Memory Specifications

We decided to utilize a 1Gb (2x512MB) memory configuration as it is probably one of the widely used setups today. Our choice of memory was more difficult as we had an abundance of modules available due to our recent upgrade of many systems to 2GB configurations. In the end we tested several different modules and came to the conclusion that almost all of it generated the same results on this board. Turning to the "scientific method", we flipped a coin a couple of times, tossed darts at the manufacturer's packages, strapped on a blindfold, and then picked a couple of modules from the pile.

Our DDR memory is from Patriot Memory and it previously resided in one of our test systems for several weeks. The memory features low latencies at DDR-400 (PC3200) while costing around $100 for a 1GB kit.

Patriot PDC1G3200LLK Memory Specifications
Number of DIMMs & Banks 2 DS
DIMM Size 512MB
Total Memory 1 GB
Rated Timings 2-3-2-5 1T at DDR-400
Rated Voltage 2.6V

Additional Information on these very popular DIMMs is available at the Patriot website. We have memory that offers additional headroom for overclocking and also memory that was representative of PC3200 modules shipped a couple of years ago with 2.5 CAS ratings. However, we felt like this memory is a good blend of performance and pricing for our testing.

Our DDR2 memory is from Transcend and was utilized in some extensive HTPC testing for our upcoming Intel DHCAT article. The memory features decent latencies at DDR2-667 but was able to perform at much lower latencies in our testing while costing around $70 for a 1GB kit. We highly recommend this memory for users needing an inexpensive yet great performing memory in their budget or mid-range systems.

Transcend JetRam Memory Specifications
Number of DIMMs & Banks 2 DS
DIMM Size 512MB
Total Memory 1 GB
Rated Timings 5-5-5-12 at DDR2-667
Rated Voltage 1.8V

Transcend has additional specifications for this memory listed here. We also had 512MB memory modules that offered much lower latencies, but these cost the same as current 2GB value kits based on Elpida memory. Our memory choice is representative of speeds and latencies shipped in OEM systems that have been widely available the past couple of years for Intel users.

Our ASRock motherboard offers the following options for each memory speed. Although DDR-266 is fully supported we will not be testing at this memory speed. The current BIOS offers a wide array of memory speed settings but is very limited in voltage options with low, normal, and high being the only choices.

ASRock 775Dual-VSTA
Auto DDR2-533 DDR2-667 DDR-266 DDR-333 DDR-400
FSB 1066 X X X X X X
FSB 800 X X X X X X
FSB 533 X X X X X X

We have tested the board with our Pentium D 805 and 950 processors to ensure proper FSB support at 533 and 800. We did not find any anomalies during testing with our processors that also included a Core 2 Extreme X6800.

Index System Configuration
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  • Sunrise089 - Wednesday, August 09, 2006 - link

    From the link you provided:

    "The 4MB L2 cache can increase performance by as much as 10% in some situations. Such a performance improvement is definitely tangible, and as applications grow larger in their working data sets then the advantage of a larger cache will only become more visible. "

    Also keep in mind a 3.5% average is much like claiming a new GPU is unnecessary because it only effect's your computing experience 10% of the time. If it's effects are highly pronoumced during those times it could still be worthwhile. The 4meg parts have a 10% inprovement in some apps and games, and that is a pretty big deal.
    Reply
  • Paladin165 - Wednesday, August 09, 2006 - link

    cmon man, get real. I would never buy a new GPU if it only offered a 10% increase. Also, the big increases are in DIVX compression, itunes, content creation, etc. Most of the game benchmarks are around 1%. In fact the 5% oblivion dungeon benchmark is a little hard for me to beleive, as oblivion shows virtually no gain from extra cache in other tests (http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?...">http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?.... The only game that shows a substaintial increase is Quake at 6.7%.

    The situation is in fact the opposite of a GPU. The GPU increases your performance during the "10% of the time" when it counts, during games. The extra cache on the Conroe seems to increase performance when it doesn't count.

    For the record, I agree with you about AMD carrying the better budget offerings at present. Intel has only the ASrock board to offer the budget gamer, which comes with some big sacrafices (lack of overclocking, 4XPCI-E). However, I am buying this board so that I can afford a better core 2 processor (6400 or 6600), which I will put in a better budget motherboard in a few months. I figure I'm basically "renting" this motherboard for 6 months or so. So I think going with budget conroe offers a much better upgrade path. Once we have cheap boards that can overclock the 6300/6400 30-40% (which should happen in only a month or two) your argument will be obselete because the overclocked Allendales absolutely crush the X2 chips.
    Reply
  • Sunrise089 - Wednesday, August 09, 2006 - link

    "Once we have cheap boards that can overclock the 6300/6400 30-40% (which should happen in only a month or two) your argument will be obselete because the overclocked Allendales absolutely crush the X2 chips."

