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I'm trying to play catch up with today's technology to build a new desktop system (to run Star Craft 2).

I'm looking at Intel's Nehalem (microarchitecture) and the highest memory interface it'll use is DDR3-1333.

Nehalm's wikipedia page

But DDR3-1600 is available on the market. So would Intel's i3/5/7 processors make full use of that or will it just downgrade it to DD3-1333 data rates?


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The Tech Report did a mini-study/real-review of the impact of memory speed on Core i7 performance, to specifically answer your question.

The difference between i5 and i7 aren't great in this respect, so you can draw conclusions from this article.

Please, please, please ignore the synthetic benchmarks (WorldBench, Memory performance, etc.) and just look at what you're interested in: the gaming section.

The results are sobering. Ignoring the different processors being compared and just looking at one processor vs the other at a different memory speed, the difference amounts to about a 3% increase in performance with higher speed ram, e.g., about 2fps on a 60fps game or what would amount to about 1fps on a 30fps game (fps in this instance would mean what your gaming rig could produce initially, not that a game is set to that fps!).

If you're looking to spend a bit more to get more speed, use that money on a better graphics card.

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The i7 and i5 processors have integrated memory controllers. So the clock rate for the memory controller is specified by the processor. Despite this some i7/i5 motherboards will say they support 1600 and 2000 mhz ram this is because when you overclock an i7/i5 processor you are also overclocking the memory controller. So to answer your question if you do not overclock the processor the memory controller will run at 1333mhz.

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