The Right RAM For Me: Corsair Vengeance 1866 Mhz

Or maybe not.

Before I talk about RAM sticks, let me confess. I made a mistake with Vengeance 1866 Mhz. It’s not a costly mistake and it is not likely to affect my computing experience much. But I did not get what I wanted.

About RAM. It is pretty easy to pick right RAM for a new computer. You just need to answer a few basic questions.

a) How much?

There used to be saying that you can never have enough RAM. It is no longer true. In the last few years RAM has become so cheap that nowadays you can easily have enough RAM for your needs.

For your (geek) greed, there is no solution.

If you are not a video gamer, a geek or a developer who runs virtual machines, or someone who works with media encoding etc, you can easily live with 2GB RAM. But this is also cutting it a little fine, especially because of programs like Firefox and Chrome that love to gobble up RAM. To be on safe side, 4GB is more appropriate.

Pro tip: Ok, it is not so pro. Everyone knows it. But it is a tip. If you are opting for 4GB or more RAM, get 64-bit Windows because users on 32-bit can’t access more than 3GB RAM.

If you are a power user or a gamer, 8GB might be the sweet spot. The extra RAM is definitively going to make the machine a bit more future proof, especially seeing how the web is becoming more dynamic and how browsers hog memory nowadays.

But if you are someone who runs virtual machines or will be compiling programs, go for 16GB. Did I tell you that RAM is cheap nowadays?

b) DDR2 or DDR3? What speed?

The answer to these questions is far more simple than you think. Just read the manuals that come with your motherboard and CPU. Nowadays, memory controllers are built inside CPUs. If you are not the type who loves tinkering with system, just get the RAM that your CPU and motherboard officially support. Apart from the speed, also look for the supported voltages.

c) Brand etc

Get the cheapest RAM from any decent RAM maker if you are following the RAM guidelines provided by Intel/AMD and motherboard makers. By decent I mean the likes of Kingston, Transcend, Corsair, Gskill etc. If you want something fancy or will be overclocking, get the RAM that promises you overclocking headroom.

Why I selected Vengeance 1866 Mhz

a) I bought Core i5 3570K as my CPU and a Z77 motherboard. This means I had to buy DDR3 RAM

b) According to Intel, the CPU supports 1600Mhz RAM officially but the memory controller in Ivy Bridge (Core i5 3570K) is very robust. So, most motherboard makers have enabled official support for up to DDR3 2600Mhz.

c) But the problem with high speed memory paired with Ivy Bridge is that even though it helps in benchmarks, the real life advantage is very little. That’s why the optimum RAM for Ivy Bridge is 1600Mhz with tight timings of 9-9-9-24 or lower. We will talk about timings some other day. For now, let me just say that these are not as important as they sound.

d) I decided to go for 8GB (4x2) Vengeance 1866Mhz kit because I wanted a little bit extra (just for the show) and price was right. I got a kit of two sticks. If you can help it, always get a kit of two sticks (or four in the case of X79 because it has a quad-channel memory controller).

e) Vengeance 1866 also looks good with a heat-spreader and fins. This again is more for show. At this speed, there is not much heat and even naked sticks do fine.

Now, the part where I talk about why I am not happy with Vengeance 1866. Corsair claims it is a memory for overclockers. I am not much of a memory overclocker. Reason: it is the trickiest component to overclock and the gain is not much unless you are aiming to set the world record in SuperPi. But I had hoped that instead of running Vengeance at 9-10-9-27 (default speed) I would be able to tighten it to 9-9-9-24/25. Sadly, this kit is bit of a donkey. It doesn’t budge. Changing anything from the default leads to either system instability or it simply refuses to boot.

Not done, Corsair. Not done. If I knew, I would have bought your Value Select RAM and not Vengeance. What’s the difference, eh?

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