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Written by David Ramsey   
Wednesday, 11 January 2012
Table of Contents: Page Index
G.SKILL Ripjaws-Z 16GB DDR3-1600 Memory
Closer Look: G.SKILL Ripjaws
Testing and Results
Synthetic Tests
Application Tests
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

Ripjaws Z Series Final Thoughts

Many hardware vendors cater to the enthusiast or overclocker who simply has to have the fastest available parts. Intel plays this game well, selling $1,000 "Extreme" processors whose performance is increasingly irrelevant to most users. AMD and NVIDIA regularly leapfrog each other with high end graphics cards that only make sense if you're running giant multi-monitor displays, and memory vendors build ultra-fast memory out of expensive, hand-tested chips guaranteed to reach absurdly high frequencies.

The problem with high speed memory is this: with the increasing amount of on-die CPU cache memory (15MB in the Intel Core i7-3960X used in this review), most memory accesses are satisfied from the cache, making the speed of the system memory less important. The dramatic drop in memory prices in the last year or two (as much as 80%) means that profit margins in the memory business are razor-thin, and vendors are (understandably) trying to push much more expensive, high-performance memory aimed at overclockers and other enthusiasts who must have the "fastest" and are willing to pay the price. But as our tests at Benchmark Reviews have shown, all this faster memory is really good for is turning in marginally better benchmark scores, with real-world performance improvements that are almost impossible to discern.

Still, if you want to spend the extra money for "fast" memory, G.SKILL will be happy to oblige you. They offer no fewer than 13 different timings in their DDR3 memory lineup, topping out at an eye-watering 2400MHz!

gskill_ripjaws_1600_obverse.jpg

Even today, very few consumers will have real need for 16GB of memory. While those editing huge videos or running virtual machines may benefit, right now this much RAM represents "room to grow" more than anything else. Still, at just $79.99 from Newegg, there's little reason to go with a smaller kit unless your budget is tight...and if it is, Amazon offers G.SKILL 8GB kits in a 2Gx4 configuration for $54.99 or as 4Gx2 for $42.99.

F3-12800CL9Q-16GBZL Conclusion

The whole point behind paying more for high-performance components, be they fast CPUs, killer graphics cards, SSDs, or performance memory, is to see this better performance in your system. While the Kingston HyperX DDR3-2133 memory showed its mettle in benchmark tests, application tests show that there's virtually no real-world benefit to be had from this very expensive memory. For one-quarter the price of the HyperX DDR3-2133 kit, you can get the same 16GB capacity, arguably better physical appearance, and G.SKILL lifetime warranty and support with this Ripjaws DDR3-1600 memory kit.

G.SKILL offers several "brands" in their DDR3 memory portfolio: Ripjaws, Sniper, Pi, and Flare; each line has its own distinctive styling. The Ripjaws memory is arguably the most overtly styled, and its grooved and louvered heat spreaders will look great in your system.

Construction quality was good; there were no obvious physical flaws on the DIMMs and the performance was reliable.

Functionality is excellent: the user can choose to run at the default 1333MHz or the XMP-profile 1600Mhz by selecting the desired profile in their computer's BIOS, with no overclocking or guesswork needed. While the 1600MHz speed won't provide much performance improvement over 1333MHz, you're paying for it, so you might as well use it. The heat spreaders aren't low-profile but also aren't as high as many others; still, you should check the clearance on your system if your cooler overhangs any of the memory slots.

Right now, a good DDR3-1600 memory kit hits the sweet spot for price vs. performance: it's faster than DDR3-1066 and DDR3-1333 (besides, there's some subtle enthusiast stigma attached to memory slower than 1600MHz), and provides virtually the same performance as much more expensive "high performance" memory. You'll get G.SKILL's lifetime warranty and support in a 16GB kit that's less than $90 at Newegg, which is the lowest price I can find for a DDR3-1600 quad channel memory kit with 9-9-9-24 timings. Right now this is the best bang for the buck available in a memory kit of these specs.

Pros:Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award

+ Excellent price-performance ratio makes this kit a real bargain in the 16GB quad-channel arena
+ XMP profile makes getting the best performance easy
+ Nicely-done heat spreaders look good in a windowed case
+ Lifetime warranty

Cons:

- Tall heat spreaders may present clearance problems in air-cooled X79 systems

Ratings:

  • Performance: 9.00
  • Appearance: 9.00
  • Construction: 9.00
  • Functionality: 8.75
  • Value: 9.75

Final Score: 9.1 out of 10.

Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.

Benchmark Reviews invites you to leave constructive feedback below, or ask questions in our Discussion Forum.


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Comments 

 
# compatibilityrealneil 2012-01-19 07:47
I've found GSKill brand RAM to be compatible with just about any motherboard out there. This is not always so with other brands either.
I have it in 2133 and 1600 speeds and do not see any real world difference between them.
So the compatibility and low price that GSKill brings to the table have me sold.
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# Oops?Mergatroid 2012-01-19 16:55
Is this right on your second page?

"The label shows the XMP profile settings of 9-9-9-234"

Typo I think.

Great review. I used G-Skil 1600 for the first time in my most recent personal build, and they just worked. They drew no attention to themselves which is really all I ask of RAM. I got the black ones and they look pretty sweet, but they're even taller than the quad kit units.
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# RE: Oops?David Ramsey 2012-01-19 17:36
Yep, that was a type, and it's fixed now. Thanks!
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# Newb question re: XMP vcoreAlex 2012-02-22 03:28
Nice, very informative review! I'm currently in the process of putting an X79 build and was wondering whether the 1.32 vcore indicated in the screenshot above is the specified Intel XMP value or whether the value is determined by the motherboard manufacturers.

I'm thinking maybe of going Gigabyte for my mobo. If I use G.SKILL DDR3-1600MHz on it, will it automatically give me the same 1.32 vcore value, as well? Must run pretty hot on 1.32v core voltage at idle. (I'm assuming that's the 24/7 voltage.)
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