OCZ shipped us their DDR3-2133 Blade 6GB kit last month and asked us to review it as part of our Core i7 975 launch. Of course, we could not refuse that offer. We received the Blade kit, our 975 ES processor, and several other premium components, but hit a huge bump in the road during testing. You see, it turns out our 975 engineering samples could not clock their way out of a paper bag. As such, we decided to order a retail 975 and it finally arrived along with a retail EVGA X58 Classified (E759) motherboard.

We were confident the lethal combination of a very good Core i7 975 and one of the best clocking motherboards around will allow us to take this memory kit to its limits. However, yet another speed bump presented itself as our cooling capabilities in the labs here are limited to various high-end air coolers or TEC units such as the CoolIT Systems Freezone Elite. Armed with the realization that we were going to be limited to the 4.5GHz range and resulting 2150 memory speeds we decided to pack the kit up for shipment. Raja will be the lucky recipient as he has the proper cooling equipment available and is already working on a DDR3-2000+ article at this moment for the more fanatical readers.

In the meantime, we ran a few numbers with a Core i7 920D0 stepping at both stock core speeds and an almost universal 4.2GHz overclock on the ASUS Rampage II GENE motherboard. We also completed a couple of quick overclocks on the 920/Classified combo just to show what a couple of minutes of playing around with the BIOS can provide with this kit on high-end air cooling. As you will see shortly, there really is no reason for the typical desktop user to procure a kit like this for 24/7 use, unless you just want one for a status symbol.

We are sure OCZ will welcome your business with open arms no matter your purpose, but their primary audience is the people who benchmark for a living. In that regard, this kit is designed to compete against the latest DDR3-2000 C7 6GB kits from Corsair and GSkill. As such, today's preview could be considered somewhat laughable by the hardcore enthusiast but it is perfect segue into our mainstream memory articles later this week. That is not to say this kit is completely without merit, it will easily run DDR3-2133 C7 settings at voltages we have not reached with the other two manufacturer's products and for benchmarking activities that is an important distinction. For the other 99% of us, it is fun to see the numbers but we have far better alternatives available in the market.

The Kit-

This is OCZ's top rated Blade series kit. Of course looking at the specifications it is the top rated kit available, period. Whether it is the top performing kit is something we will answer shortly. OCZ designed this kit to operate at DDR3-2133 (1067MHz) at timings of 8-9-8-24 on the X58 platform with 1.65v, preferably with the Core i7 975. The reason being, IMC load, the lower the Bclk, the lower the load and voltage requirements on the platform when using the unlocked multiplier on the 975 to gain CPU speed compared to a locked processor like the 920 or W3540 that requires high Bclks to reach like processor speeds. It is a little more complicated than that, but that is the 10,000ft overview.

The OCZ Blade OCZ3B2133LV6GK features the top (1%) binned Elpida Hyper J1108BASE-MNH-E IC or the "Hyper" for short. These IC's are already rated for the upcoming ultra low 1.2V/1.35V voltage specification as well as the current JEDEC standard of 1.5V. One of the primary differences between these IC's and all others is that they use copper interconnects as opposed to aluminum, resulting in higher clock speeds at lower voltages. I wonder where we have heard that use of technology before. Anyway, it is obvious by now that we are not dealing with your mass produced DDR3-1066 kits and as such we expect a heavy price premium when these kits launch in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, let's take a quick look at these unique modules being subjected to clock rates that probably had them screaming, not from pain, but rather embarrassment.

The Tests...
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  • cnfzinfo - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

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  • ghanz - Monday, June 15, 2009 - link

    "One of the primary differences between these IC's and all others is that they use copper interconnects as opposed to aluminum, resulting in higher clock speeds at lower voltages. I wonder where we have heard that use of technology"

    IIRC, copper interconnects was invented by IBM & probably used on their PowerPC cpus.
    AMD also used Copper interconnects for the Socket A K7 Athlons (for those made in Dresden fab).
    It was probably necessary to use copper interconnects for the K7 to scale >1ghz with reasonable voltages on the 0.18nm process tech then.
  • TA152H - Thursday, June 11, 2009 - link

    Seems like with the Nehalem/Lynnfield the memory controller is much more important than the memory itself.

