4GB Gets Cheap: 9 Dual-Channel Kits Compared

Latency And Overclocking Results

While previous DDR2 tests were often stopped at CAS 5, one of the module sets in today’s competition was rated at super-relaxed latencies of CAS 7. With high hopes that several of these memory kits might reach a 1,200 MHz data rate, we tried latencies ranging from CAS 3 to CAS 8 before determining the “Lowest Latency” for data rates of 800, 1,066, and 1,200 MHz.

Many users fear added voltage may cause premature parts failure, so we started with the DDR2-standard 1.80 V setting and worked our way up. Modules are sorted by best latency, starting with the highest achievable speed.

Best Timings at 1.80 V
DDR2-1200 DDR2-1066 DDR2-800
G.Skill F2-8000CL5D Failed 5-5-4-14 4-4-3-10
Crucial Ballistix PC2-6400 Failed 5-5-5-14 4-4-4-10
Patriot Viper 6400LLK Failed 6-6-5-6 4-4-4-5
Kingston KHX8500AD2 Failed 6-5-6-15 5-4-4-12
PNY MD4096KD2-800-X4 Failed Failed 4-4-3-10
Super Talent T800UX4GC5 Failed Failed 4-5-3-5
Corsair XMS2-6400C5 Failed Failed 5-4-4-10
Mushkin 996557 Failed Failed 5-4-4-10
Wintec AMPX 6400C5 Failed Failed 5-4-4-10

While none of our module sets were capable of reaching DDR2-1200 at standard voltage, G.Skill’s DDR2-1000 and Crucial’s Ballistix DDR2-800 both reached DDR2-1066 at CAS 5. Kingston’s DDR2-1066 didn’t require a voltage increase to reach its rated speed, but it suffered from longer CAS 6 latency requirements.

At the basic DDR2-800 setting, Patriot’s low-latency kit stands out for having exceptional tRAS.

Best Timings at 2.00 V
DDR2-1200 DDR2-1066 DDR2-800
Crucial Ballistix PC2-6400 6-5-6-15 5-4-5-14 4-3-4-10
G.Skill F2-8000CL5D Failed 5-5-4-14 4-4-3-10
Patriot Viper 6400LLK Failed 5-5-5-6 4-4-4-4
Kingston KHX8500AD2 Failed 6-5-6-15 5-4-4-12
PNY MD4096KD2-800-X4 Failed Failed 4-4-3-9
Corsair XMS2-6400C5 Failed Failed 4-4-4-10
Super Talent T800UX4GC5 Failed Failed 4-5-3-5
Mushkin 996557 Failed Failed 5-4-4-10
Wintec AMPX 6400C5 Failed Failed 5-4-4-10

A modest voltage increase to 2.00 V returned amazing results from Crucial Ballistix, with a 50% overclock achieved ! The stigma of using CAS 6 timings goes away at DDR2-1200, since this 50% increase in latency cycles (compared to rated timings) is accompanied by an equally significant decrease in cycle time (compared to rated speed).

Patriot’s low-latency kit again offers impressively-low tRAS, with the added voltage bringing it down to four cycles.

Best Timings at 2.20 V
DDR2-1200 DDR2-1066 DDR2-800
Crucial Ballistix PC2-6400 6-5-6-15 5-4-5-14 4-3-4-10
Patriot Viper 6400LLK 7-7-7-11 5-5-5-6 4-4-4-4
G.Skill F2-8000CL5D Failed 5-5-4-14 4-4-3-10
Kingston KHX8500AD2 Failed 6-5-6-15 5-4-4-12
PNY MD4096KD2-800-X4 Failed Failed 4-4-3-8
Corsair XMS2-6400C5 Failed Failed 4-4-4-10
Super Talent T800UX4GC5 Failed Failed 4-5-3-5
Mushkin 996557 Failed Failed 5-4-4-10
Wintec AMPX 6400C5 Failed Failed 5-4-4-10

Crucial’s Ballistix DDR2-800 continues its lead at 2.20 V, but doesn’t show any gains compared to its 2.00 V results. Patriot breaks through the DDR2-1200 ceiling as well, but at lengthier CAS 7 timings.

