As mentioned previously, real world testing is where users should be feeling the benefits of spending up to 13x on memory, rather than a synthetic test.  A synthetic test exacerbates a specific type of loading to get peak results in terms of memory read/write and latency timings, most of which are not indicative of the pseudo random nature of real-world workloads (opening email, applying logic).  There are several situations which might fall under the typical scrutiny of a real world loading, such as video conversion/video editing.  It is at this point we consider if the CPU caches are too small and the system is relying on frequent memory accesses because the CPU cannot be fed with enough data.  It is these circumstances where memory speed is important, and it is all down to how the video converter is programmed rather than just a carte blanche on all video converters benefitting from memory.  As we will see in the IGP Compute section of this review, anything that can leverage the IGP cores can be a ripe candidate for increased memory speed.

Our tests in the CPU Real World section come from our motherboard reviews in order to emulate potential scenarios that a user may encounter.

USB 3.0 Copy Test with MaxCPU

We transfer a set size of files from the 120GB OCZ Vertex3 connected via SATA 6 Gbps on the motherboard to the 240 GB OCZ Vertex3 SSD with a SATA 6 Gbps to USB 3.0 converter via USB 3.0 using DiskBench, which monitors the time taken to transfer.  The files transferred are a 9.2 GB set of 7539 files across 1011 folders – 95% of these files are small typical website files, and the rest (90% of the size) are precompiled installers.  In an update to pre-Z87 testing, we also run MaxCPU to load up one of the threads during the test which improves general performance up to 15% by causing all the internal pathways to run at full speed.

Results are represented as seconds taken to complete the copy test, where lower is better.

The difference between the slowest and the fastest is around 2%, or 1 second in our test, making the memory have little influence over intended USB speed (at load).

WinRAR 4.2

With 64-bit WinRAR, we compress the set of files used in the motherboard review USB speed tests.  WinRAR x64 3.93 attempts to use multithreading when possible, and provides as a good test for when a system has variable threaded load.  WinRAR 4.2 does this a lot better!  If a system has multiple speeds to invoke at different loading, the switching between those speeds will determine how well the system will do.

Up first, WinRAR 3.93, with results expressed in terms of seconds to compress.  Lower is better.

Using the older version of WinRAR shows a 31% advantage moving from 1333 C9 to 3000 C12, although 2400 C9/2666 C10/2800 C11 have a good showing.

WinRAR 4.2 results next:

We see similar results with the later version of WinRAR – here having at least 1866 MHz memory gets above the grade in terms of time, lower CAS Latency helping (1866 C8 / 2133 C9 / 2400 C9 / 2666 C11)

FastStone Image Viewer 4.2

FastStone Image Viewer is a free piece of software I have been using for quite a few years now.  It allows quick viewing of flat images, as well as resizing, changing color depth, adding simple text or simple filters.  It also has a bulk image conversion tool, which we use here.  The software currently operates only in single-thread mode, which should change in later versions of the software.  For this test, we convert a series of 170 files, of various resolutions, dimensions and types (of a total size of 163MB), all to the .gif format of 640x480 dimensions.  Results shown are in seconds, lower is better.

FastStone is purely a CPU limited benchmark, with little variation and no trend in the results.  Discrepancies are part of the statistical variation expected with any result.

Xilisoft Video Converter 7

With XVC, users can convert any type of normal video to any compatible format for smartphones, tablets and other devices.  By default, it uses all available threads on the system, and in the presence of appropriate graphics cards, can utilize CUDA for NVIDIA GPUs as well as AMD WinAPP for AMD GPUs.  For this test, we use a set of 33 HD videos, each lasting 30 seconds, and convert them from 1080p to an iPod H.264 video format using just the CPU.  The time taken to convert these videos gives us our result in seconds, where lower is better.

Similar to WinRAR, to avoid the ultra-slow speeds, anything above 1866 MHz seems to be the right way to go here.

Video Conversion - x264 HD Benchmark

The x264 HD Benchmark uses a common HD encoding tool to process an HD MPEG2 source at 1280x720 at 3963 Kbps.  This test represents a standardized result which can be compared across other reviews, and is dependent on both CPU power and memory speed.  The benchmark performs a 2-pass encode, and the results shown are the average frame rate of each pass performed four times.  Higher is better this time around.

The higher frequency memory performs the best, but to get at least 5% speed up, DDR3-1866 comes along again.

For whatever reason the 1333 C9 and 3000 C12 get a bad showing, but it seems as long as we avoid 1333 C9, any speed is reasonable for a 5-6% increase.

TrueCrypt v7.1a AES

One of Anand’s common CPU benchmarks is TrueCrypt, a tool designed to encrypt data on a hard-drive using a variety of algorithms.  We take the program and run the benchmark mode using the fastest AES encryption protocol over a 1GB slice, calculating the speed in GB/s.  Higher is better.

