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CPU & Memory


Digital-Daily : CPU & Memory : memory_08_1

Memory (RAM): early 2008

Memory (RAM): early 2008
Author: Aleksandr Mitrofanov
Date: 24.02.2008

Currently, the DDR2 memory is at its peak of popularity. That has been achieved to the essential improvement of the production processors, which allowed for an increase in the production volumes and therefore a price reduction. In particular, a regular 1 GB DDR2-PC6400 module costs about $40! So the prices for overclocker-friendly memory have gone down, accordingly.

Low prices is fine, but what we are interested in is this: "How has the frequency potentials of modern memory modules gone up?" The last time we tested such modules in the middle of the last year, and they all got over the DDR2-1200 MHz bar. Also, in that review we first got acquainted to the produce of Wilk Elektronik S.A which sells modules under the GoodRAM brand. GP900D264L5/1G modules left a nice impression: they retained operability at frequencies up to DDR2-1224 MHz, with the "price/quality" being one of the best.

In our today's test, we'll be comparing two memory kits GoodRAM made by Wilk Elektronik S.A. The first one is a regular kit of 2GB DDR2 PC-5300 modules (667 MHz). Nowadays, such memory capacity is standard and allows for a comfortable gaming experience in OS Vista and superb - in Windows XP. Our test is to answer this question: is it possible to save on purchasing memory. That is, not to purchase overclocker-friendly modules but get by with overclocking value models. It is not a secret that some manufacturers are using the same chips for the manufacture of various memory product lines (only overclocker-friendly module chips undergo a more thorough sorting and screening).

The second kit made up of overclocker-friendly DDR2 PC2-8500 (1066 MHz) modules, and we'll determine their capability at both the minimum and nominal timings.

We start with cheap memory modules.

The label on the package and on the modules contain information on only the nominal frequency and the capacity of the modules.

The modules themselves look ordinary and have no radiators.

Closer look at the marking does not allow finding out any detailed information.

That is why we immediately move on to tests and look at the SPD data:

The tests have shown that the maximum frequency at which the modules run stably was 380 MHz (which is equivalent to DDR2-760 MHz).

Frankly, the result was somehow disappointing: we are used to the fact that a good half of modules that came from the shop, regardless of the marking, runs at DDR2-800. But we had nothing to complain about the Wilk Elektronik product: the declared specifications match the real results.

We now move on to more interesting modules- GoodRAM GP1066D264L5/2GDC. As the label on the package states, this memory is able running at 1066 MHz with the latency timings 5-5-5-15.

The label on the modules informs that the operating range of the memory voltage is within 2.1V to 2.4V.

The SPD info hints to the overclocking capability 555 MHz (i.e. DDR2-1110 MHz).

Tests of these modules coincided with the time of tests of MSI P35 Neo3 and Gigabyte EP35-DS4: a good chance to try the modules on motherboards made by various manufacturers. In the end, on MSI P35 Neo3 the modules ran at DDR2-1260 MHz (!) with the supply voltage 2.1V.

On Gigabyte EP35-DS4, with the same voltage, the modules ran at DDR2-1280 MHz.

To go a bit further, we had to raise the Vmem by 0.1 V - to 2.2 V. As a result, we got an absolutely stable operation at DDR2-1300 MHz.

Besides, we got interested by the capabilities of the modules at low latency timings (4-4-4-12). Unfortunately, GP1066D264L5/2GDC have nothing to boast - the maximum frequency was 1040 MHz.

For comparison, the modules TXDD1024M1066HC4 made by Team Group run at 1212 MHz, at the same latency timings.

Actually, at this stage we thought the review was basically complete, and there was nothing more to squeeze out of the modules. To relief my conscience, we sent a letter to the manufacturer with the question: "What was the highest results these modules showed?" The reply came in no time, sort of: "...1300 MHz is little, our memory is able running at 1500 MHz!" The letter had a link to the result of Polish overclockers who had been able to achieve 1440 MHz (albeit at Vmem = 2.9V). At first, we were unaware of the hint, and spent a whole day improving the results. We were unable to achieve improvements, and feeling fooled we took a closer look at the results attained by Polish overclockers. As it turned out, those guys had overclocked 512 MB modules in the single-channel mode. Turned green with fury, we applied 3V to the memory (versus the nominal Vmem = 1.8V). That does make sense since in 2008 we have not yet burnt anything expensive. Unfortunately, GP1066D264L5/2GDC did not burn down but ran at DDR2-1368 MHz.

At that, our common sense won: we decided not to raise the Vmem any more since ASUS' latest motherboard Striker II suffers from serious issues of compatibility to Corsair modules (which we always use at the test bench), but it does work fine with GoodRAM.

Frankly, we do assume that GP1066D264L5/2GDC modules are really capable of running at frequencies much higher than 1300 MHz. But to achieve that, "hothouse conditions' conditions like a cryogenic plant are needed. Also, we would need a motherboard of ideal compatibility to these memory modules. As to our case, we are trying to measure the average statistical results which should guide the regular buyer at an ordinary computer shop. Therefore, in the final results there is the value 1300 MHz at Vmem = 2.2V.

So, let's recap all the results in a table:

Test-bench configuration:

Test setup
CPU Intel Core 2 Duo E6550 LGA775 (2.33 GHz; Conroe)
Cooler Gigabyte 3D Cooler GP Edition
Video card ASUS 8800 GT (GeForce 8800 GT; PCI Express x16)
Driver version: 169.25
Sound card -
HDD Samsung HD160JJ
Motherboard Gigabyte EP35-DS4
Power supply unit FSP 550 W
OS MS Vista

Summing it all up, we note the following. The value modules GOODRAM GR667D264L5/2GDC offer nothing remarkable: regular memory to assemble a commonplace computer. The memory fully meets the declared characteristics but does not allow for any saving: if you plan at least a minor overclocking (e.g., to FSB = 400 MHz), it makes sense looking for faster modules.

As regards the overclocker-friendly kit of GOODRAM PRO GP1066D264L5/2GDC modules, it deserves the highest ranks. In particular, these modules run absolutely stably at DDR2-1300 MHz with the supply voltage 2.2V. And that is not yet a limit since the manufacturer guarantees their operability at Vmem = 2.4V. Coupled with the lifetime warranty, this kit can be seen by overclockers as quite a bargain. Nevertheless, these modules are not able running at very high frequencies under the minimum latency timings. At that, there is not a sign of any progress: the previous kit of GP900D264L5/1G modules ran at precisely the same frequency 1040 MHz with the latency timings set to 4-4-4-12.

There is another point to note: it is important to understand that these memory modules offer different compatibility to motherboards. That is, at the nominal frequencies the memory runs with any motherboard, but the overclocking capability is absolutely different for each motherboard model (and within a single model the capability depends on the BIOS version).

- Discuss the material in the conference

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