AMD Athlon 64 Tests

With Intel moving to DDR2, AMD processors will, at some point, become the dominant platform for DDR memory. We intend to do more extensive testing with memory on Athlon 64 motherboards in the future, but the DDR400 2-2-2 roundup is a bit unique in that all the memory is based on the same Samsung TCCD chips, except the Crucial Ballistix DDR400. We therefore ran basic performance and overclocking tests with the 2-2-2 dimms in the MSI K8N Neo2. The MSI was Editors Choice in our recent Socket 939 roundup. The intent was just to verify the performance that we had found with each memory on an Athlon 64 platform.

What seemed a simple idea turned out to be anything but that. All of the memory performed the same at DDR400 and DDR433 on the K8N Neo2 as it did on the Intel platform, but then things began diverging. All of the memory could also do DDR466 on the Athlon 64 platform, but often required slightly slower timings or a bit more voltage. The only Samsung memory that achieved DDR500 on the MSI Athlon 64 was the OCZ PC3200 Platinum Rev. 2 - none of the other Samsung-base DIMMs could reach this milestone. In addition, the OCZ, which reached DDR557 on the Intel board, could not reach much higher than DDR500 before we got failed boots.

The only memory that duplicated the Intel results on Athlon 64 was the Crucial Ballistics PC3200, based on Micron chips. Across the entire range from DDR400 to DDR514, the Ballistix performed at the same voltages and timings that it displayed on the Intel test bed. This performance reminds us that Micron memory chips are also used in OCZ 3500EB and 3700EB, which also perform as well on Athlon 64 as they do on an Intel board.

For now, we would recommend Crucial Ballistix or OCZ 3500EB/3700EB as first choice on Athlon 64 motherboards. If you prefer one of the memories using Samsung chips, then the OCZ PC3200 Platinum Rev. 2 was the only Samsung memory to work reliably at DDR500. The evidence leads us to believe that the Micron chips perform much better on Athlon 64 than Samsung chips, but this is something that will require more investigation. We are putting together a more in-depth look at the performance of a full range of memory types on Athlon 64 in an upcoming review.

Highest Memory Speed Performance Final Words


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  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, August 5, 2004 - link

    #12 and #13 - Both Crucial Ballistix PC3200 and OCZ PC3200 Platinum Rev. 2 are available in the market. Crucial is a direct marketer as you have discovered.

    #14 - In your situation I would shop for price for DDR400 2-2-2. The XP boards respond best to Latency as low as you can feed them, but you are not likley to reach OC levels that will be a concern with any decent DDR400 2-2-2 memory. None of the DDR500 will have latencies like 2-2-2 at DDR400.

    #15 - There is just one DDR400 Crucial Ballistix (PC3200) - but it is available as 256MB Single-Sided or 512MB Double-Sided dimms as mentioned in the review.
  • bigtoe33 - Thursday, August 5, 2004 - link

    Wesley comments the OCZ was the best from the TCCD modules tested with incredible headroom, so much so it was decided top homours would be shared.

    Also going by comments already seen here many feel the Crucial modules were very cherry picked.
    I know on many forums the 3200 and 4000 is not doing quite so well as the samples seen here.

    I do trust Wesleys's testing though, if his modules hit these speeds, they did hit it...

    Its always best to get good reviews like this one and then go search for results on forums.
  • Potem - Thursday, August 5, 2004 - link

    #11 - Thanks had not thought to go directt from Crucial. That is such a good price compared to the alternatives I am worried if is right stuff but description matches. Wesley did not give a part number. Crucial list part number BL6464Z402.
  • bupkus - Thursday, August 5, 2004 - link

    I have a 2500+ Barton on an epox 8RDA+ so I'm happy with a fsb frequency of 200. Is my best option to target some PC3200 with low timings or should I think about some hyperX PC4000 on sale? Reply
  • drewintheav - Thursday, August 5, 2004 - link

    Is it possible that you were sent a version of the Crucial Ballistix memory that is not indicative of what someone can really buy? Also, it seems like you said that Crucial Ballistix pc3200 was the best overall so why does OSZ PC3200 Platinum Rev. 2 also get a gold editors choice? Reply
  • Potem - Thursday, August 5, 2004 - link

    The question is what is the availablity of either of the Gold Editors Choice recommendations? The MSI K8N Neo2 was recommended over a month ago and is still not available in the US (though is fianlly expected to change any day or hour now). I have searched indivdual stores and done both price watch and PriceGrabber searches for both OCZ PC3200 Platinum Rev. 2 and Crucial Ballistix 3200 and have come up empty. In the case of OCZ 3700EB it does sell but the stores often sell out and OCZ having troubles keeping up with demand. Reply
  • rjm55 - Thursday, August 5, 2004 - link

    I was all set to buy the Corsair 3200XL and bitching about the high price when I saw this roundup. Thanks for making my life easier. The Crucial is $267 for 2x512MB direct from Crucial and the Corsair is $361 for the same thing at New Egg. Thanks for helping me save a cool $100.

    Is there any way to tell if the OCZ is the latest Rev. 2 stuff? I noticed the package in the picture is new. Do you look for the new package to be sure you're getting the latest stuff?
  • bigtoe33 - Thursday, August 5, 2004 - link

    Another GREAT review from the FINKSTER....;-)

    Commenting on G die micron, yield is VERY up and down so i do feel they were choice cut's, EB does pretty much the same speeds with 95%+ of all customers ram running well above rated timings and speed anyway.You guys with the 4000 balistix should have looked at the 3500 and 3700EB ;-)

    Thanks again Wes.

  • ThePlagiarmaster - Thursday, August 5, 2004 - link

    Wesley, it sounds like you need to ask MSI for a new bios to get their board more compatible with these new samsung chips? Maybe all manufacturers will need to release a bios update to take full advantage of these new samsung chips?

    Just a thought.
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, August 5, 2004 - link

    #5 - We used the same benchmarks in our DDR2 roundup and tested the DDR2 to DDR2-686. That should give you a better idea of comparative performance between DDR and DDR2. We also compared DDR and DDR2 performance in that review, and fast DDR400 performs about like DDR2-533. Just dlick the 'Memory' tab at the top of the page and you will find the DDR2 roundup.

    #7 - It will be a few weeks, but we DO have some OCZ DDR2 EB modules with better timings that will be included in an upcoming DDR2-667 roundup. Many of the DDR2 modules in last month's roundup ran fine at 3-3-3 timings - much better than the rated timings.

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