all the extras alongside lots of Chrome tabs and documents open at the same time.

    Ideally this review and comparison should be taken from the perspective that you should know how much memory you are using. For 99.9% of the populace, that usually means 16GB or less. Most can get away with 8, and on a modern Windows OS I wouldn't suggest anything less than that. 4GB might be ok, but that's what I have in my netbook and I sometimes hit that.

    Ian
    Reply
  • Peanutsrevenge - Friday, October 19, 2012 - link

    Thanks Ian.

    Well, except for making me feel ludicrously old, first memory kit of 4GB DDR2?

    Mine was back in SIMM days, when I think I added an 8MB 72pin stick to my existing 4MB stick.

    Although the external math co-processor might have come first.

    And I'm only 31.

    You shall now always be Dr Evil Cutress to me.
    Reply
  • IanCutress - Friday, October 19, 2012 - link

    First *purchased* memory kit. I dealt with plenty of older memory thanks to hand me downs or prebuilt systems from my family at the time. I still have some SDRAM around somewhere, or some 8MB sticks of something or other. It's in a box under the desk ;)

    Haha, I've been called worse :D

    Ian
    Reply
  • alpha754293 - Friday, October 19, 2012 - link

    I would have figured that with a memory test/benchmarking that you would be running Stream test.

    And with all this talk about the various latencies (measured in clock cycles) - a) a comparison should be given between the theorectical calculations and the actual performance and b) that you would think that you'd use something like lmbench in order to try to better quantify/test that (in addition to the actual games, tools, and applications).

    Most of the results are pretty much inconclusive since the standard deviation is within the margin of error.
    Reply
  • IanCutress - Friday, October 19, 2012 - link

    Main reason is to steer away from synthetics. Synthetics frustrate me so - they will easily show the difference between a 1600 C9 and 2400 C10 kit, but what is that difference in real life? If latencies and burst speeds are x% difference in the synthetic, does that actually make a difference when playing Portal 2? Hence the requirement of this review to focus on the practical rather than the synthetic.

    Regarding being within standard deviations, the results you see are the culmination of multiple tests. The standard deviations are actually quite low as the results are enormously repeatable. I did a science doctorate, I make sure my numbers are valid.

    Ian
    Reply

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