None of the remaining modules showed notable performance gains in the switch from 2.00 V to 2.20 V, but we still used 2.20 V as the limit when we moved on to seek the maximum clock speed of each module set. Hoping that several modules would at least come close to a 1,200 MHz data rate at reasonable timings, we chose latency limits of 6-6-6-18.

Crucial Ballistix PC2-6400 isn’t the cheapest memory around, but its overclocking potential is nothing short of stunning. Only Patriot Viper PVS24G6400LLK was able to come close.

Some of our samples were rated at far higher speeds than the DDR2-800 of Crucial’s mid-priced Ballistix, but it’s obvious that “overclock-validated” parts are not always the best choice for overclockers. A comparison of rated-speed to achieved speed adds a little more perspective.

The two “high-speed” memory kits were among the worst overclockers, percentage wise. Anyone who is willing to pay extra for overclocking-validation will be especially disappointed in the chart above, as its shows that the only reliable way to estimate how far a memory set will go is to read reviews. Since manufacturers often alter components without telling anyone, user reviews are a great way to stay updated once an official review no longer appears relevant.

While overclocking and low latencies are nice features, the focus of today’s comparison is performance value, also known as “bang for the buck." Our next page will show the value of each kit, from several perspectives.

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    Top Comments
  • JonnyDough
    Stop using rebates as qualifiers. I was taught in consumer math that if you purchase something with the cost of a rebate figured in, you had better be prepared to pay full price. I think a lot of us here IGNORE rebate pricing, and won't even support it by buying rebated items. Rebates are CRAP, no consumer likes them. They aren't a "discount" they are a marketing ploy to rip people off.
    10
  • Other Comments
  • randomizer
    Good to see G.Skill finally decided to send some samples.
    2
  • JonnyDough
    You can increase how much ram is used for prefetch in XP as well, so that hardly says that Vista is faster than XP once you use more RAM. I for one have skipped the Vista era and am happily awaiting Windows 7. I guess I prefer to keep my $100 in my wallet for awhile instead of giving it to M$ investors.
    0
  • V3NOM
    i rofl'd that my cheap Team Elite owned all of them except the ballistix...
    3
  • JonnyDough
    Stop using rebates as qualifiers. I was taught in consumer math that if you purchase something with the cost of a rebate figured in, you had better be prepared to pay full price. I think a lot of us here IGNORE rebate pricing, and won't even support it by buying rebated items. Rebates are CRAP, no consumer likes them. They aren't a "discount" they are a marketing ploy to rip people off.
    10
  • raider37
    I'm pretty darn happy with my 4GB of XMS2 DDR2-800 RAM from Corsair, all my components are overclocked and work extremely well, plus here in Pakistan only 2 memory companies are widely available (Kingston and corsair) and we all know kingston is overpriced and their modules do not perform as well as Corsairs.
    2
  • johnbilicki
    As a regular I feel insulted that my fellow readers and I are expected to except an introduction suggesting that we are mindless consumers no different than the people who trampled and killed a worker at Walmart this past Friday.

    My dual core socket 939 with 2GB of RAM running XP Pro might not get as much FPS as my friend running a quad with 4GB and Vista but my system runs smooth on almost all the same games without dealing with all the constant freezing, errors, glitches, and horrendous boot times plus I don't have to run a page file. A real enthusiast would turn in their grave if they saw qttask in the task manager. Real pride is knowing your rig's software too and mindlessly burning money instead doing a few simple Google queries is what an amateur would do.

    I expect better than this. It does really matter.
    -9
  • Crashman
    johnbilickiAs a regular I feel insulted that my fellow readers and I are expected to except an introduction suggesting that we are mindless consumers no different than the people who trampled and killed a worker at Walmart this past Friday.


    That sounds like the voice of experience...you were at that Wal Mart? Because it appears that everyone else automatically knew that the introduction was meant to cover the widest range of potential buyers, and not each one of them specifically. Yet you mindlessly trampled into that rant?
    7
  • johnbilicki
    CrashmanThat sounds like the voice of experience...you were at that Wal Mart? Because it appears that everyone else automatically knew that the introduction was meant to cover the widest range of potential buyers, and not each one of them specifically. Yet you mindlessly trampled into that rant?


