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lets talk about the ram frequency vs timing debate

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#1
as the title suggests, lets talk about the ram frequency vs timing debate

there are two opinions that keep coming up on this topic.

one says, as much as it is in your budget, you want the highest frequency your MB supports so if your MB is 1600/1333/1066 then you want to find the lowest timing in that 1600 frequency of ram if your budget can afford it.

the other group says you don't need the highest frequency RAM your MB supports, you should get a slower frequency that gives you the lowest timing ram that will work in your board so if your MB is 1600/1333/1066 then its fine to go with 1066 because it has faster speeds.

so lets start the debate, which is the right way to go to get the most out of your system without disregarding the costs involved? what I mean by that is anyone can just say "buy the highest end everything" but lets keep it real and look at things as far as the best bang for your buck and keeping cost down as long as you get great performance.

I don't mind my computer being outside the top 10 in the race for fastest computer but I still want to be close enough to the front to see who wins lol.
 
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#2
I personally went for a higher frequency ram. Timings weren't the best, but I'm hoping the raw speed makes up for that. And low timing ram gets expensive quick. I went with mushkin blackline 2400.
 
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#3
i think eventually high frequency comes out on top. I may be ignorant on the ram subject but I always thought ram timings scaled properly anyway. I.E; 11-11-11-28 on cas 11 is the equivalent of 9-9-9-24 on case 9 or something like that.

but being real here, most high frequency ram are generally more expensive then their lower frequency counterparts so I'd just go with whatever has the "best price" at that time.

a sidenote, some cpu's have weak IMCs so I tend to buy a good hybrid of timings and frequency to strain the IMC the least possible (this may be untrue but a pet peeve i suppose?)
 
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#4
i think eventually high frequency comes out on top. I may be ignorant on the ram subject but I always thought ram timings scaled properly anyway. I.E; 11-11-11-28 on cas 11 is the equivalent of 9-9-9-24 on case 9 or something like that.

but being real here, most high frequency ram are generally more expensive then their lower frequency counterparts so I'd just go with whatever has the "best price" at that time.

a sidenote, some cpu's have weak IMCs so I tend to buy a good hybrid of timings and frequency to strain the IMC the least possible (this may be untrue but a pet peeve i suppose?)
ahh but theres the rub, right now 2400, 1600, 1333 is pretty much all within $5 of each other (with pricy exceptions in each category) and to be honest I haven't researched the others that much so its possible other frequencies may be at that same price range too so it comes down to about the same price and now you have to decide for some reason other then which is cheaper if they all cost the same.

as an example so its less cluttered I left out the 1600 because they are all right at $75 give or take and here are the 2400 and 1333 prices which are about the same http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...6069 600006126 600006145 4027 4026&IsNodeId=1

I know nothing of ram or how frequency speed equates to timing but I thought speed was constant?

are you saying higher frequency ram (say 2400) with a speed number of say 11 is equal in speed to a lower frequency like 1333 higher speed number like 8 or 9 and will actually be the same relative speed but the higher frequency will be faster?

im trying to understand why the speed numbers for ram keep going higher for higher frequency ram that's supposed to be faster ram while the timings get slower
 
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#5
It's all about the balance. I got 2400C9 ram because it performed better than any of those 2800+ c11/12 kits for a fraction of the price. Aim for the sweet spots.
 

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#6
this depends on the cpu arch. AMD phenoms love lower timings more than higher frequencies. but fx series go for higher frequencies like all else.

in the end of the day.... ram performance is pretty much judge able from bench marks performance. i have seen real world benefits as of yet except in the case of AMD APUs when using the IGP.
 
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#7
so if I understand what you guys are saying, if the Cas Latency speed is the same for both sets of ram (say 9) then you would always look to buy the higher frequency because its going to be faster and the only reason to go with the lower frequency is if its cheap enough to be worth giving up a small speed advantage?

is that statement accurate? with the note that bench tests may show more reasons to pick one ram brand over the other

 
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#8
Ram frequency nets more band width and low timings lower response time. The secondary and tertiary timings will also boost band width but not as much as a frequency increase.
Timings are the amount ticks(of ram frequency) it takes for something on the ram to be accessed or done. So if you have 1600 9-9-9-24 it will have less bandwidth and higher latency than a 2400 10-12-12-34 kit. Even if you had a 1600 7-8-7-24 it would have more latency than the 2400 10-12-12-34 kit. But all this only really matters when benchmarking and even there some benchmarks prefer bandwidth and others prefer low latency.
 

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#9
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#10
Just read all of Dave's posts in this thread, and search the forum for RAM Timings/Ram Frequency, and you'll see this topic has been discussed a metric ass tonne.

http://www.techpowerup.com/forums/threads/timing-rules.185943/page-2
well most all of that is about overclocking ram and im not looking to overclock or anything.

I plan on and always do run the ram at stock voltages and settings

so if my board takes 1600/1333/1066 ram is the sweet spot target going to be the 1333 that gives me the lower CL yet still have higher then the lowest frequency? keep in mind this question has nothing to do with overclocking potentials.

just looking for the basic rule of thumb for the average joe running hardware stock, not the high performance overclocker where there are way too many variables involved in the benchmarks to discuss
 

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#11
High frequency RAM is worthless in any setting besides benchmarking, or running an APU (see AMD iGPU improvements with higher RAM frequency review). The gains in gaming or any app besides Photoshop with higher frequency RAM are negligible, being around 1% performance improvement. The higher the frequency, the lower the timings the better. Fairly certain (after reading every single other thread on this very debate) frequency is more important than timings. The potential gains from a higher frequency at a slightly higher timing is higher than a lower frequency with a lower timing. AKA 2666mhz @ CL11 has technically higher performance than 1600mhz @ CL9. If you're just gaming, 1600mhz @ CL9 is the ideal sweet spot for price ratio. Everything else is epeen or for benchmarking, or those that use RAM intense apps like photoshop, or enterprises that have a huge database that is accessed by thousands of people at once, which is where RAMDisks come in handy, but that's not really a useful medium in this debate.
 
