Roundup: Triple-Channel DDR3-1600 SDRAM Kits for LGA1366 Systems

In our opinion DDR3-1600 SDRAM is the best choice for systems with Intel Core i7 processors in terms of price-to-performance. Therefore, we tested triple-channel 6 GB DDR3-1600 SDRAM kits from all leading memory manufacturers: A-Data, Corsair, Crucial, Geil, G.Skill, KIngmax, Kingston, Mushkin, OCZ, Patriot, Super Talent and Wintec.

by Ilya Gavrichenkov
09/23/2009 | 12:16 AM

The enthusiast memory market can be considered the most vibrant part of the computer hardware components market. Dozens of manufacturers make their high-speed memory for high-performance systems; however, the product range from either of these makers is overall pretty similar to what the competitors have to offer. It is fairly difficult to figure out which way to go when there are so many very similar memory models out there that is why in most cases the users prefer to go with a known brand name, although it is not always the best choosing strategy. Therefore, from time to time we publish comparative memory roundups of the existing solutions. And today time has come for another article like that.

 

Our today’s article will discuss the popular triple-channel memory kits, 6 GB each, targeted for LGA1366 platforms. These systems are currently the highest-performance solutions available in the market. Therefore, those who buy systems like that select their components very carefully and pay special attention not only to mainboards or graphics cards, but also to system memory. And even though our research suggests that the system performance doesn’t depend on the memory subsystem speed too much, it is the memory that may eventually become a bottleneck limiting the system’s overclocking potential. Therefore, it is of special interest to compare the features and potential of different DDR3 SDRAM kits for LGA1366 systems.

The arrival of Core i7 processors based on Nehalem microarchitecture became a powerful stimulus for increasing popularity of DDR3 SDRAM. The memory controller integrated into these processors doesn’t support DDR2 memory that is why the users trying to put together a powerful system do not have any other choice, but to go with DDR3 SDRAM. As a result of this increasing interest to DDR3 memory, the prices on modules like that went down significantly. As you can easily see, DDR2 and DDR3 SDRAM kits of the same capacity are selling at comparable prices. At the same time, there are relatively expensive DDR3 kits as well as pretty affordable ones in the today’s market offered side by side. In our opinion, the best choice in terms of price-to-performance ratio today is DDR3-1600 SDRAM. 1600 MHz memory features sufficient bandwidth, especially when used in a triple-channel memory configuration and at the same time allows overclocking the system by simply raising the base generator clock frequency, without setting the lowest multiplier for the memory bus frequency. As for the retail price of DDR3-1600 SDRAM, it is not that much different from the price of slower DDR3 models. Therefore, today we decided to take a real close look at the existing DDR3-1600 SDRAM for LGA1366 systems shipped in triple-channel kits including three identical memory modules, 2 GB each – the today’s most popular DDR3 SDRAM configuration.

Thirteen DDR3-1600 SDRAM Kits (3 x 2 GB)

A-Data AX3U1600PB2G8-3P

6 GB kit from A-Data with 1600 MHz frequency is called Vitesta DDR3-1600+, but in reality this “+” doesn’t mean anything at all. This memory is formally designed to work at 1600 MHz frequency with 8-8-8-24 timings. The peculiarity of this memory kit is that its voltage according to the specs is claimed to be 1.65-1.85 V, which means that it can be used at high voltages. However, Intel doesn’t recommend raising the voltage in LGA1366 systems over 1.65 V, because it may damage the integrated memory controller in the CPU.

At the same time I have to admit that a lot of computer enthusiasts believe that raising the memory voltage over 1.65 V is still possible if Uncore voltage of the CPU is no more than 0.5 V lower than the memory voltage. These users should be especially pleased with A-Data Vitesta DDR3-1600+ memory. However, we are somewhat concerned with this memory’s ability to dissipate heat efficiently, especially during overclocking accompanied by significantly increased voltage settings, because it is equipped with common stamped aluminum heat-spreader plates.

