Choosing the Memory
Choosing the memory is currently the most controversial point of any performance system build. Because CPU speeds have been pushing the limits, memory has been struggling to keep pace. Because of Core 2's popularity, it seems that performance memory is becoming scarcer, as supply fails to keep pace with demand. Increasing system speeds also mean that you now need much higher quality of memory than before, especially if you overclock. The end result is that a lot of people seem unhappy with their memory purchases.
For example, Corsair for a long time has had a good reputation; because of this, they are pricey. However, a quick glance at the Newegg forums will show you how many people have received nonfunctioning memory sticks in recent months—notwithstanding the high price they are paying. This goes back to the paucity of performance memory, which seems to have led to an industry-wide degradation in quality. Although Corsair was very helpful to us in answering questions for this review; at the time of publication, they had not answered us regarding this specific issue.
In contrast, OCZ seems to be currently providing more reliable memory at a lower cost. Testing memory for reliably is an expensive part of the manufacturing process, but it also helps to ensure customer satisfaction. Perhaps OCZ is taking a loss in the hopes of gaining more market share; but whatever they are doing, it seems to work. We have been very happy with their memory quality lately.
For this build, we opted for the OCZ Platinum "Revision 2" 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory (see Figure 3).
Figure 3 OCZ performance RAM wins again this year.
These have mirrored, platinum-finish heat spreaders that re similar to the model we tested last year, but they have a new honeycomb, perforated design that is designed to improve ventilation. Cas latency is 4, with timings of 4-4-4-15 at voltages of 1.9-2.1v. For the price, we could not find any RAM that was as stable or that performed as reliably under load as these astonishing OCZ sticks.
We had no problem posting on our Gigabyte GA-965P-DQ6 mainboard at default voltage. (If you experience any trouble with rebooting loops, you can try adjusting the mainboard voltages in BIOS between the range of 1.9-2.1v.) We also performed an eight-hour MemTest burn-in, which showed no memory errors. Finding good RAM is currently one of the most frustrating parts of building performance systems, so OCZ's trouble-free operation took a great load off our minds.