We had a very interesting response to part one of our P965 Roundup. There was the central fact that we still have part two and three to deliver over the coming week. Yes, before anyone sends another message, both parts will be published by next Friday. However, there was one recurring theme in the hundreds of emails and private messages we received about the first article. This theme revolved around our choice of memory. We felt like dropping down to performance oriented DDR2-800 would be a better choice for this market in regards to price while it would still allow our P965 motherboards to overclock to their limits.

It turns out our choice of memory for the article is now priced higher than a lot of us make in a week. This was not our intention when we started the P965 roundup but over the course of the last eight weeks our GEIL DDR2-800 memory has witnessed an almost 60% increase in price. We have seen increases on average of 45% across the board since the beginning of summer in the general DDR2 market. The majority of higher end memory is experiencing even larger price increases along with very limited supply.

While we are finishing testing on two recently received P965 motherboards for the value sector roundup we decided to see how our new "value" performance memory would fair on the Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 motherboard. Of course, this new value range is now DDR2-667 memory with typical timings of 4-4-4-12 and prices hovering around $220 for a 2GB kit. We decided to test 2GB memory kits from five different manufacturers to see how well they would perform with optimized timings at DDR2-667, DDR2-800, and however far we could overclock them before they went up in flames. Actually, there were no flames and we promise none of our modules were hurt during testing. Before we get to the results, let's take a quick look at our testbed.

Test System: Benchmark Setup

Performance Test Bed Configuration
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E6300
(1.86GHz, 2MB Unified Cache)
RAM: Various
Hard Drive: Seagate 320GB 7200RPM SATA2 16MB Buffer
System Platform Drivers: Intel - 8.1.1.1001
Video Cards: 1 x MSI X1950XTX
Video Drivers: MSI/ATI Catalyst 6.10
CPU Cooling: Scythe Infinity
Power Supply: OCZ GameXstream 700W
Optical Drive: Sony 18X AW-Q170A-B2
Case: Cooler Master CM Stacker 830
Motherboards: Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 (Intel P965 C2) - BIOS F7
Operating System: Windows XP Professional SP2
.

We are utilizing our standard benchmark testbed from our P965 Roundup article. We chose several different DDR2-667 memory modules that were previously tested in our Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 motherboard for compatibility. Our memory choices represent an excellent blend of performance at today's inflated prices, although we are finally starting to see some price stabilization in the DDR2 market.

A 2GB memory configuration is now standard in the AnandTech testbed as most enthusiasts are currently purchasing this amount of memory. We highly recommend 2GB based upon the pending arrival of Microsoft Windows Vista, newly released games, and video encoding requirements at this time with H.264 standards. We are utilizing the MSI X1950XTX video card to ensure our 1280x1024 resolutions are not completely GPU bound for our memory test results. Our video tests are run at 1280x1024 resolution for this article at standard settings. Let's see how well our five choices faired and if the overclocking results reveal any surprises.

Memory Performance
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  • Gary Key - Friday, October 27, 2006 - link

    I can already tell you that our mATX board roundup will include a lot more AM2 boards than Intel at this time. We finally have some good BIOS releases on a couple of our Core 2 Duo capable mATX boards that are worth testing now. Still do not know when NV will release an updated NF61S board for C2D. Reply
  • kmmatney - Friday, October 27, 2006 - link

    So, what gives the best bang for buck for overclocking?

    Option 1) Slower E6300 cpu with more expensive memory that overclocks better

    Option 2) A more expensive E6400 with a higher multipler, and slower, cheaper memory?

    It sounds like your better off getting a more expensive cpu with a higher multiplier, instead of more expensive RAM.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, October 27, 2006 - link

    I would typically go with the E6400 over the E6300 as it offers more flexibility overall. Hmmm... maybe that's why I bought one? :) 8X vs. 7X helps a lot. 3.6 GHz requires DDR2-900 and 450 FSB with the E6400, which is pretty reasonable. The same CPU speed with E6300 would require RAM that can run at over DDR2-1000 (DDR2-1028 to be exact). *MUCH* more expensive for that sort of RAM. Reply
  • xsilver - Friday, October 27, 2006 - link

    what about the option of using ratio's on a e6300 and using the cheaper ram?
    what kind of performance hit is to be expected?
    Reply
  • kmmatney - Friday, October 27, 2006 - link

    Thanks. Makes sense to me. Reply
  • yyrkoon - Friday, October 27, 2006 - link

    Heya Jarred, according to a buddie of mine, even multipliers on CPUs is prefferable. He claims that odd CPU multipliers is in efficient, and actualy underperforms even numbered multipliers . . . I've NEVER heard of this before, but this doesnt mean its not true, and I've never done any testing here myself.

