The Co-Optimus Guide to Building a Gaming PC - Page 4

The Memory

When choosing memory, you aren’t going to be comparing features so much as you are going to be comparing performance potential. Almost all of today’s modern PCs use DDR3 RAM. This means its the third generation of Double Data Rate RAM. Beyond this, each stick of memory is rated for different speeds which correspond to the speed at which it talks to your processor and other components.

While in days past you had to worry about this speed matching a specification on the processor, most motherboards allow you to run these speeds independently. In general, the higher the speed of the memory - the faster performance you can get out of it.

There’s one other specification that comes into play though which is called CAS Latency. The short of it is - this specifies the delay in clock cycles that memory waits before its ready to access a particular piece of data. So the lower the number here the better.

Here’s an example: DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) - Cas Latency 9

This would be DDR3 RAM that runs at a BUS speed of 1333Mhz. It’s classified as PC3 10666 RAM with a CAS Latency of 9 cycles.

Finally memory can be run in double or triple channels. The i7 platform from intel is the currently the only one that supports triple channel memory, which means that memory on each stick is filled in parallel instead of sequentially, which decreases overall latency.

Our Choice: Corsair Dominator 6GB Kit - DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) CAS Latency - 8 ($149) [Available at NewEgg]
Website: corsair.com

We chose the Corsair kit for a variety of reasons - solid performance, room to grow for overclocking, and quality sticks of RAM with heat spreaders attached for optimal cooling. It comes with three sticks of RAM optimized for triple channel support too - perfect for our Intel i7-950 processor and Gigabyte motherboard.

Alternatives:
Lower End - Crucial 4GB Kit - DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600)  ($94) [Available at NewEgg]
Higher Priced - Corsair Dominator 12GB Kit - DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) CAS Latency - 8 ($299) [Available at NewEgg]

 


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