Same Frequencies, But Different Components

Editor's Note: This article is an update to the original 3-Way PC2-6400 Roundup that was published last month.  This update includes four more brands, new benchmarking charts, and updated pricing/conclusions.

One might find it shocking that DDR2 memory has been on the market for over a year now, and while the initial performance levels of DDR2 memory was lackluster to say the least, that is no longer the case today.  At its inception entry level DDR2 came clocked at 400MHz with CL4 timings. One year later, one of the most common enthusiast speed grades is PC2-6400 (800MHz), which is double the initial frequency with the same timings as DDR2's big debut. To make things even better DDR2 memory has achieved price parity with DDR1 memory, making the change much easier on the wallet. 

Now that DDR2 memory has been around for several Intel chipsets it is becoming more common and the prices have been decreasing. With DDR2 memory hitting over 1GHz on Intel's 955X chipset we can only hope for even higher overclocking results on the upcoming Intel 975X chipset.  If you are an Intel fan and been waiting to upgrade from your socket 478 chipset the upcoming socket 775 boards featuring the Intel 975X chipset might push you over the edge with their SLI and Crossfire video card support. Not to mention support for the upcoming 65nm processor family and NetBurst technology from Intel. With the way PC2-6400 memory is looking it is currently the only memory we would recommend for our readers to be able to handle current and upcoming chipsets.

Legit Reviews has recently had the opportunity to look over SEVEN PC2-6400 memory kits from some of the most popular enthusiast brand lines here in North America. Our seven memory kits came from A-DATA, Corsair, Crucial, Kingston, Mushkin, OCZ, and SyncMAX. All of the kits are rated at PC2-6400 or DDR2 800MHz and are meant to be used in overclocking situations. While all seven brands are rated at 800MHz, this is where the similarities end.

The Kingston modules use Infienon IC's and are rated with a CAS Latency of 5 at 1.95V. On the other hand the A-DATA and SyncMAX modules use Elpida IC's on Brain Power PCB's. Crucial, Corsair, Mushkin, and OCZ all use  Micron IC's on their XP6400 memory lines and rates them at various timings with voltages ranging from 1.9-2.1V. Are you confused yet? Hang on and we will cover each module in depth and show you what the differences are between the kits.

Below is an image of all the memory kits together on the bench.

DDR2 800MHz Memory Showdown

Now let's take a look at the kits starting off in alphabetical order starting with A-DATA first.

A-DATA Vitesta DDR2 800MHz

First up to the plate is A-DATA with their Vitesta DDR2-800 module (model number ELJVE1916). A-DATA is a new comer to the North American sales market, but is quickly catching up in the cut throat memory industry here in the United States.  Just two weeks ago A-DATA modules became available at Newegg, so expect see other retailers pick them up shortly.

This Vitesta DDR2 memory kit is designed to meet the 800MHz data-rate specification of the JEDEC (Joint Electron Device Engineering Council) standard, but has been also been designed with overclockers and gamers in mind. We were told to expect higher than higher than JEDEC specifications with these modules. Other than the Vitesta name the modules come with a flashy red heat spreader and a lifetime warranty.

Key Features:

Image Description

Once the heat spreaders were removed we could read that the Printed Circuit Board (PCB) ID was BP MLL E186014 B62URCE, which is made by Brain Power Co. and is a well known company among enthusiasts around the world. Since A-DATA is using name brand IC's that have been known to overclock well on other memory series we can only hope that these modules are overclocking friendly. After looking at the memory IC's they were determined to be Elipda IC's with the part number E2508AB-GE-E. After trying to look up these part numbers on Elpida's site we were unable to find the part numbers.

Image Description

 

The A-DATA Vitesta DDRII 800MHz memory modules come in individual 512MB packages, which means they are not paired together like Kingston and Mushkin's 1GB kits.  A-DATA is agressively pricing their PC2-6400 memory and they can currently be picked up at Newegg for just $69.82 per module shipped! Talking about dirt cheap high end memory.

Corsair XMS Pro XMS2-6400 Memory

The Corsair TWIN2X2048-6400PRO is a 2 GByte matched pair of DDR2 SDRAM DIMMs. This part delivers outstanding performance in the latest generation of DDR2-based motherboards. It has been tested extensively in multiple DDR2 motherboards to ensure compatibility and performance at its rated speed. This memory has been verified to operate at 800MHz at the low latencies of 5-5-5-12-T1. This module is also available in a single module part. Corsair modules are tested and carry a limited lifetime warranty.

