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Please suggest RAM for z97 pro4

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car313 View Drop Down
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    Posted: 04 Jun 2015 at 6:53pm
dear people,
hell to all of you.
i just now joined the gang! so i thought a little intro is in order.

i am a retired physician living in india, with a huge interest in all things computer. in my limited circle generally i am the computer guy, ;).

after a long long time deciding, i decided to take the plunge into building my own system.

I have decided to base it upon a xeon e3 1220 v3 (which is the only xeon i can afford, price wise). the motherboard is asrock z97 pro4.

now for my question.

i want to populate all the 4 dimm slots with 4gb sticks for a total of 4x4=16 gb.

could some one tell me if i can just buy any 4 standard 1600 mhz 4gb and get it working or should i go in for 2 "dual channel memry kits"? i could not decode the memory support list for the product site.

i would be grateful for any hints/suggestions! thanking you for your time,
car313

***** Topic moved to Technical Support > Intel Motherboards *****


Edited by parsec - 05 Jun 2015 at 12:35am
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Xaltar View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Xaltar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jun 2015 at 9:13pm
Hi and welcome :)

Generally you always want to go with kits when it comes to RAM, its not strictly necessary for the system to work but it does help to avoid instability. In your case where you want to populate all 4 RAM slots you would be best served getting 2 identical 8gb kits (2x4gb). DDR3 is relatively inexpensive these days and kits are often cheaper by capacity than buying single sticks anyway. I am using an 8gb kit of Adata XPG 1600 with CL9 timings which was reasonably affordable at the time of my build. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote car313 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jun 2015 at 11:32pm
thnx Xaltar, for the warm welcome and advice!
by the way, on the asrock 'memory support list' page for z97 pr04, (i hope i got that right) when i select, copy and paste entries from the table i almost never find them on either amazon or ebay.
could you tell me what the column heading 'SS/DS' means on the memory support page? and also the column heading 'dual channel' and the entries '2pcs' or 'v' under it?
thnx again!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Xaltar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Jun 2015 at 1:02am
The memory support list is just a small sampling of popular RAM that was tested prior to the release of the board. Basically if it is listed there it is guaranteed to work with the board however most RAM from the vendors listed should also work fine. 

SS = Single sided as in the ram chips are located only on one side of the RAM circuit board
DS = Double sided

v = Verified
2pcs = 2 sticks tested in dual channel, generally it is not necessary to test RAM in dual channel if one stick works so in cases where it was tested it is listed as 2pcs.

To know what kind of RAM you need to get I would need to know what you are aiming for. You stated that the Xeon e3 1220 v3 is the only Xeon in your price range, is there any reason you want a Xeon in particular? There is practically no benefit to a quad core Xeon over an i5 unless the Xeon is hyperthreaded like the e3 1230 v3 or higher. The only real reason to go for a socket 1150 Xeon, asside from price when they are cheaper than their "Core" equivalents is for ECC RAM support and a few architectural features the average user would never use.

ECC = "Error Correcting Code" and is only really used in servers that are built to run 24/7 and be as stable as possible. ECC RAM is generally slower than non ECC RAM though does often come in larger capacities. ECC is not however supported by all motherboards, your board does not list support for it under its memory specifications for example.  

I would recommend an i5 4590 over the Xeon e3 1220 all day long, it is cheaper (at least it is here) and has higher clocks. In the case of the E3 1220 v3 the Xeon falls behind in value. The 1220 is equivicable to an i5 4460 in performance and the only differences are that the Xeon has no integrated GPU, supports ECC RAM and has support for mixed RAM configurations. So far as I know all other features are more or less identical.

If you really want a Xeon I would suggest getting the e3 1231 at the very least. The 1231 has 4 cores plus hyperthreading which puts it roughly on par with an i7 4770. If not you will be better served with the i5 4590.


Edited by Xaltar - 05 Jun 2015 at 1:06am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote parsec Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Jun 2015 at 1:50am
Originally posted by car313 car313 wrote:

thnx Xaltar, for the warm welcome and advice!
by the way, on the asrock 'memory support list' page for z97 pr04, (i hope i got that right) when i select, copy and paste entries from the table i almost never find them on either amazon or ebay.
could you tell me what the column heading 'SS/DS' means on the memory support page? and also the column heading 'dual channel' and the entries '2pcs' or 'v' under it?
thnx again!

Welcome to the ASRock forums car313!

Are you copying just the text in the Module column to search on? For example, if I search on "F3-12800CL9Q-16GBZL", which is a G.SKILL 4 x 4GB memory kit, I get results on both eBay and other retailers. That is in the USA, so your search results won't be the same, I understand that.

The heading SS/DS refers to the way the memory chips are arranged on the DIMM circuit board of a memory module.

SS means Single Sided, all the memory chips on only one side of the circuit board.

DS means Double Sided, the memory chips are on both sides of the circuit board.