The manufacturer didn’t fill out the XMP profiles for their memory kit that is why it is the user who is responsible for configuring the memory timings correctly in the mainboard BIOS.

Corsair TR3X6G1600C8D (Dominator)

The DDR3-1600 memory modules from Corsair that we received for this roundup belong to the Dominator series. It means that the modules are equipped with unique tall aluminum heat-spreaders with comb-shaped top edge. However, unfortunately, developers’ thoughtful intention to take good care of the modules heat dissipation may prevent you from using these memory modules in systems with large processor coolers. Luckily, the top part of the heat-spreaders is removable and can be unscrewed if necessary.

Among numerous triple-channel DDR3-1600 SDRAM memory kits that Corsair is offering at this time, the modules marked as TR3X6G1600C8D have an “intermediate” set of default timings: 8-8-8-24. They are guaranteed to work at 1.65 V. I have to say that Corsair specifically stresses that all memory modules shipped as a kit pass the tests in mainboards on X58 chipset.

Corsair engineers filled out the XMP profile for their modules, where they indicated all default memory settings. It makes installation and configuring of the memory kit way easier and faster.

Crucial BL3KIT25664TG1608 (Ballistix Tracer)

Crucial BL3KIT25664TG1608 memory kit is a very unusual product. It belongs to Ballistix Tracer series that differs from the regular memory by a row of LEDs installed at the top of the modules that blink during work. You can tell how heavily the DIMM modules are loaded with work by the speed of the LED blinking. This unique design feature is obviously intended primarily for the owners of system cases with transparent side panels. Moreover, visual aesthetics lovers may select a triple-channel Crucial Ballistix Tracer kits with blue, green or multi-color LEDs.

I have to say that despite the addition of an extra circuitry into the Ballistix Tracer modules that is responsible for visual effects, the modules are of standard height, so they will fit perfectly fine into systems with any type of processor cooling solution in place. However, some enthusiasts will probably complain about the fact that the heat is dissipated from the memory modules through relatively thin aluminum plates. And although these modules heat up quite significantly under serious operational load, I have to assure you that these thin heat-spreaders are more than enough for DDR3 memory working at 1.65 V voltage.

The default parameters of this DDR3-1600 kit from Crucial imply this particular voltage setting and quite traditional timings of 8-8-8-24. However, it is not only the design that makes the memory kit from this manufacturer stand out. Don’t forget that Crucial is a division of Micron that is why we can assume that one of their major trumps is special selection of Micron chips for these overclocker memory kits.

The XMP profiles of these memory modules have been filled out in a pretty unusual manner. As you can see fro the screenshot above, the manufacturer offered two profiles: the first one with standard default settings as defined by the specifications. The second one has enhanced parameters including 7-7-7-24 timings. Note that you shouldn’t be misled by the availability of this second profile – at 1.65 V voltage these settings do not work. Although the voltage for this profile is also indicated at 1.65 V, just like for the first one, in reality you can only achieve stability with 7-7-7-24 timings when the memory voltage is cranked up above this limit. And keeping in mind Intel’s official recommendations, only the riskiest overclocking fans will agree to that.

Geil GU36GB1600C7TC

Geil Company is famous for their interesting overclock memory solutions. And this time, they proved true to their fame one more time. The 1600 MHz memory modules from Ultra series offered by this manufacturer support 7-7-7-24 timings, i.e. they are superior in specifications to many competitors’ DDR3-1600 SDRAM offerings out there right from the start. However, their price is also a little different, but you got to pay to the extra speed you get. I would like to point out separately that Geil guarantees their memory kit to work at a slightly lower voltage setting than usual in the interval from 1.6 to 1.65 V.

As we can see, the enhanced parameters of the Geil memory kit did not affect the shape and design of the heat-spreaders on them. Strange as it might seem, but this high-speed solution does perfectly fine with standard stamped aluminum heat-spreaders that are stuck to the modules via special padding socked in thermal glue.

