When configuring a high end PC, chances are you are going to choose a 16 GB memory kit. We tested 13 different kits, which according to the manufacturers are well suited to be used in combination with a Haswell processor.
Memory prices have been rising all year long, many people will be wishing they had bought new memory at the start of 2013 when prices were at an all time low. One of the most popular kits in our database, the Corsair Vengeance LP 8GB DDR3-1600 CL9, was available for £30 in January 2013. Now just a year later the same kit costs more than double, with the lowest price we can find at £64,99.
There is no obvious single reason for the price inflation of memory kits. Of course the demand for DRAM-memory chips has risen greatly recently due to the massive growth of the smartphone and tablet markets. Also the market consolidation has had a negative effect on prices, with less competition manufacturers have slowly been able to increase their profit margins. Lastly incidents such as the fire in the Hynix factory at the start of September also have had an affect. The average price of the previously mentioned Corsair memory kit, for example rose 15% as a result of this incident. It wouldn't surprise us if some resellers also used this incident as an opportunity to slightly increase the prices.
Despite the rise in memory prices we've noticed and increased interest in 16 GB kits. There might be some discussion whether it's really necessary to install 16 GB. In most benchmarks it is already hard enough to distinguish between 8 GB and 4 GB, let alone 8 GB and 16 GB. Only in specific scenarios, such as in Photoshop when working with many different layers or when using several different programs simultaneously, does the extra memory show a positive effect. Regularly checking the memory usage in your task manager is the best way to decide whether it's a worthy investment for you.
The price history of the Corsair Vergeance LP 8GB DDR3-1600 CL9 kit.
16 GB kits
For this test we invited some of the most prominent memory manufacturers to send us one, or multiple 16 GB kits which according to them are best suited to be paired with Intel's 4th generation Core processors, also knows as Haswell. Apart from that we left it up to the manufacturers themselves which kits they wanted to send us, both budget and and more expensive overclocking kits were welcome. Corsair and Kingston both took this opportunity to supply us with a whole range of kits. We also included modules from Crucial, G.Skill, Patriot and Transcend in this test.
We tested the memory modules in combination with an Intel Core i7 4770K processor and an ASUS Maximus VI Extreme motherboard running Windows 8 x64. Initially we tested if all the modules had correctly working XMP-profiles. These eXtreme Memory Profiles enable you to instantly select the frequency, latency and voltages as intended by the manufacturer. We tested the stability of the modules with these settings. We then overclocked the modules, at first keeping the XMP intended voltages and timings constant. Afterwards we raised the standard voltages to see what the maximum frequency was we could reach while keeping the default timings. Lastly we went ahead to see what the maximum overclock is we could reach while optimising the timings.
It is important to note that the overclocking headroom of memory modules can vary per set. If a particular kit overclocks well in our test it is still no guarantee that you will be able to reach the same results when purchasing an identical set.