Final Words

With the latest memory chips from Samsung, Micron, and Hynix, the real excitement in DDR memory performance has shifted to the Athlon 64 platform. In our first full-scale roundup of memory on the Dual-Channel Socket 939, we found several DDR400 memories that reached a stable overclock of DDR600 and several more that came very close to this memory speed. It is clear that DDR memory manufacturers are paying close attention to the Athlon 64 platform, since we are seeing familiar memory reaching further on Athlon 64 than what we saw on our Intel 478 platform.

A 50% overclock of memory is nothing short of incredible, but that is exactly what we are talking about with most of these memories. In comparing memory at the same CPU speed with different memory bus speeds, we also see that, in general, the improvements in memory performance are real. The latest memories are still fast enough at higher memory speeds to outperform DDR400 2-2-2 performance.

The very top of the memory tests are the most revealing results here. Despite the fact that several memories reached DDR600, highest performance was at the fastest speed the memory could achieve with a 1T Command Rate. This varied from DDR546 to DDR590, and it was at those 1T memory speeds that the best memory performance was consistently achieved.

All six memories tested here performed very well in our Athlon 64 tests. They all outstripped our expectations when we first set up the Athlon 64 test bed. However, a couple of memories do stand out. The OCZ 3200 Platinum Rev. 2 was fastest at both DDR400 and it also achieved the highest 1T speed that we found in our tests. Since these are the same chips used in four other tested memories, we can only suspect that OCZ is doing something unique in their SPD programming. We would suggest that the PCB might also be responsible except for the fact that a couple of other TCCD memories are using what appears to be the same PCB. As we saw in our 2-2-2 roundup, the Crucial Ballistix also stood out for the incredibly fast timings that the Micron-based Ballistix achieved in the DDR433 to DDR533 speed range. The Ballistix was faster through much of the tested range, and the OCZ was best at the top and bottom.

This should not take anything away from the excellent and consistent performance of the G. Skill TCCD and Geil 3200 Ultra X. Both exhibited a very wide range of memory speeds and they were both competitive at every speed. The PQI 3200 Turbo was generally a bit slower, probably the result of tweaking for the Intel platform. We suspect that this would quickly change if PQI updated their SPD programming for better Athlon 64 performance. Still, there is nothing to really complain about in the performance curve of the PQI memory.

It is a bit early in Athlon 64 testing to select an Editor's Choice, but the OCZ 3200 Platinum Rev. 2 and Crucial Ballistix are former Gold Editor's choices. These two memories were also the standouts in a group of standouts in these tests. The Hynix-based OCZ 3700 Gold Rev. 3 takes a different approach to memory performance, but it is still an excellent choice, if it can be bought for a lower price than the Samsung TCCD and Micron-chip memories.

We learned that the Athlon 64 quest for a 1T Command Rate is worth the search, but you also will need the tools to allow the best overclock with memory on the Athlon 64. As surprising as it will seem to some, that should include the highest quality power supply that you can find at 500 watts or more. We found that replacing a well-respected 465 watt PS with a 520 watt PowerStream allowed even higher memory overclocks. This was true with both the power-hungry nVidia 6800 Ultra as well as the more mainstream ATI 9800 PRO. If top memory overclocks on the Athlon 64 is your goal, don't skimp on the power supply. Putting the best PS that you can find in your system will pay off in higher memory overclocks with greater stability.

The memories tested here were a cross-section of the best current memory that you can buy. They used Samsung TCCD, Micron G die, and Hynix DT-D5 memory chips. All of the memories based on these current chips performed incredibly well on the Athlon 64 Socket 939. The Samsung TCCD, in particular, seems to be much better on Athlon 64 with recent chips than what was seen in early testing of TCCD. With Athlon 64 performance this good, we can only wonder how long it will be until AMD makes DDR500 or DDR533 a standard DDR memory speed on the Athlon 64 on-chip memory controller.

Highest Memory Performance


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  • xeoph - Wednesday, March 9, 2005 - link

    I also wanted to mention it in this artical if it hasnt been already.