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#12
ahh but theres the rub, right now 2400, 1600, 1333 is pretty much all within $5 of each other (with pricy exceptions in each category) and to be honest I haven't researched the others that much so its possible other frequencies may be at that same price range too so it comes down to about the same price and now you have to decide for some reason other then which is cheaper if they all cost the same.

as an example so its less cluttered I left out the 1600 because they are all right at $75 give or take and here are the 2400 and 1333 prices which are about the same http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=100007611 600006050 600006069 600006126 600006145 4027 4026&IsNodeId=1

I know nothing of ram or how frequency speed equates to timing but I thought speed was constant?

are you saying higher frequency ram (say 2400) with a speed number of say 11 is equal in speed to a lower frequency like 1333 higher speed number like 8 or 9 and will actually be the same relative speed but the higher frequency will be faster?

im trying to understand why the speed numbers for ram keep going higher for higher frequency ram that's supposed to be faster ram while the timings get slower
i wouldnt say cas 11 2400 ram is equal in speed to cas 9 1333, I was trying to point that out to some people who automatically see cas 11, cas 12 and think "wow those timings are really high/slow!".

just like how cas 9 is the norm for 1333,1600,1866 frequencies, cas 11 and higher is the norm for 2133/2400/2600 and etc. higher frequencies require a higher cas to support it.

or something like that :laugh:
 
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#13
well most all of that is about overclocking ram and im not looking to overclock or anything.

I plan on and always do run the ram at stock voltages and settings

im just trying to confirm which is most important #1 criteria to target.

should I be looking to use the highest frequency ram and pick the lowest CL in that class or should I be looking to use the lowest frequency ram that will give you the absolute lowest CL

so if my board takes 1600/1333/1066 ram is the sweet spot going to be the 1333 that gives me the lower CL yet still have higher then the lowest frequency? keep in mind this question has nothing to do with overclocking potentials.
i wouldnt say cas 11 2400 ram is equal in speed to cas 9 1333, I was trying to point that out to some people who automatically see cas 11, cas 12 and think "wow those timings are really high/slow!".

just like how cas 9 is the norm for 1333,1600,1866 frequencies, cas 11 and higher is the norm for 2133/2400/2600 and etc. higher frequencies require a higher cas to support it.

or something like that :laugh:

ok, that makes sense now. it just when you look at 1333 with CL of 8 and then see with each higher frequency the CL goes up almost every time so its a head scratcher why higher frequencies keep having higher CL which means slower "looking" timings. its one of those things where you would expect it to be the other way around

I wish to thank everyone who contributed, when you are asking questions that don't pertain to overclocking its hard to get basic answers for general things because most here are overclockers so they have a separate situation that doesn't apply to me and many times I get a standard reply to say go read the overclocking threads lol.

if you are not used to overclocking then all the data involved trying to follow overclockers threads can be overwhelming to someone not from that world
 
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#14
Let's do the math, and figure this out together.

First, we'll simplify the idea of RAM by making it have a single timing. This timing, usually denoted by CAS with a number, is the amount of cycles that a cell experiences before a piece of data can be accessed. Next, the frequency is an exact measurement of how many signals can be sent to the RAM, denoted by a frequency in Hertz.

Effectively, this means the number of accesses, as a function of time, is the frequency divided by the timing. In raw numbers:
1333000/9 = 148100
1333000/10 = 133300
1333000/11 = 121200

1600/9 = 177800
1600/10 = 160000
1600/11 =125500

2400/9 = 266700
2400/10 = 240000
2400/11 = 218200

Numerically, the 1333 at CAS 9 beats out 1600 at CAS 11, and you can do the rest of the math yourself.


This addresses the basic values, but it doesn't tackle the larger issue of the memory controller. The memory controller, and even how memory is divided in APUs, influences how much data can be sent received by the processor. In order to relate these real world values to performance some testing needs to be done. You'll find people who can test the real world performance impact, utilizing programs like AIDA. In reality, the best numbers I've seen when it comes to impact from differing memory speeds comes from the APUs. They need 1866 MHz RAM, but otherwise pretty much everyone but extreme overclockers won't see much real world difference beyond 1600 MHz RAM at low timings.

What should you actually do? I'd buy at least 1600 MHz RAM, with as low of a timing and voltage as you can find. If you get the urge later, bump up the frequency,the voltage, and loosen the timings. You can see if RAM overclocking matters to you.

Personally I go for 1600 MHz, CAS 9 timing, and as much as I can fit into the computer. I haven't ever had an error with insufficient system memory, though I know how annoying those errors are. The thin clients at work pop that error up once a day, and have to restart. Sorry, tangential thought there.



Edit:
The reason CAS goes up as frequency goes up is basically switching time. As the cycles get shorter and shorter there needs to be more "dead" ones present. These dead cycles are where the RAM cannot be written or read from, but have to happen in order to maintain and verify stored values.
 
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#15
thanks :toast:
 
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#16
Modern CPUs sold right now like higher frequencies. I found that my old Phenom II preferred tight timings, this CPU also had difficulty over 1333. This is just based on the output of benchmarks. Intels definitely like higher frequency, and from what I have seen, the current AMD CPUs also prefer higher frequency.
 
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#17