The Test

Performance Test Configuration

Processor(s):
Intel Pentium 4 3.00GHz (800MHz FSB) - HT enabled
RAM:
2 x 256MB Corsair PC3200 LL Modules (TwinX series)
2 x 256MB Kingston PC3500 HyperX Modules
2 x 256MB OCZ PC3200 EL Modules
2 x 256MB TwinMOS PC3200 Modules
2 x 256MB Crucial PC3200 Modules
Hard Drive(s):
Western Digital 120GB 7200 RPM Special Edition (8MB Buffer)
Bus Master Drivers:
875P: Intel INF Update v5.00.1012, no 875P IAA available at time of publishing
Video Card(s):
ASUS V8460 Ultra NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4600
Video Drivers:
NVIDIA Detonator 44.03
Operation System(s):
Windows XP Professional SP1
Motherboards:
ABIT IC7 (875P) – BIOS 13
ABIT IC7-G (875P) BIOS 13
ABIT IS7 (865PE) BIOS 13 beta 3
ABIT IS7-G (865PE) BIOS 13 beta 3
Albatron PX865PE Pro (865PE) – BIOS 4/17/03 (first release)
Albatron PX865PE Pro II (865PE) – BIOS 4/17/03 (first release)
AOpen AX4C Max (875P) – BIOS 1.04a
ASUS P4C800 Deluxe (875P) - BIOS 1006
ASUS P4P800 Deluxe (865PE) - BIOS 1007
DFI PRO875 LAN Party (875P) – BIOS 5/16/03
Epox 4PCA3+ (875P) – BIOS 06/06/2003
Epox 4PDA2+ (865PE) – BIOS 05/09/03
Gigabyte 8KNXP (875P) – BIOS M4
Gigabyte 8KNXP Ultra (875P) – BIOS F2c
Gigabyte 8PENXP (865PE) - BIOS M2
MSI 875P Neo-FIS2R (875P) BIOS 1.4
MSI 865PE Neo2-FIS2R (865PE) – BIOS 1.2

Testing Methodology

We tested five different memory modules in seventeen different Pentium 4 motherboards, eight of which are based on the 865PE chipset and nine of which are based on the 875P chipset. Each pair of modules was tested at their default SPD timings as well as at the lowest possible programmable timings we were able to reliably achieve. We made sure SPD and manually programmed timings were stable by running SPECviewperf and Prime95.

The majority of motherboards out there accurately display the memory timings you input into its BIOS, but occasionally you will find a motherboard that will display one set of timings in the BIOS that operates at a completely different set of timings once in Windows. For example, the first BIOS revision that shipped with ABIT's 875P series of motherboards did not run the same memory timings inputed into the BIOS as in Windows.

To check to see if the memory timings you input in your BIOS are actually running at those settings, simply download a utility called CPU-Z (version 1.18) here. We used this utility to verify memory timings with all five memory modules on all seventeen motherboards. On a side note, rebooting multiple times did not alter the memory timings initially saved to the CMOS of any of the seventeen motherboards. In other words, once you save your memory timings to CMOS they are there to stay.

In case you're curious, when we refer to memory timings of 2-2-2-5 we are referring to the CAS Latency, RAS to CAS Delay, RAS Precharge, and Precharge Delay (in that order). These terms essentially indicate how many steps it takes for your RAM to complete a certain task. The fewer amount of steps the better, which is why you see users striving for memory timings such as CAS 2-2-2-5 rather than something considerably worse like CAS 3-4-4-8.

Index ABIT IC7 (875P)
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  • mrcaveman - Wednesday, November 26, 2003 - link

    Great article. I set my watch by you guys. Most of my decisions about computer hardware is based on your very helpful articles. keep up the great work. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Sunday, August 17, 2003 - link

    I noticed in your artical you use Hyper-x 3500. I purchased the Gigabyte 8KNXP and Hyper-x 3200, to my disappointment they are not compatible! Kingston has ignored all e-mails about this problem. I would not recommend any of their products if using this motherboard. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Friday, August 15, 2003 - link

    At the moment looking for good memory for my Epox 4PCA3+ mainboard I purchased recently. Seems to be difficult to get the TwinX modules from Corsair (512 MB CL2) here in Holland, if you know a "cheap" supplier please post here...

    This article, this website very useful! In my favorites... YV
    Reply
  • SoSolid - Tuesday, July 29, 2003 - link

    This is a very useful article. Not only do we see just numbers indicating which manufacturer makes the most fastest memory but also in "final words" the author discusses some alternatives.

    Excellent!
    Reply
  • shinerburke - Monday, July 21, 2003 - link

    Why was Mushkin not included in this test? Also when will we see a similar test on the NForce2 boards? Reply
  • Dagger1011 - Friday, July 18, 2003 - link

    How about twinmos? You only commented on the other three. In my country, only kingston and twinmos are available and unfortunately, hyperx is a lot more expensive than twinmos! Reply
  • Anonymous User - Sunday, July 13, 2003 - link

    Well I'm just about to upgrade my PC and saw the TwinMOS package @ addonsonline.co.uk for £60. Sounds good for 512MB. I downloaded the CPU-Z program and checked the timings of my Crucial 256MB PC2100 DDR and to my suprise the CAS Latency is 2, RAStoCAS is 2, RAS Precharge is 2, and Cycle Time is 4???? is this not a bit fast???? OR is slower clocked memory able to run @ faster timings?? Reply
  • Anonymous User - Saturday, July 12, 2003 - link

    Further comment to the above...
    DDR-II is on the near horizon BUT will it be the answer for super-fast compatible memory?

    New memory design, structure and packaging will probably require mew motherboards.(I envisage "teething problems" etc.)

    Incompatibility will still probably reign!
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Saturday, July 12, 2003 - link

    One wonders if these "compatabilty charts" still hold for larger sizes of memory like 2 off 512MB?

    What happens with greater than 1GB?

    Are these REALLY new technologies or older DDR ones being "Officially Overclocked"?
    viz ONE BIOS DOES NOT SUPPORT <2.5 CL

    Memory with CL=2 are from CHOICE chips.
    Memory with CL=2.5 seems to be the norm.
    Thus memory with CL=3 are easily overclocked to CL=2.5.
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Sunday, July 6, 2003 - link

    Interesting article.
    What does the graph show.
    It has numbers at the end of the bars (e.g. 339.6) - what is it a measurement of.
    Is a larger number better or worse?
    Reply

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