The contents of the modules SPD also looks a little too modest. There are no XMP profiles, only the “safe” settings that allow launching the memory subsystem at 1333 MHz frequency. So it is totally up to the user to correctly configure the memory modules for work in DDR3-1600 model through the BIOS Setup.

G.Skill F3-12800CL8T-6GBPI (PI Black)

G.Skill memory kits have always been a stable middle runner among alternative solutions from other manufacturers. This time is also no exception. G.Skill F3-12800CL8T-6GBPI memory kit supports 8-8-8-21 timings that can be achieved at an even lower voltage of 1.6 V.

However, in this case we have to say a few words about the modules cooling solution. The thing is that aluminum heat-spreaders installed on these memory modules are too tall: G.Skill modules are among the tallest solutions of our today’s testing participants. Therefore, if you are using powerful CPU coolers with heatpipes, you may be up for a serious challenge. And frankly speaking, this compatibility conflict may not be so easy to resolve, because the heat-spreaders on G.Skill modules are solid and glued dead with thermal glue and hence cannot be taken apart like the ones used by Corsair.

I would like to specifically point out that we got our hands on a pre-production kit with silver heat-spreaders. At this time they are offering the same memory modules under PI Black brand name and they come with black heat-spreaders of similar design.

The module developers didn’t leave out the XMP technology. The corresponding profile contains all necessary settings saving the user time and trouble adjusting routinely all the appropriate timings and other parameters.

Kingmax FLGE85F-B8MF7

Kingmax Company doesn’t offer a wide variety of overclocker memory modules like other manufacturers. DDR3-1600 SDRAM is the fastest solution they have in their product lineup at this time. The interesting thing is that Kingmax memory is totally unique and has no analogues. In fact, this manufacturer is the only one who was brave enough to offer memory modules for Core i7 processors with the default voltage exceeding the recommended 1.65 V. In other words, the specifications of Kingmax FLGE85F-B8MF7 contradict Intel’s official recommendations, which, in fact, is a bit of a concern to us.

So, they claim that their memory modules work with 7-7-7-20 timings at 1.7-1.9 V voltage. However, at a safer voltage of 1.65 V these modules won’t work with these aggressive timings. Therefore, if you trust Intel more than Kingmax, then you should keep in mind that you will be configuring this memory for work with timings around 8-7-7-24: at least these were the settings that we could sue during our today’s test session at 1.65 V voltage.

The cooling system employed by Kingmax is also designed just as good. The modules are covered with massive aluminum heat-spreaders that are taller than normal. We are always very careful when it comes to memory modules of non-standard size, because they often don’t fit into the DIMM slots hitting against the processor cooler above them. However, in this case they may have good reasons for use of a higher-performance cooling solution, because these modules are designed for work at higher voltages.

Kingmax did create XMP profiles for their memory modules. They contain two profiles for 1.8 V and 1.9 V voltage modes. I would like to point out that you have to increase the Uncore voltage to 1.3-1.4 V to ensure more or less safe mode for the Core i7 memory controller with these settings. It is important to keep in mind at all times, so we wouldn’t recommend using Kingmax memory in a fully automatic mode. However, those risky guys who are not afraid to burn down the CPU memory controller should be pretty pleased with the second profile: it allows to lower the timings to 7-6-6- with minimal efforts.

Kingston KHX12800D3LLK3/6GX (HyperX)

Kingston is one of the most well-known memory makers for enthusiasts. The company has earned their reputation due to the fact that they have been among the overclocking memory leaders for many years. That is why we are not surprised to see the broadest range of solutions this company has to offer for Core i7 processors with frequencies reaching the impressive 2133 MHz. However, the company also doesn’t forget about the mainstream DDR3 frequency range, where 1600 MHz memory actually belongs. For example, we received HyperX KHX12800D3LLK3/6GX kit for our roundup. This triple-channel 6 GB DDR3-1600 kit is designed to work with 8-8-8-24 timings and 1.65 V voltage.

