The Fastest DDR2 from Corsair and OCZ

DDR2 memory has zoomed to the forefront recently, after several years of benign neglect by the enthusiast community. AMD, which has led the enthusiast market for the last couple of years, moved from DDR to DDR2 in late May. Intel Core 2 Duo was recently introduced and finally gave enthusiasts a reason to want to own Intel processors again. Suddenly, no matter what platform you wanted to buy, you found it was fueled by DDR2 memory.

As a result of the increased spotlight on DDR2, memory makers pulled out all the stops in creating new and faster DDR2 memory. The two newest platforms support DDR2-800, and enthusiast memory makers quickly brought DDR2-800, DDR2-1000, and DDR2-1066 modules to market. The new DIMMs, mostly based on Micron memory chips, established memory timings of 3-3-3 as the newest standard for enthusiast memory at DDR2-800. All of these new memories also reached DDR2-1067 and beyond. You can read more about high-performance DDR2 in our Conroe Buyers Guide.

Even value DDR2 became faster very quickly. Most of the value sticks are now using Elpida memory. These were rated at DDR2-667 or DDR2-533, but most managed to run at DDR2-800 at 4-3-3 timings at around 2.2V. None of the value RAM tested could reach DDR2-1067, but DDR2-800 at good timings is plenty fast for the majority of users. You will find a recent roundup of value DDR2 in the Value DDR2 section of the Conroe Buying Guide.

The enthusiast, by definition, is always looking for more - more speed, more power, more performance. The quest is for the best - performance so good and speeds so fast that no one can touch their results. You may even consider the enthusiast an elitist, but that is no different than the car enthusiast, a photography enthusiast, or any technology area where hobbyists can be found.

Corsair has a long and illustrious history as an innovator in the memory market. For many years the only recognizable brand of enthusiast memory was Corsair. OCZ has firmly established itself in recent years as one of the most creative makers of enthusiast memory with innovations like Extended Latency memory and high-voltage VX DIMMs for extreme overclockers. It was no surprise then, given the history of these two companies, to be contacted for a look at their newest and fastest DDR2 memory.

Both memory companies consider the modules tested here the best DDR2 they currently offer on the market. It is surprising then to see Corsair rate their DDR2 at DDR2-800 with specified 3-4-3 timings. OCZ rates the new Titanium Alpha at DDR2-1000 at 4-4-4 timings. As seen in the past, both OCZ and Corsair are often quite conservative in their ratings of their best memories. We were curious to see what these "best-of-the-best" could really do in our new Core 2 Extreme memory test bed.

Memory Specifications
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  • Beaner - Friday, August 04, 2006 - link

    Just curious...

    The picture of the Corsair DIMMs show the bottom one as 512MB.
    Was the wrong one used for the photo?
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, August 04, 2006 - link

    The model name is correct at the top of the sticker, so I'm guessing it's a pre-release sample and the "512MB" is simply a typo. As Wes mentions, it doesn't appear that Corsair has an equivalent 2x512MB kit (yet?). Reply
  • CrappyLuckMan - Friday, August 04, 2006 - link

    I would still like to see how budget DDR2-800 performs too. For some reason you guys left them out of the feeding the monster article. Do you guys think it's better to just go with value PC5300/5400 and overlock it? However, I would think you could overlock value DDR2-800 to around 1000mhz. In honesty I'm posting this out of selfishness since I ordered Corsair XMS2 1GB kit (my games I run never hit 1GB PF usage) TWIN2X1024-5400C4 4-4-4-12 1.9V for $108 is great for relatively low latency low voltage highly compatible ram.
    Your articles with specifics such as voltage and latencies you use for stable overclocks really save us users some time and we thank you for that.
    Reply
  • CrappyLuckMan - Friday, August 04, 2006 - link

    Oops made a bad com error. I should mention I meant to say it would be nice to compare which is better, lower latency lower voltage value pc5300/5400 or higher volt higher latency value pc6400 ram. Sorry tired from waiting on news for new motherboards last night lol. Reply
  • EarthsDM - Friday, August 04, 2006 - link

    Wesley,
    In the discussion of his article, “Conroe Buying Guide: Feeding the Monster” (July 19th, 2006) Gary Key replied to a question on G.Skill memory, saying “We still have additional memory selections from a variety of suppliers arriving for further memory reviews at this time.” Is this what he meant, or are you guys going to review the G.Skill? I don’t want to sound ungrateful for the reviews you do, but G.Skill is a memory that of a lot of us (system builders) are interested in because it seems to offer the best performance/price.
    On a separate but related note, do you know when the next round of motherboard reviews will be posted? I’m sitting on some Core 2 Duos and I need systems to put them in for back-to-school. Thanks a bunch!
    -EarthsDM
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, August 04, 2006 - link

    We have the latest G. Skill on the way. We will schedule a review when it arrives. Reply
  • EarthsDM - Friday, August 04, 2006 - link

    Thanks! Reply
  • yacoub - Friday, August 04, 2006 - link

    The enthusiast, by definition, is always looking for more - more speed, more power, more performance. The quest is for the best - performance so good and speeds so fast that no one can touch their results. You may even consider the enthusiast an elitist, but that is no different than the car enthusiast, a photography enthusiast, or any technology area where hobbyists can be found.

    Well that's your opinion and I'd disagree with it. Enthusiast does not always equal elitist (in fact it rarely does) nor a need to have the most expensive and latest item. One can be an enthusiast of cars without owning an exotic supercar. One can be a photography enthusiast without ever taking a picture, but simply appreciating the work of others.

    I'm not picking a nit, but pointing out the fallacy that if you buy the most expensive and newest item you must be an ethusiast. On the contrary, (reviewers excluded) you're most likely just a sucker for marketing or poor monetary management.

    Most computer enthusiasts for that matter are much more interested in building the best bang-for-the-buck system, not the most expensive one they can find, and generally not even using the latest parts. I would say the overclocker is the epitome of the computer enthusiast, as 'he' not only looks for the best performance but often elicits it 'him'self by taking budget parts and using 'his' knowledge and resources available, runs them at the speeds of much more expensive items, thus getting the best of both worlds - cost and performance.

    Just a thought.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, August 04, 2006 - link

    The most expensive is not always the best performance, as we have pointed out many times. The enthusiast seeks the best. The quest for best performance for "x" dollars is also seeking the best. So is overclocking a cheap part for best performnace.

    I suppose my point was that the enthusiast is not one to "settle" for mediocrity or buy a cookie-cutter system. Your points are well taken and I am in basic agreement.
    Reply
  • yacoub - Friday, August 04, 2006 - link

    Then they aren't elistists, as elistist brings to mind a rich person who just buys the latest and greatest because 'it is'. Overclockers are economical people to a fault. The two don't match up, hence the discrepancy. =) Reply

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