Corsair XMS2 PC2-6400 Memory Modules

When starting to remove the heat spreaders on Corsair's XM2X1024-6400Pro memory modules I rememberd that Corsair bonds their heat spreaders on.  Corsair is no longer using thermal tape on their DDR2 modules and bakes their heat spreaders on in the oven.  I strongly suggest not removing yours since removing the heat spreader will void your warranty and the heat spreaders are now "bonded" to the memory IC's. After looking under the heat spreader and talking with Corair memory it was determined that Corsair is also using screened Micron "Fat Body" D9 memory IC's for their 6400 Pro XMS26400high speed memory modules. The memory was also noted as being double-sided memory modules (containing FBGA components on only both sides) since they are 1GB per module. If you order densities under 1GB they will be single sided. Each of our Corsair modules has sixteen 64M x 8-bit DDR2 FBGA Micron memory IC's.

Corsair XMS2 PC2-6400 Memory IC's

Key Features:

The Corsiar XMS2 6400 modules coem with and without the LED lights.  For those who want the memory modules without the lights (non-pro model) they can be found for $328 (Current Pricing) in a 2GB memory kit and $360 (Current Pricing) in the 2GB kit with the LED's like the ones that we tested in this review.

Crucial Ballistix PC2-6400 Memory

The Crucial Ballistix product line was designed to run at speeds above and beyond industry standard specifications, Ballistix is not for the mainstream computer user. The Ballistix product line was developed specifically for gamers and power users who are trying to squeeze every bit of performance out of their systems. If you're a casual computer user, sending e-mail, surfing the Web, or downloading photos from your digital camera, then Ballistix probably isn't the product match for your needs. Crucial Ballistix modules are tested and carry a limited lifetime warranty.

Crucial Ballistix PC2-6400 Memory Modules

Once I removed the heat spreaders I found that Crucial was using Micron "Fat Body" D9 memory IC's for their Ballistix PC2-6400 (Part Number: BL2KIT6464AA804.8FA) high speed memory modules. Crucial laser etched over the original IC markings from Micron and put "BALLISTIX" on top.  The memory was also noted as being single-sided (containing FBGA components on only one side) since they are 512MB per module. If you order densities 1GB or greater they will be double sided. Each Crucial Ballistix module has eight 64M x 8-bit DDR2 FBGA Micron memory IC's. The Printed Circuit Board (PCB) ID was D2C010 and had the word Levin on the memory PCB.   Below is an image of the PCB and IC's.

Crucial Ballistix PC2-6400 Memory IC's

After removing the heat spreader I saw something I've yet to see on any DDR2 module including the dozens i have recieved from Crucial.

Crucial Ballistix PC2-6400 Memory IC's

Right smack dab in the middle of the PCB was a Texas Instruments chip. It can't be the SPD chip becasue that is the other 8-pin black chip on the right hand side of the Texas Instruments (TI) chip.I looked up the part number on the TI chip (Part Number CDCU877) and found out that this chip is really a 52-Ball BGA 1.8V Phase Lock Loop Clock Driver. The phase lock loop (PLL) clock driver is used reduce loading on the module by allowing spread spectrum clocking. These texas Instrument phase lock loop clock drivers cost around $2.75 each, so using these for a dual channel kit would increase the raw build cost by $5.50. We also found out that this specific PLL is rated from 10MHz to 400MHz, so overclocking the module would also push the PLL beyond its rated specifications. I asked Crucial about the PLL and they sent me an e-mail stating: "The PLL is pretty standard, and is not used specifically to regulate overclocking tweaks. Nothing special there, sorry!" I'm not sure that it is pretty standard because only one out of the seven brands use a PLL. More on this later!

Decoding The IC:

For those of you that want to know the inside scoop on everything we broke down what the codes on the IC mean below. If you would like to do this on one of your personal modules or to double check us you can find the most current data sheet found right here on the Micron site. After looking up the our FBGA code (D9DQT) we were able to determine that our IC's were part number MT47H64M8BT-3A. 

