by Ilya Gavrichenkov
09/27/2012 | 08:06 AM
Memory makers are living through difficult times. Their produce has become indecently cheap due to the overproduction crisis and the outlook for the near future is vague. Summing up the Elpida bankruptcy and the upcoming Windows 8 OS, some analysts expect the market to get healthier but others, on the contrary, predict more price cuts because there are huge amounts of memory products piled up at suppliers’ storehouses.
The extremely negative background doesn’t prevent the manufacturers of overclocker-friendly memory modules to slow down their activities, though. They keep on improving and perfecting their products, offering higher clock rates and larger capacities to the customer. They remain profitable under the unfavorable market conditions thanks to their business model: they sell their memory at prices which are much higher than average, charging extra for high quality and excellent specifications. Moreover, most companies that produce memory modules for computer enthusiasts are themselves enthusiasts to some extent. They work closely with overclockers, sponsor overclocking events and support the community in many other ways.
The Taiwanese GeIL (Golden Emperor International Ltd.) is one of the most famous and respectable companies in this business since 1993. Interestingly, the company has never left the chosen track over these years. They have never tried to diversify their product range. For almost 10 years, irrespective of what goes on on the SDRAM market, GeIL has been focused on providing memory modules for overclocked PCs. While its long-time competitors are trying to find a place in other areas, GeIL keeps on making new memory products to meet the demand from its existing customers and attract new ones.
Half a year ago we tested GeIL memory modules from the overclocker-friendly and gaming series aka Black Dragon, Enhance Corsa, EVO Corsa and EVO TWO, and now there are new offers available from GeIL. Considering the growing popularity of PCs with Sandy Bridge-E and Ivy Bridge processors which can clock system memory at higher frequencies than their predecessors, and the upcoming release of Windows 8 which is likely to entice many users into upgrading their computer, GeIL has released the new EVO Veloce series. It is about this memory module series that we are going to talk in this review.
Following the long-established tradition, manufacturers of overclocker-friendly memory modules do not disclose much information about components they use, focusing instead on the resulting product specifications and exterior design. That’s exactly what we have here. Announcing its new EVO Veloce series, GeIL didn’t tell us anything about the memory chip supplier. Well, there is some sound reasoning behind this marketing approach. The company reserves the right to easily replace one kind of chips with another, especially as the use of a particular kind isn't important in itself. More important are the final specifications of memory modules which are arrived at by picking out best chips, applying appropriate cooling and writing the PCB in the most optimal way.
The EVO Veloce series does look interesting in terms of its specs. Targeted at the most progressive computer configurations capable of clocking system memory at up to DDR3-2800, the new DDR3 modules from GeIL include dual- and quad-channel kits rated for up to 2800 MHz. Considering the low prices of DDR3 SDRAM and the natural desire of any user to have a lot of memory, the EVO Veloce series is available in capacities of 4 to 16 gigabytes as dual-channel kits and 16 to 32 gigabytes as quad-channel kits.
Senior models in the series, both dual- and quad-channel, are recommended to be used on mainboards with Intel’s Z77 or X79 chipsets. CPUs installed on such platforms feature an improved memory controller which is guaranteed to clock DDR3 SDRAM at a high frequency without any failures. Besides, such platforms support XMP version 1.3 which is used by the EVO Veloce series.
To make the new products different visually, GeIL equipped them with new heatsinks, crimson or white-colored, which feature the exclusive MTCD technology (Maximized Thermal Conduction & Dissipation).
The impressive name of the technology denotes a very trivial thing, though. It only means that the heatsinks are made of aluminum. The heatsinks increase the height of the memory modules to 47 millimeters, which can lead to conflicts with large CPU coolers. They have a primitive design with a rather small surface area. Made of thin metal, they are easily deformed. And finally, these heatsink plates only hold on to the chips by means of gluey thermal pads without any additional fastening. All of this means that they are merely a decorative element rather than an efficient cooling solution.
