I recently posted a message on:
"Choosing a CPU: AMD Phenom 9950
"Choosing a GPU: NVIDIA 9800 GTX, NVIDIA GTX 260, or switching to ATI
"Choosing a Motherboard: ASUS, AM2+ Socket, NVIDIA/SLI Chipset, or switch to non-ASUS
The focus of this message is RAM specific.
Here is a summarized introduction on what lead to this discussion and will eventually consist of purchasing my RAM:
I have needed a new computer for some time now, specifically for producing music (for my profession), though with the invitation to join an early testing phase of an unnamed online game that is not due for release until next year, I picked up the motivation to finally build a computer rather than buy a pre-built. I think it's pretty funny when you are motivated to build a computer for "work" when you know it will be used for "fun" too. Though, my work is also fun, I love my career. In any case, you will find some of the information on the "whole project" in another thread, including revisions to my big list of components/parts. Here is a direct link to "version 1.5" of my list.
Purpose of this computer: 1/2 music production, 1/2 gaming; and a little extra multimedia mixed in, for use with movies/tv shows.
Price range for this computer: $1,000 to $1,500 (if possible), though I might go a little higher.
Side note: some subjects require some special attention and the purpose in the "System Builder's Advice" forum is "...for your whole project." So, I'll leave that there and this one specific piece of my computer puzzle open to discussion here. This is the perfect place for RAM talk, after all! Now... back to the topic...
I am 100% positive that I want the "AMD Phenom 9950" CPU and around 95-99% positive that I want the "NVIDIA 9800 GTX" GPU. (The 95-99% on the GPU involves the motherboard, which is explained elsewhere.)
I'm tempted to choose the RAM I want before I choose the motherboard, though I wonder if that would be senseless if the motherboard really should depend on socket/chipset of choice and, thus, RAM options should be determined based on the mobo matching the CPU/GPU. I'm not sure. So, for now I'm going with selecting RAM after CPU, GPU, and motherboard.
My choices of RAM will very likely change if I end up with a drastically different mainboard, though that is okay. I just hope that the maximum capable RAM on the board is either 8GB or 16GB, preferably DIMM2, and given the turn-out of only 2 functioning DIMMs at 1066MHz, I'm completely okay with 800MHz. I'll wait and save the 1066MHz+ RAM for when AMD CPUs and AM2+/AM3/etc. socket boards support the use of all 4 memory slots at 1066MHz+.
So, I have pretty much narrowed my choices down, though need some assistance on some specifics with RAM selection.
I would like a board that maxes at either 8GB or 16GB of RAM.
I would like to start with either 4GB or 8GB of RAM (800MHz, DIMM2, and probably non-ECC).
I'm unfamiliar with the true differences between one brand's standard RAM versus the same brand's "high performance and gaming" version while at the same GB and MHz.
As far as RAM brands go, I have had positive experiences with Kingston, though other people have shared opinions with me that some good brands to consider are Corsair, OCZ, and Mushkin.
Let's say that I start with 4GB RAM...
Here are 2 similar types of RAM that I found:
"Kingston HyperX 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory - Retail"
"Kingston 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory - Retail"
Or let's say that I start with 8GB RAM...
Here is 1 type of RAM I found:
"OCZ Gold 8GB (4 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Quad kit Desktop Memory"
($124.99 after $25.00 Mail-In Rebate)
I've also been looking into some Corsair RAM. Corsair, OCZ, and Kingston are the main ones I've done some digging into so far. I may start digging into Mushkin. I have absolutely no idea which brands are supposedly "better" and rather than hear responses of "don't get opinions" I actually would appreciate opinions and, if possible, reasons supporting those opinions.
I'm familiar with current options for 4GB, such as 4x1GB or 2x2GB. I'm familiar with current options for 8GB, such as 4x2GB. I'm unfamiliar with which arrangement of DIMMs is best. I hear more people saying it's good to get the higher capacity single sticks, aka avoid 1GB RAM. My hunch is we will eventually be avoiding 2GB sticks, though they don't seem to be outdated just yet.
Anyway, I'm guessing that if I get a 16GB capable board that I could get only 2 of the highest GB DIMMs and add to them later (at a cost now while perhaps less expensive later); or I could just get 4 of the lower GB DIMMs now and completely replace them later (at lower cost now, though more of a cost in the long run for the current ones being "retired" later, per se).
Once I resolve the amount of GB that I want the board to handle, which will be limited since only a few boards currently seem to offer 16GB max, I can start narrowing things down to details within their specs and actual brand names (if brand name even matters, I don't know).
Since in many cases even 4GB RAM is plenty, and since 1066 MHz only functions with 2 DIMMs by the hardware components that I do currently prefer, I think it will be safe to save my "16GB max" until later, when we are closer to mainstream use of 8GB RAM, plenty over
1066MHz, and when DDR3 has dropped significantly in price.
So, let's say that, for this computer, I go with an 8GB max motherboard with the 800Mhz DDR2 RAM.
Now for the details... which brand? Which model within the brand?
Those numbers, like 5-5-5-etc., they confuse me. Some people say you can't tell a difference, some say you can. What's the verdict?
I don't know if inexpensive 8GB RAM, close to the price of more expensive 4GB RAM, is a bad idea or not.
I'm still trying to decide if I should get 4GB or 8GB RAM now.