Memory Test Configuration

We have recently been testing memory with the ASUS P5W-DH Deluxe, which is based on the Intel 975X chipset. We did all initial testing on that platform, to provide results that can be conveniently compared to earlier test results.

The Intel platform was used because the first generation of AM2 on-processor memory controller does not support any memory timings below 3, or memory speeds above DDR2-800. Both these features are supported on the ASUS 975X motherboard. Timings of 2 are also available for RAS-to-CAS and RAS Precharge, and DDR2-1067 is an available memory ratio. In addition it was clearly illustrated in Conroe vs. AM2: Memory & Performance that DDR2 memory performance, in timings and required voltage, are equivalent on the AM2 and Core 2 Duo platforms.

However, with the evolution of the Intel P965 chipset and the NVIDIA 680i, it is clear that higher memory performance can be achieved with different memory "straps" used for the highest DDR2-1067 ratio setting. The P5W-DH Deluxe is very demanding of memory at high speeds and the "looser" base ratios used at the top of most P965 and 680i boards allow higher memory overclocks with some memory modules. Most memory performs about the same on 975X and P965, but we are aware of some DDR2 memory designs that perform best on the P965. Recently the NVIDIA 680i chipset has demonstrated an even greater range of performance at the top of memory overclocking, with extremely flexible options for squeezing the most performance from almost any memory.

For all of these reasons, we revised test procedures in recent DDR2 memory reviews. We first test standard memory performance and overclocking on the ASUS P5W-DH Deluxe. This allows valid comparisons to earlier reviews of DDR2 memory on the Core 2 Duo platform. We then run overclocking tests only on the NVIDIA 680i test platform, using the same X6800 Core 2 Duo processor. We will continue this test procedure until we can fully evaluate the NVIDIA 680i as a potential replacement for the Intel 975x as our memory test platform.

The memory test bench uses the following components:

Memory Performance Test Configuration
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo X6800
(x2, 2.93GHz, 4MB Unified Cache)
RAM: 2x1GB Corsair Domintor PC2-8888C4D
2x1GB OCZ PC2-9200 Flex XLC (DDR2-1150)
2x1GB Patriot DDR2-1066
2x1GB Super Talent DDR2-1000
2x1GB Team DDR2-1000
2 x1GB Corsair CM2X1024-6400C3
2x1GB OCZ Ti Alpha PC2-8000 VX2
Motherboards: ASUS P5W-DH Deluxe (Intel 975X)
EVGA NVIDIA nForce 680I SLI
Hard Drive: Hitachi 250GB SATA2 enabled (16MB Buffer)
Video Card: 1 x EVGA 7900GTX - All Standard Tests
Video Drivers: NVIDIA 91.47
CPU Cooling: Tuniq Tower 120
Power Supply: OCZ PowerStream 520W
Operating System: Windows XP Professional SP2

As for P965, we have seen cases where P965 boards performed much better than 975X units in memory speed, but where the P965 bandwidth was still the same or less than the 975X. On the very top memory, however, the P965 and 975X perform similarly. Since the ASUS P5W-DH Deluxe appears the more demanding platform we will continue testing base performance on the 975X.

However, a cross-section of enthusiast memory manufacturers were also asked which motherboard performed best with their top DDR2 memory. In all cases the answer that came back was the NVIDIA 680i motherboard. For that reason we have added the 680i to our tests of memory overclocking. Other alternatives will be evaluated for memory testing, but for now we will continue testing with the ASUS P5W-DH supplemented with the NVIDIA 680i tests for overclocking performance.

We recently reviewed value DDR2-800 from both G.Skill and Super Talent. Since those memories are really a different category than top-line DDR2, results for those two memories are not included in comparisons in this review. For comparisons of performance of those two memories you can refer back to the linked reviews.

Corsair Dominator Series Stock Memory Performance
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  • anandtech02148 - Tuesday, January 02, 2007 - link

    let say a dual ddr2 800mhz occupied 2 slot
    and the other 2 slot is occupied by 533mhz ddr2

    although they operate at different voltage, will it work?
    what am i to do with older memory modules when all these new
    1111mhz and newer models come out
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, January 03, 2007 - link

    Different grades of memory can be on the board, but the channels can not be individually set. Therefore the memory has to be run at the speed of the slowest modules. However, some 533 can run DDR2-800 and most run at least 667. Reply
  • anandtech02148 - Monday, January 01, 2007 - link


    Cheers to Anandtech for using a 520psu. hooorayy.. finally we're testing something at a sane level.