    The pricing above the ultra X is for Ultra Platinum. The link is a little misleading because it doesnt give the exact tech specs.

    simply a mistype. m-400-512x2glx1gb3200dc is what your looking for, little X between gl and 1gb.
  • mervine - Sunday, October 10, 2004 - link

    hi Wesley
    You mention the newer Samsung TCCD chips overclock better on AMD64 than the older ones, How long have these new chips been avaliable?
    The reason I ask is I live in europe and stocks over here might not be as new as in the states. I'm looking to buy some ocz rev2 but is there any way to tell if its using old or new revision TCCD?
  • PrinceXizor - Tuesday, October 5, 2004 - link


    I appreciate your point. I suppose I would have been vaguer in my statements than you were, that is my only point (probably a matter of subjective opinion of course). Something like...

    "In the course of testing, it was discovered that we were being adversely limited by the power supply used in our testing rig. Switching to a higher wattage power supply unlocked the potential of many of these DIMMS. While the actual problem with the original PSU requires more analysis time than we had for this review (lower wattage? lower rail amperage? lower rail tolernaces?), hard-core overclockers should carefully inspect the specifications on their PSU's if they plan on maxing out the OC on their memory modules. Switching power supplies, as we did, may help you to reach the overclocks attained in this review."

    Something like that is all I would have liked to see, instead of a blanket recommendation for a higher wattage PSU. That was my point.

    All this being said, I still enjoyed the review! I look forward to more memory module reviews in the future.

  • jynxycat - Tuesday, October 5, 2004 - link

    good review, i was on the edge between the PQI and Crucial sticks, not really knowing what to expect from the PQI on an AMD setup.

    finally a full review of what the respective sticks will achieve on the AMD platform, very much appreciated.
  • Blappo - Sunday, October 3, 2004 - link

    That is true. It might be interesting to see a comparison of PSUs to see which one would give the highest overclock. I would guess that the PSUs with high ratings would perform well, but there might be some lower power PSUs delivering good quality power that perform well, or some high output PSUs that perform poorly because of low quality power.
  • darkwaffle - Sunday, October 3, 2004 - link

    I'm not sure how much of a direct comparison you could make between the 3 PowerStream models, because according to the +5 rail differs on the 420 and 470, and the +12 rail is different on all of them.
  • Blappo - Saturday, October 2, 2004 - link

    I would be curious if using either the 420W or 470W OCZ PowerStream models would change the amount the memory could be overclocked? Since they are in the same model line then any differences when OC would be attributed to the amount of power available, and not the quality of power available. Reply
  • LocutusX - Saturday, October 2, 2004 - link

    I've got the one Wesley mentioned. It's the Enermax EG465P-VE - the *Q4 2001* model. That same model which is *currently* available in stores has slightly different specs. Anyways, I think I'll keep in mind a possible upgrade to the Powerstream since that would probably help my OC situation as well.
  • KingofFah - Saturday, October 2, 2004 - link

    (This is more directed to #20)
    As Wesley said:
    +3.3V - 38A
    +5V - 44A
    +12V - 20A
    -5V - 2A
    -12V - 1A
    +5Vsb - 2.2A
    are the specs of the 465 they used.

    Considering they switched to 520W OCZ Powerstream:
    +3.3V - 28A
    +5V - 40A
    +12V - 33A
    -5V - .5A
    -12V - .5A
    +5Vsb - 2.0A

    Even though there is a drop in amperage on the 3.3 and 5v rails, there is a great increase in the 12v. CPU, GPU, HDDs, Optical drives, fans all get there power off of the 12v line.

    Since w = v x a, if you want a good power supply, it almost certainly will have a lot of watts on it, but you only find good amperage on high quality models... So maybe you can see why they said +500 quality PSU??

    My question is: Which rail does the memory draw from? Is it still the 5v?
  • Marlin1975 - Saturday, October 2, 2004 - link

    Wesley Fink, since it has been shown many times that more and more current systems need better power. Why not do a review of power supplys. Everything form top dollar name brand ones to cheaper high "watt" ones to see if they put out what they say at each rail and if they help or hurt a system when doing normal work to over clocking?
    I know power supplys are one of the most over looked items and I am building a HIGH power system right now and can not find any real reviews other then other people saying use or don;t use brand X


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