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Digital-Daily : CPU & Memory : memory_08_2

Memory (RAM): spring 2008

Memory (RAM): spring 2008
Author: Aleksandr Mitrofanov
Date: 17.04.2008

If some of the readers keeps track of the price dynamics for DDR3 modules, they must have noticed a serious drop in prices for this memory type. In particular, 1 GB module is currently available at a bit less than $120. However, for most users this information is absolutely not interesting: prices for DDR2 are much lower. In fact, the cost of DDR2 has almost reached its bottom: prices for PC6400 1 GB modules already start at about $22, for 2 GB modules - range from $45.

Certainly, overclocker-friendly modules cost a bit higher since even the best quality DDR2 memory loses to the regular DDR3 (proceeding from the overclockers' needs). That especially applies to systems based on Intel's chipsets in which the memory frequency is linked to FSB speeds.

In our today's review, we'll be testing a dual-kit of DDR2-800 AD8200X001GU modules made by A-Data. These modules relate to the overclocker-friendly series Vitesta Extreme Edition. We start with the package which looks like a large nice box:


box.jpg

Despite the impressive dimensions, there are merely two memory modules inside.


box1.jpg

Here are the modules themselves:


modules.jpg

As the sticker says, the nominal frequency is 800 MHz, the memory capacity is 1 GB, latency timings - 4-4-4-12, with the operating voltage within 1.9V to 2.1 V. In view of the metal radiators, the slight raise of Vmem is quite acceptable (the nominal Vmem for DDR2 = 1.8 V).

We now move on to the tests and look at the SPD data:


adata-spd.jpg

According to SPD, the low latency timings 4-4-4-12 are admissible only to DDR2-533. In fact, as the previous tests of memory modules show, the SPD data do not always match the real specifications. Indeed, A-Data modules ran at 500 MHz (which is equivalent to DDR2-1000 MHz), with low timings.


adata-1000-low-stable.jpg

Unless we set the latency timings manually but rely upon the SPD and the BIOS of the motherboard (by the way, we used Gigabyte EP35-DS4 based on the P35 chipset), the maximum stable frequency for these modules equals DDR2-1224 MHz, with the latency timings being 5-8-8-28.


adata-1224.jpg

That is a very good, albeit not the top, result. The best result registered at our test lab belongs to the overclocker-friendly modules GoodRAM GP1066D264L5/2GDC which ran at DDR2-1280 MHz with the latency timings 5-6-6-18 and at the same voltage 2.1 V.

To make the review not concise, we included tests of Corsair CM2X1024-6400C4 modules whose specifications are absolutely identical to those for A-Data modules.


corsair-modules.jpg

In particular, the nominal frequency (DDR2-800), operating voltage (2.1 V), as well as the latency timings (4-4-4-12) coincide. Now look at the SPD:


corsair-spd.jpg

According to this information, Corsair modules should be better because they are able operating at low latency timings at DDR2-800. But how are things in reality? Indeed, the modules have proved to be worse - the way it was at low latency timings (the maximum frequency DDR2-936):


corsair-936-low.jpg

and at the nominal (max. frequency DDR2-1008):


corsair-1008.jpg

Let's recap all the results in a table:


bench.gif

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. A-Data AD8200X001GU modules with the nominal settings showed one of the best results (DDR2-1224). But if the user sets low timings (4-4-4 -12) manually, the overclocking capability of these modules in this mode is not high (DDR2-1000). But even this poor result is better than that for Corsair CM2X1024-6400C4 modules which failed to overcome the 1 GHz bar.

One important clarification: we should not forget that these memory modules offer different compatibility to motherboards. That is, at the nominal frequencies the memory runs at any motherboard, but the overclocking capability is absolutely different for each motherboard model (and even within a single model the capability depends on the BIOS version).

- Discuss the material in the conference

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