Micron MT47H64M8BT-3:A

Specification

Feature

MT47H

Micron Technologies

64M8

64 Meg x 8

BT

92-ball FBGA

3

3.0ns @ CL5 (DDR2-667)

A

Revision A IC's

Key Features:

The Crucial Ballistix PC2-6400 memory modules can be found for $233.86 (Current Pricing) in a 1GB memory kit and $478.32 (Current Pricing) at the time of print. This puts the Crucial Ballistix PC2-6400 memory kit to the high side when it comes to pricing. Part of the pricing increase might be due to the use of the PLL that we found when we removed the heat spreader. Very interesting stuff!

Kingston HyperX DDR2-800

Kingston Technology just recently came out with their 800MHz, 900MHz, and 1000MHz DDR2 memory lines and we are happy to be one of the first sites to get a look at these new modules. Kingston's HyperX line of high-performance DDR memory modules is geared toward the avid gamer and PC enthusiast markets. With HyperX memory modules Kingston gives gamers and PC enthusiasts a chance to take full advantage of their system's performance with the increased performance that is gained from overclocking a platform.

Image Description

Once I removed the heat spreaders I found that Kingston was using screened Infineon memory IC's for their KHX6400D2K2/1G high speed memory modules. The memory was also noted as being built using single-sided memory modules (containing FBGA components on only one side). The PCB that was used is unmarked and unkown by visual inspection. I asked Kingston if they could help us identify what PCB, but wouldn't comment since it was considered proprietary information. Each Kingston PC2-6400 module has eight 64M x 8-bit DDR2 FBGA memory IC's. Kingston has programmed each module to post at 5-5-5-15 timings in the SPD.  This makes the modules plug-in-play for ease of use.  Consumers don't have to adujst any memory timings, but the voltage does need to be bumped up to 1.9 volts in the BIOS for the memory to be 100% stable at 800MHz. 

Image Description

Kingston uses Infineon Technology FBGA 512Mbit DDR2 memory IC's on their PC2-6400 memory series. After removing our heat spreaders we found the full model number to be HYB18T512800AF-3S. The last "3S" on the part number stands for DDR2-667 5-5-5. This means that Kingston is using binned memory IC's for these DDR2 800MHz modules to ensure they are able to operate at such high frequencies.  We know that Infineon is going to be releasing a new IC with the part number HYB18T512800BF-3 in Q4 2005 that is rated at DDR2-667 just like the IC's on our module, but at tighter CL4 timings. It will be interesting to see if Kingston switches over to these newer Infineon IC's in the future if they find performance or timing improvements during qualifications. Before changing IC's companies like Kingston must also verify that there is enough volume to build their orders and also that Infineon will keep them in production long enough for Kingston to be interested in buying them.

Key Features:

On October 13th Kingston finally put up their HyperX PC2-6400 memory modules on their shopping site and they come priced at $220 for the 2x512MB kit or $110 for a single 512MB module. It can now also be found on our shopping engine for $187 on the 1GB kit and $94 for the 512MB module, which is cheaper than buying direct. 

Mushkin eXtreme XP6400 Memory

The Mushkin Extreme Performance Black Series (XP) delivers superlative performance for the hardcore PC enthusiast, and has been THE essential ingredient in extreme rigs for over a decade. Whether you are looking for low latencies to pull the highest frame-rates from the most challenging games or overclocking your machine well past industry standards - the Mushkin Extreme Performance Black is your module! All Mushkin Extreme Performance memory modules come with an installed heat spreader to eliminate localized hotspots, further enhancing lifetime and overclockability. Mushkin modules are tested and carry a limited lifetime warranty.

Mushkin eXtreme PC2-8000 Memory Modules

Once I removed the heat spreaders I found that Mushkin was using screened Micron "Fat Body" D9 memory IC's for their eXtreme XP6400 (991473) high speed memory modules. The memory was also noted as being double-sided memory modules (containing FBGA components on only both sides) since they are 1GB per module. If you order densities under 1GB they will be single sided. Each Mushkin XP6400 module has sixteen 64M x 8-bit DDR2 FBGA memory IC's. The Printed Circuit Board (PCB) ID was BP MLL E186014 B62URCB, which is made by Brain Power Co. and is a different part number than the PCB that A-DATA is using. 

Mushkin XP6400 Memory IC's

Decoding The IC:

For those of you that want to know the inside scoop on everything we broke down what the codes on the IC mean below. If you would like to do this on one of your personal modules or to double check us you can find the most current data sheet found right here on the Micron site. After looking up the our FBGA code (D9DQT) we were able to determine that our IC's were part number MT47H64M8BT-3A. 