DRAM memory specs like this are somewhat technical, and normally are not something we need to be concerned with. One of these two types does not perform better than the other. Occasionally the memory controller in a CPU or in a chipset will require a specific memory chip layout like SS or DS, but that is not the case for your board and CPU. You won't find a memory model number that is sold in both a SS and DS configuration, so that is nothing to worry about.

Your board and the memory controller in the processors compatible with your board provides two or dual memory channels. More memory channels allows more data to be available to the memory controller, processor, etc, at the same time. You must put at least one DIMM (memory module or "stick") in each channel available on your board to use all the channels.

Your board has four memory slots, two for each channel. Each memory channel has one black slot and one blue slot. ASRock suggests populating the two blue slots if you just have two DIMMs.

The 'v' and "2pcs" entries signify how many DIMMs were tested in the board and verified to be compatible. A 'v' means one or two DIMMs may be used in each channel if the 'v' is in the single or dual channel columns for a specific memory model. The "2pcs" entry means that only one DIMM per channel is compatible when used in dual channel mode.

Memory compatibility can be complicated because the specifications that must be matched are rather technical and are not always easy to find. I could show you the Intel document that lists the memory specs required by the memory controller in your CPU, but I've learned that memory manufactures will not always provide the matching specifications for their products.

That is why it is safer to use memory found in your board's Memory Support List. Memory manufactures also provide compatibility lists for their products, which you can trust. Can you find memory not listed in compatibility lists that works with your board and CPU combination? Yes, but just buying random memory is a gamble whether or not it will work in your system.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote car313 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Jun 2015 at 10:32am
dear xalter, i get the point about i5 4590 vs xeon. i will probably rethink on my xeon obsession! here in india, the i5 is almost the same cost as xeon 1220.

i am a great fan of CAD and 3d modelling (SolidWorks, SolidEdge, IronCAD, Catia and Blender 3d, SketchUp). i generally download most of the trial versions of CAD software and play with them until the trial expires. i am also influenced by the fact that most (if not all) graphics workstations are generally built around xeons. that is the reason for my insistence on a xeon. of course, being just an amateur CAD enthusiast, switching over to an i5 should be no great let down. i think i'll take your advice about i5.

in any case an i5 makes shopping and assembly simpler! thnx a lot for the tips!

thnx dear parsec for your welcome!
i am copy-pasting the entry in the column 'Module' and pre-fixing it with the brand name.

you have given me a lot of information. what i understood is that buying random memory may not be such a hot idea. so i will be careful with the RAM choices.

by the way, what would be your take on Xalter's opinion about xeon and i5. it would be nice to know.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Xaltar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Jun 2015 at 1:44pm
I also do a lot of 3d work Wink

I think I get your confusion now. In the past there has been a wider gap between Xeon and mainstream CPUs, while that may still be true of some Xeons those Xeons do not exist on the socket 1150 platform. The type of Xeon you are thinking of more closely matches the E5 26XX range of Xeons for the socket 2011 platform, there you will find Xeons with 6 or more cores and low power options for blade and rack servers and can be placed on multi CPU motherboards. There was a time when CAD and other 3d centric workstations utilized Xeons for better stability and higher thread count, either because of higher core counts or multi CPU boards. That has largely fallen away with the advent of multi core CPUs in today's market. I have actually built and supplied CAD stations to engineering companies in the past and back then, Xeon really was the only choice. If memory serves the stations utilized 4 single core hyperthreaded Xeons on the same motherboard, 4gb of ECC RAM and a RAID 10 storage solution. The cost of those units was somewhere in the $10k range. The reason I mention this is because today you can build a system that outperforms that CAD station for under $1000 thanks to advances in multi core and hyperthreading technologies.

I will give a little breakdown of the socket 1150 CPUs, the Xeon and the core i(x) CPUs for you.

Xeon E3 12XX
This is basically a workstation Xeon, designed to be used in pretty much the same way as any regular CPU with the advantage that it is designed to be left to running 24 hours a day. These CPUs come in 2 basic configurations:

Quad core: E3 1220 and E3 1226
Quad core, Hyperthreaded: E3 1230 - 1276

Note: all Xeon E3s that end in a 5 or 6 have a GPU integrated while all E3s ending in a 0 or 1 do not.


Core i(X) 4XXX and Haswell Celeron/Pentium

Dual core: Celeron G18XX, Pentium G3XXX
Dual core Hyperthreaded: i3 4XXX
Quad core: i5 4XXX and 46X0K
Quad core Hyperthreaded: i7 4XXX and 47X0K

All of the CPUs above, Xeon included are fabricated on the exact same process with cores and features either enabled or disabled depending on the specification. When comparing Xeon and i(x) in the same category you will find performance to be near identical given similar clock speeds. Socket 1150 Xeons do not support multiple CPUs on the same board. I suppose you could say socket 1150 Xeons are consumer grade Xeons and their pricing reflects this. While they do have certain features that could be desirable in a corporate workstation, these features are of little to no benefit to the home user. The reason so many people are buying Xeons for home PCs these days is simply value, you can buy a hyperthreaded Xeon that compares well with an i7 for the price of an i5. The E3 122X range however are not priced well enough to be a feasible purchase over an i5 for a home user. The i5s in the lower to mid tier of the i5 range all perform better and cost less than the E3 122X.

