Patriot, who isn't a stranger to our list of Best RAM, has many interesting product lines in its broad repertoire. However, the memory specialist recently revamped one of its emblematic lineups to keep up with the current RGB trend. As the name conveys, the Viper Steel RGB series arrives with a redesigned heat spreader and RGB illumination.
The new series marks the second time that Patriot has incorporated RGB lighting onto its DDR4 offerings, with the first being the Viper RGB series that debuted as far back as 2018. While looks may be important, performance also plays a big role, and the Viper Steel RGB DDR4-3600 memory kit is here to show us what it is or isn't made of.
Viper Steel RGB memory modules come with the standard black PCB with a matching matte-black heat spreader. It was nice on Patriot's part to keep the aluminum heat spreader as clutter-free as possible. Only the golden Viper logo and the typical specification sticker is present on the heat spreader, and the latter is removable.
At 44mm (1.73 inches), the Viper Steel RGB isn't excessively tall, so we expect it to fit under the majority of the CPU air coolers in the market. Nevertheless, we recommend you double-check that you have enough clearance space for the memory modules. The RGB light bar features five customizable lighting zones. Patriot doesn't provide a program to control the illumination, so you'll have to rely on your motherboard's software. The compatibility list includes Asus Aura Sync, Gigabyte RGB Fusion, MSI Mystic Light Sync, and ASRock Polychrome Sync.
The Viper Steel RGB is a dual-channel 32GB memory kit, so you receive two 16GB memory modules with an eight-layer PCB and dual-rank design. Although Thaiphoon Burner picked up the integrated circuits (ICs) as Hynix chips, the software failed to identify the exact model. However, these should be AFR (A-die) ICs, more specifically H5AN8G8NAFR-VKC.
You'll find the Viper Steel RGB defaulting to DDR4-2666 and 19-19-19-43 timings at stock operation. Enabling the XMP profile on the memory modules will get them to DDR4-3600 at 20-26-26-46. The DRAM voltage required for DDR4-3600 is 1.35V. For more on timings and frequency considerations, see our PC Memory 101 feature, as well as our How to Shop for RAM story.
|Memory Kit||Part Number||Capacity||Data Rate||Primary Timings||Voltage||Warranty|
|G.Skill Trident Z Royal||F4-4000C17D-32GTRGB||2 x 16GB||DDR4-4000 (XMP)||17-18-18-38 (2T)||1.40 Volts||Lifetime|
|Crucial Ballistix Max RGB||BLM2K16G40C18U4BL||2 x 16GB||DDR4-4000 (XMP)||18-19-19-39 (2T)||1.35 Volts||Lifetime|
|G.Skill Trident Z Neo||F4-3600C16D-32GTZN||2 x 16GB||DDR4-3600 (XMP)||16-16-16-36 (2T)||1.35 Volts||Lifetime|
|Klevv Bolt XR||KD4AGU880-36A180C||2 x 16GB||DDR4-3600 (XMP)||18-22-22-42 (2T)||1.35 Volts||Lifetime|
|Patriot Viper Steel RGB||PVSR432G360C0K||2 x 16GB||DDR4-3600 (XMP)||20-26-26-46 (2T)||1.35 Volts||Lifetime|
Our Intel test system consists of an Intel Core i9-10900K and Asus ROG Maximus XII Apex on the 0901 firmware. On the opposite side, the AMD testbed leverages an AMD Ryzen 5 3600 and ASRock B550 Taichi with the 1.30 firmware. The MSI GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Gaming Trio handles the graphical duties on both platforms.
Things didn't go well for the Viper Steel RGB on the Intel platform. The memory ranked at the bottom of our application RAM benchmarks and came in last place on the gaming tests. Our results didn't reveal any particular workloads where the Viper Steel RGB stood out.
The loose timings didn't substantially hinder the Viper Steel RGB's performance. Logically, it lagged behind its DDR4-3600 rivals that have tighter timings. The Viper Steel RGB's data rate allowed it to run in a 1:1 ratio with our Ryzen 5 3600's FCLK so it didn't take any performance hits, unlike the DDR4-4000 offerings. With a capable Zen 3 processor that can operate with a 2,000 MHz FCLK, the Viper Steel RGB will probably not outperform the high-frequency kits.
Overclocking and Latency Tuning
Overclocking potential isn't the Viper Steel RGB's strongest trait. Upping the DRAM voltage from 1.35V to 1.45V only got us to DDR4-3800. Although we had to maintain the tRCD, tRP, and tRAS at their XMP values, we could drop the CAS Latency down to 17.
Lowest Stable Timings
|Memory Kit||DDR4-3600 (1.45V)||DDR4-3800 (1.45V)||DDR4-4000 (1.45V)||DDR4-4133 (1.45V)||DDR4-4200 (1.45V)|
|G.Skill Trident Z Neo DDR4-3600 C16||13-14-14-35 (2T)||N/A||N/A||N/A||19-19-19-39 (2T)|
|Crucial Ballistix Max RGB DDR4-4000 C18||N/A||N/A||16-19-19-39 (2T)||N/A||20-20-20-40 (2T)|
|G.Skill Trident Z Royal DDR4-4000 C17||N/A||N/A||15-16-16-36 (2T)||18-19-19-39 (2T)||N/A|
|Klevv Bolt XR DDR4-3600 C18||16-19-19-39 (2T)||N/A||N/A||18-22-22-42 (2T)||N/A|
|Patriot Viper Steel RGB DDR4-3600 C20||16-20-20-40 (2T)||17-26-26-46 (2T)||N/A||N/A||N/A|
As we've seen before, you won't be able to run Hynix ICs at very tight timings. That's not to say that the Viper Steel RGB doesn't have any wiggle room though. With a 1.45V DRAM voltage, we optimized the memory to run at 16-20-20-40 as opposed to the XMP profile's 20-26-26-46 timings.
It comes as no surprise that the Viper Steel RGB DDR4-3600 C20 will not beat competing memory kits that have more optimized timings. The problem is that C20 is basically at the bottom of the barrel by DDR4-3600 standards.
The Viper Steel RGB won't match or surpass the competition without serious manual tweaking. The memory kit's hefty $184.99 price tag doesn't do it any favors, either. To put it into perspective, the cheapest DDR4-3600 2x16GB memory kit on the market starts at $154.99, and it checks in with C18. Unless Patriot rethinks the pricing for the Viper Steel RGB DDR4-3600 C20, the memory kit will likely not be on anyone's radar.