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Games are arguably the most demanding applications that enthusiasts run on their PCs on a regular basis. To find out whether faster memory affects in-game frame rates, we collected a handful of titles and ran them through two sets of tests. The first batch was conducted at a modest resolution and with low in-game detail settings to remove the graphics card as a potential bottleneck. For the latter, we pushed the resolution to 1920x1080 and cranked the detail levels as high as we could while maintaining playable frame rates.

We tapped each game's built-in benchmarking component to test its performance. All four titles were run in DirectX 11 mode, even when using low detail settings. For Civilization V, we used the full render score, which should be the most representative of real-world performance. That score has been converted to frames per second to make the graphs easier to understand.

At low resolutions and detail levels, we're not seeing much of a case for faster memory. A higher memory frequency buys a few frames per second here and there, but that's pretty much the extent of it. Our low-latency DDR3-1333 config doesn't really separate itself from the pack, either.

With the exception of competitive Counter-Strike players trying to purge any potential for performance hiccups—real or imagined—most folks use the highest resolution and detail levels they can when playing games. That tends to make one's graphics card the bottleneck, which is why we see even less separation with this round of tests. At best, the difference between our fastest and slowest memory configs amounts to a few FPS.