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Mainstream-Ready? DDR3-1600 Shootout

Overclocking and Latency Results

We tested each 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) dual-channel memory kit to find its highest stable speed in Memtest86+ v1.70, using a maximum 1.90 volts and CAS 9-9-9-24. One module set, Aeneon’s XTune AHX860UD20-16H-K-4G, didn’t respond to such high voltage levels and was instead tested at 1.54 volts. The results were somewhat surprising.

Buffalo FireStix uses a similar heat spreader design to Corsair, but without the internal rows of fins to cool the PCB. Buffalo’s “simpler” parts still took a clear overclocking lead, probably due to slightly higher-quality chips.

Aeneon XTune came in second place, even with the lower required test voltage. These appear to be true PC3-12800 components rather than the most overclockable of lesser-rated parts.

Kingston’s HyperX modules do without so much as a single fin on its heat spreaders, yet these edged out Corsair’s similarly-priced XMS3.

Corsair defends its parts by stating that these are optimized for Nvidia chipsets, and also claims an average overclocking capability of 1800 MHz at CAS 8 using an Asus Striker II Extreme. We didn’t use the Striker II Extreme for today’s comparison, but Corsair’s claims are worth investigating when searching for the best memory for Nvidia’s 790i Ultra SLI chipset.

We were hoping that at least some of the modules would overclock to DDR3-2000, and chose the appropriate 500 MHz FSB clock. While none of today’s competitors overclocked that far, we were able to get some interesting results at DDR3-1666 and DDR3-1333.

DDR3-1600 at 1.90V (Max)DDR3-1667DDR3-1333
Kingston HyperX KHX12800D3G-2G7-7-6-156-5-5-10
Buffalo FireStix FSI1600D3G-2G7-7-6-156-6-5-12
OCZ Reaper HPC OCZ3RPR16004GK7-7-7-156-6-5-12
Corsair TW3X4G-1600C9DHXNV7-7-7-156-6-6-12
Mushkin Enhanced HP3-12800 9966297-7-7-206-6-5-12
Aeneon XTune AXH860UD20-16H9-9-6-187-7-5-12
PDP Patriot PVS34G1600LLKCrash6-5-5-10
Wintec AMPX 3AXH1600C8WS4GKCrash6-6-7-13

Two dual-channel kits achieved low 7-7-6-15 timings at DDR3-1667, and two achieved 6-5-5-10 timings at DDR3-1333, but only Kingston’s HyperX could do both. A second-place finish at both speeds sets OCZ Reaper HPC apart in value, since careful shoppers can find these around 25% cheaper than the Kingston parts.