Articles: Memory

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The recent test session that involved Intel P35 based platforms with DDR3 SDRAM revealed that this type of memory wasn’t ready yet to provide any significant performance advantage over the traditional high-speed DDR2 SDRAM (for details see our article called DDR3 SDRAM: Revolution or Evolution?). Relatively high latencies of mass DDR3 SDRAM modules made the new memory running at 1333MHz speed lose to the widely available DDR2-1066 with 4-4-4-12 timings in majority of applications of all kinds. However, this situation shouldn’t encourage you to draw any hasty conclusions.

The fact that Intel chipsets officially support only 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM with 7-7-7 timings is no stopper for those memory makers who are used to being ahead of the industry standards. If you are following the news, you should know that the leading manufacturers of overclocker memory modules are already shipping DDR3-1600 SDRAM to the market and get ready to start selling DDR3-1800 SDRAM. These high frequencies became available thanks to Micron’s efforts and beginning of Z9 chips manufacturing. The Z9 chips continue the good tradition set by overclocker-friendly DDR2 Micron D9 chips that can hit frequencies far beyond the nominal after careful selection and voltage increase. Although Micron Z9 chips are nominally only DDR3-1066, they were the ones that allowed raising the actual DDR3 SDRAM frequencies to a totally new level. This certainly gives progressive users some hope that DDR3 SDRAM will finally be able to outperform the good old DDR2 SDRAM in real applications.

So, our today’s article will be devoted to analyzing the level of performance that the latest overclocker DDR3-1600 memory modules from the leading manufacturers have to offer. However, before we get to the actual benchmark results, we would like to say a few words about the application field for these high-speed DDR3-1600 memory kits. The thing is that memory modules working at such frequencies cannot be used in Intel P35 based systems with any of the officially supported processor bus frequency settings, such as 800/1066/133MHz. This chipset simply has no dividers in its arsenal to clock the memory at frequencies like that. Therefore, DDR3-1600 SDRAM is currently of interest only to overclocking fans, who speed up their processors by pushing the FSB frequency to the limits. Luckily for the memory makers, there are quite a lot of users like that out there. Especially since contemporary Core 2 processors boast very decent hidden overclocking potential, which they simply cannot pass by.

Therefore, it seems quite logical to compare the new high-speed DDR3-1600 SDRAM against DDR2 overclocker memory kits, which is going to be the main goal of our today’s article. But before we share with you the benchmark results, let’s take a closer look at our testing participants.

Testbed Configuration for Memory Frequency Potential Check

To check out all the features and overclocking potential of the new high-speed memory kits we put together the following platform:

  • CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E6850 (LGA775, 3.0GHz, 1333MHz FSB, 4MB L2, Conroe).
  • Mainboard: ASUS Blitz Extreme (LGA775, Intel P35, DDR3 SDRAM).
  • Graphics card: OCZ GeForce 8800GTX.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD1500AHFD.
  • PSU: SilverStone SST-ST85ZF (850W).
  • OS: Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate x86.

Memory overclocked with the FSB:Mem dividers of 1:1 and 5:6. System stability was checked with Memtest86, S&M and SP2004/ORTHOS.

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