Micron MT47H64M8BT-3:A

Specification

Feature

MT47H

Micron Technologies

64M8

64 Meg x 8

BT

92-ball FBGA

3

3.0ns @ CL5 (DDR2-667)

A

Revision A IC's

Key Features:

The Mushkin eXtreme XP2-6400 memory modules can be found for $229.72 (Current Pricing) in a 1GB memory kit and $440.98 (Current Pricing) in the 2GB kit that we tested in this review. This puts the Mushkin 1GB kit right between the A-DATA and Kingston memeory kits when it comes to pricing.  Let's move on to testing to see how the kits perform in real life and not just on paper.

OCZ Technology PC2-6400 Memory

The OCZ PC2-6400 Platinum EB series offers improved memory bandwidth and lower latencies (4-3-3-8) than standard DDR2-800 modules, and is offers teh tightest timings out of the seven brands we tested. The Enhanced Bandwidth (EB) optimized SPD timings help stream more data without interruption by offering the lowest possible page access times while reducing the strain on the DRAM I/O logic making this memory ideal for video editing and intensive gaming and a must have for enthusiasts who want the best of the best. OCZ offers the PC2-6400 Platinum EB memory line in 512MB modules and 1GB (2x512) Dual Channel Kits. For this review we used teh 1GB dual channel kit with a part number of OCZ28001024EBDCPE-K. OCZ modules are tested and carry a limited lifetime warranty.

OCZ EB Platinum PC2-6400 Memory Modules

Once I removed the heat spreaders I found that OCZ was using Micron "Fat Body" D9 memory IC's for their EB Platinum PC2-6400 (OCZ28001024EBDCPE-K) high speed memory modules. The memory was also noted as being single-sided memory modules (containing FBGA components on only one side) since they are 512MB per module. If you order densities of 1GB or more they will be double sided. Each OCZ module has sixteen 64M x 8-bit DDR2 FBGA memory IC's. The Printed Circuit Board (PCB) ID was BP MLL E186014 B62URCA, which is made by Brain Power Co. and is the same PCB that SybcMax is using on their modules, but with Elpida IC's. 

OCZ EB Platinum PC2-6400 Memory IC's

Decoding The IC:

For those of you that want to know the inside scoop on everything we broke down what the codes on the IC mean below. If you would like to do this on one of your personal modules or to double check us you can find the most current data sheet found right here on the Micron site. After looking up the our FBGA code (D9DQW) we were able to determine that our IC's were part number MT47H64M8BT-37EA.  These IC's are rated at CL4 at 533MHz and are a different production run than some of the other Micron IC's we are seeing other companies use. To reach the tight 4-3-3-8 timings that these modules come rated at users must increase the memory voltage in their BIOS to 2.1V, which is above the default settings. 

Micron MT47H64M8BT-37E:A

Specification

Feature

MT47H

Micron Technologies

64M8

64 Meg x 8

BT

92-ball FBGA

37E

3.75ns @ CL4 (DDR2-533)

A

Revision A IC's

Key Features:

The OCZ Technology EB Platinum PC2-6400 memory modules can be found for $135.53 (Current Pricing) in individual 512MB modules and $257.97 (Current Pricing) for the 1GB kit that we tested in this review.

SyncMAX eXpress PC2-6400 Memory

Enthusiast computer memory that is made in Canada? You better believe it! The name SyncMAX does not come to mind when one thinks of enthusiast memory, but this Canadian company has some smoking memory. When we looked into the background of SyncMAX we found that they were connected to Concord Idea Corporation. Concord Idea Corp. is a designer, manufacturer and distributor of PC memory and PC memory-related products, with an emphasis on delivering value and performance. They are currently trying to earn a reputation as a leader in the highly competitive PC memory market by offering products, sold under the SyncMAX brand name, to keep Concord Idea Corp. at the forefront of PC memory technology. Now that we know who makes the modules we can take a closer look at them.

A big thing for consumers is customer support and the warranty that products come with.  SyncMAX stands out from the crowd in a negative way when it comes to the warranty. All of the other kits in this review come with a lifetime warranty, but the warranty on Syncmax memory modules is only one year from the date of purchase. If for some reason the syncmax module is found defective, all exchanges, replacements and returns must be made through the company from whom you purchased the module and not from SyncMAX. 