So, the heatsinks on the EVO Veloce modules only differ from GeIL's earlier solutions in shape and color. They do not offer any improvements in terms of heat dissipation. On the other hand, this is hardly a big problem because DDR3 memory is generally not very hot. Moreover, there’s another exclusive technology called Die-hard Burn-in ensuring that the EVO Veloce series works well with such cooling. It means that every memory module from GeIL undergoes presale testing under very harsh conditions. To be specific, it must work for 24 hours at an ambient temperature of 100°C. The company claims that such testing can reveal most of failure-prone products whereas memory modules that have passed through it, like this EVO Veloce series, are shipped with a lifetime warranty.
For a thorough study of the EVO Veloce series we’ve got five different dual-channel memory kits of 8 and 16 GB capacity.
They all come in blister wraps additionally packed into a colorful cardboard box. There are cutouts in the packaging so that you could check out the design of the heatsinks and see the sticker with part number on each memory module. There are also stickers with product information on the box itself.
Overall, there's nothing extraordinary about the packaging of the EVO Veloce series. There is a paper insert in each box that warns you about two things. First, the SPD information is meant for compatibility and differs from the high-speed modes the overclocker-friendly memory is designed for. And second, setting a high memory clock rate, you shouldn’t forget about increasing voltage. The memory kits rated for 2400 MHz come with an additional warning that such a high clock rate is only guaranteed on mainboards with Intel’s Z77 or X79 chipsets.
Now let’s take a closer look at each of our memory kits.
The junior memory kit in this review isn’t really overclocker-friendly because the DDR3-1600 frequency is often specified for ordinary DDR3 memory. It is the exclusive heatsinks that are the distinguishing EVO Veloce feature, though, and the EVO Veloce PC3-12800 C9 is visually no different from its series mates.
There are 16 memory chips below the heatsinks, so the modules are dual-sided. It’s hard to identify the origin of the chips. The original marking has been replaced with GeIL’s own branding which provides no information other than capacity. We can get no inkling as to the overclocking potential of this dual-channel 8GB memory kit.
The GeIL EVO Veloce PC3-12800 C9 has a neatly written XMP profile with information about its default operation mode: DDR3-1600 with 9-9-9-28 timings.
The default voltage of these modules is 1.5 volts, so you can use them without tweaking your memory controller.
Dual-channel DDR3 kits from GeIL are available in three capacities (4, 8 and 16 gigabytes) irrespective of their rated speed. 4GB kits aren’t popular anymore whereas 8 and 16GB kits can find a lot of customers. Therefore, it is interesting to compare two same-speed dual-channel kits that differ in capacity.
The GeIL EVO Veloce PC3-12800 C9 2x8GB modules you can see in the photo are actually only one half of a quad-channel 32GB kit. That’s why they have the letters QC at the end of the part number. But since there is no difference between modules in these dual- and quad-channel kits, this replacement is justifiable, especially as it allows us to learn more about the new GeIL products.
There seem to be no differences between the 16GB and the 8GB kits. They are marked differently, but the heatsinks are identical.
It is again hard to say anything about the interior design. Yes, there are 16 chips below the heatsinks of the 16GB dual-channel GeIL EVO Veloce PC3-12800 C9 kit, each chip twice the capacity of the previous modules’ chips, but we don’t know where they come from. GeIL doesn’t disclose the origin of the components, so the only thing we can learn about them is their capacity.
The contents of the single XMP profile are almost the same as in the previous case.
So, we have to wait for our test results to find any differences between the two memory kits that have the same specs but differ in capacity.
DDR3-1866 is one of the most popular types of high-speed system memory today. Such products are really fast but not too expensive compared to ordinary memory kits. Here is a typical product of this kind with a CAS Latency of 9. It consists of two 4GB DDR3 SDRAM modules. By the way, GeIL offers another kit with the same specs but lower latency (CAS Latency = 8).
The 8GB EVO Veloce PC3-14900 C9 kit is quite ordinary both visually and in its internal design. Most of EVO Veloce modules have identical heatsinks whereas any differences in their chips are carefully concealed by the manufacturer. Like with the previous modules, each of the 16 memory chips has GeIL’s own marking that offers no useful information to us.