These pretty popular specifications go side by side with a quite common cooling system. Aluminum heat-spreaders of Kingston’s own recognizable design but of standard size cover both sides of the memory modules. Due to the fact that Kingston decided not to experiment with the heat-spreader shapes, this memory will easily fit into any system.

Another advantage of Kingston memory modules is their broad compatibility. Since Kingston Company is one of the industry leaders, most mainboard manufacturers use Kingston memory to test their new products. As a result, you are very unlikely to ever come across non-operational configurations involving Kingston memory modules.

Therefore, no wonder that the SPD of HyperX KHX12800D3LLK3/6GX is filled out extremely accurately and thoroughly. There are three settings profiles available for compatibility and one for XMP with nominal timings for 1600 MHz operational frequency.

Mushkin 998679 (XP Series)

Mushkin Company was among the first ones to send us their DDR3-1600 memory kits that support CAS Latency = 7. Note that the manufacturer didn’t increase the voltage over the Intel recommended 1.65 V in order to achieve this latency. As a result, they ended up with a 6 GB 998679 memory kit with very attractive parameters supporting 7-8-7-20 timings and 1.65 V voltage.

I have to say that despite more advanced nominal parameters than by most other memory kits, the price of Mushkin 998679 wasn’t affected and this kit becomes a very attractive purchase. Another advantage these modules can boast is their low-profile aluminum heat-spreaders that do not cause any problems during modules installation into DIMM slots.

Unfortunately, Mushkin engineers decided not to support XMP technology, so the user is fully responsible for configuring the memory subsystem. Moreover, we can’t help mentioning the fact that during our test session we came across some problems. Platforms built around Gigabyte mainboards for some reason refused to work stably with Mushkin 998679 with the nominal settings, that is why we could only test this memory with 8-7-7-20 timings in the beginning. Luckily, this issue was completely fixed in the new BIOS versions and today this memory can work perfectly fine with even better timings.

OCZ OCZ3P1600LV6GK (Platinum Edition)

OCZ OCZ3P1600LV6GK memory modules belong to the Platinum Edition series. On the one hand it includes memory modules with low latencies, but on the other uses standard heat-spreaders for heat dissipation. However, in OCZ’s case heat-spreaders are not really that standard. In reality they stand out greatly among many of their competitors: they are made of solid copper instead of aluminum and have unique meshed structure. The manufacturer has even come up with a special name for them – Platinum Z3 XTC. The advantages of a cooling solution like that are obvious: while the size of these heat-spreaders remains standard, they dissipate heat way better due to larger effecting cooling surface and additional air circulation. Although it is important to keep in mind that DDR3 memory for Core i7 systems mostly works at low voltages of 1.65 V and hence doesn’t produce too much heat.

However, unique heat-spreaders are not the primary advantage of OCZ memory modules. This DDR3-1600 Platinum Edition kit supports 7-7-7-24 timings – the absolute best timings set among all our today’s testing participants. It is especially nice to see that the use of such aggressive timings didn’t result into any voltage increase beyond the recommended 1.65 V (like in Kingmax modules, for instance), or into any retail price increase.

 At the same time, OCZ3P1600LV6GK modules appeared to have no XMP technology support, so you can only set these low memory timings manually in the mainboard BIOS Setup.

OCZ OCZ3PR1600LV6GK (Reaper)

If for some reason you were not ultimately impressed with DDR3-1600 OCZ Platinum Edition memory despite its shining Platinum Z3 XTC heat-spreaders, OCZ has another unique modification to offer you – the Reaper module series. In terms of formal specifications, DDR3-1600 Reaper memory with OCZ3RPR1600LV6GK model name is not too different from the above described Platinum Edition kit. iT also supports default timings of 7-7-7-24 and standard voltage of 1.65 V, which is standard for overclocker LGA1366 solutions.