    That's true, and I look forward to it. I just think AMD has spoiled me with the idea that there is very little reason to spend extra $$$ so long as I'm willing to work a bit and accept some risk. If Intel prices move a bit to make the same situation true, I will be happily enjoying my fast Conroe machine.
    Reply
  • araczynski - Tuesday, August 08, 2006 - link

    wow, thanks for a great article, something actually applicable to the real world ;)

    looking forward to the next parts. although I'm still going for an e6600 with a highly overclockable mobo (probably the asus pdxyzdeluxesomethingorother), its good to see things in perspective.
    Reply
  • johnsonx - Tuesday, August 08, 2006 - link

    I don't normally join the ranks of the review bashers (who of course mostly come out of the woodwork when Intel is reviewed favorably against AMD), but this review seems to have a fatal flaw.

    The stated purpose is to show what you do or don't gain by trading in your DDR memory when moving to a Core 2 Duo platform. The review compares DDR to DDR2 performance on the same platform, which at first glance seems reasonable. However, in the prior review of another mainboard based on the same PT880Pro chipset (the review linked at the bottom of page 3), your conclusion about that board states:

    quote:

    However, the performance of the board was dismal at best in our benchmarks compared to the more recent Intel and NVIDIA chipsets.


    The charts in that review show that BOTH DDR and DDR2 performance was equally dismal.

    Since the primary reason for purchasing this board is for DDR support, presumably no one who wants to upgrade to DDR2 would bother with it. Therefore any performance comparison of DDR to DDR2 on this board is pointless for the stated purpose of the article. It artificially cripples DDR2 performance, making DDR look quite good and even superior.

    For a proper comparison, you need a reasonably priced competitor that doesn't suffer such low DDR2 performance; perhaps a P965Express board, or even a 945 board if any of those have Conroe support.
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Wednesday, August 09, 2006 - link

    quote:

    The stated purpose is to show what you do or don't gain by trading in your DDR memory when moving to a Core 2 Duo platform. The review compares DDR to DDR2 performance on the same platform, which at first glance seems reasonable. However, in the prior review of another mainboard based on the same PT880Pro chipset (the review linked at the bottom of page 3), your conclusion about that board states:


    Our comments were based on the performance at the time of review with an early but shipping bios revision that as it turns out had some memory timing issues. The latest bios (1.5) has altered the performance of this board to some degree although DDR2-667 performance is not where it should be. In some cases the performance differences are less than 5% now when using optimized DDR2-533 settings. While this board does not have the overclocking capability of the P965 boards we have tested to date, it still performs within reason at stock speeds.

    quote:

    For a proper comparison, you need a reasonably priced competitor that doesn't suffer such low DDR2 performance; perhaps a P965Express board, or even a 945 board if any of those have Conroe support.


    You are correct. However, we did state (first page) that a full comparsion would be provided in our final article. While I wanted to post a P965 result in this article we had not received our "budget" P965 boards from Foxconn, Epox, ECS, or MSI yet (two are here now, other two next week). I felt like a comparison to a 965 board that will be in the $100 price range would be better than showing results against a $150~$225 P965 board. Also, ASRock had just provided a new bios update (memory compatibility) for the 945P and 945PL boards that we are still testing as of today. It appears at first glance our original memory performance issues with these boards have been solved also. It appears now that the VIA memory performance at DDR2-533 is within 5% of our better performing P965 boards. We will have a full comparison up next week and hopefully we can figure out a way to get DDR2-667 working at CAS3 in a stable manner (it works but we still have not completed a full round of testing without a failure, BF2 and Q4 seem the most sensitive to lockup but SuperPI passes, LOL).

    I appreciate your comments and look forward to your thoughts on the final article.
    Reply
  • NeverGuy - Thursday, August 10, 2006 - link

    IS this board basically the same as the ASUS P5VDC-X that is selling for about the same price? Would the ASUS board have CPU voltage adjustment? Reply
  • Gary Key - Thursday, August 10, 2006 - link

    quote:

    S this board basically the same as the ASUS P5VDC-X that is selling for about the same price? Would the ASUS board have CPU voltage adjustment?


    Close to the same, the main difference is the Asus version does not support Core 2 Duo but does offer slightly better overclocking options.
    Reply
  • johnsonx - Wednesday, August 09, 2006 - link

    quote:

    along with results from other ASRock value boards featuring the Intel i865 and 945P chipsets.


    Yep, I didn't see that line. You have to admit though it's buried pretty deep in that paragraph. I still think THIS article would have been far more informative with 1 other value DDR2 comparison point. But the whole picture will be clear with the final article, so I'll just look forward to that.

    On a side note, I'm quite interested in this series of articles, yet I have almost zero interest in actually buying any Core 2 products for myself or for customers. Aside from the occaisional high power 3D CAD box (for running ProE usually), I travel exclusively in the budget and low-midrange market. Intel hasn't had anything compelling for me there in years, and still doesn't. I guess Core 2 info is more interesting than AM2 info, even if I'm not going to buy it.
    Reply
  • Calin - Wednesday, August 09, 2006 - link

    In reviews here, I saw a tendency to use grand words for small feats. I won't consider the 10% this board is behind others "dismal performance" - so for very little money, you could get good performance - that is the thing every budget buyer wants. Reply

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