FAST 2GB DDR Kits - Part 2

by Wesley Fink on January 23, 2006 12:05 AM EST
Part 1 of the 2GB DDR Kit Roundup took a close look at 3 memories based on Infineon memory chips. Since that review in October, a number of 2GB DDR kits have appeared in the market with most based on Infineon C or B die memory chips. There are, however, a few brands that have taken a different approach to memory chips for 1GB DIMMs, and we have included those in this roundup, along with the latest Infineon-based memories.

1GB DDR DIMMs began appearing in the market over a year ago, but it wasn't until mid-2005 that 1GB DIMMs with reasonably fast timings became widely available. These faster 1GB DIMMs finally made the choice of 2GB memory kits to be a reasonable choice in a market that had been dominated by fast DDR 512MB DIMMs.

There are many reasons to choose a 2GB kit over a 1GB kit or 4 512MB DIMMs. Two 1GB DIMMs on the AMD Athlon 64 can still run at 1T Command rate, instead of the 2T required by the 4x512MB DIMMs needed for 2GB with 512MB DIMMs - a definite advantage for the 1GB DIMMs. On the other hand, until recently, the available 1GB DIMMs were generally much slower than the fast 2-2-2 DIMMs that were commonly available in 512MB DIMMs. We normally saw 3-3-3 or 3-4-4 or slower timings for 1GB DIMMs. These poorer timings for 1GB DIMMs took away most of the advantage for the 1GB 1T Command Rate.

There was an additional "gotcha" with the 1GB DIMMs that many enthusiasts quickly discovered. With a starting point of 3-3-3 or 3-4-4 at DDR400, the 1GB parts did not overclock nearly as far as the 512MB parts. For all of these reasons, we generally recommended that most users were better off with 512MB DIMMs - at least until memory timings improved on the 1GB DIMMs.

The time for faster 1GB DIMMs has finally come in the past 6 months, and they are now available from almost every memory manufacturer. In Part 1, we looked at three 2GB kits from Corsair, Gigaram, and OCZ. In this part 2, we put six additional fast 2GB kits through our test bench, with some interesting results. We also updated some parts of our memory test bench, which required retesting of the original three 2GB kits.

Our memory tests differentiate memory in two ways. First, AnandTech has always been an advocate of real world performance measurements, and we've shunned using just synthetic benchmarks in our testing of every type of component, including memory. This is not because synthetic benchmarks are not useful - they are often very revealing of component differences - but rather, it is because running just synthetic benchmarks can severely distort the picture of performance with real applications and real games. That is why we always use games and the pure number-crunching Super Pi in our memory tests. It is also the reason why we test using both Buffered (Standard) and Unbuffered synthetic benchmarks. We have found in much of our testing that the less commonly used Unbuffered benchmarks mirror more closely how games really respond to memory differences.

Second, we moved to testing different memory speeds at the same CPU clock speed in our Athlon 64 memory tests. The AMD CPU, with unlocked multipliers, allowed us to finally remove the CPU speed differences from our memory tests. This allows you to finally see the true impact of memory speed increases and memory timings on performance. As you have seen in past reviews, those performance differences are very real, although they are much smaller than what many memory manufacturers might want you to believe. On the other hand, faster memory speeds and faster memory timings do improve performance, no matter what some nay-sayers are determined to prove.

The New 2GB DDR Kits
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  • Beenthere - Monday, January 23, 2006 - link

    Crucial use to be a pretty good memory supplier at one time and I've bought plenty of their products. There seems to have been a philosophical change at Crucial a number of years ago and I stopped buying and recommending their products after a major hassle over one failed DIMM out of the many we had purchased. Seems like their submission of a discontinued product to this 1 Gb review is another example of mis-management and manipulation of the media...

