Original Link: http://www.anandtech.com/show/1368




Several months ago, we reviewed Corsair and OCZ DDR550. Those memories were based on the 2nd generation Hynix memory chips, called Hynix B, and offered the highest memory speeds that we had tested up to that point. Hynix has continued development of the B chip, and we're taking a look at two new memories based on the latest Hynix B chips. Both are rated at DDR550, and both extend memory speed to even higher levels than what we saw in the last generation.

OCZ requires no introduction, as they have been in the forefront in recent months with some of the fastest enthusiast memory on the market. Shikatronics, however, is probably not a familiar brand name to many in the United Sates. Based in Montreal, Shikatronics has produced memory since 1989, and is well-known in North and South America as an OEM for memory products. Shikatronics recently decided to market their own brand of Enthusiast RAM, which they call ShikaXRAM. When Shika asked if we would like to take a look at their DDR550 product, we talked with them about their goals, manufacturing philosophies, and Customer Service. We liked what we heard and agreed to take a look at their new products. However, we really were not prepared for the outstanding performance that we found with the Shikatronics DDR550.

Since both the ShikaXRAM PC4400 and OCZ PC4400 EL Gold are based on the same Hynix B chips, we decided to look at both the memories in the same review. We think that you will be as surprised as we were at how very well both new products performed in our memory benchmarks.




OCZ PC4400 EL Gold

The EL label, for Enhanced Latency, is used for OCZ memory that provides the fastest timings at a given speed. While 2.5-4-4-8 may not sound like fast timings, it is still faster than the rated timings of other DDR550. The chips used in the 4400 EL are said to be much faster than other DDR550 chips at DDR400. The EL is also said to overclock further than other DDR550 chips.

Test DIMMs were a matched pair of PC4400EL Gold with gold heatspreaders.



OCZ has established a solid reputation in the Enthusiast memory market in the past year, primarily because of the excellent reputation that they have developed for customer service. OCZ sports a lifetime warranty, like several other enthusiast memory manufacturers, but we also receive numerous emails from customers who are surprised and pleased with the responsiveness of OCZ customer support. Once a customer contacts OCZ customer service, they appear to get very quick resolution to their problems.

OCZ PC4400EL Gold Specifications


 OCZ PC4400EL Gold Memory Specifications
Number of DIMMs & Banks 2 DS
DIMM Size
Total Memory
512 MB
1 GB
Rated Timings 2.5-4-4-8 at DDR550
Rated Voltage 2.75V

As seen with other very high speed memory, the 4400EL needs higher than normal voltage at its specified speed. 2.75V is higher than the 2.5V to 2.6V that is standard for memory on most motherboards, but it should be available on most of the high-end boards that would likely be used with this DDR550 memory. You should check your specifications to make sure that you can support the voltage needs of the new 4400EL modules.




Shikatronics XRAM PC4400

Since Shikatronics will be a new company for many of our readers, you can find more information on the Shika XRAM Enthusiast Memory at http://www.shikatronics.com/shikaxram/. The main Corporate site will give you a better idea of the broad line of memory products produced by this Canadian company.

Test DIMMs were a matched pair of PC4400 512MB double-sided DIMMs with pale copper-colored heatspreaders.



From the packaging to the heatspreaders to the PCB, the Shika XRAM exuded quality. Shika may be a new name to you, but their products appear to be very high quality. This is also reflected in the ISO 9001 certification of the Shika manufacturing plant.

Shika is another company to provide a Lifetime Warranty on their memory products. They also proclaim on their web site that they will replace any defective Shika RAM products within 24 hours. We do not have experience with Shika customer service, but certainly they are taking an approach to their customers that, like OCZ, will allow them to stand out from the crowd.

ShikaXRAM PC4400 Specifications


 ShikaXRAM PC4400 Memory Specifications
Number of DIMMs & Banks 2 DS
DIMM Size
Total Memory
512 MB
1 GB
Rated Timings 3-4-4-8
Rated Voltage 2.6V to 2.8V

Shikatronics states that the DIMMs are tested as a matched pair on both Intel 875/865 motherboards and AMD nForce2 motherboards.




Performance Test Configuration

We tested both the OCZ PC4400EL Gold and the ShikaXRAM PC4400 on our standard Intel Pentium 4 Memory testbed. The hardware for evaluating these two new memories is the same used in our earlier reviews of DDR400 and faster Memory.

