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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  • bigtoe36 - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link


    The parts are 2x1204, we don't supply single sided CE5 512 kits, infact no one does.
    For the record, 4000eb is 2048mb so 2x1024mb modules.
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, January 23, 2006 - link

    The OCZ we tested is definitely a 2GB kit. I changed the Corsair name in the review since they refer to 2GB kits as TwinX 2048. However I just double-checked their web site and OCZ uses the 1024 to describe the dimm size. In fairness they are officially a 2x1024 kit, so I will update the reference to hopefully clarify what we tested.

    The memory manufacturers all have pretty awful naming schemes for their memory, but OCZ is still one of the most confusing.
  • CCUABIDExORxDIE - Monday, January 23, 2006 - link

    how does crucial not get gold? honestly, go out and try to buy the EB 4000 or the Redline PC4000, you cant cause of Infenions horrible yeilds. so in your mindset, the gold winner should be the UCCC corsair stuff. also where is the Gskill pc4000 and the Mushkin pc4000?? There should have been more UCCC tested and less CE-6.

    just my opinion though.
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, January 23, 2006 - link

    You can not presently buy Crucial any where, and Crucial told us they would not likely have the product available again. Infineon has had problems with consistency since October, but all of the memory manufacturers here assured us the Infineon-based dimms were current products and supply would continue. Some even sent links on where you could buy the Infineon dimms.

    We asked manufacturers to submit their "best" 2GB kit. There was nothing to stop them from submitting both Infineon CE and Samsung UCCC for the roundup. As we found in the review Samsung UCCC is not as fast as Infineon at most speeds, but it does overclock just as well, and it's generally 30% to 40% cheaper. At present Samsung UCCC chips are easier to find, but manufacturers tell us recent Infineon is finally producing better yields - and chips are becoming available again.
  • CCUABIDExORxDIE - Monday, January 23, 2006 - link

    alright...what about this?"> aww a bit of misinformation? thats right
  • ozzimark - Monday, January 23, 2006 - link

    while we're mentioning misinformation.. it was stated that teamgroup can be had at newegg? atm, i'll have to disagree.

    second.. micron chips don't go to just crucial. i have a set of 2x1gb teamgroup in my hands that i need do a review on that use micron chips, and they easily hit 280mhz on a DFI that appears to be having serious VTT stability issues :P
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, January 23, 2006 - link

    We checked with Newegg and Team is not available there. We have removed that comment from the review and asked Team where buyers can buy their memory in the US. We'll post the info when we get an answer.
  • cool - Monday, January 23, 2006 - link

    On the "Test Configuration" page, I noticed that you're using the following nForce drivers: "NVIDIA nForce Platform Driver 6.86"
    When will they be released and do they solve the PATA/SATA and nvFirewall issues that are still plaguing nForce4 users?
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, January 23, 2006 - link

    I apologize for the typo. We used the latest release 6.70 on our DFI nF4 SLI. The latest release for AMD X16 is 6.82, and we listed a beta x16 driver rev we had on an x16 machine used for editing.

    The platform driver version has been corrected in the article.
  • PrinceGaz - Monday, January 23, 2006 - link

    Hopefully one day, the nVidia softtware team will pay some attention to its chipset drivers and get these issues with the PATA/SATA drivers, which in v6.70 still have issues on my nForce4 mobo, albeit not so badly as some earlier drivers, but are still unreliable enough for me to revert to the default Windows ones.

    As for the hardware firewall; I'm not even going to consider installing the drivers and software for that given the continued reports it has of causing serious problems. I'd rather let my dual-core processor do the work on one of its cores, which as I use Kerio Personal Firewall would hardly be noticed even in a multi-threaded app as it takes very little CPU time.

    Given the mess nVidia have made of the nForce chipset drivers, and how Microsoft recommend ATI graphics-cards for the Vista betas as their drivers are better; I really do wonder if nVidia who built a good reputation for themselves with rock-solid graphics-card drivers a few years ago have lost the plot. I bought an nForce4 mobo and 6800GT last year, but am increasingly thinking an ATI graphics-card would have been a better choice, and if similarly feature-rich mobos with other chipsets were available then, that any of ATI, VIA, SiS would have been a better choice than nVidia.

    It's sites like this that have over-hyped nVidia mobos since the nForce2 on performance alone that I'm sure contributed to their dominance, and the sorry state of afares we are in with their chipset drivers as there is little competition and can afford to give it low priority.

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