However, as for the features distinguishing the Reaper kit from the Platinum Edition series as well as other DDR3-1600 SDRAM kits participating in our today’s review, we should definitely point out Reaper’s unique cooling system. Reaper modules are the only solutions using aluminum heat-spreaders with a heatpipes. Frankly speaking, the use of heatpipe technology in this case is pure marketing. Low-voltage DDR3 memory heats up very little and even primitive stamped aluminum heat-spreader plates can cool it well enough. Therefore, the real benefit from such sophisticated cooling system for Core i7 DDR3-1600 SDRAM consisting of two parts seems to be primarily in providing these memory modules with high-tech looks. And that is a pretty arguable advantage, isn’t it?

Keeping in mind what we have just said, we do not recommend to give up Platinum Edition series in favor of OCZ Reaper kits, because it will most likely perform just as well, although it is obviously selling at a lower price. Moreover, the heat-spreaders with heatpipes on them are extremely tall, so it may be tricky to fit Reaper memory modules into LGA1366 systems.

The SPD of OCZ DDR3-1600 Reaper modules is the same as the SPD of Platinum Edition modules. Here again OCZ engineers didn’t implement XMP profiles support, but they provided several “safe” settings profiles instead. As a result, the user will have to be directly involved into configuring the OCZ3RPR1600LV6GK timings correctly through BIOS Setup.

Patriot PVT36G1600LLK (Viper)

Patriot Company followed in their competitors’ footsteps and equipped their DDR3-1600 memory modules for LGA1366 systems with pretty tall aluminum heat-spreaders with comb-shaped top edge. Of course, they look very appealing, especially in Patriots color of choice, but we do not approve of this choice of cooling solutions by many memory makers. These tall heat-spreaders may make it really hard to fit these modules beneath a large processor cooler, and they can hardly be removed because they are stuck using very secure thermal glue.

Although the memory modules from Patriot that we received for our tests were marked as “LLK” at the end, which means “Low Latency Kit”, the default memory timings of these modules are quite common and not really low. These modules support 8-8-8-24 timings at 1.65 V voltage. So, when it comes to specifications, there is nothing that we could be surprised with.

However, unlike many of their competitors, Patriot engineers took the time to create an XMP profile for their memory modules, which allows you to configure this memory in the BIOS Setup in the most optimal way by just a few keystrokes.

Super Talent WA160UX6G9 (Gold Series)

Super Talent Company provided us with a very unique kit for our tests, which doesn’t seem t have any analogues in terms of its specifications. While all enthusiast memory makers increased the nominal voltage for their modules to 1.65 V – the official safe maximum, according to Intel – Super Talent took a different path. The overclocker modules from this maker are designed for 1.5 V – JEDEC standard voltage for regular DDR3 SDRAM. Despite this pretty low voltage setting, this DDR3-1600 memory from the Gold series really does work at 1600 MHz frequency. Although its timings are increased to 9-9-9-27, I believe that those users who care a lot about optimal electrical and thermal specifications will easily forgive WA160UX6G9 kit for that.

However, there is one absolutely inexplicable thing about these modules: the use of tall heat-spreaders with comb-shaped upper edge. DDR3-1600 can work perfectly fine with short heat-spreaders even at higher voltages, which we have already seen many times in our previous tests. And 1.5 V setting is certainly out of the question. As a result, when you purchase a Super Talent WA160UX6G9 kit, you should make sure that these tall heat-spreaders will not interfere with your processor cooler.

We noticed another strange thing when we checked out the XMP profiles. The only optimized profile for some reason stated 1.9 V voltage instead of 1.5 V. It is a very dangerous issue that can cause a lot of trouble for those who are used to trusting the default settings without checking them out first. Therefore, if you have made up your mind to go with this low-voltage memory from the Gold Series by Super Talent, be aware of this possible issue and check the voltage settings carefully before activating them.