    600buxs for memory, one of the reason why Intel got out of memory business to focus on Cpu
    in 1980s.
    2.4v to operate, are we reaching 12v soon for running memory modules?

    in the meantime i'm still dreaming for that 2gig at 100buxs range. and i was a fan of Rambus RAm until this ddr cartels took over.

    Reply
  • daos - Monday, January 01, 2007 - link

    I recently purchased some Dominator PC6400C4D to replace my old OCZ PC6400 Platinum. I can honestly say that the heatsinks make a huge difference in overall temps of the DIMMS. Either the OCZ ran extremely hot at default voltage or the Dominators are insanely efficent at keeping the memory cool.

    I run these at 2.4v 3-3-4-9 DDR2800Mhz and they are cool to the touch. I still cannot believe how cool these heatsinks keep the memory. At first I was hesitant to raise the voltage to 2.4v but after seeing how cool they run I wish my P5WDH board allowed for higher memory voltages!

    Guys/Gals, the heatsinks really do work and I am a living example of it. I have always been the one to instantly rip the spreaders off of memory in the past but these really work.
    Reply
  • MadAd - Monday, January 01, 2007 - link

    Not so long ago ram worked perfectly fine without heatspreaders at all, calculations at the time showed that ram was no-where near needing them now its hard to get anything but value ram without them. For a few coinsworth of metal they have engineered lots of pretty colors and shapes to dazzle us with but do we really need it?

    IMO instead of a pro-forma memory review, you have an opportunity to spice it up a bit with the angle of either supporting this new fad, or cut through the spin, with some measured data. Simply take the ugly things off and benchmark it again. See if it still hits the same highs and still retains its timings with no heatspreader.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, January 01, 2007 - link

    A very good idea. The only problem is the inner heatsinks are heat merged to the PCB, and the outer heatsinks use a thermal epoxy for mounting to the memory chips. Unlike the old days, removing a heatspreader is now often fatal to memory. The surface mount memory chips are easily pulled off, even if you use extreme care, in trying to remove the outer heatspreaders. Removing the inner ones could destroy the PCB.

    We could test this if the memory makers would supply the memory without heatsinks. The question then is why would they want to?

    I can tell you from past testing that fan cooling the memory definitely extends overclocking to higher levels. However, removing heatsinks made no difference at all in OC on DDR with simpler sinks. This setup by Corsair is quite a bit more sophisticated than the colored metal covers and it may make some real difference in performance.
    Reply
  • MadAd - Thursday, January 11, 2007 - link

    Ok point accepted that it may be hard to render them testable if epoxy is used but dont you love a challenge? :lol:

    Honestly, its starting to get serious now with these http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=5662">http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=5662

    As you know yourself fan cooling is something applied whatever the form they come in, ok so you could analyse how efficient each method is but the big question is still whether its all just hype or not. I think hype.
    Reply
  • cmdrdredd - Monday, January 01, 2007 - link

    Team Extreme memory never comes with heatspreaders, and they make memory that can go to DDR2-1200 with the right setup. What does this tell you? Reply
  • customcoms - Monday, January 01, 2007 - link

    quote:

    More often than not it registered the highest test results, but the differences in performance at stock speeds are very small. Above DDR2-1067 Dominator broke away from the pack, producing the highest game test results we have seen so far at any overclocked speeds. This is no doubt the result of the tighter 4-4-4 timings that could be maintained all the way to DDR2-1233. Corsair Dominator set new performance records in every test category, and it managed to just edge the also fast OCZ Flex XLC in most gaming benchmarks.


    Wes, I am sorry, but if I'm reading the same benchmarks as you are, of the three games you tested, the OCZ is still the fastest memory (granted, Quake 4 is within margin of error) period, around 1-2 fps faster than the corsair. Why you say the corsair is faster when the benchmarks speak otherwise (the tighter timings+higher speed and the higher raw speed of the corsair is the only thing I see better than the OCZ).

    Basically, in real world applications (i.e games, which are what 95+% of the market buying these kits are doing with their machines), the OCZ is faster, according to YOUR OWN benchmarks. You also give it the edge on the 975X platform. Hence, I would say it is the better ram (plus it has the option for water cooling). Doesn't really matter, as I won't be spending that kind of money on ram EVER-better to buy an 8800GTX etc.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, January 01, 2007 - link

    When you also include results on the nVidia 680i the Corsair Dominator is faster overall. On the 975x, which is the only thing included in the graph results, the OCZ Flex XLC is faster. Individual timings are also slightly faster at DDR2 1067 and DDR2 667 on the Corsair.

    OCZ Flex XLC and Corsair Dominator PC@-8888 are both at the top of our benchmarking and either would be a great enthusiast choice. The Corsair pushes the 680i slightly faster and therefore is the fastest memory we have tested to date.
    Reply

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