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Choosing the Best DDR3 SDRAM for Ivy Bridge
It not easy to write something interesting about system memory because we have all got used to the fact that a computers performance doesn depend much on the clock rate and timings of DDR3 SDRAM. Moreover, considering the low memory prices we have today, it is more reasonable for most users to invest into a larger amount of system memory rather than into improving its specs. The amount of memory is a much more tangible and comprehensible thing than its clock rate and timings whose effect is far from obvious.
Thats why overclockerfriendly memory has become a product for perfectionists while average users have come to be satisfied with regular DDR31333 and DDR31600 SDRAM which they can occasionally overclock a little, just for fun. That the way things were and are, but how will they be? We raise this question because the new Ivy Bridge processor family has come about and, even though alike to their predecessors in many ways, the new CPUs have certain features that can change this situation.
For example, the Ivy Bridge series lacks the old limitations concerning the top clock rate of DDR3 SDRAM. In practical terms it means that such CPUs can theoretically be used together with highspeed memory up to DDR33200 SDRAM which doesn even exist as yet. The makers of overclockerfriendly memory modules have responded to this enthusiastically. Fast products, such as DDR32400, abound in shops now, so the gap between the clock rates of regular and premium memory products has got as wide as 100%! One can hardly believe that this difference can never show up in everyday tasks.
Here another argument in favor of this point: the Ivy Bridge series are generally faster than their predecessors and need to be fed data at a faster rate. In other words, it is quite possible that the new CPUs won be satisfied with the speed of DDR31333 and DDR1600 in everyday applications anymore. The new integrated graphics core which shares the same memory subsystem with the execution cores must also be taken into account. The GPU has got faster in the Ivy Bridge design whereas memory bandwidth is a highly important parameter for today GPUs, directly affecting their texturemapping speed. We guess the performance of the integrated graphics core is going to depend on the clock rate and timings of DDR3 SDRAM.
So, there are quite a lot of arguments in favor of checking out Ivy Bridge platforms with different memory settings. Our benchmarking results may turn out to be not as predictable as we think after all!To write this review we took an LGA1155 mainboard with Intel Z77 Express chipset and installed overclockerfriendly Core i5 processors, of both Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge generations.
Overall we ended up using the following hardware and software components:
Intel Core i52550K, overclocked to 4.5 GHz Sandy Bridge, 4 cores, 6 MB L3;
Intel Core i53570K, overclocked to 4.5 GHz Ivy Bridge, 4 cores, 6 MB L3.
Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 2 GB/256 bit GDDR5, 1006/6008 MHz.
Hard drive: Intel SSD 520 240 GB SSDSC2CW240A3K5.
Power supply unit: Tagan TG880U33II 880 W.
Intel Rapid Storage Technology 126.96.36.1996;
NVIDIA GeForce 301.42 Driver.
Take note that we overclocked our CPUs to 4.5 GHz during this test session because this helped us get a better idea of the correlation between memory settings and performance.