SyncMAX eXpress PC2-6400 Memory Modules

Looking at the memory modules I found that SyncMAX was using blank Elipida memory IC's on their eXpress PC2-6400 high speed memory modules. The memory was also noted as being single-sided memory modules (containing FBGA components on only one side) since they are 512MB per module. Each SyncMAX PC2-6400 module has eight 64M x 8-bit DDR2 FBGA Elpida memory IC's. The Printed Circuit Board (PCB) ID was BP MLL E186014 B62URCA, which is made by Brain Power Co. and is the same part number that OCZ technology is using on their PC2-6400 memory module.

SyncMAX eXpress PC2-6400 Memory IC's

Key Features:

Stability Testing at Default Settings

How Do We Define Stable Memory?

Have you ever run across a review web site that reviews a product and shows a couple amazing scores and gives it an award? Sure you do as most review sites do just that, but how stable was it? I would be willing to bet that most sites don't know what stable memory is and therefore give fairly inaccurate results. Yes, I hate to break the news, but there is more than just running a memory bandwidth test and calling memory stable! Ever wonder what some of the memory companies use to test their modules? So did we, and we found out that they use the RAM Stress Test Professional 2 (R.S.T. Pro2). It is a Self-Booting, Operating System Independent memory diagnostic card for exercising and validating RAM. The R.S.T. Pro2 runs all tests in protected mode which can completely and thoroughly test up to 64 gigabytes of memory. This utility provides users the options of running sophisticated test patterns to detect hard to find memory errors, which are not detected by other test software.

RST Pro2 Memory Tester

While using the R.S.T. Pro2 we were able to find memory errors that other testing methods could not find or reproduce. Since we want and encourage our readers to follow up our testing on their own, we also used the free testing program called Memtest86 which is a stand alone memory test for x86 architecture computers that boots off a floppy disk. This software was getting old was unable to run on all platforms, so we will stick to the RST Pro2 for the time being. In recent months Chris Brady and some of the guys over at x86-secret have come up with Memtest86+, which is an updated version of the original program and it still happens to be free.

We also ran Prime95 while running loops of 3dmark2001 for a minimum of twelve hours to make sure that under hours of stress and heat buildup that the modules were truly stable.

We considered memory stable when it was able to run 1 extended pass of Memtest86+, twelve hours of Prime95/3dmark testing and ran without locking up while running all tests on the RST Pro2. Many consider if any errors are found using the RST Pro2 testing the memory has failed.

By this combination of tests we feel that this review is one of the most accurate completed in terms of memory stability. Sure, not everyone will agree with our stability testing methods, but not everyone can afford the cost of a review like this nor the time that went into this testing.

Bottom Line:

There is no industry standard for professional reviewers, but hopefully reviews like this will cause other professional reviewers to change their methods and ways of looking at memory.

Results:

The RST Pro2 tested the Base/Extended memory and after 5 loops no errors were found! Memtest86 was used and confirmed these results.

RST Pro2 Stability Testing Results

Brand

Timings

Voltage

Results

A-DATA

5-5-5-15

1.9V

PASS

Corsair

5-5-5-12

1.9V

PASS 

Crucial

4-4-4-12

2.1V

PASS 

Kington

5-5-5-15

1.9V

PASS 

Mushkin

5-3-3-8

1.9V

PASS 

OCZ Technology

4-3-3-8

1.9V

PASS 

SyncMax

4-4-4-12

1.9V

PASS

Let's take a look at the benchmarks and see which, if any, of the three kits stand out from the crowd.

The Test Platform

PC2-6400 Memory Test System

Intel DDR2 Memory Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor

Intel Pentium 4 670

Motherboard

ASUS P5WD2 Premium

Video Card

BFG Tech 7800GTX

Hard Drive

Seagate Barracuda 7200.7

Cooling

Corsair COOL

Power Supply

OCZ 600W Powerstream

Operating System

Windows XP Professional

Testing Procedure:

All testing was done on a fresh install of Windows XP Professional build 2600 with Service Pack 2 and DirectX 9.0c. All benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running. The 1:2 memory divider was used and the processor was left alone during system testing. All of the modules were run in dual channel for all of the testing and overclocking!

Memory Performance Testing

Sisoft; Sandra 2005 SR2a:

Sisoft Sandra 2005 is designed to test the theoretical power of a complete system and individual components. The numbers taken though are, again, purely theoretical and may not represent real world performance. Higher numbers represent better performance in memory bandwidth. The chart was based off of the buffered bandwidth scores. 

