Our friends from Corsair published an informative blog which I’ve decided to repost here in full to show you how memory speed past DDR3-1600 benefits your daily PC usage on Haswell (Z87) platform. A lot of people are not well informed about this and it’s time to show some testing and examples to inform you why having high speed RAM and a motherboard that is well tuned to run such speeds and timings is important for your daily PCs and why DD3-1600 is just not good enough any more!
It’s a very nice read and for those that are unaware you are literally a few clicks away from getting high speed on your rigs with Gigabyte motherboards provided your memory is capable. In my event hopping outings I occasionally hear confessions from people at LANs saying they purchased high speed ram and still run it at bios defaults. If you’re one of those people, I hope you watch this video I’ve prepared quickly and read the article to understand why it’s important to use that extra speed and timings. Here is a video first showing how to enable XMP profile on Gigabyte boards:
Haswell Real World Performance: DDR3-1600 RAM Speed Is Not Enough
The prevailing wisdom in the enthusiast community has been, for generations, that DDR3-1600 is the sweet spot and that faster memory offers at best extremely limited performance improvement and that at worst, it’s snake oil. There’s an element of truth to that; AMD’s Bulldozer architecture and its derivatives see arguably minimal benefit from faster memory, and Ivy Bridge and its predecessors actually were just fine at DDR3-1600. So the idea that the paradigm might have shifted is tough to swallow because it goes against wisdom that’s been ingrained for years, a veritable lifetime in our industry.
Except that it has. DDR3-1600 is quite simply no longer enough for modern chips outside of Ivy Bridge-E and Vishera. That Kaveri benefits from faster memory (at least on the GPU side) is a foregone conclusion that was confirmed by our testing. AnandTech already exhaustively detailed performance scaling with different memory speeds on Haswell, and I’ve studied the effect of memory speed on Battlefield 4’s performance. Between our work and AnandTech’s extremely thorough research, you’d think there would finally be a pervasive understanding of the benefit of faster memory on Haswell, but that hasn’t been the case.
I originally went into this testing specifically trying to determine whether or not overclocking would increase the strain enough on Haswell’s memory controller to justify higher speed memory. In testing, I discovered fairly conclusively that DDR3-1600 essentially leaves performance on the table even at stock clocks.
For testing I ran Intel’s Core i7-4770K at stock speeds and overclocked to 4.5GHz. A 32GB (4x8GB) kit of our Dominator Platinum DDR3-2400 was used to scale from DDR3-1600 CAS 9 to DDR3-2400 CAS 10. Test system specs are as follows:
Intel Core i7-4770K CPU
Stock Speed (3.5GHz nominal, turbo to 3.7GHz on four cores or 3.9GHz on one core)
Overclocked (4.5GHz, 45x100 BClk, 4GHz Northbridge
Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 Motherboard
4x8GB Corsair Dominator Platinum DDR3-2400
DDR3-1600 (9-9-9-24 CR2)
DDR3-1866 (9-9-9-24 CR2)
DDR3-2133 (10-11-11-31 CR2)
DDR3-2400 (10-12-12-32 CR2)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Overclocked (980MHz nominal, boost to 1150MHz, 7GHz GDDR5)
240GB & 480GB Neutron GTX SSDs (for Adobe testing)
I very deliberately chose a mixture of synthetic and real world benchmarks. Cherry picked synthetics can admittedly overstate the importance of higher speed memory; I wanted tangible, demonstrable, practical benefits.