Mid-Range DDR2-800 from G.Skill

Many readers have been looking for DDR2-800 as memory prices sky-rocketed over the last couple of months. Now that memory prices are dropping, there is less pressure to save money with DDR2-800 instead of top-line DDR2-1000 or DDR2-1066. However, the question still remains whether a step down to DDR2-800 will save a few bucks while delivering performance about as good as the top DDR2 memory.

Almost every major memory manufacturer has DDR2-800 parts, but the ones of greatest interest to hobbyists are those from well-known high-end memory makers. G.Skill seemed to come out of nowhere a couple of years ago to establish themselves as a manufacturer of enthusiast memory. They got exposure and won credibility with Forum targeting and a sharply focused advertising campaign. G.Skill distributes a full line of desktop and notebook memory products, and the line includes a 2GB DDR2-800 4-4-4 kit at a mid-level price in the $300 range.

G.Skill DDR2-800 Specifications

Since it has only recently appeared on the US and European scene, it was a little surprising to find that G.Skill has been producing memory products since 1989. Manufacturing is based in Taipei, Taiwan and G.Skill serves memory markets in most of the world. The G.Skill website provides English, German, Chinese, and Korean versions - typical of the Taiwanese websites that cater to world markets.

As you will see on the website G.Skill targets the computer enthusiast, with a strong emphasis on overclocking and extreme performance. The DDR2 product line includes kits rated from DDR2-533 to DDR2-1067. DDR2-800 kits include both 1GB (2x512MB) and 2GB (2x1GB) kits rated at 5-5-5-15, 4-4-4-12, and 3-4-3-8.

Competitive with other high-end memory makers, G.Skill provides a Lifetime Warranty with their memory products. The RMA form can be accessed at the web site. Technical support and a Users Forum are also available at the website.

To satisfy readers' requests for a mainstream DDR2-800 memory product we selected the DDR2-800 2GB kit rated at 4-4-4-12. You can also buy cheaper DDR2-800 G.Skill kits at e-tailers like www.newegg.com. A 2GB G.Skill 5-5-5-15 kit sells for $210 to $260, some $40 to $90 less than the faster 4-4-4-12.

The G.Skill F2-6400PHU2-2GBHZ 2GB kit is supplied with attractive gloss black heatspreaders with a G.Skill logo in brushed metal. Many G.Skill DIMMs do not even have heat-spreaders, and G.Skill seems to reserve the heatspreaders for their top memory.

G.Skill builds their DIMMs with Micron D9 memory chips - the same chips we have described as top performers in every recent high-end memory review. However, the binning for these chips is a bit different. G.Skill uses Micron D9GMH chips rated at 333, 3ns in this 4-4-4-12 DDR2-800 kit. Most top-end DIMMs use D9GKX chips which are binned for higher specs. Still, with Micron D9 chips, we expect excellent overclocking with these G.Skill DIMMs.

G.Skill F2-6400PHU2-2GBHZ Memory Specifications
Number of DIMMs & Banks 2 DS
Total Memory 2 GB
Rated Timings 4-4-4-12 at DDR2-800
Rated Voltage 2.0V to 2.1V

While top-end Micron memory chips have easily delivered 3-3-3 timings at DDR2-800, G.Skill rates this memory kit at slower 4-4-4 timings. The good news, however, is the more modest 2.0V-2.1V specification for memory voltage. This is much lower than the 2.2V-2.3V that is normally required for DDR2-800 at 3-3-3 timings. It also represents memory voltages that are normally available even on more basic Core 2 Duo and AM2 motherboards.

The memory chips are slower bins from the best chips available. Timings are a bit slower and voltage specs are more reasonable. The question remains whether the G.Skill DDR2-800 4-4-4-12 kits are a top-of-the-line memory in disguise, or whether there are compromises to top performance? Does the cost/performance of these DDR2-800 modules represent real value to buyers?

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  • christopherzombie - Sunday, November 5, 2006 - link

    I have the same G.Skill "HZ" kit and I can do 1066mhz @ 5-5-5-15 with only 2.2v on an Abit AN9 32X 590SLI. I run at this speed 24/7 with my X2 4000+ @ 2.66ghz. No issues here. Great RAM for the money. I'm glad I didn't speed 50% more $$ for Cosair.
  • formulav8 - Saturday, November 4, 2006 - link

    I guess its just me, but I would think spending $300 for 2GB of memory is the absolute high-end prices. Even with the overall price increase of memory. I guess I am just poor :(

  • Wesley Fink - Saturday, November 4, 2006 - link

    Let's be VERY CLEAR. We are talking about TWO GIGABYTES of memory, which has become the new standard with Vista on the way. The absolute cheapest generic 2GB kit I could find on NewEgg runs am average of $200 - and it is generally DDR2-533. You can find Value DDR2-800, rated at 5-5-5 which we mention in the review, for $210 to $250. The DDR2-800 4-4-4 we tested was $299 - $99 more than the average low-end 2GB kit we could find at a reputable e-tailer. It also does 3-3-3 at 800 and 1067 since it is based on Micron D9 chips - if you can supply the voltage.

