Wednesday, October 2, 2013

[Rant] Should I upgrade the RAM on my Haswell rig?

When I upgraded to Haswell, I decided to keep using the RAM from the old rig. They are two kits of 4GBx2 Corsair Vengeance 1600MHz RAM. I tried overclocking those RAM, but they don’t want to deviate from the stock settings. Funny thing is though, they can work fine at XMP settings with just 1.35V, down from the 1.50V.

With the previous couple of generations, RAM speed didn’t make any difference in performance. But the integrated memory controller (IMC) on Haswell CPUs is strong and can run RAM even at 3GHz. (Sure it can cripple the core overclock of the CPU). Anandtech published an article saying that the sweet spot is between 1866MHz and 2400MHz.

Even then, the performance advantage is negligible. But for me, I can upgrade RAM and improve some other aspects of the rig.

  • First is, by buying a 8GBx2 kit, I can lower the power consumption as well as the stress on the IMC. Usually, when you populate all the memory slots, it stresses the IMC more.
  • Second is, if I can go with low profile modules, I can mount a 3rd fan on the CPU cooler for improved cooling performance. But it won’t make a big difference.

So which kit fits all these criteria? I could find only one such kit. Crucial Ballistix Tactical LP kit. They are low profile (not just low profile heat sink, but the PCB itself it low profile; even with the heatsink they are shorter than standard RAM with no heatsink), cheaper than the kits in the same league (JPY14,470), comes with life-time warranty and uses only 1.35V. They operate at 1600MHz 8-8-8-24 timings. The speed is not great, but reviews say that if you push the volts to 1.5V, you can easily clock them to 2133MHz, which is very good considering they still cost less than 2133MHz sticks. However, I’ve been bitten by putting my faith in these reviewers, who usually get cherry picked samples. A lot of people managed to run the Vengeance sticks at 2000MHz or above but mine wouldn’t budge.


On the second hand, the 2400MHz sticks are well over JPY 20,000 and come with tall heat sinks. I won’t be able to install a 3rd fan in there.


But I still haven’t decided whether to get these or not. The RAM prices have gone up in the last few days and perhaps they won’t come down anytime soon. The prices of these Crucial sticks have not gone up. Maybe I should order them now, and sell my current sticks later when the prices are up.

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