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What to pay for your desktop RAM in late May 2008

by Tarinder Sandhu on 26 May 2008, 00:15

Tags: Corsair

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DDR3

DDR3-1,333

DDR3 scales higher than DDR2 and is supported on true enthusiast-oriented, Intel-based chipsets only, including Intel's X38/X48, a few P35s, and, now, NVIDIA's nForce 790i (Ultra) SLI. AMD still has to transition to a DDR3-based memory controller for its Phenom CPUs, though, which will happen at some point this year, we reckon.

Whilst it operates at higher frequencies, its higher latencies and significantly higher cost than DDR2 means that DDR3 won't gain widespread traction until 'D3 chip production is ramped up and lower-cost chipsets natively support it. Still, its current pricing is significantly lower than, say, six months' ago.

Even basic DDR3 costs twice as much as high-quality, high-speed DDR2. Price parity is still some way off, and we expect DDR3 to command a significant premium well into H2 2008.

You should consider DDR3 as more of a future-proofing measure right now, but we'd only recommend it to readers who are looking to build base units costing at least £500; it doesn't make sense to specify it (and the accompanying motherboard) on a shoestring budget, clearly.


2GiB kits (2x 1GiB)

Corsair TWIN3X - 7-7-7-20 latencies - XMS heatspreaders - £ 72.84 (Scan, not in stock). Pricing is down by 27%

4GiB kits (2x 2GiB)

OCZ Gold - 9-9-9-26 latencies - regular heatspreaders - £155.01 (Komplett). Pricing is down by 22.5%

DDR3-1,600

The Intel X48 chipset and NVIDIA's nForce 790i Ultra both support DDR3-1,600 memory natively, using pre-programmed SPDs - XMP for Intel and EPP2.0 for NVIDIA - that are activated by a one-click BIOS setting. XMP and EPP2.0 memory is actively marketed as such by vendors.

DDR3 natively operates at 1.5V, but DDR3-1,600 may require 1.8V to function at its rated speed.

Only enthusiasts that want the very best performance should look at DDR3-1,600+.

2GiB kits (2x 1GiB)

OCZ Platinum XTC - 7-7-7-20 latencies - perforated heatspreaders - £105.56 (MemoryC). Pricing down by 27.7%

4GiB kits (2x 2GiB)

Corsair TWIN3X - 9-9-9-24 latencies - DOMINATOR heatspreaders - £223.39 (Scan, not in stock ). Pricing up by 2.8%

DDR3-1,800

The absolute cutting-edge of what's available today. Suitable for using when the very last drop of performance matters. Motherboards are generally qualified by the memory manufacturer and 1,800MHz+ is only achievable with two DIMMs populated the slots.

2GiB kits (2x 1GiB)

Kingston HyperX - 8-8-8-24 latencies - integrated heatspreaders - £208.12 (eBuyer). Pricing down by 25.1%.

4GiB kits (2x 2GiB) - not available in quantity yet.

DDR3-2,000+

DDR3-2,000 remains the domain of the enthusiast that isn't interested in value for money. The super-niche product is validated for NVIDIA's nForce 790i Ultra chipset (EPP2.0) and used to promote the ability of the manufacturer to keep up with the latest technology.

Currently, only 2GiB kits are available, mostly on pre-order.

Crucial etails the 2GiB kit for a whopping £303.14. Scan has a similar SuperTalent pack on pre-order for £176.24, and MemoryC some out-of-stock OCZ for £169.05.

Corsair recently set a CPU-Z-verified record of 2,462MHz for DDR3 memory, but it will be some time before we see any commercial-grade packs of that speed being retailed.

Summary

The price of DDR3 memory has, on average, dropped by over 20 per cent in the last two months. Trouble is, a 4GiB DDR3-1,333 pack is still around twice as expensive as a similar DDR2-1,066MHz set, which'll probably perform better in real-world tests.

We'd recommend that the majority of users still opt for 4GiB of quality DDR2 for their next platform. DDR3 will become compelling once a 4GiB 1,600MHz-rated kit begins to retail at no more than a 50 per cent price premium over the best that DDR2 currently has to offer, and that will only happen once there's widespread support from mainstream chipsets, starting with Intel's 4-series, released next month.

Bottom line: it always makes sense to invest in high-quality RAM, and recent pricing is such that a 4GiB set shouldn't be overlooked. Also, don't discount 8GiB; memory is certainly cheap enough to warrant it.

Related reading

G.SKILL vs. Crucial: high-speed DDR3 showdown
Why 4GiB is better than 2GiB
Corsair sets DDR3 frequency record
What to pay for your desktop RAM in mid-March 2008
Upgrading your Mac Pro's RAM - five minutes saves £200
HEXUS.net RAM reviews



HEXUS Forums :: 10 Comments

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OK, i have 2x1GB in my mobo right now, DDR-800. Do I go for another 2x1GB set or buy a 2x2GB set and sell my current set?
DevilMayCry42
OK, i have 2x1GB in my mobo right now, DDR-800. Do I go for another 2x1GB set or buy a 2x2GB set and sell my current set?

Thats what i'm planning on doing when i have some spare cash :)
(but mainly because my TRUE blocks one of the memory slots sooo….) but also 4 DIMMS can actually slolw things down under certain circumstances and it has been known to cause instability when O/Cing

just remember that you will need a 64bit O/S to utilise more than 3.5GB
Righty, I think me's a goin' for the 2x2GB corsair set then!:)
I know this is said often, but it really, really is worth adding more RAM to a system that currently features only 1GiB or 2GiB.

The pricing is so enticing that it would it would be rude not to.

Take advantage of memory manufacturers' woes - where little profit is being made in DDR2 - and stock up, I say. :)
I've just bought 4gb of Corsair XMS for under £70 to replace my 2gb. Bargain :) I can only use 3gb of it at the moment though, stoopid xp :p