The chips look the same as those of the same-capacity GeIL EVO Veloce PC3-12800 C9 kit but we can't be absolutely sure since we don't know their original marking.
The XMP profile differentiates the EVO Veloce PC3-14900 C9 modules from those of the above-discussed DDR3-1600 kits.
The default mode is DDR3-1866 with timings of 9-10-9-28, which is somewhat worse compared to the lower-frequency kits, but the voltage is 1.5 volts, just like with regular DDR3 SDRAM. The SPD profile, which is used for default settings and compatibility, describes a DDR3-1600 mode which is similar to the overclocked mode of the GeIL EVO Veloce PC3-12800 C9 modules.
Now we can take a look at top-end products which include DDR3-2400 and faster modules. There’s a lot of such memory kits in the EVO Veloce series, but you must be aware of the limitations fast memory imposes on the platform. We’ve already mentioned the need to use mainboards with newest chipsets. Besides, your CPU must be from the K or Extreme Edition series and you may also need to increase the voltage of the CPU-integrated memory controller to ensure stability. All of these requirements are self-evident for true enthusiasts, though.
Notwithstanding their premium status, the EVO Veloce PC3-19200 C10 modules are no different visually from other products in the series. Their ability to work at high clock rates is only indicated by their part number and the higher voltage (1.65 volts, which is typical of overclocker-friendly memory).
As opposed to the previous memory kits, the chips of the 16GB dual-channel EVO Veloce PC3-19200 C10 kit are not rebranded by GeIL.
These Hynix H5TQ4G83MFR-H9C components enjoy a good reputation and can often be found in modern high-speed overclocker-targeted products. They also prove that memory modules do not lose their overclocking potential as their capacity grows. The EVO Veloce kits with 8GB modules based on 4-gigabit chips are identical in specs to the kits with 4GB modules based on 2-gigabit chips.
The design of the EVO Veloce PC3-19200 C10 isn’t new. The same PCB and memory chips were also used in the EVO Corsa series, so the only real innovation about some of the EVO Veloce products is their heatsinks.
The 16GB dual-channel kit EVO Veloce PC3-19200 C10 has a single XMP profile which defines timings for the specified DDR3-2400 mode.
Everything’s normal here. Take note that the memory voltage is increased to 1.65 volts.
The most interesting EVO Veloce product comes last in this description. Including two 8GB modules, the EVO Veloce PC3-19200 C11 kit is an albino. Its heatsinks are white while the above-discussed modules are all crimson. Instead of anodizing, the heatsinks are powder-coated, so the surface is agreeably rough to the touch. Frankly speaking, the white heatsinks look much better than the crimson ones, although do not differ in anything else. The manufacturer says the white modules are released as a limited edition, so you should hurry to buy them if you want this version.
Again, the white color doesn’t affect the specs. As indicated by the part number, the EVO Veloce PC3-19200 C11 2x8GB kit is similar to the EVO Veloce PC3-19200 C10 2x8 kit and includes two 8GB modules rated for 2400 MHz. It has somewhat worse timings (11-12-12-30).
There are no surprises when it comes to the components.
The EVO Veloce PC3-19200 C10 2x8GB kit uses Hynix H5TQ4G83MFR-H9C chips, like many other same-capacity products from GeIL. The slightly worse timings (compared to the above-discussed red-colored DDR3-2400 kit) are only due to the chip selection process.
Comparing the XMP profiles of the EVO Veloce PC3-19200 C10 2x8GB kit with red heatsinks and the EVO Veloce PC3-19200 C11 2x8GB kit with white heatsinks, we can see only one difference. They have different CAS Latency parameters.
The rest of the specs coincide, including voltage (1.65 volt).
We are going to test GeIL memory kits in an LGA 2011 system built on Asus P8Z77-V Deluxe mainboard based on the newest Intel Z77 Express chipset. Since overclocking memory modules are primarily purchased by enthusiasts, we also used Intel Core i5-3570K processor overclocked to 4.5 GHz.
