Articles: Memory

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In our performance tests we checked out the speed of our LGA1155 platform with different low-profile dual-channel memory kits from the Crucial Ballistix series. Each kit was tested in two modes: 1) automatic configuring (every timing is set by the mainboard's BIOS according to the XMP data) and 2) highest clock rates and best timings (as achieved in our overclocking tests above) set up manually in the mainboard’s BIOS.

First of all we want to run synthetic benchmarks of memory bandwidth and latency. We will use two tools for that. One is the memory test from SiSoft Sandra 2013. Using a multithreaded Stream algorithm, it is perfectly suited to modern memory controllers optimized for multi-core CPUs.

And the other is the integrated test from the ASUS MemTweakIt! utility which issues a single number indicative of the overall memory subsystem performance.

The Ballistix Tactical LP and Ballistix Sport VLP are comparable both at their default and overclocked settings, just as expected since they have identical clock rates in both cases and differ in timings only. Memory timings do not have a big effect on performance in modern computers. Our overclocking helps improve the practical memory bandwidth and latency by a substantial amount – up to 30%.

The SiSoft Sandra 2013 and ASUS MemTweakIt! results suggest that it makes practical sense to be particular about choosing DDR3 SDRAM modules. However, these are synthetic benchmarks which are meant to measure how fast the CPU can work with system memory. Everyday applications are not so memory-sensitive, yet we want to check them out as well.

Fast memory is indeed appropriate in some situations, especially when you can achieve the high speed as easily as with the Crucial Ballistix series. Memory subsystem parameters can affect the speed of gaming applications, for example.

Of course, it is the graphics subsystem that influences the frame rate the most, but the memory frequency is a factor, too. Fast memory can help you improve performance by a few percent. So again, the choice of DDR3 SDRAM is quite important, especially in terms of its frequency.

We usually recommend DDR3-1866 as the optimal choice for today’s computers. Such products cost about the same money as their lower-speed counterparts and thus feature the best price/performance ratio. However, DDR3-1600 SDRAM like Crucial’s Ballistix Tactical LP and Ballistix Sport VLP makes an exception because, as we’ve made sure today, it can be easily overclocked to deliver a substantial (up to 10%) increase in real-life performance.

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