It doesn't matter if Bill Gates ever said it or not, what matters is we've long known that 640K of RAM isn't anywhere near enough. For some people, neither is 2GB or even 4GB. And if you're a power user or a master of content creation, you may need much, much more. Perhaps this is why Crucial decided to upgrade several of its Ballistix memory lines with 8GB modules.
We look at the effect of memory bandwidth and clockspeed on gaming performance.
The mystique of adding RAM to a system to “increase performance” is often misunderstood by the average person. Most think that if their seven-year-old Windows XP build is getting slow, doubling the RAM from 2GB to 4GB will speed it up. Any PC tech worth his Pringles knows that won’t do much for Windows XP performance. Generally, it’s very easy to hit the point of diminishing returns with system RAM. But there’s one bad pattern we’ve been seeing in many of the notebooks with integrated graphics lately: configuring RAM for the minimum system bandwidth.
If you’re a browser jockey, that’s not a huge issue but if you play any games that rely on the graphics card, that configuration can hobble your performance if you’re trying to play games. To see what the situation is, we decided to take a typical modern notebook and see the impact of system bandwidth on gaming. Read on.
Three cheers to Bethesda, who finally rolled out a small patch for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on the PC through Steam that shows big love for gamers rocking more than 2GB of RAM. The Skyrim 1.3.10 patch adds "support for 4-Gigabyte Tuning," otherwise known as Large Address Aware. Lack of LAA support made third-party mods like "4GB Skyrim" popular (as featured in PC Gamer's "Skyrim Mods: the 20 best so far").
You know that guy who just plunked down a paycheck on a 32GB memory kit and struts around the online block like a peacock with his feathers stretched out? Neither do we, but if there is such a guy, you can take away his forum bragging rights with G.Skill's 'Over-the-Top, Holy Hell This Kit is Freaking Massive' 64GB DDR3-2400 quad-channel memory package. Actually, it's part of G.Skill's RipjawsZ line, but we take no issue if the company wants to use our moniker instead.
Setting a world record is challenge in and of itself, especially ones as vigorously sought after by overclockers (and DRAM module makers) as system memory frequency. But to set a record during a live overclocking session? That adds a new element. Even still, a Romanian overclocking team -- Lab501, as they call themselves -- set not one, but three new world records using Kingston's HyperX 2544MHz (KHX2544C9D3TIFK2/GX) dual-channel memory kit.
Don't like dinking around with just 4GB of system memory, or even 8GB? How about 16GB? If that's still not enough for what you intend to use your notebook for, fear not, boutique system builder AVADirect announced tested compatibility for 32GB RAM kits now featured in over a dozen laptops from Clevo, MSI, and Asus. It's not the most RAM AVADirect has ever offered in a portable form factor, but it still gives you bragging rights, and at a fraction of the cost as systems configurable with 48GB.
Before there was Sandy Bridge, you could argue there wasn't any point in equipping your notebook with enthusiast grade RAM. But now that even mainstream laptops have a bit of high-octane spunk in their DNA, Corsair's hoping there will be an audience for its new Vengeance SO-DIMM memory upgrade kits. These are high-performance memory kits comparable to desktop parts, but built for mobile form factors.
Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) today announced the North American retail availability of the first AMD Memory branded desktop system memory modules. The Sunnyvale outfit partnered up with Patriot Memory and VisionTek to build and deliver the first AMD Memory branded products, which are supposed to "help take the guesswork out of DRAM selection" with kits aimed at specific audiences: Entertainment, Performance, and Enthusiast Desktop.
Consumers continue to benefit from an oversupply of DRAM memory chips and prices so low that chip makers are struggling just to stay afloat, let alone flip a profit. The DRAM market has struggled for several years now, and at some point, you have to believe prices will go back up. We're not at that point yet, and in fact prices for DDR3 memory are at an all-time low.
Assuming you decide to build a new PC around Intel's Sandy Bridge-E platform or upgrade your existing rig to X79, one thing you won't have to worry about is finding quad-channel memory kits. Plenty of memory makers have stepped to the plate with four and eight DIMM kits, including Kingston, which launched a range of quad-channel HyperX Genesis DDR3 kits in 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB capacities.