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Choosing RAM: For 64-bit Quad Core (AMD Phenom 9950)

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#1
Hello world,

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.)

RAM:

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"
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820104043
($78.99)

or

"Kingston 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory - Retail"
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820134641
($60.49)

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"
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227290
($149.99)
($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.

Thank you!
 
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#2
The brands you chose are good. But the best and most popular of all is G.Skills. Get some 4GB 1066 MHz G.Skills and watch it fly.......... And don't get 8 GB its a waste. The maximum for a gaming system is 6 GB, 8 GB is for servers mostly. and the numbers 5-5-5-etc those are called timings. The lower the timings the better but at lower timings however it will be very hard to overclock ram so I suggest buy ram with low timings and as you overclock loosen them which means turn them higher.


Edit: Next time try to fit all these Choosing things in one thread in the system builders advice, otherwise it takes up too much spacce on the new posts box. Not to be mean but for future posting try not to get to detailed as most members don’t have much time to read the whole thing. :)
 
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#3
The brands you chose are good. But the best and most popular of all is G.Skills. Get some 4GB 1066 MHz G.Skills and watch it fly.......... And don't get 8 GB its a waste. The maximum for a gaming system is 6 GB, 8 GB is for servers mostly. and the numbers 5-5-5-etc those are called timings. The lower the timings the better but at lower timings however it will be very hard to overclock ram so I suggest buy ram with low timings and as you overclock loosen them which means turn them higher.


Edit: Next time try to fit all these Choosing things in one thread in the system builders advice, otherwise it takes up too much spacce on the new posts box. Not to be mean but for future posting try not to get to detailed as most members don’t have much time to read the whole thing. :)
+1 on what spearman said. My recomendation would be to go with Micron D9GMH RAM as that will give u the highest memory overclock, but they are more difficult to find nowadays as most have been discontinued. I think that 2x1Gb kit is optimal for overclocking but if you must have 4GB go with 4x1GB
 
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#4
I agree with Spearman on 8Gb and beyond is a waste unless your using abunch of server apps. The nice thing with the Phenom's is you can ungange the memory since the Phenom basically has 2 memory controllers. I do alot of video editing and running my 6Gb unganged kills from 2-7min off my editing and encoding times, just depends on the detail and length I want or have to work with. G.Skill is awesome for what you get and I would stay away from the Kingston junk, especially when checking out 2x2Gb sets cause most of what I have seen are running 7-7-7 timings which SUCKS. Since your pretty sure about the Phenom why not go with a 2x2gb set of G.Skill 1066, http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...052315794 1052420643&name=DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500), and a 2x1gb set of G.Skill 1066, http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...052308477 1052420643&name=DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500).
 

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#5
RAM is RAM. Unless your getting different quantities/speeds/timings, its all going to be the same. Most brands offer lifetime warranty anyway, so thats not really a major factor.
 

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#6
Some of the best stuff out there right now is the 2x2gb GSkill Pi DDR2-1100 kit.
 
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#7
Some of the best stuff out there right now is the 2x2gb GSkill Pi DDR2-1100 kit.
Let me add a word and change something"Some of the best stuff out there right now is the 2x2gb GSkill Black Pi DDR2-800 kit."
 
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#8
The brands you chose are good. But the best and most popular of all is G.Skills. Get some 4GB 1066 MHz G.Skills and watch it fly.......... And don't get 8 GB its a waste. The maximum for a gaming system is 6 GB, 8 GB is for servers mostly. and the numbers 5-5-5-etc those are called timings. The lower the timings the better but at lower timings however it will be very hard to overclock ram so I suggest buy ram with low timings and as you overclock loosen them which means turn them higher.


Edit: Next time try to fit all these Choosing things in one thread in the system builders advice, otherwise it takes up too much spacce on the new posts box. Not to be mean but for future posting try not to get to detailed as most members don’t have much time to read the whole thing. :)
Regarding the 4 "Choosing..." threads, I understand that you are not being mean. Please see the following:

+1 on what spearman said. My recomendation would be to go with Micron D9GMH RAM as that will give u the highest memory overclock, but they are more difficult to find nowadays as most have been discontinued. I think that 2x1Gb kit is optimal for overclocking but if you must have 4GB go with 4x1GB
Micron... another brand? I never heard of it. :) Good to know.

How does Micron compare to G.Skills?

What do you mean by "highest memory clock"?

Discontinued... okay that's not good. Where could one find them?

I will only be able to use 2 DIMMs at 1066 MHz, so for 4GB I will need something like "2x2GB".

