G.Skill Trident Z DDR4-4000 Review

Skylake's advanced memory controller makes overclocking easier, but are memory modules keeping up? We put G.Skill's DDR4-4000 through its paces.

Skylake overclocks better...but is that really important? We've been seeing 4.6 GHz CPU overclocks (on air) for over a year, and the fact that it's now easier to find a CPU that supports this clock doesn't seem all that important. After all, even our "dud" processors have been able to support 4.20 GHz at 100 percent load continuously, and the vast majority of Haswells went to at least 4.40 GHz without requiring a pile of voltage and the associated increase in cooling capacity.

On the other side of overclocking, RAM leaves more room for differentiation. You won't even find a DDR3-3600 kit, let alone the 4000 MT/s of the Trident Z DDR4 modules being tested today. Many readers have argued that data rates beyond DDR4-2400 are pointless, since there really aren't any programs out there yet that can take advantage of the extra bandwidth. But Haswell-E guys have been arguing since last year that the extra bandwidth of quad-channel really is important. Those boards are pushing around 48GB/s at DDR4-2400. Wouldn't it at least be fun if we could get 80 percent of that bandwidth using just half the number of memory channels?

G.Skill's Trident Z DDR4-4000 is the subject of today's review, and as you can see it includes just two 4GB modules. That does put it in the "just for fun" category by my standards, but only because I use my PC for work. Gamers will probably find its 8GB capacity adequate, and many component manufacturers are trying to draw a strong parallel between gaming and overclocking markets.

As indicated by the name, G.Skill's F4-4000C19D-8GTZ comes with an XMP-4000 program at CAS 19; it is a "dual channel" pair totaling 8GB and a member of the company's Trident Z family. Digging deeper, we find a relatively relaxed tRCD of 21 cycles and 41 cycles tRAS.

This is usually the point where most DDR3 users throw up their hands and say "Too much latency makes DDR4 pointless," but doing so misses the little fact that the impact of latency is dependent on cycle time. Historically speaking, DDR-400 CAS 2 was awesome, DDR2-800 CAS 4 was par excellence, and DDR3-1600 CAS 8 was great. If we flip the frequency to reveal cycle time and multiply that cycle time by cycles of latency, we find that all of these result in the same latency time as DDR4-4000 CAS 20. Memory constantly gets faster, it just never seems to get quicker.

Here's how G.Skill's Trident Z DDR4-4000 looks compared to some of the previous DDR4 memory kits we've tested:

DDR4 Rated Specification Comparison

You'll notice that the previous kits used four modules, and that's because most of them were designed for Haswell-E (X99) platforms. The one stand-out, G.Skills own DDR4-3600 kit, was specified for overclocking evaluations of Skylake (Z170) motherboards.

Each containing 4GB modules, these kits are our comparison baseline.

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15 comments
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  • jkhoward
    What a waste of money, good article nonetheless!
    3
  • ipwn3r456
    This RAM is faster than our CPUs (or atleast more than 90% of us, expect the overclockers)...
    0
  • Aspiring techie
    Quote:
    This RAM is faster than our CPUs (or atleast more than 90% of us, expect the overclockers)...

    RAM clock speeds are 1/2 the rated data rates. So, DDR4 4000 runs at 2GHz, still pretty good.
    If programs could use that extra bandwidth.....
    1
  • Onus
    That this RAM really isn't worth the money is made clear by the article.
    1
  • Crashman
    Anonymous said:
    That this RAM really isn't worth the money is made clear by the article.
    G.Skill has some great DDR4-3400 at 2x 8GB for the same price.
    0
  • heroictofu
    I'd like to see an article like this actually suggest programs/games/etc that could truly take advantage of higher memory bandwidth. They might be edge cases, but who knows, maybe there's some random game we've always enjoyed and never knew that RAM speed could make said game so much better. Or some application. Either way.
    -2
  • chaosmassive
    price aside, just how high this DDR4 memory will go?
    over last 6 months, too many products of DDR4 has released to racing for top speed.
    0
  • vaughn2k
    DDR3 1066. Still working fine here.. :)
    0
  • cats_Paw
    WE have been getting imperceptible improvements a few years now... We are still on 4 cores, even 2 in CPUs.
    So... if game devs and hardware manufacturares dont want to improve, they wont get my cash :D.
    1
  • McWhiskey
    Quote:
    WE have been getting imperceptible improvements a few years now... We are still on 4 cores, even 2 in CPUs.
    So... if game devs and hardware manufacturares dont want to improve, they wont get my cash :D.


    Fully agreed. I finally took the plunge and bought a new system this Christmas. Tired q6600 ==> skylake i7 , 5770 crosfire ==> 980ti. ALL of my day to day activities take the same amount of time. I am in no way wowed by any of the general computing activities. Games went from high/ultra settings to full ultra. Now I'm adding sweetfx to games and trying to find something to really show off a return on my investment.

    I'm happy to have some bragging rights and no reason to ask "but can I run it?" But largely I feel like I could have waited a bit longer.
    1
  • JackNaylorPE
    For years we saw posts saying everything above 1600 was a waste because 3 benchmarks said so ... but as reviewers went beyond the surface and widened the testing, we saw that most games were GPU, limited, others were CPU limited and some (i.e. F1) were bandwidth limited. THG showed that 2400 was in fact 11% faster with 2400 in F1 as compared to 1600. And as it cost just $20 more for 2400 at the time, it was certainly an option worth considering.

    So while I appreciate the effort here, as it does give a general idea of what might be expected, until I see a bit wider range of testing, including 2x/3x/4x SLI and minimum frame rates ... and including games known to to be impacted by RAM like F1... , as before, I don't think I'm ready to write off faster RAM as being totally useless.
    0
  • ammaross
    Quote:
    I'd like to see an article like this actually suggest programs/games/etc that could truly take advantage of higher memory bandwidth. They might be edge cases, but who knows, maybe there's some random game we've always enjoyed and never knew that RAM speed could make said game so much better. Or some application. Either way.

    That's exactly what Grid2 and Battlefield 4 were.....it didn't make a tangible difference at these levels.
    0
  • JackNaylorPE
    I have not seen either of those affected by memory speed. If you want to see RAM impacts, three things required:

    1. Use multiple graphics cards
    2. measure minimum fps, not just average
    3. Use games actually known to be affected by RAM speed / bandwidth like F1



    177 / 159 = 11.3% ... or about what you would get jumping from an nVidia x70 to an x80
    0
  • heroictofu
    Anonymous said:
    Quote:
    I'd like to see an article like this actually suggest programs/games/etc that could truly take advantage of higher memory bandwidth. They might be edge cases, but who knows, maybe there's some random game we've always enjoyed and never knew that RAM speed could make said game so much better. Or some application. Either way.

    That's exactly what Grid2 and Battlefield 4 were.....it didn't make a tangible difference at these levels.


    That's not what I was getting at. I meant something along the lines of... maybe a game like Civ 5 or EVE Online, or some other less popular game where the higher memory bandwidth does show a tangible difference. As in to seek out a few hidden gems that can take advantage. Saying Grid2 and Battlefield 4 were those examples... That isn't at all what I was suggesting.
    0
  • smatharuby
    exactly like Grid2 nd battlefield4 i will try something new http://goo.gl/G0849K
    0