Nearly two weeks ago we brought you a preview of DDR3 memory modules that detailed the differences between DDR3 and DDR2. At the time we couldn’t provide performance numbers as Intel did not have their DDR3 motherboard chipset officially announced. This morning Intel Intel has officially launched a new chipset called the Intel P35 Express Chipset. This is the first chipset from any manufacturer that supports DDR3 and DDR2 memory modules. JEDEC specifications for DDR2 stopped at 800MHz (PC2-6400), yet today DDR2 is available up to 1200MHz (PC2-9600). Right off the bat JEDEC had released specifications for DDR3 that go up to 1600MHz and they expect DDR3 to scale to 2133MHz. Even today on the day that DDR3 memory modules and chipsets are launching we are able to overclock DDR3 memory modules to speeds over 1700MHz, which is amazing on something so new.
Since the Intel P35 Express Chipset can be enabled to use DDR2 or DDR3 memory modules a number of companies have released two versions of this chipset. This means that you need to decide if you want to run DDR3 or DDR2 memory modules right off the bat. DDR3 memory modules are expensive right now, but that doesn’t stop gamers, enthusiasts and early adaptors from wanting to have the latest and greatest technology to tinker with it.
To do some DDR2 versus DDR3 testing we used the ASUS P5K Deluxe and ASUS P5K3 Deluxe motherboards. These motherboards are nearly identical with the main difference being the type of DDR memory that is used. This is ideal for testing DDR2 versus DDR3 as it’s basically the same board! We got early 2GB samples of high-end DDR3 memory from Kingston and Corsair to try out and it was clear that Kingston and Corsair took different approaches to their first DDR3 memory kits.
Kingston sent over a 2GB PC3-11000 HyperX memory kit that was rated to run at 1375Mhz had tight memory timings of 7-7-7-20 and operated at 1.7V. This memory kit is the fastest DDR3 memory kit from anyone to our knowledge and has really tight timings compared to other DDR3 kits at the same speed. Kingston will offer 1GB and 2GB PC3-11000 memory kits with these timings.
Corsair Memory sent over one of their PC3-10600 XMS3 DHX (Dual Path Heat eXchange) ES memory kits, which is now their mid-grade XMS3 memory kit. The Corsair XMS3 DHX Dominator memory kit has yet to be announced as Corsair is waiting on better IC’s to come out from companies like Elipdia, Qimonda, Micron and Samsung before launching something for die hard enthusiasts. The Corsair 2GB kit came with the part number CM3X1024-1333C9DHX ES, which is rated for operation at 1333MHz with 9-9-9-24 timings at 1.5V. As you can tell this memory kit has much greater memory timings and a lower clock frequency compared to the Kingston HyperX kit mentioned above. No matter how much voltage this kit was given we couldn’t get it below CL8 timings at 1333MHz for this reason we used the Kingston kit for performance testing as it performed better although the Corsair kit overclocked better. We will better cover this in the overclocking section.
Let’s jump into testing to see how DDR3 memory does when compared to one of the best DDR2 memory kits on the market the 2GB Kingston HyperX PC2-9600 memory kit.