DDR2 PC2-6400 (800MHz) 7-way Memory Showdown

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Individual Conclusions

Nathan Kirsch’s Thoughts:

It has been one month to the day since my last memory article titled DDR2 800MHz Roundup: A-Data, Kingston, & Mushkin and now that we have added four more brands to the list I believe we really do have a 7-way showdown in the PC2-6400 memory market. 

Benchmarking:

We took seven of the leading enthusiast memory companies DDRII 800MHz memory kits and put them through the paces.  When it came to benchmarking the winner was clear from the get go because we all know tighter timings means better performance for the most part.  Since OCZ Technology rates their modules at tighter timings than the rest they will always perform better in bandwidth tests for that reason.  When looking at the benchmarks it is interesting to see the performance gaps between the other memory lines.  The small, but obvious performance differences are due to the Integrated Circuit (IC) selections and the Printed Circuit Board (PCB) that the companies picked to use.  We have been running Elpida and Infienon IC’s for nearly two years here and Legit Reviews and neither companies IC’s really jump out to us as performance winners.  It was shocking to see the Elpida/Brain Power combination perform so well in standard benchmarking and in overclocking on both the A-Data and SyncMAX modules.

General Thoughts:

A-DATA:

In recent months A-DATA has really focused on the North American memory market and have finally made it into major online retail channels.  (Think Newegg) A-DATA was last ranked the fourth largest memory company in the world and after looking at their modules it is easy to see how in less than five years they passed up other big names like Corsair, OCZ, Mushkin in the blink of an eye.  They focus on keeping prices down, while keeping performance levels up.  The A-DATA Vitesta DDRII 800 modules were the lowest priced modules of the round-up, but performed well in all of the benchmarking. This was our first major experience with their Vitesta memory line has at is has been a good one.  With low pricing and killer performance A-DATA seems to have some great DDR2 memory modules.  Our only concern with A-DATA is their RMA and return procedures since they are so new to this market.  So far we haven’t had or heard of any problems, but we will keep you up to date and time goes on. We look forward to bringing you more reviews of A-DATA memory modules and as time goes on we will get a better picture of the company and product lines.

Corsair:

The memory with muscle failed to stand out from the pack this time around in terms of performance, but a closer look at the numbers shows nothing to worry about.  Our XMS2-6400Pro modules overclocked past 1GHz and come with the second lowest price of the seven brands we tested. Consumers also have the option of buying the Pro series, which offer activity LED lights so one can see their memory is under load or not. Corsair and their XMS/XMS2 series has much to their liking become the standard for enthusiast memory and times don’t seem to be changing.  Corsair is a triple threat when it comes to memory.  They have great products, a killer RMA process, and tech support staff that we hardly every stump.  We have no reservations on saying that Corsair’s XMS2-6400 memory should be on your short list.

Crucial:

Micron IC’s on a Crucial memory module sounds like the perfect combination and the performance numbers would sugesst that is true. Our Crucial Ballistix kit (BL2KIT6464AA804) overclocked just shy of 1GHz, but was able to hit an impressive 964MHz at CL4 timings. The Crucial modules were the only memory kit of the bunch that used a PLL, but it didn’t seem to help or hurt performance.  The only thing that it might have impacted is the pricing as the Crucial modules are some of the most expensive modules of the bunch.  Those looking for memory with LED’s will be upset to learn that Crucial is not offering a PC2-6400 module in their Tracer series yet, so if LED’s is your thing look back up at Corsair’s XMS2 Pro Series.

