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Best Choice: Inexpensive DDR3-1600 SDRAM

Although we didn’t discover any obvious and strong connection between memory speed and system performance, it doesn’t mean that you should totally underestimate the importance of choosing the right memory modules for your needs. I doubt that you would agree to lose a few percents of performance if you can get them practically for free. Yes, although some overclocker memory makers set pretty high prices on their well-promoted solutions with exclusive heat-spreaders, there are quite a few affordable DDR3-1600 kits out there, which will cost you only a few dollars more than the regular DDR3-1333 or DDR3-1067 SDRAM. We strongly recommend paying special attention to these particular modules: they will not only allow you to use the potential of your LGA1156 platform fully, but will also please you with their good overclocking functionality. There is only one thing you should keep in mind in this case: if you are not going to overclock your system, then DDR3-1600 makes sense only for Core i7-800 processors that support this default speed mode.

Today we are going to introduce to you two inexpensive and popular DDR3-1600 SDRAM kits like that for LGA1156 platform, which we can definitely recommend as a good buy.

Corsair CMD4GX3M2A1600C8 (Dominator)

Corsair offers a lot of different solutions for LGA1156 platform, but we picked a 4 GB DDR3-1600 kit from the Dominator series. These memory modules are equipped with special “tall” aluminum heat-spreaders with a comb-like top edge that promise improved overclocking potential. I have to say that modules like that cost only a little more than their analogues with traditional heat-spreaders: the difference usually doesn’t exceed $15. Unfortunately, while engineers did their best to ensure proper cooling of the memory chips, you may have problems installing these modules into systems with large CPU coolers. Luckily, the top part of the modules heat-spreaders can be unscrewed and removed.

CMD4GX3M2A1600C8 memory modules we picked support “intermediate” timings of 8-8-8-24. Of course, Corsair also offers similar modules with more aggressive timings, but they also cost more, and honestly, the performance improvement in this case is too small to justify the price difference. CMD4GX3M2A1600C8 modules should work at 1.65 V, because LGA1156 processors set the same limitations to memory voltage as their LGA1366 fellows.

The parameters in modules SPD make them compatible with 1333 MHz frequency. The modules nominal settings are saved in the XMP profile, which allows setting memory timings automatically on those mainboards that support XMP technology.

During our tests of Corsair CMD4GX3M2A1600C8 modules we tried to find their maximum stable frequency and timings. We used Memtest 2.11 and Prime95 25.7 x64 benchmarks for that.

First of all we determined that at 1.65 V voltage and 1600 MHz frequency these modules remain stable not only with their nominal timings of 8-8-8-24, but also in a slightly more aggressive mode. We managed to get this DDR3-1600 memory to work fully stably at 8-7-7-20 timings.

We also checked out what these modules are capable of with different timings configurations. The table below shows the maximum frequencies, at which the memory passed our stability tests with different timings. We ran these tests on Corsair Dominator kit also at 1.65 V voltage and 1T Command Rate.

As we see from the obtained results, overclockers should really be pleased with excellent overclockability of Corsair CMD4GX3M2A1600C8 kit with less aggressive timings. Namely, it can work at over 1900 MHz frequency with the timings set as 9-9-9-27, which may be very helpful during CPU overclocking by raising the BCLK frequency.

This particular peculiarity allows us to recommend this memory kit for consideration, because as we have just seen, high frequency is often more important than lower timings.

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