By: Chris Angelini
Value is the tenet on which AMD’s current product lineup is built. How about a six-core CPU for under $200? If you can take advantage of all of that threading, then psh, yes please. We applied that same thinking to our choice for a budget-oriented gaming processor: AMD’s Phenom II X2 555, which sells for under $100, includes an unlocked clock multiplier, and bears the distinct potential of hosting two more viable execution cores. And while we don’t mind digging a little deeper for a motherboard with plenty of value-added functionality, there’s frankly little reason to sink big bucks on DDR3 memory with gobs of headroom. That’s why we were impressed when Patriot elected to send over an affordable DDR3-1600 kit made up of two 2 GB modules when we asked for its gift guide submission.
Performance-wise, you already know what to expect from an AMD-optimized memory kit. The Phenom II X2 555’s controller officially supports data rates of up to DDR3-1333, and the fact that we’re recommending a Black Edition processor means you have that unlocked multiplier for easy overclocking. In reality, there’s little reason to push obscene memory clocks, though. Nevertheless, Patriot facilitates a bit of headroom that you can either use to fine-tune your optimizations with subtle reference clock adjustments or tighten timings for better responsiveness. Patriot rates its kit for 9-9-9-24, but we’ve seen reports of enthusiasts pulling that down to 7-7-7 at 1333 MT/s.
Unlike a kit designed for Intel’s integrated memory controller, which would generally be limited to 1.65 V, this G-series kit is rated for up to 1.8 V on AMD’s hardier CPUs. Of course, that doesn’t mean you need to push higher voltages, but power users should at least have plenty of headroom to dial in the settings that work best for them. Patriot also makes it a point to flaunt its Black Edition-ready certification, simplifying overclocking via AMD’s OverDrive utility through identifiable and certified-stable profiles.
We’ve shown in past memory roundups that heat spreaders don’t necessarily translate to a better overclock. But the G-series’ black aluminum covers at least add a nice aesthetic element to this kit. The Patriot Gamer Series lineup sells for less than $90, leaving ample budget for a capable graphics card (arguably the component that’ll most define your gaming experience). These modules do what we need them to do at a reasonable price—it doesn’t get much better than that.
- CPU: AMD Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition
- Motherboard: Gigabyte 890FXA-UD5
- Memory: Patriot 4 GB DDR3-1600 Memory Kit (PGS34G1600ELK)
- Power Supply: Corsair Professional Series AX1200
- Primary Storage: OCZ RevoDrive X2
- Secondary Storage: Western Digital Caviar Green 3 TB
- Graphics: Diamond Radeon HD 6870 (6870PE51GXOC)
- CPU: Intel Core i7-980X Extreme
- Motherboard: Asus Rampage III Formula
- Memory: Crucial DDR3-1333 12 GB Memory Kit
- Chassis: SilverStone Fortress FT02B-W
- Graphics: MSI GeForce GTX 580 (N580GTX-M2D15D5)
- Heatsink: Noctua NH-C14
- Optical Drive: LG BH10LS30 Blu-ray Burner
- Sound Card: Creative Labs X-Fi Titanium HD