    Also, I was curious , when does memory timings make a real world difference ? Memory SPEED (ie running 1:1 vs any other ratio ) I would think would be the biggy. Here, I've done some testing, and to be honest, outside of 'benchmarking for a living' I honestly havent noticed much, if any difference.
    Reply
  • Aikouka - Friday, October 27, 2006 - link

    Timings tend to make a difference in almost any memory hungry application. However, the one thing to keep in mind is that not all memory timings will have a great effect or any effect at all. The two main values that are best taken into consideration are CAS latency and Command Time (not usually shown when buying memory). CAS latency is always taken into consideration, regardless of what memory address you're accessing. Command Time can generally speed up your system as it defines how long a command should be sent to the memory module for. If it's lower, then another command can be sent sooner.

    Most of the other timings deal with rows and how long it takes to switch from getting a row into the buffer to finding the column (tRCD), how long for a row to be brought into the buffer (tRP) and how short can the duration be of a row sitting in memory (tRAS).
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, October 27, 2006 - link

    Regarding even vs. odd multipliers, it's not more or less efficient, but merely an impact on memory speed... but not with Intel or Core 2 Duo. AMD's socket AM2 (and 939 and 754) derive memory speed from the CPU speed, so a 3000+ AM2/939 chip has a 9X multiplier and a 200 MHz base HyperTransport bus speed, giving 1800 MHz. Back in the DDR world, you also had PC-3200 RAM running at a 200 MHz bus, so multipliers didn't matter. With AM2, things change a bit.

    The same 3000+ has a 9X multiplier, but where a CPU/9 divider would give DDR2-400, that's now slow memory. If you want DDR2-533, how do you divide 1800 by a whole number to get a 266 MHz base bus speed? Answer: you can't. So you come close: 1800/7 = 257, so if you have a 3000+ and you set the RAM for DDR2-533, you really get DDR2-514. It's doubtful that you would notice the loss of 19MHz of RAM bandwidth, but it's still there. For DDR2-667, you also can't evenly divide 1800 to get 333, so you end up with CPU/6 = 300, or DDR2-600. In that case you lose 67MHz of RAM bandwidth. Finally, DDR2-800 ends up using CPU/5 = 360 = DDR2-720, a loss of 80MHz of potential bandwidth.

    Now, here's why even multipliers are "better". You can always get DDR2-800 memory speed with an even multiplier, as you simply divide the CPU speed by half the CPU multiplier. 2000 MHz (X2 3800+ or 64 3200+) uses a 10X multiplier, so CPU/5 = 400. 2000 also happens to work well with DDR2-667 as CPU/6 = 333, so you end up with exactly DDR2-667. For DDR2-533 you get CPU/8 = 250 or DDR2-500.

    Not all even multipliers work exactly with DDR2-667, but they all will give you DDR2-800. The 2400MHz chips also give DDR2-533 exactly via CPU/9. In general, I think even multipliers have a better chance of coming close to the rated memory speeds, but it's really not a huge issue as AMD isn't typically bandwidth constrained.

    As for Intel, they derive memory speed from the bus speed using ratios rather than going from CPU speed, so with a 266MHz base FSB you always have 1:1 giving DDR2-533, 4:5 gives DDR2-667, and 2:3 gives DDR2-800. You can also go 1:2 for DDR2-1066 if the motherboard supports it.

    If the memory timings are equal, in almost all cases higher bandwidth will be equal or better. Core 2 does make one small change, however, as if you overclock past a 500 MHz base bus speed (I think that's right) the chipset bootstrap changes. Normally, the chipset runs at the FSB speed, so overclocking improves chipset performance as well. At 500MHz the chipset reduces speed assuming you're using 1333FSB instead of 1066FSB. Something like that - Gary could explain it better. Basically, there's a point at which the chipset speed is reduced and so even if the bus is 20 MHz faster you might actually get slower performance. Without extreme overclocking, this is rarely a concern.
    Reply
  • imaheadcase - Friday, October 27, 2006 - link

    From looks of prices of it..you might of found something more expensive than ram for a "budget" system :P Reply
  • Madellga - Friday, October 27, 2006 - link

    Hi Gary, nice article as usual.

    The irony is that prices started to drop in Europe. They surged 50% and more between August and end of September, but there was a substantial price drop in the last 10 days: from 15 to 30%, depending on the brand and speed.

    Take care.
    Reply

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