    The introduction slaps everyone in the face by suggesting money is the only solution. Even less experienced people know how to do a Google query.

    "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who haven't got it." - George Bernard Shaw
    -5
  • Crashman
    johnbilickiThe introduction slaps everyone in the face by suggesting money is the only solution. Even less experienced people know how to do a Google query."The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who haven't got it." - George Bernard Shaw


    It suggests that very little money can be a very easy solution to multiple performance issues.

    And you're using a quote to emphasise your cynicism concerning my observation? Thanks!
    6
  • johnbilicki
    CrashmanIt suggests that very little money can be a very easy solution to multiple performance issues.And you're using a quote to emphasise your cynicism concerning my observation? Thanks!


    ...and entirely avoids the point of optimizing a system's software just as you have! It's an informal fallacy to suggest you have made some unique observation as I have when all you have done is avoid my point in the simple interest to convince people to spend money instead of simply preventing junk from being loaded in to their existing memory.
    -6
  • Tjik
    OK, so this is one of those articles that has no value at all outside of the US. In my view it's kind of pointless to make such a twisted calculation that puts everything upside down, with conclusions that might be worth zero tomorrow. If it's true that G.Skill hasn'tbeen very keen on sending some RAM for testing I think this article won't make them more willing to.

    Offer easy to understand figures and don't promote any rebate schemes. A consumer isn't more stupid than that he's able to figure out that it might be a good idea to check what special offers are available at the day of the buy. Or is this article to be updated on a regular basis until the next big round-up? Rebates aren't some kind of fixed market value.
    -3
  • Unolocogringo
    Who pissed in your cereal this morning????
    This article is for the masses. The same ones who trampled the walmart employee.The same ones who have no idea what mscon*** or services.*** are.That is aproximately 99% of the readers of this site.
    6
  • zodiacfml
    i think the article and crashman still has a point, though not for us enthusiast who knows a lot of how things work in a pc,device, or machine.
    there are a lot of solutions improving performance but for some people it will be easier for them to spend than spend time learn anything. not really a good attitude but that is just a lot of people do today, probably the reason why super expensive gaming systems and products exist. ignorance is bliss.
    3
  • Pei-chen
    As a mindless drone, I prefer the “throw more resources at it” approach. The 8GB OCZ PC2-6400 RAM in my Vista x64 computer only cost $50 and I never need to buy more RAM as long as keep this PC (next rebuild Q1 2011)

    I am surprised OCZ didn’t send anything for review; they usually have the cheapest kits.

    BTW johnbilicki, what would happen to your setup if windows tries to run a program that requires more than 2GB of physical RAM?
    5
  • malveaux
    I have 8gigs of the XMS2 Corsair in my Vista64 machine. I can't feel any difference from 2gigs that I had. But after turning off the page file. I hear my disc less often. Woo....

    =/
    1
  • 98silvz71
    My 4 GB Kingston HyperX DDR2-800 Ram runs at 5-5-5-15 at 1000Mhz with 2.2v. I only payed around 70 dollars for all 4GB. Something is not right with the results that you got for your sets.
    0
  • Anonymous
    The point of this article was to help outline price changes in the DDR2 market, and how a relatively small amount of cash might help the majority of users (How many people who repair friends' computers see all that crap they have on their machine. Sure you can fix it, but they're just going to accumulate more crap. You can't fix it forever). I remember when I made a build for my family a few years ago. A pair of 1GB Dual channel OCZ 667 was the most expensive part in the build... a number of months after I bought it, I was surprised at how cheap it was. It is seriously 90% cheaper than what I bought then, and higher performance also. 90% off is a huge deal.
    2
  • Huttfuzz
    Love the article. Thanks Crashman.
    2
  • ooo
    Great article man thks for the information ¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡
    2
  • slomo4sho
    Thanks for the write up. The Corsair XMS2 went on sale for as low as $15 after a $35 MIR on Black Friday.

    What was the best speeds you were able to obtain on the XMS2 at the rated 1.9v? I have a pair of sticks in the mail and look forward to fine tuning these :)
    0