The new Intel Ivy Bridge processors have more options for overclocking RAM. To find out which brand of memory modules will give you the best performance in return, Hardware.Info compared ten different sets. See also: Intel Ivy Bridge 7-series motherboards tested and Intel Ivy Bridge processors tested.
Manufacturers of high-end memory modules have a love/hate relationship with Intel. While Intel has the platform for using high-end RAM, there is less and less reason to actually do this. With each new iteration of its processor architecture, Intel manages to make the integrated memory controller even smarter. Because of the large amount of cache memory in modern processors and the smart algorithms, the speed of the RAM has less of an influence on the performance of a computer. So-called pre-fetchers make sure that the data the processor will need in the immediate future is copied in advance to the cache memory. When the processor has to write something to the memory, that also first goes to the cache memory. That allows the cores to move on to the next task at hand, and the memory controller will in the background make sure that the data is sent to the RAM.
You're better off spending money on more memory than on faster memory. If you have 8 GB instead of 4 GB, you will notice the difference. If you run demanding software, and several of those programs run simultaneously, you will even benefit from an increase to 16 GB. The difference between DDR3-1600 and DDR3-2133 is barely noticeable anymore with benchmarks in normal software, and you're not going to notice a difference in performance. The same is true for better timings like CL9 instead of CL10, even with specific memory benchmarks it is difficult to determine any difference.
For normal users the best advice remains to use an 8 GB DDR3-1600 or 16 GB DDR3-1600 kit from one of the main brands. Faster RAM is useful mostly for avid overclockers that want to push the limits of clock frequencies and benchmark scores. For this crowd there is a wide array of choice of deluxe memory kits. Hardware.Info tested ten different kits of fast dual-channel 8 GB RAM.
To find out which brand is the fastest, which one can be overclocked the most, and which one gives you the most bang for your buck, read the full review on Hardware.Info.