Wintec 3AXH1600C8WS6GT (AMPX)

Wintec Company hasn’t been in the enthusiast market for a long time yet, but nevertheless, they have already become one of our favorites. And once again, this time during the tests of their 6 GB DDR3-1600 memory we were very pleased to discover that this is one of the least expensive solutions with very competitive specifications. In terms of timings AMPX 3AXH1600C8WS6GT memory is just as good as most of the competitors’ offerings: it supports 8-8-8-24 timings. The default voltage is also quite what we expected it to be: the usual 1.65 V.

The use of aluminum heat-spreaders of standard size is a definite advantage of Wintec memory kit. Therefore, we can guarantee that these modules will be fully compatible with massive processor coolers.

Unfortunately, Wintec modules do not support such a useful feature as XMP profiles.

Testing Participants Specifications Summary

 

Testbed Configuration

We are going to test the performance of all our participants in a system built on Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD5 mainboard with an Intel Core i7-920 CPU. During our performance test session the processor was overclocked to 4 GHz frequency obtained as 20 x 200 MHz. We used the timings settings as declared by the manufacturer. So, to get the memory frequency at 1600 MHz we used 8x multiplier. In this case Uncore part of the CPU worked at 3.8 GHz frequency with a 19x multiplier.

Overall, the testbed was built with the following hardware and software components:

Performance

Since the performance of systems equipped with memory working at the same frequency differs insignificantly, we used fewer benchmarks this time. We selected those that are most sensitive to the memory subsystem parameters. First of all, there are synthetic benchmarks, such as the well-known Everest Ultimate Edition utility, for instance.

Another synthetic benchmark that we used was the one that calculates the Pi number according to Gauss-Legendre algorithm.

To estimate the average performance in general-purpose applications we used CPC Benchmark 2007 test that measures the performance during work in GIMP graphics editor application, during video transcoding with Handbrake utility and during multi-threaded load involving HD video playback and simultaneous data compression by 7-zip archiving tool.

We have also paid special attention to archiving performance. This type of tasks works aggressively with the memory subsystem and depends a lot on its speed. In this case we resorted to the benchmark integrated into the 7-zip archiving utility:

And in conclusion we performed a couple of gaming tests in Crysis WARHEAD and Far Cry 2:

The main conclusion that we can make judging by the obtained results is that it doesn’t really matter for the regular users what DDR3-1600 SDRAM kit they have in their system. All kits tested today demonstrated almost identical performance at their default frequency of 1600 MHz. However, if performance difference of a fraction of a percent matters for you a lot, then you should go for the memory modules with lower timings, which is absolutely logical. In fact, this is exactly why the performance leaders in our tests are the kits from Geil, OCZ and Mushkin – the kits that work wit CAS Latency = 7 instead of 8.

Overclocking Tests

The second part of our test session is more interesting and informative from a practical standpoint. Here we checked out the memory modules overclocking potential and they proved to have quite a substantial one, I should say. To confirm the system stability we used two utilities that check the proper operation of the memory subsystem under heavy load: Memtest 2.11 and Prime95 25.7 x64.

First of all we decided to find the most aggressive timings with which our memory kits could still work as DDR3-1600. All stability tests were performed at the maximum memory voltage setting recommended by Intel – 1.64 V (most mainboards do not allow setting precisely 1.65 V).

First of all I would like to draw your attention to a phenomenal result demonstrated by Patriot kit. Although this memory is formally designed to work with CAS Latency = 8, it proved capable of working stably at 1600 MHz frequency with CAS Latency lowered to 6. Of course, it is an excellent result and it could be sufficient to recommend DDR3-1600 SDRAM kit from Patriot as the best overclocker choice, but we suspect that we may have received not a mass production kit but specially prepared samples. Unfortunately, at this time we do not have any comments from Patriot on the matter, but we will surely update our data as soon as we do.

