To coincide with the release of Intel's current flagship Sandy Bridge-E processor
and companion X79 chipset, a number of Intel’s memory partners released new quad-channel memory kits optimized for the platform. Previous Intel platforms were designed to offer optimal performance with two or three-channel memory configurations; Sandy Bridge-E and the X79 Express, however, perform best with a quad-channel setup.
Around the same time, Intel had also defined a new Extreme Memory Profile (XMP 1.3) specification, for easy optimization and overclocking. As such, we thought it would be a good idea to round-up a varied group of quad-channel memory kit options to see how each performed with a Sandy Bridge-E CPU and the X79 Express chipset, along with learning about what kind of features they offered to end users. So, for the purposes of this article, we got our hands on a half dozen kits from enthusiast favorites like G.SKILL, Kingston, Patriot and Corsair and have them all detailed for you on the pages ahead...
G.SKILL RipJaws Z F3-14900CLQ9-16GBZL Quad-Channel DDR3-1866 Memory Kit
First up, we have the G.SKILL RipJaws Z F3-14900CLQ9-16GBZL quad-channel kit. The G.SKILL RipJaws Z memory kit you see pictured here consists of four, 4GB, DDR3-1866 sticks of memory (total 16GB), rated for operation at 1866MHz. The sticks require only 1.5v and offer CL9-10-9-28 timings; they're XMP 1.3 compatible too. This is the memory kit we used for all of our SBE testing in the lead up to the launch and on four different motherboards these sticks ran perfectly. They are adorned with anodized aluminum heat-spreaders that are somewhat more substantial than all of the other kits we'll show you, save for Patriot's offering on the next page.
Corsair CMZ16GX3M4X18666C9R Quad-Channel Memory Kit
Corsair CMZ16GX3M4X1600C9 Quad-Channel Memory Kit
Corsair is also offering a number of Sandy Bridge-E / X79 optimized memory kits, two of which are pictured above. Both of the kits you see here are 16GB, quad-channel offerings, consisting of four, 4GB DIMMs. The black kit is model number CMZ16GX3M4X1600C9 and the red kit is CMZ16GX3M4X18666C9R. As their model names imply, the black kit is rated for operation at 1600MHz and the red at 1866MHz. Both kits require 1.5v, but the black kit will run at tighter CL9-9-9-24 timings, while the red kit is rated for CL9-10-9-27.
As you'll see later, both of these kits performed well, but we did come across one issue. The aluminum heat-spreaders installed on these DIMMs can be pried loose fairly easily. During installation of these kits, we knocked the heat-spreaders off by applying just a bit of downward pressure while installing them into their slots. We didn't damage anything and were able to reattach them easily, but be mindful if you pick up a set of these puppies. Don't push down directly on the heat-spreaders if it can be avoided. Instead, grab them by the sides and squeeze tightly before applying and downward pressure.