Articles: Memory

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The analysis published on our site a few days ago called 2GB of RAM: Do We Really Need That Much? proves that there already exist tasks for which 2 gigabytes of system memory make a difference. Since not only heavy professional applications, but also some contemporary games belong to this category, it’s time to get serious about equipping your new high-performance platform with as much as 2 gigabytes of RAM.

We also showed you how negative it may be to use four DIMM modules on an Athlon 64 platform. First, when four modules are in use, the integrated memory controller automatically uses a Command Rate of 2T rather than 1T. The performance hit may be as big as 5-10% as a consequence. Second, the overclockability of the system worsens with four DIMM modules since the maximum stable clock-generator frequency is lower. These things considered, memory modules of 1GB capacity seem to be the best choice for today’s top-end platforms.

That’s why we have to revise our memory testing priorities and shift the focus towards 2GB DDR SDRAM kits that consist of two modules. In today’s review we are going to check out the most popular 2GB overclocker-friendly kits of DDR SDRAM (for dual-channel systems) the leading DRAM makers offer for PC enthusiasts. Today we will check DDR1 SDRAM that the overclockers love the most and use in platforms based around AMD Athlon 64 processors. Four manufacturers were kind to offer us their products, so we have 2GB DDR SDRAM kits from Corsair, OCZ, G.Skill, and PQI to work with.

Testbed and Methods

Besides the performance and specified characteristics of a memory module, a PC enthusiast may be interested in other things like the highest frequency the memory can work at in an overclocked computer. So this review includes not only performance but also overclockability tests of DDR SDRAM modules.

We tested stability of the memory modules in two steps. First we verified there were no errors with Memtest86+. Then we rechecked this in Windows XP with the S&M and Prime95 utilities. This two-tier control system helps ensure high reliability of the obtained test data.

The frequency graphs included into the descriptions of the memory kits show the maximum frequency the modules are stable at (as verified in the above-described manner) with the specified memory timings.

Our testbed was assembled out of the following hardware parts:

  • AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ CPU
  • DFI LANParty UT NF4 Ultra-D mainboard (NVIDIA nForce4 Ultra chipset)
  • Memory:
    • Corsair TWINX2048-3500LLPRO
    • Corsair TWINX2048-4000PT
    • G.Skill F1-4000USU-2GBHZ
    • OCZ PC4000 EB Dual Channel Platinum Edition
    • PQI3200-2048DBL
  • NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT 256MB graphics card (PCI Express x16)
  • Maxtor MaXLine III 250GB hard disk drive (Serial ATA-150)
  • Windows XP SP2

The memory subsystem was clocked synchronously with the clock generator, so we reduced the CPU frequency multiplier to 8x to avoid reaching the maximums table CPU clock rate.

And now let’s have a closer look at each of the memory kits about to be tested.

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