For this next segment in the Antec Custom Build series, we will be looking at the random access memory (RAM) which I bought and currently use in my computer set-up. RAM is defined as the “working memory” in a computer, not to be confused with other types of memory such as long-term memory, or secondary storage, provided through the addition of a hard disk drive (HDD) or a solid state drive (SDD). Specifically, RAM, which is also known as main memory or primary storage, enables the computer to work with more information at one time which allows for improved processing capability and system performance.
Concerning the physical aspects of RAM, a memory “stick”, also known as a RAM “stick” is long and thin with a custom designed exterior, often promoting the brand, which protects and/or covers the internal components, such as the heatspreader which helps cool the RAM. The main point of interest, the bottom section of the RAM is lined with many gold-plated connectors and usually has one or more alignment notches which allow for installation onto the motherboard. It is important to note that each motherboard supports a certain type of RAM and it is therefore important that the motherboard and RAM are compatible. The RAM is installed into the memory slots on the motherboard and locked into place using the plastic hinges or clamps located on at the side of the RAM slots. Finally, RAM “sticks” come in a variety of storage sizes, from the 128 MB, 256 MB, and 512 MB models of the late 1990s to the 4 GB, 8 GB, and 16 GB models of the present day.
If you go back and review the previous posts in the Antec Custom Build series on the Intel i7-3770k processor and the ASRock Z77 Extreme 4 motherboard, you’ll note that I needed RAM which was Z77 LGA 1155 compatible, such as the G.Skill Sniper series RAM which is compatible with Intel LGA 1155/LGA 1156 systems and AMD AM3/AM3+/FM1 platforms. Therefore, I purchased 16 GB of RAM, or a dual memory kit including two 8 GB RAM “sticks”, designed by G.Skill as part of their Sniper series. The G.Skill Sniper Series 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) RAM is 240-pin DDR3 SDRAM which features a dual channel kit including 16 GB of “working memory” with a combined RAM speed/frequency of DDR3 1866, 10-11-10-30 timing, Cas latency of 10, and a low voltage of 1.5 volts (V). Concerning the above specifications, the frequency (Hertz) refers to cycles per second, or the fact that the DDR3 1866 will perform 1866 cycles per second. As it relates, the CAS latency of 10 is given in the same cycles, whereby it will take 10 cycles to respond. Therefore, with 1866/10, the RAM will perform 186.6 operations per second, with a response every 0.0053 seconds.
These RAM “sticks” boast a sleek, black finish with an impressive looking custom design. The exterior portion of each RAM “stick” is built around the gun-styled, hence the “Sniper” series, heatspreader, which maintains the cooling and present and future reliability of the product, to protect such important internal components. However, while the design is pretty impressive looking, the fins on either end of each stick do not seem to serve any purpose whatsoever. In my case, the RAM in dual in-line memory module (DIMM) slot 1, the slot closest to the processor on my ASRock Z77 Extreme4 motherboard, actually prevents 100% correct positioning of the fan attached to my Hyper 212 EVO Universal Cooler due to the sizeable fin. Of course, functionality is not at all impacted. Since I haven’t noted it yet, regarding the installation of the RAM, the G.Skill RAM “sticks” were subsequently installed in the 1st and 3rd DIMM slots on the motherboard memory slots on the motherboard. Since this motherboard offers dual channel capabilities, with DIMM (or RAM) slots 1 and 2 part of channel 1 and DIMM slots 3 and 4 part of channel 2, you want to utilize this dual channel configuration by installing the RAM in DIMM slots 1 and 3 or 2 and 4. Of course, if you have four sticks, just go ahead and install all of them in a DIMM slot.
While the G.Skill Sniper series 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) RAM is priced as a mid-range product, comparable to RAM developed and sold by other manufacturers, I purchased this product for a few reasons. First, I should note that I purchased the G.Skill Sniper Series 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) RAM and the ASRock Z77 Extreme4 motherboard together as part of a deal, based on their Z77 LGA 1155 compatibility, which resulted in an overall combined reduced price and the additional inclusion of a free Crucial Ballistix Sport 8 GB RAM “stick.” However, I still like the G.Skill RAM due to the reliability associated with G.Skill, the amount and speed of RAM included, the internal and external designs with their particular bend in looks and functionality aimed at use in gaming rigs, and, of course, the lifetime warranty and technical support availability provided by G.Skill.