The memory market has been rather routine lately. After the introductions of AMD AM2 and Intel Core 2 Duo memory was a unified solution again - with both camps supporting DDR2. Micron had the best chips, as they have almost since the first DDR2 DIMMs became available, and the top of the memory heap could do DDR2-1067 to DDR2 1100 at spectacular 4-4-3 timings and the more mainstream DDR2-800 at 3-3-3 timings. The best memory was expensive, at about $400 to $500 for a 2GB kit, and the mid and value performed almost as well, but at about half the price.

Buyers have shopped for a value/mid memory solution if cost was a big concern. With memory bandwidth not making a huge difference in performance on either the C2D or AM2 solutions, many were not willing to invest in the best memory available. Those who did want the best could choose from Corsair, OCZ, Mushkin, Patriot, Team, G.Skill, Kingston, Geil, and Super Talent but there was very little to distinguish between the top performers. Perhaps a company might have done a better job of binning chips for the high-end, but the real differences were small and they mostly looked the same - different-colored heatspreaders combined with some variations on how to build a heat-spreader that stood out from the crowd.

Enter OCZ with a new idea - memory with built-in water blocks. OCZ Flex XLC is built for record-setting performance in regular air cooling, with the option to cool with water when you want even more. It is sold with the heatsinks and nipples to connect water-tubing and it is aggressively binned to provide unheard of performance levels in overclocking - on either air or water.

The new OCZ solution certainly looks impressive, but AnandTech readers are used to pretty packages. The real question is whether OCZ Flex XLC delivers the performance it promises. Does OCZ's bold new approach deliver the record-setting performance it promises?

OCZ PC2-9200 Flex XLC Specifications
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  • photoguy99 - Saturday, December 09, 2006 - link

    Thanks for your help Wesley, it's just takes a little time for me to get my head around this stuff.

    Just to clarify, I think I see the answer two #2:

    If you have an unlocked CPU, the only benefit to this memory is a 5-8% performance increase.

    In this case I don't think it matters if you are an extreme overclocker - extreme as you wanna be - this is the only benefit you can ever get with this RAM with an unlocked CPU, no matter what you do.

    If you have the cash, nothing wrong with a small performance bump for $300 extra - I am not judging anyone who buys this, just trying to clarify.

    regards,
    pg

    Reply
  • photoguy99 - Saturday, December 09, 2006 - link

    apologize for double post, accident... Reply
  • photoguy99 - Saturday, December 09, 2006 - link

    Sorry for being ignorant here, but can someone help break this down:

    1) What % faster is FlexXLC-1150 on real life benchmarks (on average), compared to value DDR2-800, at the same CPU speed?

    2) Do I understand correctly that if you have an unlocked CPU multiplier, then the only benefit to this memory ever is the % improvement from question 1?
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Saturday, December 09, 2006 - link

    The tables on page 4 show performance at the same 2.93GHz from DDR2-400 to DDR2-1172. There are also results on the last line for the top speed on the 975X at stock 11X multiplier - so results can be compared to previous test results. You can see the performance differences in each benchmark in those tables. Performance increases are there as speed increases, but they are extremely small. We also commented several times in the review that those shopping for value per dollar should buy a good value to mid DDR2 memory rated at least DDR2-800.

    Flex XLC is for extreme overclockers who want as few limits as possible on their overclcoking. With the ability to run to DDR2-1300 it allows great flexibility in OC settings.
    Reply
  • photoguy99 - Saturday, December 09, 2006 - link

    Thanks for your help Wesley, it's just takes a little time for me to get my head around this stuff.

    Just to clarify, I think I see the answer two #2:

    If you have an unlocked CPU, the only benefit to this memory is a 5-8% performance increase.

    In this case I don't think it matters if you are an extreme overclocker - extreme as you wanna be - this is the only benefit you can ever get with this RAM with an unlocked CPU, no matter what you do.

    If you have the cash, nothing wrong with a small performance bump for $300 extra - I am not judging anyone who buys this, just trying to clarify.

    regards,
    pg

    Reply
  • cmdrdredd - Friday, December 08, 2006 - link

    Why is there no 1T memory results testing? The bandwidth scores from this memory even at DDR2-1300 are pathetic to say the least. My Current system with 2Gb crucial DDR2-667 10th anniversary running DDR2-1000 at 5-4-4-8 gets 7607 Int/7631 Float buffered scores with Sandra. This is on a P5B Deluxe with E6400 running 3.2Ghz (400x8) Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Saturday, December 09, 2006 - link

    We try to get memory as close to stock speed and multipliers as possible in our testing, which yields comparable data but not the higher bandwidths you are seeing at extremely high bus speed overclocks. End users can get high numbers with overclocking, which are great for ego comments, but that tell us very little about comparative performance. Run your memory at the same settings and compare bandwidth. Those are numbers that relate to memory comparisons. This memory will run at 8x400 just like you are using and bandwidth will be similar to what you are seeing.

    The standard bandwidth scores at DDR2-1300 are pretty much in line with expectations, but the unbuffered scores are extremely low. We don't yet have an answer for why that is the case on the 680i but we are trying to find answers. The 680i runs a 2:3 ratio at that speed, where the 975X is running 1:2 at its highest speed. The underlying "strap" can make a huge difference in apparent memory performance and it is usually programmed by the board maker, and not always visible or adjustable to the end user.

    1T is useful for a very small performance increase on some boards, generally below DDR2-800. However, that option is not available on all boards and it really makes a small differenc on current DDR2 platforms. The differences you are seeing in bandwidth are the result of high FSB overclocks and not 1T.
    Reply
  • Hulk - Friday, December 08, 2006 - link

    I for one feel the most important part of a memory review is what timings will it run at each frequency and at what voltage?

    I realize that info is in the memory reviews but always in a little table that you must click to enlarge.

    Please put the timings/speed/voltage in a bar graph as well. Speed on the x-axis. Timings and voltage in the horizontal bar for each speed tested. We know that if the memory works at a certain frequency/latency/voltage the performance will be the same for any stick at those conditions.

    Better yet, tell me how fast it will run 4-4-4-12 and 5-5-5-18, as well as a few other timings.

    But as always the reviews are great. Thanks for your hard word.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Friday, December 08, 2006 - link

    I'm curious, if the savvy enthusiast used chilled air in place of water, what the end results would be. I don't think it would be hard to built something that forced cool air through these memory sticks instead of water. i.e. Chilled air in, and hot air vented out.

    End result should be a cooler safer system overall.
    Reply
  • Griswold - Saturday, December 09, 2006 - link

    Other than "for shits and giggles" I see no point in doing that. Water will do a better job. Remember, air is such a bad heat conductor, compared to water.

    A properly installed watercooling system is also very safe.
    Reply

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