G.Skill Flare X DDR4 Memory For AMD Ryzen Platforms

Picking out the right DDR4 dual-channel memory kit for an AMD Ryzen processor can be a daunting task as there are hundreds of kits on the market to pick from and not all work well with AMD's latest AM4 platform. The good news is G.Skill has come out with the Flare X and FORTIS DDR4 memory series that were both designed specifically for AMD Ryzen platforms. This means you can cut through all the BS and hassle of trying to find a kit that will work and just purchase one of these new kits from G.Skill and go about your day. G.Skill Flare X - AMD Ryzen The new G.Skill Flare X series DDR4 memory kits use carefully selected IC chips specifically tested and validated on the AM4 platform to ensure the best compatibility and stability for systems with the AMD Ryzen CPU. The Flare X memory modules have an aggressive anodized aluminum heatspreader and are aimed at gamers, overclockers and pretty much any system builder that needs extreme performance DDR4 memory. Clock frequencies on the G.Skill Flare X series are available in 2133MHz, 2400MHz, 3200MHz in both 8GB modules and 16GB models. G.Skill also has plans to bring a 3466MHz 8GB module kit to market down the road for those that are looking to overclock on an AMD X370 or B350 motherboard that has an external clock generator that allows for memory operation beyond 3200MHz clock speeds. G.Skill Flare X DDR4 Memory For AMD Ryzen G.Skill Flare X Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) Kit Pricing w/ Black Heat Spreaders For those that are looking for something a little more cost effective, the G.Skill FORTIS series was fitted with a less flashy heat spreader yet is still AMD-tuned for quality, reliability and compatibility. This series is only available in 2133MHz and 2400MHz clock frequencies, so if you needed a 3200MHz or faster kit you'll need to look to the G.Skill Flare X series and pay a little extra to get those tighter binned memory ICs. G.Skill FORTIS DDR4 Memory For AMD Ryzen G.Skill FORTIS  Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) Kit Pricing w/ Black Heat Spreaders Pricing on the G.Skill Flare X and FORTIS DDR4 memory kits don't make much sense to us. For example, of the four FORTIS memory kits the fastest model with the tightest timings costs less than the other models. When purchasing a memory kit why even bother with the other models when the best memory kit costs the least? Some of the Flare X memory kits actually cost less than the FORTIS memory kits at the same clock speed and timings, which is also odd seeing how that is supposed to be the premium series. G.SKILL Flare X Series 16GB DDR4 DRAM Our friends over at G.Skill in Taiwan send us the G.Skill Flare X series 16GB DDR4 3200 MHz CL14 memory kit in black (part number F4-3200C14D-16GFX) that is currently available for $186.99 shipped from Newegg or $221.50 shipped from Amazon. You'll pay a premium for this 3200MHz memory kit due to it being clocked 33% higher than the next fastest kit that is 2400MHz. G.SKILL Flare X Series 16GB 3200MHz CL14 DDR4 The timings on this DDR4 3200 MHz (PC4-25600) memory kit are 14-14-14-34 at 1.35V, which is actually pretty aggressive for a kit of this speed. The DDR4 2133MHz and DDR4 2400MHz kits by G.Skill don't even come from the factory with CL14 timings, so it appears that tighter timings is one way G.Skill is trying to differentiate and justify the price on this kit from the slower models in this series. The large heatspreaders put the modules at 40mm (1.58")  in height, so be sure your heatsink fan (HSF) will work if you are using a custom aftermarket air cooler. G.SKILL Flare X Series 16GB 3200MHz CL14 DDR4 Memory Kit On the back side of the modules you'll find the product label that contains the serial number for the limited lifetime warranty, date of manufacture, model number, timings, voltage and more. [gallery ids="194191,194192,194193"] The G.Skill Flare X 16GB 3200MHz CL14 memory kit (f4-3200c14d-16gfx) comes with two Intel XMP 2.0 memory profiles (called A-XMP in AMD land) that you can enable in the UEFI on AMD B350 and X370 motherboards that support XMP memory profiles. Many users don't feel comfortable setting memory timings, clock speeds and voltages, so you can avoid that scary process and just enable one of the pre-set memory configurations. Profile #1 is designed for 2933MHz with CL14 timings and then Profile #2 is designed for 3200MHz with CL14 timings. Profile #1 worked on our system flawlessly, but we had some issues with Profile #2 being stable without manually doing some voltage tweaks to the CPU core voltage and advanced DRAM voltages. This really defeats the purpose of having XMP memory profiles and an AMD Ryzen compatible memory kit, but we'll save our gripes on that for the conclusion. Let's take a look at the AMD Ryzen 5 1600X powered test platform and then get into the benchmark results.