I agree with Spearman on 8Gb and beyond is a waste unless your using abunch of server apps. The nice thing with the Phenom's is you can ungange the memory since the Phenom basically has 2 memory controllers. I do alot of video editing and running my 6Gb unganged kills from 2-7min off my editing and encoding times, just depends on the detail and length I want or have to work with. G.Skill is awesome for what you get and I would stay away from the Kingston junk, especially when checking out 2x2Gb sets cause most of what I have seen are running 7-7-7 timings which SUCKS. Since your pretty sure about the Phenom why not go with a 2x2gb set of G.Skill 1066, http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...052315794 1052420643&name=DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500), and a 2x1gb set of G.Skill 1066, http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...052308477 1052420643&name=DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500).
So using 8GB RAM is good if running a lot of programs?
Why specifically server applications?
What does it mean to "ungange the memory"?
By "2 memory controllers" are you referring to the use of only 2 of the RAM slots on the board?

It sounds like "unganging" will seriously come in handy for my music editing, composing, and recording.

Avoid Kingston, okay. :)

I didn't know I could mix-and-match RAM in the 4 slots. I was under the impression you could only use two RAM "sticks" that have 1066 MHz.

Would 2x2GB G.Skill 1066 MHz and 2x1GB G.Skill 1066 MHz actually work?

Thank you! :)
 

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#9
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#10
Regarding the topic:
I've seen G.Skills at the top of the lists over at newegg.com, and I have never heard of it. I had never heard how it compares, pros/cons, etc. to other brands of RAM.

So rather than 8GB RAM @ 800 MHz, get 4GB RAM @ 1066 MHz instead... okay. Thanks. :)

So what really is the difference in those two?

You said watch the 1066 MHz fly and that the 8GB is mostly for servers. What does all of that mean?

Well, that's a broad question, I mean:
What context of speed is the noticeable difference between 800 MHz and 1066 MHz RAM?
How noticeable is it?
What context does 8GB benefit server use and not benefit personal computing?
What could a personal computer use 8GB for (running several programs at once?)?
Difference is 2DIMMS overclock more then 4DIMMS at tighter timings. Watch the 1066 MHz fly basically means its overkill. 8GB is mostly for servers means um..... first of all you need to know what a server is. For example you are playing an online game. What you are connecting to is the server in which the game is provided. The server needs to send infromation to each seperate person or computer connected to the computer which requires much more memory. Higher RAM speeds only have benefits in loading and a few more fps.
For this question "What context does 8GB benefit server use and not benefit personal computing?" Since you are not going to play any games that require 8 GB its useless and wasting money.
 
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#11
RAM is RAM. Unless your getting different quantities/speeds/timings, its all going to be the same. Most brands offer lifetime warranty anyway, so thats not really a major factor.
Hmm... so flip a coin? :) Get the cheapest RAM that I can find?

Some of the best stuff out there right now is the 2x2gb GSkill Pi DDR2-1100 kit.
I didn't even think about going over 1066 MHz. My hunch is it's also more $$$?

Let me add a word and change something"Some of the best stuff out there right now is the 2x2gb GSkill Black Pi DDR2-800 kit."
Oh was I reading that wrong. the "1100 and "800" in "DDR2-1100" and "DDR2-800", respectively, refer to MHz, right?

Or did you mean the best stuff out there right now as in the best deals (for the money spent)?

Id say the 1000mhz kit is probably the better price/performance. Not being bias because I have it, but for $80 your getting 4GB at 1000mhz.


http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231174
You said "kit"... the other day someone said it's a good idea to get a kit rather than "generic" (separate?). That confused me a little, though I'm guessing they just meant you know the RAM sticks will match up and there will possibly be a price reduction. (Just a guess.)

So there is actually 1000 MHz. Interesting. I thought that RAM jumped straight up from 800 MHz to 1066 MHz. :)

I wonder how the price compares between 4GB (2x2GB) 1000 MHz and 4GB (2x2GB) 1066 MHz.
 
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#12
Hmm... so flip a coin? :) Get the cheapest RAM that I can find?



I didn't even think about going over 1066 MHz. My hunch is it's also more $$$?



Oh was I reading that wrong. the "1100 and "800" in "DDR2-1100" and "DDR2-800", respectively, refer to MHz, right?

Or did you mean the best stuff out there right now as in the best deals (for the money spent)?



You said "kit"... the other day someone said it's a good idea to get a kit rather than "generic" (separate?). That confused me a little, though I'm guessing they just meant you know the RAM sticks will match up and there will possibly be a price reduction. (Just a guess.)

So there is actually 1000 MHz. Interesting. I thought that RAM jumped straight up from 800 MHz to 1066 MHz. :)

I wonder how the price compares between 4GB (2x2GB) 1000 MHz and 4GB (2x2GB) 1066 MHz.
Oh was I reading that wrong. the "1100 and "800" in "DDR2-1100" and "DDR2-800", respectively, refer to MHz, right?
Yes

Or did you mean the best stuff out there right now as in the best deals (for the money spent)? There is RAM better then it but for now its the best deal.
 