The Return of 2-2-2: Corsair 3200XL & Samsung PC4000
OCZ 3700EB: Making Hay with Athlon 64
OCZ 3500EB: The Importance of Balanced Memory Timings
Mushkin PC3200 2-2-2 Special: Last of a Legend
PMI DDR533: A New Name in High-Performance Memory
Samsung PC3700: DDR466 Memory for the Masses
Kingmax Hardcore Memory: Tiny BGA Reaches For Top Speed
New Memory Highs: Corsair and OCZ Introduce DDR550
OCZ PC3700 Gold Rev. 2: The Universal Soldier
OCZ 4200EL: Tops in Memory Performance
Mushkin PC4000 High Performance: DDR500 PLUS
Corsair TwinX1024-4000 PRO: Improving DDR500 Performance
Mushkin & Adata: 2 for the Fast-Timings Lane
Searching for the Memory Holy Grail - Part 2

All test conditions were as close as possible to those used in our earlier memory reviews. We have also eliminated from our charts any memory that has been discontinued, including Winbond BH5 versions from several vendors and earlier versions of several current memory products.

 INTEL 875P Performance Test Configuration
Processor(s): Intel Pentium 4 2.4GHz (800MHz FSB)
RAM: 2 x 512MB ShikaXRAM PC4400 (DS)
2 x 512MB OCZ PC4400 EL Gold (DS)

2 x 512MB Corsair 3200XL PRO (DS)
2 x 256MB Samsung PC4000 (SS)
2 x 512MB OCZ 3700EB (DS)
2 x 512MB OCZ 3500EB (DS)
2 x 512MB Mushkin 2-2-2 Special (DS)
2 x 512MB PMI4200 Gold (DDR533 DS)
4 x 256MB Samsung PC3700 (DDR466 SS)
2 x 512MB Kingmax DDR500 Hardcore Series (DS)
2 x 512MB Kingmax DDR466 Hardcore Series (DS)
2 x 512MB Corsair XMS4400v1.1 TwinX (DS)
2 x 512MB OCZ PC4400 DC Kit (DS)
2 x 512MB OCZ PC3700 Gold Rev. 2 (DS)
2 x 512MB OCZ 4200EL(DS)
2 x 512MB Mushkin PC4000 High Performance (DS)
2 x 512MB Corsair TwinX4000 PRO (DS)
2 x 256MB Adata DDR450 (SS)
2 x 512MB Adata PC4000 (DS)
2 x 512MB Corsair PC4000 (DS)
2 x 512MB Geil PC4000 (DS)
2 x 512MB OCZ PC4000 (DS)
Hard Drives: 2 Western Digital Raptor Serial ATA 36.7GB 10,000RPM drives in an Intel ICH5R RAID configuration
PCI/AGP Speed: Fixed at 33/66
Bus Master Drivers: 875P Intel INF Update v5.00.1012, SATA RAID drivers installed, but IAA NOT installed
Video Card(s): ATI 9800 PRO 128MB, 128MB aperture, 1024x768x32
Video Drivers: ATI Catalyst 4.6
Power Supply: Vantec Stealth 470 Watt Aluminum
Operating System(s): Windows XP Professional SP1
Motherboards: Asus P4C800-E (875) with 1016 Release BIOS

We have found the fastest performance on Intel 865/875 to be achieved at Cycle Time or tRAS of 5, or the fastest tRAS setting that is stable with the tested memory. Intel platform benchmarks were run with the fastest stable tRAS timings that we could achieve with the memory being tested.

Test Settings

We ran our standard suite of memory performance benchmarks. The following settings were tested with both ShikaXRAM PC4400 and OCZ PC4400EL Gold:
  1. 800FSB/DDR400 - the highest stock speed supported on 875/865 and K8T800/nF3/SiS755 motherboards.
  2. 1000FSB/DDR500 - a standard speed rating that we have used in testing the highest speed memory available.
  3. 1100FSB/DDR550 - the rated speed of both ShikaXRAM PC4400 and OCZ PC4400EL Gold.
  4. Highest Stable Overclock - the highest settings we could achieve with this memory and other memory that we have tested.
These are the same general settings used in benchmarking other memory in the above list of memory tests. DDR400, DDR500 and Highest Memory Speed have been used for all benchmarking. DDR550 has only been tested in the past for modules with this speed rating, and are included where available.

AMD Athlon64 Tests

We verified that both the Shikatronics and OCZ DDR550 could run at DDR500 on several of the Athlon64 Socket 939 motherboards that we are currently testing. However, we could not achieve stable operation at DDR550 with any of the boards that we are testing. We are in the process of evaluating a number of Athlon64 Socket 939 boards, and we will standardize on an A64 memory test bed in the near future.