Image Description

Results: The OCZ Platinum memory modules takes the lead in the first benchmark by just beating out the Mushkin eXtreme modules.  This makes perfect sense because the OCZ modules have the tighest timings of all the modules in our group at 4-3-3-8 timings.  Since the timings are identical on some modules the differences seen in the chart are a result of the different PCB's and IC's that each brand uses.  

Everest Version 2.20:

Everst 2.20  is a professional system information, diagnostics and benchmarking program for Win32 platforms. It extracts details of all components of the PC. It also tests the actual read and write speeds of your memory giving a fairly accurate look of true memory performance.

Image Description

Results: Everest 2.20 shows just over a 100MB/Sec difference in memory bandwidth for read speeds and nearly as much for write between the modules.  The Corsair XMS2 Pro modules take a beating on this benchmark, but the results were confirmed on numerous benchmarking days. Once again we see OCZ and Mushkin in the top two spots.

ScienceMark 2.0 Final:

Science Mark 2.0 is an attempt to put the truth behind benchmarking. In an attempt to model real world demands and performance, ScienceMark 2.0 is a suite of high-performance benchmarks that realistically stress system performance without architectural bias. All of our testing was completed on the 32 Bit Final benchmark version that is dated March 21st 2005.

Image Description

Results: Sciencemark showed less than a 2% performance difference between the all the memory modules when we completed memory bandwidth testing.  No signifigant difference here and the race is still too close to call. OCZ's modules came out first in all three of our bandwidth test!

Now let's move on to some gaming benchmarks and Super Pi!

SuperPi Mod / Game Testing

Super PI Mod v1.4:

Super PI is a program a lot of enthusiasts use to benchmark overall system performance, as the program is capable of calculating pi up to 33.55 million digits on a timer. Many overclockers and enthusiasts are in a battle to get the lowest 1M Super Pi time possible.

Kingston DDR2 PC2-6000 (750MHz) Memory

Results: Super Pi Mod v1.4 shows a very slight performance increase with increased timings.  Moving from timings of 5-5-5-15 to 4-3-3-8 yielded a modest increase in performance. Mushkin and OCZ hang on to their top two ranking while Corsair and Kingston bring up the rear of the pack. 

Comanche 4:

Flight simulations are notorious for their CPU-dependence, and this makes the Comanche 4 benchmark potentially a better CPU/subsystem test than it is for 3D video cards. Comanche 4 uses DX8.1 pixel/vertex shaders and was run at 640x480 32-bit with no audio.

Kingston DDR2 PC2-6000 (750MHz) Memory 

Results: Comanche 4 seemed to like the SyncMAX eXpress modules, it it was a  full second faster than the other modules.  We were shocked by the performance of the SyncMAX modules as they were hanging in the middle of the pack and then took the lead in a benchmark.   

DOOM 3:

Kingston DDR2 PC2-6000 (750MHz) Memory

Results: Finally in Doom 3 we start to see a couple FPS difference between the modules.  The Mushkin XP6400 and OCZ Platinum memory modules came in tied for first place with a two frame per second lead over Kingston modules.

Let's take a look at overclocking and then round up our final thoughts on these three PC2-6400 (800MHz) memory kits.

Overclocking The Memory Modules

When it comes to overclocking memory every user has different beliefs and goals when doing so. Since our test system is on the open test bench we placed a single 80mm fan on top of the DIMM slots to cool the modules.  This should simulate the movement of air through the case.  We then increased the voltage to 2.3V (The most that is avaialable on the ASUS P5WD2 Premium) and adjusted the memory divider when needed.  If the modules would not operate at CL4 or CL3 at 800MHz it will be marked as "No Post" or "Not Stable". 

A-DATA:

A-Data Vitesta PC2-6400 Overclocking Results

Timings

Voltage

Results

5-5-5-15

2.3V

1020MHz

4-4-4-12

2.3V

894MHz

3-2-2-8

2.3V

No Post

 

Results: The A-DATA Vitesta XP6400 memory modules with the Elipda memory IC's turned out to be a big shocker for us when it came to overclocking.  The modules easily posted at 1050MHz and loaded Windows XP without any fuss.  Under stress testing the modules failed at these high speeds and could not pass RST Pro 2 testing or make exact rounds in Super Pi benchmarking.  After lowering clock frequency of the memory down to 1020MHz, yes that is over 1GHz, we were able to have a stable test system.  Moving to tighter CL4 timings the memory was able to post just over 900MHz, but ran like a champ at 894MHz. If you are trying to run CL3 with these modules dream on as our test system would not post. When you combine the sub $150 price of a 1GB kit of these modules and the above overclocking results we are still in shock.