Kingston:

This showdown article should be a reality check for Kingston.  Right now Kington’s DDR2 memory series in general is suffering in terms of performance and their PC2-6400 memory series is no exception.  It overclocked the least and had the overall lowest benchmark numbers.  I believe that it is time for Kignston to change something!  The Infienon IC’s that Kingston is using on their HyperX line perform just fine at Kingston’s ratings, but refuse to run at tight timings and high frequencies.  Now that infienon’s US division is being sold to Micron we might see some changes that force Kingston to change their module components. The Kingston modules perform just fine at their rated speeds and come backed with some of the best customer support of any memory company we have seen. We found the Kingston HyperX PC2-6400 memory modules lack what a true overclocker and enthusiast is looking for — The ability to overclock their system to the max.  Our test bed could run 100% stable at 1050MHz+ with some of the other modules, but our PC2-6400 kit from Kingston was only able to run up to 900MHz.  Considering that the Kingston HyperX PC2-6400 are enthusiast modules we expect more from them.   

Mushkin:

Now that Mushkin is employee owned and a private company we are expecting them to make some new moves in the memory industry.  In recent months they have launched new heat spreaders and have made some very good choices on their memory modules.  Our Mushkin review sample differed from the other brands because it was 2GB.  The more IC’s that are on a memory module the harder it will be to overclock, because if one IC doesn’t like it the module will start throwing errors.  To our surprise the Mushkin eXtreme XP6400 memory kit overclocked very nicely and passed up every other modules, except the ones SyncMAX.  The screened Micron D9 IC’s that Mushkin is using are impressive to say the least. The performance and overclocking numbers on the Mushkin eXtreme XP6400 memory series is no joke, but also come with the highest price tag of the bunch. 

OCZ Technology:

Being heavy is a sign of quality right?  By far the heaviest modules of the bunch thanks to their solid heat spreader the OCZ modules performed as expected.  The OCZ PC2-6400 Platinum modules overclocked nicely and had one of the best PCB/IC combinations of the group in terms of what overclockers and gamers want.  OCZ has been consistently cranking out winning memory modules in 2005 and these modules are no different.  Now that OCZ is on the right track in terms of configuring performance modules we hope they can keep focus while they continue to expand and grow.  Other memory companies have gotten to the size OCZ is at today and has lost focus with the consumers who have gotten them there in the first place! With a mid-range price point, the tightest timings, and highest memory bandwidth scores of the seven brands we tested the OCZ PC2-6400 Platinum modules are well worth a look.  

SyncMAX:

Talk about a wolf in sheeps clothing!  The SyncMAX eXpress PC2-6400 was the only memory it of the seven that came without a heat spreader, yet it overclocked the best and had benchmark numbers that were in the middle of the pack.  After using Froogle.com and Shopping.com I was unable to find anyone selling or even listing these modules for sale.  The inability to locate these modules combined with the one year warranty make these modules hard to recommend to the average enthusiast/gamer.  It would be nice to see SyncMAX offer a lifetime warranty as every other memory company offers direct RMA’s and a lifetime warranty. If you are a die hard overclocker that likes to try out the latest in technology then you don’t care about warranties and the tough times locating a kit!  If this sounds like you, then time to go snipe hunting for Canadian memory!

Pricing:  

Recently we have been asked by our readers to compare the price versus MHz ratio on memory modules, so here is our first attempt.  To be fair to all the modules we are pricing a single 512MB module since we can only find the 512MB A-DATA Vitesta DDRII 800 modules to see how the price versus performance is.

 
512MB PC2-6400 Pricing Comparison

Brand

IC Brand 

Consumer Price

Price Per MHz

Live Pricing

A-DATA Vitesta

Elpida

$69.82
9 cents

Corsair XMS2

Micron

$90.00

11 cents

Crucial Ballistix

Micron

$117.46

15 cents

Kingston HyperX 

Infineon

$101.69

13 cents

Mushkin eXtreme

Micron

$119.98

15 cents

OCZ Technology

Micron

$135.53
17 cents

SyncMAX eXpress

Elpida

MSRP = $79.99

 

Unknown

If you are looking for the best bang for the buck it looks like A-DATA takes the win here by a long shot.

Legit Bottom Line:

If you are “weekend enthusiast” who likes to overclock on a budget without having to brown bag lunch for a month the A-DATA Vitesta DDRII 800 memory line will get you to blazing 1GHz memory speeds for under $140 shipped for a one gig kit.

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