Please keep in mind that only the Asus P4C800-E and DFI LANParty 875B manage to run consistently at DDR550 1:1 in our Intel tests. The fact that DDR550 would not run on the Athlon 64 test beds in our lab does not mean that DDR550 will not run on Athlon 64. In fact, we had no problem running DDR533 speed on the MSI K8N Neo2 and a pre-release Asus A8V Deluxe. When we have completed reviews of the new Socket 939 motherboards, we will select a motherboard for our Athlon 64 Memory Test platform.




Test Results: OCZ PC4400EL Gold

To be considered stable for test purposes, Quake3 benchmark, UT2003 Demo, Super PI, Aquamark 3, and Comanche 4 had to complete without incident. Any of these, and in particular Super PI, will crash a less-than stable memory configuration. "Return to Castle Wolfenstein - Enemy Territory" is proving to be a sensitive benchmark for memory testing. We have included results for RCW-ET using the Radar benchmark.

OCZ PC4400EL Gold (DDR550) - 2 x 512Mb Double-Bank
Speed Memory Timings & Voltage Quake3 fps Sandra UNBuffered Sandra Standard Buffered Super PI 2M places
(time in sec)
Wolfenstein - Radar - Enemy Territory
fps
400DDR
800FSB
2-3-3-5
2.5V
326.4 INT 2731
FLT 2750
INT 4450
FLT 4448
132 69.4
500DDR
1000FSB
2.5-3-4-6
2.65V
398.7 INT 3259
FLT 3265
INT 5544
FLT 5511
107 85.8
550DDR
1100FSB
3-4-4-7
2.75V
430.9 INT 3480
FLT 3444
INT 6036
FLT 6035
98 92.6
578DDR
1156FSB
3-4-4-7
2.85V
449.5 INT 3709
FLT 3738
INT 6406
FLT 6314
93 97.0

The latest Hynix B chips are certainly pushing the envelope for memory performance on OCZ PC4400EL. The FSB results are the highest that we have tested with DDR memory, and this is reflected in the other benchmark results as well. This new memory is knocking at the door of DDR600, and we suspect DDR memory manufacturers to reach that magic plateau in the near future.




Test Results: ShikaXRAM PC4400

To be considered stable for test purposes, Quake3 benchmark, UT2003 Demo, Super PI, Aquamark 3, and Comanche 4 had to complete without incident. Any of these, and in particular Super PI, will crash a less-than stable memory configuration. "Return to Castle Wolfenstein - Enemy Territory" is proving to be a sensitive benchmark for memory testing. We have included results for RCW-ET using the Radar benchmark.

ShikaXRAM PC4400 - 2 x 512Mb Double-Bank
Speed Memory Timings & Voltage Quake3 fps Sandra UNBuffered Sandra Standard Buffered Super PI 2M places
(time in sec)
Wolfenstein - Radar - Enemy Territory
fps
400DDR
800FSB
2-3-3-5
2.5V
325.4 INT 2742
FLT 2775
INT 4453
FLT 4444
132 69.2
500DDR
1000FSB
2.5-3-4-6
2.65V
398.7 INT 3286
FLT 3252
INT 5501
FLT 5503
107 86.0
550DDR
1100FSB
3-4-4-7
2.75V
430.3 INT 3490
FLT 3479
INT 6026
FLT 6026
98 92.2
580DDR
1160
3-4-4-7
2.85V
451.8 INT 3758
FLT 3727
INT 6328
FLT 6334
92 97.1

We would have been very pleased to see a new memory brand for AnandTech just hold their own in our memory tests against the best Enthusiast memory that you can buy. It was more than surprising, then, to find ShikaXRAM PC4400 to be the fastest memory that we have yet tested. It is exciting to see a FSB setting of 290 run with complete stability on our test P4C800-E. It would not be fair or consistent, however, to make too much of the ShikaXRAM speed record. The performance of the Shikatronics and OCZ PC4400 modules is consistent across the board, and the OCZ PC4400 is actually a bit faster at some slower speeds. The variations between the two memories is less than you might find in any production run of DIMMs with the latest Hynix B chips, and the performance has to be considered equivalent.