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#13
Let me add a word and change something"Some of the best stuff out there right now is the 2x2gb GSkill Black Pi DDR2-800 kit."
Lol, why because it has a black heatspreader? I was speaking on performance.

Hmm... so flip a coin? :) Get the cheapest RAM that I can find?



I didn't even think about going over 1066 MHz. My hunch is it's also more $$$?



Oh was I reading that wrong. the "1100 and "800" in "DDR2-1100" and "DDR2-800", respectively, refer to MHz, right?

Or did you mean the best stuff out there right now as in the best deals (for the money spent)?



You said "kit"... the other day someone said it's a good idea to get a kit rather than "generic" (separate?). That confused me a little, though I'm guessing they just meant you know the RAM sticks will match up and there will possibly be a price reduction. (Just a guess.)

So there is actually 1000 MHz. Interesting. I thought that RAM jumped straight up from 800 MHz to 1066 MHz. :)

I wonder how the price compares between 4GB (2x2GB) 1000 MHz and 4GB (2x2GB) 1066 MHz.

Yes, buy your RAM sticks in pairs. If you look at an etailer such as Newegg you'll notice RAM comes in a variety of speeds.
 

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#14
Hmm... so flip a coin? :) Get the cheapest RAM that I can find?
Yep I generally just go for whatever is cheapest.

I mean it *does* depend on whether or not you overclock. If you are going to overclock your CPU, RAM becomes important. The reason is, when you increase the CPU front side bus, the RAM speed increases too.

So purely hypothetically, if you want to increase your FSB to 900 but your RAM can only top out at 880, then your FSB will have to remain at 880 because the RAM simply cant perform that well and if overclocked too much, will cause stability errors.


You said "kit"... the other day someone said it's a good idea to get a kit rather than "generic" (separate?). That confused me a little, though I'm guessing they just meant you know the RAM sticks will match up and there will possibly be a price reduction. (Just a guess.)

So there is actually 1000 MHz. Interesting. I thought that RAM jumped straight up from 800 MHz to 1066 MHz. :)

I wonder how the price compares between 4GB (2x2GB) 1000 MHz and 4GB (2x2GB) 1066 MHz.

Buying a "kit" is generally prefered as your getting matched sticks of RAM (ie, RAM with the same specifications). When you mix RAM that have different specifications up, it will run perfectly fine, but the "better" RAM (so to speak) will run at the "worse" RAM speeds. For example, if you buy 2GB of 1066MHz RAM and 2GB of 800MHz RAM, they will run perfectly fine together, BUT the 1066MHz RAM will run at 800MHz (making the extra $$$ you spent on 1066MHz a complete waste).


Yeah they even have a 900MHz kit out :p. In BIOS (on intel boards at least, not too sure on AMD), you can only set it to like 800/1066 (based on your CPU's FSB; these values can vary to like, 788/1054 etc). When you overclock though, as stated, your RAM speed goes up with the FSB speed.

So say you get a kit of 1000MHz RAM. If you had an intel chip with an 800FSB, you would set the RAM to 800MHz (even though its rated at 1000MHz). Now when you push the FSB of the CPU up, the RAM will go with it. So the benefit of having 1000MHz RAM is that you are guaranteed the RAM will run perfectly stable when the CPU FSB is at 1000MHz.

1066 of the G.skill Pi RAM is $100, so the extra $20 (from the $80 of the 1000MHz) is not worth it IMO, for 66MHz.
 
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#15
Difference is 2DIMMS overclock more then 4DIMMS at tighter timings. Watch the 1066 MHz fly basically means its overkill. 8GB is mostly for servers means um..... first of all you need to know what a server is. For example you are playing an online game. What you are connecting to is the server in which the game is provided. The server needs to send infromation to each seperate person or computer connected to the computer which requires much more memory. Higher RAM speeds only have benefits in loading and a few more fps.
For this question "What context does 8GB benefit server use and not benefit personal computing?" Since you are not going to play any games that require 8 GB its useless and wasting money.
Wow... now that is some seriously interesting info. First, I didn't know you could actually overclock RAM, and second I'd have no idea that 2 overclock more than 4. I wonder why.

By "tighter timings" do you basically mean "faster"?

Maybe that's what that 5-5-5-etc. stuff means? That still confuses me a bit.

1066 MHz = overkill? No way! :)

8GB RAM for servers... I know what servers (basically) are though my guess is the 8GB RAM is to allow for a little more breathing room in use of applications from a potential plethora of players on a game server... or web server... or any kind of server. (Erm, you just explained it, heheh, but yes, okay that makes sense now.)

How could someone actually utilize 8GB of RAM on their personal computer in a non-gaming context like with, say, massive editing of multimedia (video, audio, etc.)? Or is it impossible?

