Articles: Memory

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Testbed Configuration

We are going to test the Crucial BL2KIT25664ST1608OB (Ballistix Smart Tracer) in an LGA1155 system with Core i5-2500K CPU overclocked to 4.7 GHz.

The system also included the following hardware and software components:

  • CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K (Sandy Bridge, 4 cores, 3.3 GHz, 6 MB L3);
  • CPU cooler: Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme with Enermax Everest fan;
  • Mainboard: ASUS P8P67 Deluxe (LGA1155, Intel P67 Express);
  • Graphics card: ATI Radeon HD 6970.
  • Hard drive: Kingston SNVP325-S2/128GB.
  • Power supply unit: Tagan TG880-U33II (880 W).
  • Operating system: Microsoft Windows 7 SP1 Ultimate x64.
  • Drivers:
    • Intel Chipset Driver;
    • Intel Rapid Storage Technology;
    • ATI Catalyst 11.3 Display Driver.

Keeping in mind the overclocking specifics of contemporary systems with LGA1155 processors inside, the idea behind our today’s test session was to determine the ability of our memory kit to function at non-nominal frequencies of 1866 and 2133 MHz. We also tried to find the most aggressive timings when the memory would remain stable.

During our tests in overclocked modes we used only Intel recommended voltage setting of 1.65 V. You can improve (sometimes quite significantly) the overclocking potential of DDR3 memory modules by raising this voltage, however, in this case the processor memory controller is under serious risk of untimely degrading. Therefore, we prefer to follow Intel’s recommendations and do not encourage increasing the DDR3 SDRAM voltage beyond 1.65 V.

Test Results

It is a known fact that increasing the memory sub-system frequency has greater effect on performance than lowering memory timings. Therefore, we decided not to investigate the ability of our Ballistix Smart Tracer modules to work in DDR3-1333 mode: this mode is simply ineffective.

Our modules worked in DDR3-1600 mode not only with their nominal timings, but also with more aggressive ones set at 8-8-7-24-1T.

The next memory mode for Sandy Bridge platform is DDR3-1866 and Crucial kit can cope with it just fine, too. However, we had to use less aggressive timings of 9-9-8-27-1T to guarantee modules’ stability.

However, at 1866 MHz Crucial Ballistix Smart Tracer works noticeably faster, sow e shouldn’t worry about using more lenient timings. Frequency is the primary factor for Sandy Bridge platforms.

Unfortunately, the next threshold of 2133 MHz remained unconquered by Crucial Ballistix Smart Tracer kit. At least at the safe recommended voltage of 1.65 V.

I have to say that in both cases the modules temperature exceeded 60 degrees, which means they heated up quite substantially. I believe it can be regarded as one of the indications of poor cooling efficiency of the flat aluminum heat-spreader plates for heat dissipation from the memory chips. However, we didn’t experience any overheating issues during our test session, which is a good sign.

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