Performance Comparisons

Performance of the ShikaXRAM PC4400 and OCZ PC4400EL Gold was compared to all of the memory recently tested on the Intel 875 memory test bed in:

The Return of 2-2-2: Corsair 3200XL & Samsung PC4000
OCZ 3700EB: Making Hay with Athlon 64
OCZ 3500EB: The Importance of Balanced Memory Timings
Mushkin PC3200 2-2-2 Special: Last of a Legend
PMI DDR533: A New Name in High-Performance Memory
Samsung PC3700: DDR466 Memory for the Masses
Kingmax Hardcore Memory: Tiny BGA Reaches For Top Speed
New Memory Highs: Corsair and OCZ Introduce DDR550
OCZ PC3700 Gold Rev. 2: The Universal Soldier
OCZ 4200EL: Tops in Memory Performance
Mushkin PC4000 High Performance: DDR500 PLUS
Corsair TwinX1024-4000 PRO: Improving DDR500 Performance
Mushkin & Adata: 2 for the Fast-Timings Lane
Searching for the Memory Holy Grail - Part 2

Memory performance was compared at DDR400, DDR500 and the highest stable overclock we could achieve that would run Quake 3, UT2003, and Super PI to 2MM places. Where the data was available, comparisons were also made at DDR433 and DDR466.

All discontinued products have been removed from benchmark comparisons. Since Mushkin claims availability of Mushkin 3200 2-2-2 Special for the next 1 to 2 months, it will be included in memory benchmark comparisons until it is no longer available for purchase.

Results are compared for Quake 3, Sandra UNBufferred Memory Test, and Super PI. SiSoft Sandra 2004 reports 2 results for each memory test: an Integer value and a Float value. Results reported in our charts are the result of averaging the INT and FLOAT scores, which are normally close in value. In other words, INT and FLOAT scores were added and divided by 2 for our reported score.




DDR400 Performance


DDR400 Gaming Performance

DDR400 UNBuffered Memory Test

DDR400 Standard (Buffered) Memory Test

DDR400 Calculation Performance




DDR500 Performance


DDR500 Gaming Performance

DDR500 UNBuffered Memory Test

DDR500 Calculation Performance




DDR550 Performance


DDR 550 Gaming Performance

DDR 550 UNBuffered Memory Test

DDR 550 Calculation Performance




Highest Memory Speed Performance


HIGHEST Memory Overclock at 1:1

HIGHEST Memory Speed Gaming Performance

HIGHEST Memory Speed UNBuffered Sandra Memory Test

HIGHEST Memory Speed Calculation Performance




Final Words

OCZ and Shikatronics have produced the fastest memory that we have yet tested at AnandTech. The latest Hynix B chips used in both memories are incredibly fast, and both memories are performing very close to the DDR600 threshold. Across the board, the performance of the two new DDR550 memories is equivalent, and both outperform the earlier DDR550 memory, which we reviewed at Anandtech.

We have come to expect OCZ to perform at or near the top of our memory review tests, but the fact that ShikaXRAM is also performing at the top of our review charts says worlds about the quality of the new Shikatronics memory. While ShikaXRAM is a new name to many in the US market, based on the performance of the PC4400, Shikatronics is a company producing very competitive Enthusiast memory products. We cannot draw a conclusion with just one product, but we are certainly impressed with what we found in quality and performance with the ShikaXRAM PC4400.

If you want the fastest DDR memory that you can buy, then either ShikaXRAM PC4400 or OCZ PC4400 EL Gold will fit the bill. The top DDR performance is a moving target, and both these new memories based on the latest Hynix B chips raised the bar a bit higher. For those of you who will fret that the timings for DDR580 performance are 3-4-4-7, we would point out that DDR2 requires even slower 4-4-4 timings. The additional latencies of DDR2 at the present time also cause DDR2 at 533 speed to perform about the same as fast DDR at DDR433. The 6400 Standard (buffered) Sandra 2004 memory bandwidth that we achieved at DDR580 is the highest result we have seen so far on our Intel test bed, as is the 3750 unbuffered memory bandwidth.

We have looked at the question of which is best - slower memory at fast timings or fast memory at slower timings - in many past reviews. We leave that argument to those reviews. 1:1 memory performance is always a bit faster than asynchronous operation due to latency differences. Also, we know of no fast CAS 2 or CAS 2.5 memory that can even approach DDR580 timings. In the end, these results are the highest that we have achieved with any memory we have tested. This, of course, comes with a price, since there are very few motherboards available that can run at DDR580, and only a very few CPU combinations that can achieve these kinds of overclocks. However, if your system can do it and top speed is the goal of your overclocking, you can't do better than the new ShikaXRAM and OCZ PC4400 memory.

Hynix memory chips have carried a very high tariff in the US, and this might give a pricing advantage to Shikatronics, which is located in Canada. However, we could not find ShikaXRAM PC4400 available for sale in the US market. This means that it is much easier to find OCZ PC4400EL Gold for sale at vendors in the US. However, Shikatronics does sell directly on their website, and you can request pricing information on their website. Whichever memory you buy, we do not think you will be disappointed in the high-speed performance.

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