Socket 2011 Xeons are another breed however and more in line with the old-school Xeon approach of old. Here you can have multiple CPUs in the same system, up to 18 cores on a single CPU with hyperthreading giving a total of 36 threads. These are the Xeons you have been lusting after (me too by the way Cool) these are what I call true Xeons and they are designed for servers and high end workstations. The problem is, they cost a fortune and for the most part are out of reach price wise for the average home user. Most of these Xeons are individually engineered and only that particular model and its derivatives use a particular fabrication process. Compare that to the socket 1150 Xeons that are ALL derivative of the same core and you begin to see why there is such a huge cost delta.

Now, I can totally understand wanting to stick a "Xeon inside" sticker on your case Approve I just wanted to be sure you understood that there is no benefit to a socket 1150 Xeon over an i5 of similar specs. When that i5 is cheaper there is absolutely no point in going for a non hyperthreaded Xeon. If you do want a Xeon you will be better off getting the E3 1230 v3 or better, then you will see a proper benefit as they compete performance wise with much more expensive i7s.


Edited by Xaltar - 05 Jun 2015 at 2:20pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote car313 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Jun 2015 at 5:27pm
dear Xalter, your detailed write up clarified a lot of things for me. just to see if i got your point:-
1) my xeon choice in non hyperthreading.
2) the xeons which would have me drooling are also the xeons that will bankrupt me, so to say.
3) multi core CPUs have somewhat dulled the over all need for xeon, at least as far as the for a home or private user.

thnx one hell of a lot! for your taking the time and trouble to give me a little more insight.

it would be wonderful if you can also suggest a suitable nvidia graphics card also for me. i also toyed with the idea of going in for a low or mid range quadro or firepro. but that is another whole new topic. for the moment i have shelved the quadro and firepro idea.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Xaltar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Jun 2015 at 5:50pm
You are most welcome, I am always happy to help people make an informed decision Thumbs Up 

I am using a Geforce GTX 960 with my system and it performs very well. The reason I chose it is that it packs a lot of performance for very little power draw but in my case the 3d work I do is for game design so in addition to being good with 3d elements I also need a GPU that is decent for gaming purposes. 

In order to help you pick out a GPU I would need to know 2 things:

1. What you want to be able to do with it, eg. Gaming, 3d modeling (game specs), 3d CAD work or production 3d animation for advertisements and movies.

2. Budget, are you looking for something adequate or the best your budget allows.

Right off the bat for a budget card though you really can't go wrong with a 2gb GTX 750, they are incredibly powerful for such low power GPUs and shouldn't break the wallet.

If you have a little more to spend the GTX 960 is pretty much the next step up with regards to performance per watt. If you can though, get the 4gb version.

The ultimate GPU to go for however would be the GTX 970 as it is probably the best value GPU out there at the moment, offering top tier performance and a decent power footprint. This however would likely be overkill for you not to mention costly.


Edited by Xaltar - 05 Jun 2015 at 5:56pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote parsec Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Jun 2015 at 12:25am
Xaltar, nice summary of the Xeon E3-1200 series processors, and comparing them to standard Haswell i5 processors. While your statement about the Xeon and the i5 and i7 processors being fabricated in the same way is true, the Xeon E3-1200 series processors have their own datasheet, so are not included in the datasheet for the other non-mobile 4th Generation processors. Is the significance of that simply marketing, to preserve the more exclusive nature of the Xeons, or something else?

The only thing I would add to your description is to be aware of the variants of the standard i5 and i7 processors, the K, R, S, and T models. The matching of features with an E3 xeon or standard i5 varies widely over these models, the K type having the least amount of matching features, the tradeoff for being unlocked. The R, S, and T models are missing at most two features relative to the E3 Xeons. Those models are the reduced TDP types with different base and Turbo clock speeds. Can we predict the 1 to 4 active core Turbo multipliers for the i5-4690T, with a base clock of 2.5GHz, and a maximum Turbo clock of 3.5GHz? Wink

My question about the E3-1200 series Xeons is, why the large price increase between the E3-1276 v3 and the E3-1280 v3, and the rest of the series up to the E3-1286 v3 and the E3-1286L v3.

The price difference going one step up from the E3-1276 v3 to the E3-1280 v3 is $262 ($612.) The price difference going to the E3-1286L v3 is $429 ($774.) At best the speed of the E3-1286 v3 is increased by only 100MHz. I suppose the higher priced models are binned better, but in what way?
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