Best Laptop Memory Upgrades: 8 DDR4 SODIMM Kits Tested & Compared

How We Tested and Benchmarked DDR4 SODIMM Kits

To run our SODIMM tests, we needed a platform that met three criteria. First, it would allow for easy changes in DIMM configuration; that is, swapping modules in and out quickly. Second, it would support both XMP and SPD timings. And third, it would approximate the highest possible performance available in a notebook.

The need to make easy changes in our DIMM configurations, paired with the need to simulate powerful laptops along the lines of boutique models that take desktop parts, forced us to deploy a desktop motherboard and a matching six-core processor for our testing. To approximate the memory bandwidth of the latest Core i7-8700K-based gaming notebooks that use desktop CPUs, we limited the maximum memory configuration to dual-channel mode. Here's a look at our setup...

CPU

Intel Core i7-7800X ($389.99 On Newegg)

3.5GHz to 4.0GHz, 8.25MB L3 Cache, LGA 2066

Motherboard

ASRock X299E-ITX/ac Skylake-X ($399.99 On Newegg)

Graphics

Asus Turbo Series GTX 1080 Ti ($1,261.28 On Newegg)

Power

be quiet! Straight Power 10 500W ($89.90 On Newegg)

Toss in a few bandwidth-affected benchmarks, and we’re ready to go!

Benchmark Suite

PCMark 8

Version 2.7.613
Applications (Adobe & Microsoft)

SiSoftware Sandra

Version 2016.03.22.21
Cryptography, Memory Bandwidth, Memory Latency

Application Tests & Settings

Adobe CC

After Effects v 13.8.0.144; Photoshop v 20160603.r.88 x64, InDesign Build 11.4.0.90 x64, Illustrator v 20.0.0 (64-bit)
(PCMark-driven routine)

Microsoft Office 2013

Word, Excel, PowerPoint
(PCMark-driven routine)

Game Tests & Settings

F1 2015

2015 Season, Abu Dhabi Track, Rain
3840x2160 resolution, No AA, No AF
Ultra Low, Low, Medium, High, Ultra High Presets

Software

OS

Windows 10 64-bit

Graphics Drivers

GeForce 388.13

Sandra Memory Bandwidth and Cache & Memory Latency benchmarks are great tools to verify that memory is reaching anticipated performance levels regarding bandwidth and latency. Latency is measured in clock cycles, so that both shorter cycles (faster frequencies) and fewer cycles between operations will improve real-time performance. Similarly, because the bandwidth benchmark sends multiple data packets, lower latency settings increase the number of packets per second to improve bandwidth.

The "real-world" Adobe and Microsoft benchmarks mentioned above include timed applications, where less time to complete the task equals more performance, and in the single game (F1 2015), more FPS means more performance. The balance between tests that are greatly affected and less affected by memory performance is meant to represent a wider range of user experience.

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