I definitely don't want to waste money. I won't do 8GB of RAM for a while. It's interesting how there are multiple options when going with just 4GB of RAM.

I'm resolved with this: 4GB RAM.

Now I'd like to narrow it down farther.

I can do 1066 MHz, though am not sure how that compares to 1000 MHz or higher.

I could try Micron though it looks like that's hard to get. G.Skills is probably going to be the brand of choice for me then.

How noticeable of a difference in speed is there between 800 MHz and 1066 MHz RAM?

For example, if I boot the computer or load a "heavy" program, would there be a noticeable difference?

How about between 1000 MHz and 1066 Mhz?

Maybe there's a bargain in cost of RAM between those two?


EDIT:

When shopping RAM, I suppose I can just look for the 5-5-5etc. that has the lowest numbers.


EDIT 2:

Oh was I reading that wrong. the "1100 and "800" in "DDR2-1100" and "DDR2-800", respectively, refer to MHz, right?
Yes

Or did you mean the best stuff out there right now as in the best deals (for the money spent)? There is RAM better then it but for now its the best deal.
I'm willing to put more $$$ into my RAM for more MHz, as it sounds like it's a good idea to get more MHz. :)

Lol, why because it has a black heatspreader? I was speaking on performance.




Yes, buy your RAM sticks in pairs. If you look at an etailer such as Newegg you'll notice RAM comes in a variety of speeds.
I saw a Corsair deal that was a kit of 4 sticks together, that was interesting.

I'll get the pair, it'll be good to know that my RAM matches.

There is a huge range,100 MHz to 2133 MHz!

Yep I generally just go for whatever is cheapest.

I mean it *does* depend on whether or not you overclock. If you are going to overclock your CPU, RAM becomes important. The reason is, when you increase the CPU front side bus, the RAM speed increases too.

So purely hypothetically, if you want to increase your FSB to 900 but your RAM can only top out at 880, then your FSB will have to remain at 880 because the RAM simply cant perform that well and if overclocked too much, will cause stability errors.





Buying a "kit" is generally prefered as your getting matched sticks of RAM (ie, RAM with the same specifications). When you mix RAM that have different specifications up, it will run perfectly fine, but the "better" RAM (so to speak) will run at the "worse" RAM speeds. For example, if you buy 2GB of 1066MHz RAM and 2GB of 800MHz RAM, they will run perfectly fine together, BUT the 1066MHz RAM will run at 800MHz (making the extra $$$ you spent on 1066MHz a complete waste).


Yeah they even have a 900MHz kit out :p. In BIOS (on intel boards at least, not too sure on AMD), you can only set it to like 800/1066 (based on your CPU's FSB; these values can vary to like, 788/1054 etc). When you overclock though, as stated, your RAM speed goes up with the FSB speed.

So say you get a kit of 1000MHz RAM. If you had an intel chip with an 800FSB, you would set the RAM to 800MHz (even though its rated at 1000MHz). Now when you push the FSB of the CPU up, the RAM will go with it. So the benefit of having 1000MHz RAM is that you are guaranteed the RAM will run perfectly stable when the CPU FSB is at 1000MHz.

1066 of the G.skill Pi RAM is $100, so the extra $20 (from the $80 of the 1000MHz) is not worth it IMO, for 66MHz.
You could teach a "RAM 101" class. ;) That's very interesting info. I think an old desktop of mine has mismatching MHz RAM, lol. It was cheap freebie RAM. I just hope I didn't damage my computer mixing them up like that. Though it's a stone-age computer, probably doesn't make a difference.

Unless I did the math wrong, and I may very well have, it looks like that 1000 MHz RAM and 1066 MHz RAM have a price difference of "8 cents per 1 MHz" with the 1000 MHz and "9 cents per 1 MHz" for the 1066 MHz... or maybe that's "$1 per 12.5 MHz" with the 1000 MHz and "$1 per 11.1 MHz" with the 1066 MHz. (or $10 <=> 125 MHz and $10 <=> 111 MHz... etc.) Yeah, unless I did that wrong, it does add up to a savings by the time you go up to 1000 Hz or 1066 MHz.
 
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#16
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#17
Update- I had some G.Skill on my shopping list but after swapping out another component a combo deal was offered including Corsair RAM... so I'll be doing that for the time being at least. Who knows, I might change it again before I buy everything lol.
 
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#18
Your thread title suggests that you're picking the ram based on the cpu (yes it has the mem controller in the amd 9950),but it depends more on the motherboard.

Some motherboards can be real picky about the brand and type of ram and some have issues with voltages("SPEED" issues).
Some boards can also limit 1066 ram too only 2 out of 4 slots.

Just remember to check the motherboard manual or support site (of the board you end up choosing) for a list of compatible ram.
 
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#19
I made my decision and purchased:
CORSAIR DOMINATOR 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory.

It will arrive in the mail this week. :)