PC4400 or PC3200? Which RAM you pick depends on what you want to do with it. Today we check out the Corsair PC3200 XL and find out why latency is the great equalizer. Highs: Can easily run tight timings of 2-2-2-5, runs comparatively cool, and is visually attractive. Lows: At around $325 for 2x512MB modules, this is some of the most expensive RAM on the market.
Hardware enthusiasts learned a long time ago that low latency RAM can affect performance of their systems even more than the actual frequency (memory bus speed) of the RAM. It wasn't uncommon to see systems with a 5:4 system bus to memory bus ratio and low latency (CAS 2-2-2-5), as opposed to systems running a 1:1 systems bus to memory bus ratio and a higher latency (CAS 3-4-4-8), since itís been argued that the previous yielded a higher performance than the latter. Thatís why many believe that lower latency is best and search for memory modules that will give them that ability.
Sadly, until recently, only modules built with the famed BH5 memory chips appeared capable of consistently performing at low latencies. These chips also typically required very high voltages (not a good thing for those who value lifespan). To make matters worse, BH5 chips are no longer being produced, causing a high demand and price premium for the few remaining in the market. Eventually, only used memory modules were obtainable with the BH5 chips (and who knows at what voltages those had been run).
Just when we thought the days of low latency DDR RAM were over, Corsair has answered with their PC3200XL memory modules. These modules are rated at the extremely low 2-2-2-5 memory timing, while relying only on a slightly elevated-yet-reasonable 2.75 volts.
Now that low latency memory has become available again, what memory should you buy, high latency PC4400 or low latency PC3200? We will look at how both perform in a couple of different configurations and let you figure that out for yourself.
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