Other than that, everything looks pretty logical. Memory with lower default timings can work in more aggressive non-nominal modes. Therefore, it is not surprising that after Patriot, the leadership goes to triple-channel memory kits from Geil, Mushkin and OCZ. We were also very pleased with Kingston’s results, as it allowed us to lower the memory timings to 7-8-7-22, although it is initially intended to work with 8-8-8-24 timings.

Now let’s take a look at the maximum frequency that we manage to achieve with our 6 GB DDR3-1600 SDRAM kits for LGA1366 platforms. The first test in this part of our session was performed with 7-7-7-20 timings and 1.64 V voltage. I have to stress that it is a pretty difficult operational mode for most memory, because the majority of the participating modules are not optimized at all for work with such aggressive timings.

If we leave the exceptional result demonstrated by patriot memory kit aside, the picture is overall quite logical. Those memory modules that were initially declared to work with CAS Latency = 7 overclock beyond 1600 MHz. So, Geil, Mushkin and OCZ demonstrate the best results again, just like in all the previous tests. As for slightly less expensive memory kits with 8-8-8-24 default timings, it is fairly hard to find indisputable leaders here. However, solutions from Crucial, Wintec and Kingston look a little more appealing than their competitors.

The second overclocking test was supposed to reveal the maximum frequencies at which our triple-channel memory kits made of 2 GB DDR3-1600 modules will work stably with less aggressive 8-8-8-24 timings.

As you can easily see, with less aggressive timings the maximum stable frequencies increase dramatically. Some DDR3-1600 SDRAM kits, such as OCZ Reaper and Patriot manage to get as far as to the next frequency threshold – 1867 MHz. Overall, all the memory kits that we have already pointed out above overclocks pretty well even with less aggressive timings. Only Geil kit performed a little worse than usual, and Corsair Dominator memory, on the contrary, got into the leading group.

Conclusion

Today we talked about 13 memory kits available in the market for systems built around Intel Core i7 processors in LGA1366 form-factor. However, you can certainly use these kits for any other appropriate purposes, but in this case one of the three memory modules will be a spare one, because if you use an odd number of DIMMs in  dual-channel system, the performance may drop. We tested popular DDR3-1600 SDRAM kits, which we consider to be the most optimal choice in terms of price-to-performance ratio.

At the same time, our performance tests showed that the choice of any memory kit with the same operational frequency doesn’t have any serious effect on the general performance level. If you do not overclock your memory and use it with nominal timings, the performance of all the kits will differ only by fractions of a percent. That is why if we are talking about using the memory in the nominal mode, then all of the tested solutions are more or less equal. However, the story is totally different if we are talking about finding the best memory kit for work in overclocked modes. This is where the differences between the solutions from various makers start becoming much more obvious and more expensive memory with lower timings proves capable of working at much higher frequencies.

As for the final recommendations concerning the best memory choice, we have put together a few criteria, which allow us to select the best solutions easily. In our opinion, the best choice will be a memory kit that can be overclocked and work stably at frequencies exceeding 1800 MHz, supports XMP profiles that simplify system configuring, and has low heat-spreaders that won’t cause any mechanical problems in close proximity with the large CPU coolers.

There is only one memory kit that meets all three requirements: Crucial Ballistix Tracer BL3KIT25664TG1608. This is the memory kit that we can certainly recommend as the best triple-channel 6 GB DDR3-1600 SDRAM kit. By the way, we also have to add that these modules have an additional bonus: impressive looks due to load indicating LEDs.

Besides Crucial solution, there are three more memory kits that we can recommend only to experienced users, because they do not support XMP technology ad need to be configured manually in the BIOS Setup. These solutions are just as good in terms of performance and other major practical aspects as the Crucial kit. They are: OCZ Platinum Edition OCZ3P1600LV6GK, Mushkin 998679 and Wintec AMPX 3AXH1600C8WS6GT.

Summing up the results of our today’s test session we are proud to award the following four memory kits with our prestigious Editor’s Choice title as the best triple-channel 6 GB DDR3-1600 SDRAM kits: