Patriot Viper Steel RGB DDR4-3600 C20 2x16GB Review: Expensive Light Show

Patriot's Viper Steel sheds its skin

Patriot Viper Steel RGB DDR4-3600 C20
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

Tom's Hardware Verdict

The Patriot Viper Steel RGB DDR4-3600 C20 is only worthy of consideration if you're willing to invest your time to optimize its timings and if you can find the memory on sale with a big discount.


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    + Runs at C16 with fine-tuning

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    + Balanced design with RGB lighting

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    + RGB compatibility with most motherboards


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    Very loose timings

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    Low overclocking headroom

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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.

Patriot Viper Steel RGB DDR4-3600 C20 (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

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.

Comparison Hardware

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Memory KitPart NumberCapacityData RatePrimary TimingsVoltageWarranty
G.Skill Trident Z RoyalF4-4000C17D-32GTRGB2 x 16GBDDR4-4000 (XMP)17-18-18-38 (2T)1.40 VoltsLifetime
Crucial Ballistix Max RGBBLM2K16G40C18U4BL2 x 16GBDDR4-4000 (XMP)18-19-19-39 (2T)1.35 VoltsLifetime
G.Skill Trident Z NeoF4-3600C16D-32GTZN2 x 16GBDDR4-3600 (XMP)16-16-16-36 (2T)1.35 VoltsLifetime
Klevv Bolt XRKD4AGU880-36A180C2 x 16GBDDR4-3600 (XMP)18-22-22-42 (2T)1.35 VoltsLifetime
Patriot Viper Steel RGBPVSR432G360C0K2 x 16GBDDR4-3600 (XMP)20-26-26-46 (2T)1.35 VoltsLifetime

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.

Intel Performance

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.

AMD Performance

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

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Memory KitDDR4-3600 (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 C1613-14-14-35 (2T)N/AN/AN/A19-19-19-39 (2T)
Crucial Ballistix Max RGB DDR4-4000 C18N/AN/A16-19-19-39 (2T)N/A20-20-20-40 (2T)
G.Skill Trident Z Royal DDR4-4000 C17N/AN/A15-16-16-36 (2T)18-19-19-39 (2T)N/A
Klevv Bolt XR DDR4-3600 C1816-19-19-39 (2T)N/AN/A18-22-22-42 (2T)N/A
Patriot Viper Steel RGB DDR4-3600 C2016-20-20-40 (2T)17-26-26-46 (2T)N/AN/AN/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.

Bottom Line

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.

Zhiye Liu
RAM Reviewer and News Editor

Zhiye Liu is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Although he loves everything that’s hardware, he has a soft spot for CPUs, GPUs, and RAM.

  • drivinfast247
    C20? Trash!
  • foxrox
    Pure rubbish. Maybe the widespread acceptance of super crappy, sloppy and slow JEDEC 3200 CL20 SO-DIMMs made for turdbooks with no tuning capabilities caused Patriot to think this was going to be viewed as excusable. Too bad for them, it's not. Expect a very high RMA ratio on this junk. Smart folks will snub it based on the Hynix IC alone.