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My question my be simple, but I haven't been able to find an answer myself yet.

If you had the choice of getting either 24 GB of ram at 1333 MHz, or 12 GB @ 1600 MHz, which would you choose?

I know latency is more important than frequency, but I'm not sure how latency and frequency compare to the overall capacity, especially when the capacity is doubled at the lower frequency.

Could somebody that is more knowledgeable in this area help me figure out which would provide better performance?

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It depends on your needs, how much and for what you are using currently? Also some more information about real hw would be useful... however, i'd choose capasity over frequency but.. specs, specs... – Sampo Sarrala May 14 '12 at 0:02
Chances are, the only time you'll notice a performance difference is when you run a memory benchmark. In addition, the motherboard may not support 1600 MHz when all the slots are populated. – rob May 14 '12 at 0:14
I have an alienware system, so I'm having trouble finding a separate manual for the exact specs, but it has 6 slots, and only 3 can take 1600 MHz, but all can take 1333. It is the Alienware 04VWF2 Motherboard. One problem I just noticed though, was that being that I have windows home premium, I am apparantly limited to 16 GB. Can I put only 4 sticks of 4GB into this, even though it is tripple channel (I think), or does it look like I'm stuck at 12 GB since that is divisible by 3 (with only supporting 1, 2, and 4 GB sticks). – Virrecex May 14 '12 at 0:24… – DanMan Dec 28 '13 at 14:36
up vote 2 down vote accepted

It's not really a fair comparison: the price difference between 1333 and 1600mhz RAM will be nowhere near the price difference between 12 and 24GB (which is usually around double).

You will likely not notice the difference between 1333mhz and 1600mhz RAM, and I fear that you won't see the difference between 12 and 24GB of RAM either.

Higher frequency may provide a slight immediate boost (<5%) as long as you don't need more memory. These days, 12GB is quite comfortable and unless you run memory intensive application (virtual machines, databases, large multimedia editing) you likely won't benefit from the added RAM.

Really just go with 24GB if you know you need it. Otherwise 12GB @ 1600mhz is a safe bet.

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The question wasn't necessarily price vs performance but rather performance of more memory vs faster memory. – steve May 14 '12 at 0:18
@steve Right, adjusted my answer - especially in light of OP's latest comment. – mtone May 14 '12 at 0:31
@mtone My interests do tend to jump around. I have done video editting in the past, and dabble a little bit here and there. I have also been lately experimenting a bit on virtual machines, but probably my most recent thign that involves memory is android development, which doesn't take a lot, but would probably stand to have some more room to stretch than my current 3GB has to offer (with windows itself taking up a nice chunk of that available). Due to the 16GB limitation, unless I can use only 4 of the 6 slots of a triple-channel board, the 12GB @ 1600 Mhz is looking like my best bet. – Virrecex May 14 '12 at 0:58
@Virrecex I think I agree. Not to complicate your dilemma, but a good thing to know is you can always get 16GB (4x4GB) of 1600mhz, and if you notice problems (do some memtests), you can always slow the ram down to 1333mhz in the BIOS if need be so there's no risk (6 sticks puts more pressure than 4, hence the 1333 limitation with 6, plus the price is often nearly identical between 1333 & 1600). The only drawback in that setup would be not to benefit from the triple channel setup, which again is not very noticeable in the real-world. – mtone May 14 '12 at 1:09

Differences in memory frequency generally have almost no measurable effect on performance in real world situations. I'd take the doubling of memory any day.

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The difference comes from whether you need more resources, or faster resources. If I needed to run more at once I would pick more memory any day. If I knew that the application I was running would never use up my full amount of available memory, I would choose frequency.

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