AMD Ryzen 5 1600X Test Platform

AMD Ryzen Test System The AMD AM4 platform that we used to test the Ryzen 5 1600X was run on the MSI X370 Xpower Gaming Titanium motherboard with UEFI 1.50. You can see the HWiNFO64 details for each platform below: G.Skill Flare X HWiNFO The processor was run at stock settings. The Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 memory kits were run at 14-14-14-28 memory timings at all clock speeds. We used an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 8GB Founders Edition with GeForce 378.78 WHQL drivers. We also used the Corsair AX860i digital power supply, Corsair Hydro Series H110i water cooler and Corsair Force MP500 480GB PCIe SSD on the system.
AMD AM4 Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor

AMD Ryzen 5 1600X

Motherboard

MSI X370 XPower Titanium Click Here

Memory

16GB Vengeance 3000MHz DDR4 Click Here

Video Card

GeForce GTX 1080 FE Click Here

Hard Drive

Corsair MP500 480GB Click Here

Cooling

Corsair H110i Click Here

Keyboard

Corsair K70 RGB Click Here

Mouse

Corsair M65 Pro Click Here

Power Supply

Corsair AX860i Click Here

Monitor

ASUS PB287Q 4K Click Here

Operating System

Windows 10 64-Bit Click Here
It should also be noted that we used AIDA64 Engineer 5.90 Build 4229  Beta for the memory benchmarking application.   Let's take a look at the benchmarks!

AIDA 64 and Sandra Memory Bandwidth Tests

AIDA64 Extreme Edition 5.90 Beta:

AIDA64 Extreme Edition 5.90 software (websiteis an excellent benchmarking tool for looking at memory performance on any desktop PC. This version of AIDA64 implements full support for the upcoming Intel Skylake processors, adds advanced support for Microsoft Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 operating systems, and supports the latest graphics and GPGPU computing technologies by both AMD and nVIDIA. AIDA64 Extreme 5.90 software is free to try with limited features or $39.95 to buy with 1-year of free updates. 

Benchmark Results: At DDR4-2400 dual channel with CL15 timings we were getting right around 37,000 MB/s of read/write memory bandwidth and by the time we got up to DDR4-3200 with CL14 timings we were running over 48,000 MB/s! This is a nice performance increase in memory bandwidth!

Benchmark Results: The latency of the memory decreased as the DDR4 DRAM clock speed increased as we expected. At DDR4-2400 we averaged 87.5 ns and then improved that as the clock speeds went faster until we reached 72.7 ns at DDR4-3200. Our lowest latency of the numbers that we averaged was 71.8ns on this 3200MHz memory kit.

SiSoftware Sandra 2016 SP3:

SiSoftware Sandra Lite was designed to be a Windows system analyzer that includes benchmarking, testing and listing modules. All benchmarks are optimised for both SMP & SMT (Hyper-Threading), up to 32/64 CPUs depending on the platform.

Benchmark Results: Using Sandra 2016 SP3 we again checked the memory bandwidth performance and managed to go from 30.24 GB/s with our 2400 MHz DDR4 memory kit with CL15 timings all the way up to nearly 39 GB/s with the 3200 MHz DDR4 CL14 memory kit. In fact, on on our best run with the G.Skill Flare X 16GB 3200MHz CL14 memory kit we got 39.1 GB/s with the AMD Ryzen 5 1600X processor at stock speeds on the MSI X370 Xpower Gaming Titanium motherboard.

3DMark Time Spy and X264

Futuremark 3DMark Time Spy

3DMark Time Spy just recently came out and it is the latest and greatest DirectX 12 benchmark test for gaming PCs running Windows 10. This DirectX 12 Feature Level 11_0 benchmark utilizes a pure DirectX 12 game engine that supports features like asynchronous compute, explicit multi-adapter, and multi-threading! The developers opted to use DirectX 12 Feature Level 11_0 to ensuring wide compatibility with DirectX 11 hardware through DirectX 12 drivers. 3DMark Time Spy With DirectX 12 on Windows 10, game developers can significantly improve the multi-thread scaling and hardware utilization of their titles to draw more objects, textures and effects for your viewing enjoyment. 3DMark Fire Strike is a great high-end DirectX 11 benchmark test, but doesn't really show off what new graphics cards can do on a DirectX 12 game title that will have much more going on while you are playing. 3DMark Time Spy Settings We ran 3DMark Time Spy with the standard settings and got the following results:
Results: The GPU score actually went down slightly with the faster memory, but the CPU score went up 5.6% by going from the DDR4 2400MHz kit with CL15 timings to the DDR4 3200 MHz kits with the CL14 timings. This isn't a massive increase, but it does again show that running faster memory clock speeds will help CPU performance in some applications. Due to the higher CPU score, we noticed that the overall score in 3DMark Time Spy went from 6,856 to 6,917, an improvement of 0.9%. 

x264 HD Benchmark v5.0.1

LR Test system x264 screen shot HandBrake is an open-source, GPL-licensed, multiplatform, multithreaded video transcoder, available for MacOS X, Linux and Windows. It is popular today as it allows you to transcode multiple input video formats to h.264 output format and is highly multithreaded.