Similar to FastStone, there is nothing to differentiate the results.  The only oddball here is technically our slowest memory speed: 1333 C9.

Enabling XMP with ASUS, GIGABYTE, ASRock and MSI on Z87 Memory Scaling on Haswell: CPU Compute
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  • DanNeely - Thursday, September 26, 2013 - link

    A suggestion for future articles of this type. If the results mostly show that really slow memory is bad but above that it doesn't really matter, normalizing data with a reasonably priced option that performs well as 1.0 might make clearer. ex for the current results put 1866-C9 as 1.0, and having 1333 as .9x and 3000 as 1.02. I think this would would help drive home that you're hitting diminishing returns on the cheap stuff.
  • superjim - Thursday, September 26, 2013 - link

    It looks like the days of 1600 C9 being the standard are over however the Hynix fire isn't helping faster memory prices any. 4-5 months ago you could get 2x 4GB of 1600 C9 for $30-35 bucks.
  • Belial88 - Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - link

    That's because just like when HDD prices skyrocketed due to the 2011 Thailand Flood, RAM prices have skyrocketed due to the 2013 Hynix Factory Fire. Prices had started to rise around early 2013 due to market consolidation and some other electronics (tablet, console, etc market needs), nothing huge, and they were actually starting to drop until the factory fire.

    As for 1600 C9 being some sort of standard, well, what Intel/AMD specifies as their rated RAM speed is no more useful than what they specify their CPU speed, as we know the chip can go way above that. JPeople who are savvy and know how to buy RAM, can buy RAM easily capable of 2400mhz CL8 by researching the RAM IC.

    PSC/BBSE is easily capable of 2400mhz CL8 and generally costs ~$60 per 8gb (ie similar to the cheapest ddr3 ram). You can find some Hynix CFRs (double sided, unlike MFR, meaning they don't hit the high mhz numbers, but way better 24/7 performance clock for clock, kinda like dual channel vs single channel) for around $65, like the Gskill Ripjaws X 2400CL11 (currently like $75 on newegg), which will easily do ~2800mhzCL13.

    RAM speed has always made an impact, the problem with reviews like the above is assuming you can't overclock RAM, and have to pay for it. In reality there is only ~5 different types of RAM (and a few subtypes). If you are smart and purchase Hynix, Samsung instead of Spektek, Qimonda, you can get RAM that easily does 2400mhz+ for the same or simliar price as the cheapest spekteks. If you assume that going from 1600 to 2400 will cost you $100+, of course it's a ripoff...

    But if you buy, say, some Gskill Pi's 1600mhz for bargain bin, and overclock them to 2400CL8, you gain a good 10+ fps for almost nothing, and that's an awesome value. All RAM is just merely rebranded Spektek/Qimonda/PSC/BBSE/Hynix/Samsung, ie the same RAM is sold as 1600 CL9, 1600 CL8 1.65v, 1866 CL10, 2000CL11, 2133 CL12, etc ad nauesum.
  • vol7ron - Monday, September 30, 2013 - link

    Relational results are helpful -I think they've been added since your comment- but I also like to see the empirical data as is also being listed.

    I know these things are currently being done in this article, I just want to make it a point not to make the decision to use one or the other, but both, again in the future.
  • vol7ron - Monday, September 30, 2013 - link

    As an amendment, I want to add that the thing I would change in the future is the colors used. The spectrum should be green:good red:hazardous/bad. If you have something at 1.00x, perhaps that should be yellow, since it's the neutral starting position.
  • alfredska - Monday, September 30, 2013 - link

    Yes, this is some pretty basic stuff. It seems there's bouncing back and forth between green = good/bad right now. The author needs to stick to a convention throughout the article. I'm not really of the opinion that green and red are the best choices, but at least if a convention is used I can train my eyes.
  • xTRICKYxx - Thursday, September 26, 2013 - link

    It would be cool to see other IGP's including Iris Pro or HD 5000. Also, Richland may see slightly more than the 5% Haswell's HD 4600 has.
  • Khenglish - Thursday, September 26, 2013 - link

    I would expect richland/trinity to have larger gains since the IGP has access to only 4MB cache instead of 6MB or 8MB found on intel processors.
  • yoki - Thursday, September 26, 2013 - link

    hi, you said that the order of importance place amount of memory & their placement is most importance, but not a clue regarding how this scale in real world... for example i have 1600mhz 7Cl 6GB RAM in a x58 system,,,,should i upgrade it to 12GB ... how much i'll gain from that
  • IanCutress - Thursday, September 26, 2013 - link

    That's ultimately up for the user to determine based on workload, gaming style, etc. I'd always suggest playing it safe, so if you plan on doing anything that would tax a system, 12gb might be a safe bet. That's X58 though, this is talking about Haswell, whose memory controller can take this high end kits ;)

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