    Anyone buying the crippled Lynnfield with high quality memory is probably making a mistake. It would appear the i7 and poor memory would easily outperform it, possibly not vary much in cost, and is much more upgradeable.

  • lopri - Sunday, June 14, 2009 - link

    Or maybe Intel has planned the Tylersberg platform to last long enough to support future CPUs. Tylersberg is server-oriented, so triple-channel on desktop is probably somewhat wasteful at least for now.
  • TA152H - Monday, June 15, 2009 - link

    Well, first of all, the i7 in dual channel mode is faster than the Lynnfield, at least on the benchmarks we have seen. So, it's not really correct to assess the differences as just being that of dual channel to triple channel. The Lynnfield is either performing badly because it is pre-released silicon, or Intel crippled it intentionally.

    If it's the latter, I'd very seriously doubt force the entire non-server segment to buy a brain-damaged processor. More likely, they'd used this sloth to feed the bottom-feeders, and by virtue of it's relatively poor performance, keep the i7 as the premium brand.

    If you really think about it, if the i5 weren't intentionally crippled, the performance delta between the i5 and i7 would be so minor it would fade to insignificance. It's one thing to make a processor a niche product, and entirely another to make a whole platform a niche platform. Intel has created a lot of niche processors, like the Pentium EEs, but they work in normal platforms. I don't think they'd be willing to make the entire i7 platform perform just a bit better, and be really only for a very few extreme high end gamers. Platforms are too expensive for that.

    So, they probably want the i7 platform market to be somewhat broader than the old EE processor market was. Maybe like the "good" Core 2 market is now; the ones with 3M per core. The problem is, if they only made the Lynnfield the same but with a few less PCIe channels, and dual-channel memory, there would be a much smaller market for the i7 than the current good Core 2s. There is a real and significant performance difference between the 3M Core 2s, and the 1.5M ones, and that keeps the high end chips selling. This was done correctly, the big chips are more expensive to make. The Lynnfield, if not properly sodomized by Intel, would be much closer to the performance of the i7, so they had to create an artificial performance boundary, like they often do with the Celeron.

    It's still more than good enough for most people, and still represents, generally, a nice bump up from the Core 2, and easily outperforms the AMD chips, so it's still attractive from that perspective. However, the brain-damage it suffers from prevents it from being real competition for the i7 for people that really care about performance. It's big enough to be significant to a small, but not super small market, but at the same time, good enough for the rest of the folks.

    So, I don't think i7 is going away on the desktop. I think the lobotomized Lynnfield is proof Intel is going to keep it, assuming Lynnfield doesn't perform much better when it's a golden. With the changes Intel made to the Lynnfield, it could perform very close to i7, and if they were getting rid of i7, it would have. Remember, the i7 in dual channel mode actually has better latency than in triple channel. So, the only thing that makes sense is they emasculated the Lynnfield so the i7 would remain. Or the Lynnfield will perform better when released.
  • vol7ron - Wednesday, June 10, 2009 - link

    Forgive me if this was stated in the article -- it's late here and I might have missed it. Are the memories in the chart all overclocked/underclocked OCZ DDR3 2133 chips? Or are the different clocks and timings taken from other tests at default timings and speeds?
  • lez - Wednesday, June 10, 2009 - link

    all of them are the same ocz rams
  • vol7ron - Wednesday, June 10, 2009 - link

    That's what I thought. I just wanted to make sure this wasn't any substandard benchmark. I'm curious how these findings will be with Nehalem-Ex
  • dragunover - Thursday, June 11, 2009 - link

    This kit isn't supposed to be used with servers - Nehalem EX is a server platform. This is for your gamin i7 desktop.
  • aeternitas - Tuesday, June 9, 2009 - link

    Thanks for the read. One thing though; png > jpeg please!

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