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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  • snout - Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - link

    I would like to see the ocz up against the Team Group Extreme 800 mhz c3 sticks at 3.3.3.8. The memory choices at test make it (ocz) look better than it is. Reply
  • ZOOAIRZ - Saturday, December 30, 2006 - link

    Reguarding article:
    http://www.anandtech.com/memory/showdoc.aspx?i=288...">http://www.anandtech.com/memory/showdoc.aspx?i=288...

    Quote:
    "On the nForce 680i the OCZ Flex XLC took DDR2 memory performance to a new gold standard. On Air Cooling, Flex XLC reached DDR2-1300 at the rated timings of 5-5-5-18."

    OCZ Flex with the following stable ratios:

    1) cpu: 3.22 (11x293) FSB: 1172 - linked 1 to 1 - RAM: 1172 Quake4 FPS: 127.3
    2) cpu: 3.03 (7x433) FSB: 1733 -unlinked 1.3 to 1- RAM: 1300 Quake4 FPS: 122.1

    Say one then ups the multiplier as follows and assume it is stable:

    1) cpu: 3.52 (12x293) FSB:1172 - linked 1 to 1 - RAM: 1172 Quake4 FPS: ?
    2) cpu: 3.46 (8x433) FSB:1733 -unlinked 1.3 to 1- RAM: 1300 Quake4 FPS: ?


    Which combo is better/faster overall?

    - 1) Linked (fast) FSB and RAM with slightly higher (+.05GHz) CPU speed
    or
    - 2) Unlinked (raging) FSB and RAM with slightly lower CPU speed?

    This question comes from the following statement found in this article:

    http://www.pcpro.co.uk/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=17384...">http://www.pcpro.co.uk/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=17384...

    Quote:
    Now you have your OCed system. Here is something to remember a
    processor running 200*10 =2000MHz and a processor running
    210*9.5=1995MHz yet the second is faster because its running a faster
    FSB so it has more memory bandwidth.(note that if you have to use a
    slower ram speed i.e. using the FSB:RAM ratio of 5:4 you wipe out this
    increase in bandwidth)

    I don't see a FSB:RAM ratio 1.3 : 1 wiping out too much bandwidth but I just don't know. I am just interested in the overall good of playing my favorite games And getting the most out of a PC. If gettting that crazy 1300 speed of the memory just sets a record, that doesn't do it for me.

    Thanks in advance.
    Reply
  • Gannon - Thursday, December 14, 2006 - link

    Could we get better simpler graphs when doing these comparisons? I hate looking at having just these charts, the overlapping colored lines and dots are useful for analysis but not for someone who's time is valuable and simply wants to know whats the best at a glance and thats what you guys should be doing! Serving your users the information they want in the way they want it. Anyone interested in performance is going to go for the highest performing ram, but it's also good for those of us curious to be able to tell at a glance what different ram will buy us.

    i.e. the way firingsquad does graphs or the way you do it ususally when comparing FPS between video cards would be just as useful.
    Reply
  • Beachboy - Saturday, December 09, 2006 - link

    This OCZ Flex RAM is the equivalent of a chrome exhaust-pipe extension on a Hyundai... a $490 one that is, lol. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Sunday, December 10, 2006 - link

    For the Hyundai analogy to make sense we would have to have a BMW in DDR2 memory. The Flex XLC is as good as it gets, so it is the BMW even though it doesn't go a lot faster. The chrome exhaust extension on the Hyundai would be a matched pair of 2GB value dimms based on Elpida memory chips with flashy heatsinks. You will reach DDR2-800 just fine, but nothing over about 900. It will definitely get the job done.

    Of course the BMW isn't only about speed, and luxury cars sell well despite the fact that you probably would have a hard time justifying "value per dollar" on anything more than a Japanese V6. Some buyers want the handling and flexibility that comes with the best.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Sunday, December 10, 2006 - link

    I agree with your analogy for the most part. I guess the only real question is: "is it worth buying". Which of course, you've already answered in the article.

    I would think this memory would be perfect for you guys, in testing potential OC's of systems you're reviewing, other than that, IMO, it would be a waste of money.

    </my_two_cents>
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Sunday, December 10, 2006 - link

    The Flex XLC actually DOES go a LOT faster, so the BMW analogy applies, but you don't get similarly big gains in performance with the big speed increases since our DDR2 processors are not particularly sensitive to memory bandwidth.

    It's sort of like a world where a 500 horse power engine doubles your speed, but 80% of the speed increase just goes to fighting the incresed head wind. It does not mean the Flex XLC is not a good design, because it definitely is as good as it gets in current DDR2 designs.
    Reply
  • Avalon - Saturday, December 09, 2006 - link

    It seems to me that it was the 680i that allowed the OCZ Flex to reach an outstanding DDR2-1300, so why not test previous memory modules to see how much further they'd also get on the new Nvidia platform? It seems only fair. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Saturday, December 09, 2006 - link

    We also tested on our standard platform - the Asus P5W-DH Deluxe - where the Flex reached DDR2-1172 on air cooling. That was the highest ever on that platform - the previous high was DDR2-1111. That was fair, which is why we tested on the current memory test bed.

    As we said in the review, we will add overclocking tests with the 680i going forward, but we will still do base testing with the 975x baord.
    Reply
  • Avalon - Sunday, December 10, 2006 - link

    Right, but my point was that many other modules might have a ton of additional headroom if placed into the 680i platform. I'm not contesting the fact that the Flex reached the highest speeds on the 975x, but that previous modules should be tested on the 680i to see how much of a difference it makes, not just for the Flex. Reply

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