Benchmark Results: The X264 v5.0.1 benchmarks showed that you get a small performance bump by moving from DDR4-2400 to DDR4-3200 on the first pass, but for the most part the performance is pretty flat. We found 3.2% performance gains on the first pass and 0.8% performance gains on the second pass by going up to a 3200MHz kit from a 2400MHz DDR4 memory kit. 

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands is an open world tactical shooter video game developed by Ubisoft Paris. It is the tenth installment in the Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon franchise and is the first Ghost Recon game to feature an open world environment. The game moves away from the futuristic setting introduced in Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter and instead feature a setting similar to the original Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon. Ubisoft described it as one of the biggest open world games that they have ever published, with the game world including a wide variety of environments such as mountains, forests, deserts and salt flats. A modified version of the AnvilNext game engine was used.  The game was released on March 7, 2017 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands was benchmarked with very high image quality settings with Temporal AA and 4x AF. V-Sync and the framerate limit were both disabled and we used the game titles built-in game benchmark. 1080P Benchmark Results: Ghost Recon Wildlands is a pretty tough game title, but with the GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card we were getting nearly 90 FPS on average at 1080P with lows around 75 FPS. The difference in gaming between the two memory kits wasn't significant as there wasn't even a full tenth of a second difference between the averages between the two kits. So, there is a huge difference in the memory bandwidth in the synthetic benchmarks, but when gaming normally with the image quality at realistic settings there isn't going to be a big performance difference. 

Final Thoughts and Conclusions

The G.Skill Flare X Series looks good, but we were disappointed with the compatibility that we saw with AMD Ryzen processors. This series was designed to be compatible with AMD Ryzen processors and we expected simple plug-in-play performance on our test system and that is not what we got with the 3200MHz memory kit. If we just plugged the module into the board enabled the proper XMP profile and started using the system we found that all games would crash. We fought with the system for a couple hours and finally started looking at other user reviews and found this was common. The good news is that the G.Skill support department has been responding to those user reviews, but the news isn't really that ideal.
This is currently the best RAM for the AMD Ryzen 7 CPU, so you can surely expect outstanding results. For top end performance, not any motherboard and CPU can support it, so make sure to check the G.Skill QVL (https://gskill.com/en/product/f4-3200c14d-16gfx) or RAM Configurator for G.Skill certified combinations (https://gskill.com/en/configurator). The low profile heat spreader and black finish will fit and look great in any system. The best DDR4 chips are used in this memory kit, and if you compare similar or same specs of other brands, you will find that this kit is a great deal.  A Ryzen 7 CPU such as the 1800X or 1700X is recommended to reach DDR4-3200. Other models may not be capable, or additional tweaking may be necessary. Also, make sure the modules are installed in the same color slots furthest away from the CPU. If DDR4-2933 is working properly, check to see what the SoC Voltage is in BIOS. To attempt a higher DRAM Frequency, make sure the SoC Voltage is set higher than this value.
To reach DDR4-3200, they are basically saying that you need to increase the CPU Voltage on the Ryzen processor to help the memory controller that is built into the CPU to become stable for the higher frequency. They also suggest using Ryzen 7 processors like the 1800X or 1700X to reach 3200MHz and don't bother mentioning the Ryzen 5 series.  The MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium that we were using is on the G.Skill QVL list for this memory kit and the Ryzen 1600X in stock form is already running at up 1.44V on this board. We tweaked some of the voltages to get the kit mostly stable for this review, but it was not 100% stable at 3200MHz with CL14 timings on our test platform. We spent the better part of an entire day trying to tweak voltages and besides the CPU Voltage we also increased the CPU NB, CPU1P8, DRAM VPP, DRAM VREF, PROM Core and PROM PHY voltages and couldn't get it dialed in. We found 2933MHz to be rock solid, but the same could never be said for 3200MHz. G.Skill Flare X DDR4 Memory Kit For AMD Ryzen Processors At the end of the day the G.Skill Flare X 2133 and Flacre X 2400 kits should work with all AMD Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 processors, but the Flare X 3200 kit isn't going to work for certain. We were able to get 3200MHz with CL14 timings mostly stable on our test system with the Ryzen 5 1600X processor with some manual voltage tweaks. If you are going to get any brands 3200MHz memory kit and expect it to run at those speeds be prepared to manually dive into the UEFI to tweak some settings should stability issues happen on your particular build. G.Skill Flare X Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) Kit Pricing w/ Black Heat Spreaders Is the G.Skill Flare X 2400MHz CL15 memory kit at $119.99 is the best bang for the buck, but if you want to run 2933MHz or possbily 3200MHz on your Ryzen platform the Flare X 3200MHz CL14 kit can be yours for an extra $67. If you are building a new PC from scratch that extra ~$70 would likely be put to better use in the video card, CPU or SSD budget, so be sure to make sure you plan out a well rounded system! Legit Bottom Line: The G.Skill Flare X looks good and has reasonable prices, but the 3200MHz kit is pushing the limits for what the platform can handle today and may require manual overclocking in the UEFI to get that clock speed stable if it is even possible.