LGA 1156 Memory Performance: What Speed DDR3 Should You Buy?

Test System Details

We used the Asus Maximus III Formula, a high-end P55 motherboard, and an Intel Core i7-870 processor to analyze memory performance.

To be able to set all described memory clock speeds and timings, we grabbed two Corsair CM3X2G1600C9DHX Dominator DIMMs. These are specified for DDR3-1600 speed at CL9 timings, but they can also run at CL8 settings. Keep in mind that all other system parameters, such as the processor speed, remained unchanged for the sake of consistency.


System Hardware
Intel Core i7-870 (45 nm, 2.93 GHz, 4 x 256KB L2 and 8MB L3 Cache, TDP 95W, Rev. B1)
Motherboard (Socket 1156)
Asus Maximus III Formula (Rev. 1.0)
Chipset: Intel P55
BIOS: 0902 (09/24/2009)
RAM DDR3 (Dual)
2 x 2GB DDR3-1600 (Corsair CM3X2G1600C9DHX)
Zotac Geforce GTX 260²
GPU: Geforce GTX 260 (576 MHz)
Graphics RAM: 896MB DDR3 (1998 MHz)
Stream Processors: 216
Shader Clock: 1242 MHz
Hard Drive
Western Digital VelociRaptor, 300GB (WD3000HLFS)
10,000 RPM, SATA/300, 16MB Cache
Blu-ray Drive
Power Supply
PC Power & Cooling, Silencer 750EPS12V 750W
System Software and Drivers
Operating System
Windows Vista Enterprise Version 6.0 x64
Service Pack 2 (Build 6000)
Drivers and Settings
Nvidia GeForce Drivers
GeForce 185.85
Intel Chipset Drivers
Chipset Installation Utility Ver.
Intel storage Drivers
Matrix Storage Drivers Ver.

3D Game Benchmarks and Settings
Far Cry 2
Version: 1.0.1
Far Cry 2 Benchmark Tool
Video Mode: 1280x800
Direct3D 9
Overall Quality: Medium
Bloom activated
HDR off
Demo: Ranch Small
Version: 1.0.3
Video Mode: 1280x1024
- 1280x1024
- Aspect Ratio: Auto
- All options: Medium
- View Distance: 30
- Detail Distance: 100
- Vehicle Density: 100
- Shadow Density: 16
- Definition: On
- Vsync: Off
Ingame Benchmark
Left 4 Dead
Video Mode: 1280x800
Game Settings
- Anti Aliasing none
- Filtering Trilinear
- Wait for vertical sync disabled
- Shader Detail Medium
- Effect Detail Medium
- Model/Texture Detail Medium
Demo: THG Demo 1
Audio Benchmarks and Settings
Audio CD ("Terminator II" SE), 53 min.
Convert to AAC audio format
Lame MP3
Version 3.98
Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min.
convert WAV to MP3 audio format
Command: -b 160 --nores (160 Kbps)
Video Benchmarks and Settings
Video: Terminator 2 SE DVD (720x576, 16:9) 5 Minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital, 48000 Hz, 6-channel, English
Advanced Acoustic Engine MP3 Encoder (160 Kbps, 44.1 kHz)
DivX 6.8.5
Version: 6.8.5
== Main Menu ==
== Codec Menu ==
Encoding mode: Insane Quality
Enhanced multithreading
Enabled using SSE4
Quarter-pixel search
== Video Menu ==
Quantization: MPEG-2
XviD 1.2.1
Version: 1.2.1
Other Options / Encoder Menu -
Display encoding status = off
Mainconcept Reference 1.6.1
Version: 1.6.1
MPEG-2 to MPEG-2 (H.264)
MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec
28 sec. HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG-2)
MPEG-2 (44.1 kHz, 2-Channel, 16 Bit, 224 Kbps)
Codec: H.264
Mode: PAL (25 FPS)
Profile: Settings for eight threads
Adobe Premiere Pro CS4
Version: 4.0
WMV 1920x1080 (39 sec.)
Export: Adobe Media Encoder
== Video ==
H.264 Blu-ray
1440x1080i 25 High Quality
Encoding Passes: one
Bitrate Mode: VBR
Frame: 1440x1080
Frame Rate: 25
== Audio ==
PCM Audio, 48 kHz, Stereo
EncodingPasses: one
Application Benchmarks and Settings
Grisoft AVG Anti Virus 8
Version: 8.5.287
Virus base: 270.12.16/2094
Scan: compressed ZIP and RAR archives
Winrar 3.9
Version 3.90 x64 BETA 1
Best compression
Benchmark: THG Workload
Winzip 12
Version 12.0 (8252)
WinZIP command line Version 3
Compression = Best
Dictionary = 4096KB
Benchmark: THG Workload
Autodesk 3D Studio Max 2009
Version: 9.0, x64
Rendering Dragon Image
Resolution: 1920 x 1280 (frame 1-5)
Adobe Photoshop CS4 (64-bit)
Version: 11
Filtering a 16MB TIF (15000x7266)
Radial Blur (Amount: 10; Method: zoom; Quality: good)
Shape Blur (Radius: 46 px; custom shape: Trademark sysmbol)
Median (Radius: 1px)
Polar Coordinates (Rectangular to Polar)
Adobe Acrobat 9 Professional
Version: 9.0.0 (Extended)
== Printing Preferenced Menu ==
Default Settings: Standard
== Adobe PDF Security - Edit Menu ==
Encrypt all documents (128-bit RC4)
Open Password: 123
Permissions Password: 321
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark Vantage
Version: 1.02
Options: Performance
Graphics Test 1
Graphics Test 2
CPU Test 1
CPU Test 2
PCMark Vantage
Version: 1.00
PCMark Benchmark
Memories Benchmark
SiSoftware Sandra 2009
Version: 2009 SP3
Processor Arithmetic, Cryptography, Memory Bandwith