Separating The Wheat from the Chaff: The Latest DDR2 Modules Tested

Conclusion: Corsair And PDP In The Lead

There was good news across the board in our DDR2 comparison test results. When set to automatically read the timing parameters from the SPD-ROM, all of the memory modules worked perfectly on our Gigabyte test board.

It is quite often the case that the SPD programming deviates from what the memory modules can actually do. Thus the DIMMs generally run somewhat more slowly than the maximum theoretical values. This is a common practice with some manufacturers, who do it to guarantee that the sticks will work in a variety of configurations. But if you undertake a little fine tuning, you can even tweak a bit more performance out of them.

Extremely impressive was the fact that, except for a single pair, all modules worked reliably up to DDR2-710. That corresponds to overclocking a Pentium 4 system from FSB800 to FSB1066. It also requires some compensation in terms of the timings - we often had to resort to CL5-4-5-12 or even slower, but when we did that, it worked.

To our amazement, we were really bowled over by the Corsair DIMMs and both pairs of Patriot modules from PDP. We can confirm that PDP currently offers the speediest DDR2 DIMMs by far. Not only did the 1 GB Patriot DIMMs work at DDR2-533 at sensationally fast CL3-2-2-4 timings, they also managed to do a decent job at maintaining that operating tempo even at high clock speeds. At DDR2-710 we still recorded timings of CL4-3-3-12. Despite their advanced age of more than six months, Corsair’s XMS2 PRO memory modules are also able to run at absolutely ideal timings at DDR2-533 - even though there are few motherboards that feature these settings.

We can state that huge advances have already been made with DDR2 memory ; neither SDRAM nor DDR-SDRAM attained such performance leaps as quickly. That leaves room for hope that we might even get to DDR2-800 by mid-year, although it will take considerably longer before motherboards catch up.