As a result, the complete list of hardware and software components in our testbed looked as follows:
As we showed in our special review of the memory controller in modern LGA1155 CPUs, it is the operating frequency of dual-channel memory kits that has the biggest effect on the platform's performance. Therefore, increasing it above standard levels is the key feature of overclocker-friendly memory kits that helps ensure an additional performance boost.
The GeIL memory looks promising in this respect. In our previous test of GeIL products we could see that they could often be clocked at higher frequencies than specified. The company is known to ensure a large safety margin for its products, so we can expect that the EVO Veloce memory kits we've got today are actually capable of working at much higher clock rates than written in their specs.
Here’s our algorithm of testing the overclocking potential of DDR3 SDRAM:
The stability of the memory subsystem is verified by 10 runs of LinX 0.6.4 AVX Edition using the whole memory amount and by an additional 1-hour-long check with Memtest86+ v4.20.
Consisting of two 4GB modules and rated for DDR3-1600 mode, the simplest of the GeIL memory kits produced exceptional results. It was stable at a clock rate of 2200 MHz.
We had to increase the timings to 11-12-11-33-1N and voltage to 1.65 volts, yet the 600MHz frequency gain is impressive anyway. So, despite its ordinary specs, the 8GB dual-channel EVO Veloce PC3-12800 C9 kit is truly an overclocker-friendly product.
With the same specs but twice the capacity of the previous product, this kit can't match its overclocking potential. These modules could only be stable in DDR3-2000 mode.
However, after increasing the voltage to 1.65, we could select more aggressive timings: 10-12-12-33-1N. Frequency is more important than timings for the resulting performance, so the above-discussed GEV38GB1600C9DC kit seems preferable.
Rated for 1866 MHz, the midrange GEV38GB1866C9DC could not beat the overclocking results of the EVO Veloce kits rated for 1600 MHz. At a voltage of 1.65 volts, it was only stable in DDR3-2200 mode, just like the similarly configured DDR3-1600 kit.
The GeIL EVO Veloce PC3-14900 C9 memory turned out to be better in terms of timings than the slower products of the series, though. It was stable not only at a CAS Latency of 11 but also at 10-12-10-31-1N. That’s quite an achievement for DDR3 SDRAM clocked at over 2 GHz.
Rated for 2.4 GHz, this EVO Veloce PC3-19200 C10 kit can be expected to do well in our overclockability tests, especially as its timings are untypically low for such a high frequency. Indeed, these modules were stable in DDR3-2600 mode.
The frequency gain isn't large, but there are not so many memory modules available that are rated even for 2.4 GHz. And there are even fewer products that can be overclocked further. Our timings were far from aggressive at 2.6 GHz, though. The best we could achieve was 11-13-13-33-1N.
The limited-edition white-colored EVO Veloce PC3-19200 C11 kit is somewhat worse in our tests than its red-colored DDR3-2400 cousin. It may be due to its worse default timings or just bad luck. Whatever the reason, this 2x8GB kit refused to overclock at all. It was perfectly stable at 2400 MHz but not higher.
Moreover, we couldn’t make it stable at lower timings than specified. DDR3-2400 with timings of 11-12-12-30-1N is the best the albino can do. On the other hand, DDR3-2400 is a very speedy mode, especially as we’re talking about two 8GB modules. So, the lack of overclocking potential can hardly be viewed as a downside of the GEW316GB2400C11ADC kit.
Let's sum up our overclocking results in the following table:
Although we’ve got memory kits with a combined capacity of 8 and 16 gigabytes, we don’t want to focus on the difference in their performance. It is only in specific applications that the extra 8 GB of system memory can show up but everyday applications don’t really need too much memory. 4 GB is quite enough for a modern computer. Increasing the amount of system memory above 8 gigabytes may only be required for specific applications like running multiple virtual machines or for the purpose of accumulating some reserve of memory while it's cheap. Anyway, if you install 16 GB in your computer, you should know what you need it for, but we will focus on the effect of such factors as memory timings and frequency instead.