    In regards to 1 Gig. DIMMS vs. 512 Mb it seems to me relatively few people really need these DIMMS. If you are a serious gamer playing the latest game versions, sure you'll see some small performance improvement for a PRICE. And that is the point really - what do you get in tangible system performance gain and is it of enough emotional value to you to pay the premium price. Obviously for some it is as they will pay $1000 for a CPU, $700 x 2 for 7800 GTX 512 Vid cards, etc. I doubt however that most PC enthusiasts can really justify those prices nor the price premium for 1 Gb DIMMS based on system performance gains.

    And along those lines... how often do PC enthusiasts and / or gamers replace their entire PC hardware??? If for instance you are building a new PC now because the Opti 165 / X2 3800+ are a sweet deal, would you really be in the market for a new AMD AM2 system in a 4-6 months when they are readily available??? I doubt many folks replace their hardware that often but I could be wrong. If it is true then I wonder where all the good hardware ends up after it's used for a couple months and then trashed for the latest trick-of-the-week hardware???
  • xsilver - Monday, January 23, 2006 - link

    its called ebay - or as some say "egay" :p

    or I think option 2 is the not so rich friends who suck up a lot

    option 3 is "damn, I overvolted the cpu to attain max overclock and the damn thing fried itself -- oh well, just buy another fx-60"

    note that option 3 people probably fuel the reason for why manufacturers think they can charge us $500+ for a gfx card and $1000+ for a cpu
  • JarredWalton - Monday, January 23, 2006 - link

    Worth note - and not shown in the benches here - is that 2GB of RAM can have a massive impact on load times for some of the latest games. It is also incredibly useful when you're editing a bunch of images in Photoshop. The difference in level load times on BF2 is amazing, even when comparing 4x512MB 2T to 2x512MB 1T.

    BF2 is something of an exception right now, but over the next year I expect more and more games to push the memory requirements beyond 1GB. FEAR is another reasonable example, though not quite as pronounced as BF2. Some of the MMORPGs also get a lot of use from 2GB.

    Personally, I won't be buying 512MB DIMMs anymore, but I still use them in systems I build for other people.
  • johnford64 - Monday, January 23, 2006 - link

    Why is the OCZ PC4000 XTC and Normal Gold not covered in either article??? The Platnium EB's are too much money, and i would like a good read and comparison on the XTC/Golds. As a side note, Crucial stopped making their 2GB DDR1 kit, so they couldnt replace my dead det, which is why i got the OCZ's
  • bigtoe36 - Monday, January 23, 2006 - link

    XTC and golds do feature the same IC, OCZ are moving to replace all old heatspreaders with XTC so you will see some older stock using the old spreader in stores.

    So apples to apples they should clock near the same but the XTC moduls running a little cooler.
  • johnford64 - Friday, January 27, 2006 - link

    But my question is why neither XTC or Gold kits have been reviewed here, if there have please let me know where
  • Miggle - Monday, January 23, 2006 - link

    not much difference (in RTCW at least) between 400mhz and 533 (must be the timings). Good review tho.

    Now, i'm looking for a link that shows how mem timings impact A64 (2-2-2-6 vs 2.5-3-3-7). Hope someone could give me one.

    still, me thinks that fast mem = costs too much and not that worth-it. I just bought geil value ram that does 2.5-3-3-6 @ 200mhz and quite happy /w it (on AXP still tho).
  • android1st - Monday, January 23, 2006 - link

    I was just trying to decide about my next system whether I should wait for DDR2 or increase the memory on my old system. I think I'm going to wait for DDR2, hopefully AMD will roll out 65nm around the same time as the new socket. And prices will be reasonable and availability will be high. Guess we'll wait and see...
  • Nocturnal - Monday, January 23, 2006 - link

    Crucial recently pulled their Ballistix 2GB kits due to unforseen circumstances. Everyone at XS is speculating that all of the RMAs that have been going on is culprit.
  • johnford64 - Friday, January 27, 2006 - link

    That happened to me, 2 dead kits. They tried to offer me 2GB of PC3200. Like hell i am taking $150 ram in place of my $400 USD ram.

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