    YOU have to decide if it is worth it to spend $99 more for higher rated memory that can do 3-3-3 at DDR2-800 with voltage, 4-4-4 with no voltage, and DR2-1066. If you are shopping for a 1GB kit, the cost for 2x512MB is about half this amount. Until the move to DDR2, we always tested a 1GB kit. We moved the total up when 2GB became more common and it was clear Vista would need 1GB as a minimum.
  • xFlankerx - Saturday, November 4, 2006 - link

    I think people aren't realizing that this is DDR2-800 memory, not DDR2-533. As such, it is Overclocking memory, and the prices are proportional to what the prices were for, say, a DDR600 memory kit for the AMD platform.

    I have the utmost respect for AT reviews, and your analyses, but when I read "Mid-Range" and saw the pic of the GBHZs (my favorite memory, from the AMD days), that left me a bit confused. I design PCs for others as a hobby, as do many many other people. And anyone who does knows that very few people are going to be willing to spend $300 on memory that they don't really need. Also, I'm a huge proponent of Memory Dividers, as they help majorly, and don't make you sacrifice performance.

    The prices for the enthusiast memory may be proportional, however they are still VERY high. The massive FSB potential and overclocking of the Core 2 Duos has made it mandatory that you use high-speed memory in your system. DDR2-533 simply won't overclock far enough. So we HAVE to use DDR2-800 like we used DDR400. And with Vista requiring 2GB, the memory prices need to be much LOWER than they are right now. Going from $100 for 1GB DDR400 for a smooth and overclocked system, to needing to spend $250 for 2GB DDR2-800 for a smooth and overclocked system is a hard slap in the face for most people, including designers. As one of the people I was designing for pointed out, "Its a sad day when your memory costs more than your processor."
  • xsilver - Sunday, November 5, 2006 - link

    I would just like to clear up something further as their are many conflicting views.

    is it possible to use ddr667 ram and still not hit the wall with your ram until 500FSB or so?
    Using dividers of course, and taking the 5% hit in performance? (its not even 5% is it?)

    Isnt this the best way to build a overclocking system on a budget?

    I agree with Wes when he says that this ram is really only $99 more expensive than base ram but I guess its just the sad state that the ram market is in and people are looking for the best value they can. So categorizing $300 ram as "semi-performance" ram is just sad to see.

  • Steve Guilliot - Friday, November 3, 2006 - link

    ... "paying through the nose gets you miniscule performance gains"?

    The core architecture has never been memory bandwidth starved, and every single memory article seems to re-inforce that. Why didn't Wesley use 0 fps as the baseline for his scatter plots? Becuase if he did, the results wouldn't be exaggerated enough to notice on the graph. Doesn't that tell you something?

    Sorry, but 1% gain is not worth spending and extra $200 on 1066 memory. That would be useful advice that needs to be reinforced when the money could be spent on better graphics or processing or monitor. Instead, the enthusiast community seems bent on justifying it's fascination with fast memory.

    Look, memory was important with the P4, but let's move on and recognize that Core does not need fast memory.

    Sorry for the soapbox, and this is not just a problem with Anandtech; it's on all the enthusiast sites.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, November 3, 2006 - link

    High quality memory is important for overclocking. If your RAM can't go beyond DDR2-800, an E6300 would be limited to a maximum OC of 2.8 GHz - still fast, but a lot of people are hitting 3.2GHz+. An E6400 would be able to hit 3.2 GHz at DDR2-800 (with 1:1 ratio), and again you can almost certainly go further.

    As Wes states on page 5: "Memory speed can definitely improve system performance, but not to the extent of an upgraded video card or a higher speed processor." If you've already maxed out the other areas, or at least come close, then you will probably be willing to spend more on RAM as well. If you're pinching pennies elsewhere, then RAM is probably not going to be something you want to spend a ton on either. Of course, these days $300 for good quality 2GB kits isn't really that bad.
  • Steve Guilliot - Saturday, November 4, 2006 - link

    Also, even if someone had "maxed" out other areas, I still wouldn't recommend throwing away money on faster RAM. If you're even above entry level, then you have at least a x9 multiplier. DDR2-667 will be fine for maintaining the ideal 1:1 divider while overclocking. Ok, let's stretch it to DDR2-800 for giggles. But DDR2-1066? Please.

    I suppose a fool is easily seperated from their money, but most people who have money value it. My recommendations alway involve eliminating waste no matter how much someone is willing to spend.
  • Steve Guilliot - Saturday, November 4, 2006 - link

    So, you would recommend $300 RAM to someone who couldn't afford to pay more than $163 for an e6300, or $200 for an e6400? ... and e6600's are only $280.

    The statement "Memory speed can definitely improve system performance" is what set me off in the first place, since it is a gross exaggeration and underpins the focus of the article. I know the enthusiast community is a benchmark driven one, but cmon: 1% is not a definite improvement. Consistent maybe, but "definite" implies "noticable". Nope, 1% is not noticeable.

    On a related note, most of my ranting is equally applicable to the quest for ever-higher FSB's.
  • xsilver - Friday, November 3, 2006 - link

    cant u use memory dividers instead?
    I dont have a core system, but I would suspect that you can run something close to ddr 800 at 400fsb?

    and then use the extra saved cash for a better video card/cpu?

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