In our performance tests we checked out the speed of our LGA1155 platform with different dual-channel memory kits. Each kit was tested in two modes: 1) automatic configuring (every timing is set by the mainboard's BIOS according to the XMP data) and 2) highest clock rates and best timings (as achieved in our overclocking tests above) set up manually in the mainboard’s BIOS.
First of all we want to run synthetic benchmarks of memory bandwidth and latency. We will use the MaxxMEM2 suite which can run both in single- and multithreaded mode.
The clock rate of DDR3 SDRAM does affect memory subsystem parameters on Ivy Bridge platforms. For example, increasing the clock rate by 333 MHz helps improve the practical bandwidth and latency by 5-7% with single-threaded access. The speed of multi-threaded access grows up even more, by 15-20%.
We can also see that the memory modules with identical specs but different capacity differ somewhat in performance. For example, the 8 GB DDR3-1600 kit is faster than the 16 GB DDR3-1600 kit in terms of latency and bandwidth by up to 5%.
It seems that overclocking your memory subsystem and purchasing high-speed DDR3 SDRAM makes some sense, but don’t forget that the diagram is based on synthetic benchmarks. We don't usually see such a sharp difference in real-life applications. Anyway, we guess we need to take a look at some real tasks that use system memory intensively.
In some usage scenarios high-speed overclocker-friendly memory can indeed be useful, especially if it isn't much more expensive than ordinary products. Memory subsystem parameters can affect the speed of gaming applications, too.
Of course, a game's frame rate depends on the graphics subsystem performance in the first place. However, we shouldn’t underestimate the significance of the memory sub-system parameters, and its high operational speed may help you increase your gaming PC's performance by a few percent. So, choosing the right memory is important. And the most important factor about DDR3 SDRAM is its clock rate. The large capacity may even negate the benefits of overclocking. The gaming tests show that the memory kits consisting of 8 GB modules are somewhat slower than their one with 4 GB modules.
It’s easy to characterize the EVO Veloce series of system memory from GeIL. As we’ve seen in our tests, it is an evolutionary development of the EVO Corsa series, which had been promoted by GeIL previously. The modernization isn’t far-reaching, actually. In fact, the manufacturer only changed the shape and color of the heat-spreaders, without even improving their efficiency. The components are the same (at least, in the top-end models). The PCB design hasn’t changed and the chips that could be identified by their original marking are still from Hynix.
However, the EVO Veloce and EVO Corsa series are not the same thing. The new quality assurance standards introduced by the manufacturer have helped improve product specs. The older series was limited to DDR3-2666 mode whereas the new one includes memory modules rated for up to DDR3-2800. The midrange models of the EVO Veloce series have got better timings, higher overclockability and more attractive pricing.
That’s why we do recommend the new EVO Veloce series, which is not only the best memory from GeIL but also looks highly competitive among overclocker-friendly DDR3 SDRAM kits from other brands.
It’s hard to tell which of the numerous EVO Veloce products to prefer. The junior models of the series can be overclocked to 2000 MHz and more while the senior ones can work at higher frequencies but don't have high overclocking potential. So, if you want to save some money and to try your luck, the 1600 and 1866MHz kits can be a good choice. But if you want to guarantee maximum performance, you should go with the DDR3-2400 or an even faster kit.
You must keep two things in mind while looking for the optimal solution. First of all, although there is no point in trying to keep memory timings low because frequency has a stronger effect on performance, memory kits with a lower CAS Latency are generally better at overclocking than the ones with higher latencies. And second, if your priority is speed, you shouldn't buy too much system memory. Dual-channel DDR3 SDRAM kits of 8 GB modules are somewhat slower than their 2 x 4 GB counterparts at the same settings.
Concluding this review, we would like to remind you that there also exist limited edition EVO Veloce modules with white heatsinks. Although color has no effect on their performance, the snow-white modules are really beautiful. You may want to at least take a closer look at them if you have the chance.