At the lowest end of our testing, we have a 16GB DDR3-1333 9-9-9 kit on hand.  When DDR3 was first released, the main speed available was DDR3-800, but enough time has passed that this has phased out and now 1333 MHz is the new ‘minimum’.  With the prices of memory as they are, this kit from G.Skill currently retails for $75, meaning that a massive amount of memory is available for all at a reasonable level.  To put this into contrast, I remember spending ~$240 on a 2x2 GB Kit of DDR2-800 5-5-5 about 5-6 years ago – we can now get four times the capacity for less than a third of the price.

DDR3-1333 sits at the bottom end, but within months we can imagine DDR3-1600 taking that spot – as we will see with the next kit, for $5 more we get a faster product.

Visual Inspection

Our first kit features G.Skill’s Ares branding – the Ares kits that G.Skill sell are essentially meant to be the lower profile but colored heatsinks.  These heatsinks in all honesty may not be entirely necessary for cooling, but they are firmly bonded to the memory modules and removing them would be a large task and more than likely damage the module.  I have seen horror stories of chips being removed along with the heatsink, making the memory unusable.  As a result we cannot directly observe which ICs are being used in our kits for this review.  A quick word in the ear of G.Skill and they will not tell us the information, under the guise that it is classified and if the competition wants to know what G.Skill are using, they will have to buy a kit and break it themselves.  Given how small the margins are in memory sales (as well as potential market stagnation after the credit crisis), I’m not surprised with the level of secrecy.

Anyway, back to the kit:

The standard packaging at G.Skill is a rather efficient plastic container holding each of the modules.  The packaging is easy enough to open, though I also found it fairly brittle, meaning small shards could break off and be easily lodged in feet.  Inside the box itself is a piece of card to advertise the kit and protect the modules from each other.  We also get a small G.Skill sticker for the computer case.

JEDEC + XMP Settings

Kit Speed 1333 1600 1866 2133 2400
Subtimings 9-9-9-24 2T 9-9-9-24 2T 9-10-9-28 2T 9-11-10-28 2T 10-12-12-31 2T
Price $75 $80 $95 $130 $145
XMP No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Size 4 x 4 GB 4 x 4 GB 4 x 4 GB 4 x 4 GB 4 x 4 GB

MHz 1333 1600 1867 2134 2401
Voltage 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.650 1.650
tCL 9 9 9 9 10
tRCD 9 9 10 11 12
tRP 9 9 9 10 12
tRAS 24 24 28 28 31
tRC 33 33 37 38 43
tWR 10 12 14 16 16
tRRD 4 5 5 6 7/6
tRFC 107 128 150 171 313
tWTR 5 6 8/7 9/8 10/9
tRTP 5 6 8/7 9/8 10/9
tFAW 20 24 24 25 26
tCWL - 7 7 7 7
CR - 2 2 2 2


Memory In A Nutshell F3-12800CL9Q-16GBXL: 4 x 4 GB G.Skill RipjawsX Kit


View All Comments

  • Termie - Thursday, October 18, 2012 - link

    Great article, Ian. Thanks for taking on this challenge and enlightening us all.

    Don't worry about all the old-timers bugging you about your first build being in this century. It's not like they could have written this article!
  • arthur449 - Thursday, October 18, 2012 - link

    I'd love to see an AMD CPU test run with the same memory kits and the same test suite to contrast the differences in performance gains offered by faster memory between the two major CPU platforms. Reply
  • lowenz - Thursday, October 18, 2012 - link

    Make an extension to this brilliant article with new Trinity A8 / A10 and you'll be an instant geek hero. Reply
  • frozentundra123456 - Thursday, October 18, 2012 - link

    Could you do a similar test in laptops, A10 vs HD4000? Like I said in my other post, this is where I see more possibility of igps actually being used for gaming. I also think this is where HD4000 is most competitive to AMD, in a power limited scenario. Reply
  • DanNeely - Thursday, October 18, 2012 - link

    Have laptop bios's opened up enough in the last few years to let you specify memory timings? The advice I've always seen was to buy the cheapest ram at your laptops designated clockspeed because you won't be able to set the faster timings even if you wanted. Reply
  • haplo602 - Friday, October 19, 2012 - link

    You have ONE set for each frequency, WHY the hell are you using the stupid model numbers in the graphs ????


    otherwise the review is solid.
  • Calin - Friday, October 19, 2012 - link

    I remember the times when I had to select the speed of the processor (and even that of the processor's bus) with jumpers or DIP switches... It wasn't even so long ago, I'm sure has articles with mainboards with DIP switches or jumpers (jumpers were soooo Pentium :p but DIP switches were used in some K6 mainboards IIRC ) Reply
  • Ecliptic - Friday, October 19, 2012 - link

    Great article comparing different speed ram at similar timings but I'd be interested in seeing results at different timings. For example, I have some ddr3-1866 ram with these XMP timings:
    1333 @ 6-6-6-18
    1600 @ 8-8-8-24
    1866 @ 9-9-9-27
    The question I have is if it better to run it at the full speed or lower the slower speed and use tighter timings?
  • APassingMe - Friday, October 19, 2012 - link

    + 1

    + 2, if I can get away with it. I've always wondered the same thing. I have seen some minor formulas designed to compare... something like frequency divided by timing, in order to get a comparable number. But that is pure theory for the most part, I would like to see how the differences in the real world effects different systems and loads.
  • Spunjji - Friday, October 19, 2012 - link

    But in all seriousness, I would find that to be much more useful - it's more likely to actually be used for IGP gaming.

    If you could go as far as to show the possible practical benefits of the higher-speed RAM (e.g. new settings /resolutions that become playable) that would be spiffing.

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