Corsair:

Corsair XMS Pro PC2-6400 Overclocking Results

Timings

Voltage

Results

5-5-5-15

2.3V

1028MHz

4-4-4-12

2.3V

928MHz

3-2-2-8

2.3V

No Post

 

Results:  Legit Reviews was the first to break the 1GHz mememory mark back in March of 2005, so we had high hopes for the Corsair XMS Pro modules.  We were able to hit 1028MHz, but anything over this mark was unstable.  This is a solid 228MHz overclock and having memory modules that have a 28% frequency overhead isn't anything to laugh at. 

Crucial:

Crucial Ballistix PC2-6400 Overclocking Results

Timings

Voltage

Results

5-5-5-15

2.3V

996MHz

4-4-4-12

2.3V

964MHz

3-2-2-8

2.3V

No Post

 

Results:  We were worried about the overclocking of the Crucial modules since they have a PLL on them and when overclocking you raise the voltage and frequency on a module, which would drive a PLL insane. Our overclocking results didn't show that the PLL makes a bit of difference -- good or bad.  I tried for days to get 1GHz stable on our test system, but it just never happened. The CL4 timings were impressive on the Ballistix module as we were able to get up to 964MHz, which was the second highest of all the modules tested. 

Kingston:

Kingston HyperX PC2-6400 Overclocking Results

Timings

Voltage

Results

5-5-5-15

2.3V

900MHz

4-4-4-12

2.3V

No Post

3-2-2-8

2.3V

No Post

 

Results: After testing the overclocking abilities of the of the other seven brands of modules the Kingston modules performed under our expectations.  At CL5 the modules were able to overclock to 900MHz with 100% stability, which is a solid 100Mhz overclock.  When we tried to run CL4 or CL3 timings on the Kingston HyperX modules the system would not post at these timings at 800MHz.

Mushkin:

Mushkin eXtreme PC2-6400 Overclocking Results

Timings

Voltage

Results

5-5-5-15

2.3V

1042MHz

4-4-4-12

2.3V

946MHz

3-2-2-8

2.3V

No Post

 

Results: Mushkin uses "Fat Body" Micron D9 memory IC's on their eXtreme PC2-6400 memory and we know for a fact that these are some of the best IC's that money can buy right now.  Legit Reviews was the first to break the 1GHz memory frequency back in March and posted the article in April on our adventure. Our thoughts were backed up when the Mushkin eXtreme PC2-6400 modules loaded Windows at 1060MHz on the first try.  Although we later found that 1060MHz was unstable this was an impressive achievement. After RST Pro2 testing we found that 1042MHz was 100% stable on our 2GB memory kit. Below is a screen shot of our 2GB kit running at the highest stable memory overclock.

OCZ Technology:

OCZ PC2-6400 Overclocking Results

Timings

Voltage

Results

5-5-5-15

2.3V

1000MHz

4-4-4-12

2.3V

952MHz

3-2-2-8

2.3V

No Post

 

Results:  OCZ is known for their memory and overclocking performance and they did reach the 1GHz mark during overclocking.  We would expect nothing less from OCZ, so it is a good thing these numbers were made!

SyncMAX:

SyncMAX XTREME PC2-6400 Overclocking Results

Timings

Voltage

Results

5-5-5-15

2.3V

1054MHz

4-4-4-12

2.3V

1001MHz

3-2-2-8

2.3V

No Post

 

Results:  The memory company from Canada must have packed their modules in dry ice because they proved to be the fastest modules at both CL5 and CL4 timings.  Who would have thought Elpida memory IC's would have performed so well.  At CL4 the modules were able to run 1001MHz in Windows and the system screamed at these memory settings.

 

Time to round up our thoughts and conclude our DDR2 800MHz article!

Overclocking Graphs

For those who like a graphical view of the overclocking results this page is for you! Since memory is one of the critical pieces of hardware for one to overclock this might be a good page to benchmark.

First up we have the results graphed when overclocking the modules at relaxed CL5 timings.

PC2-6400 CL5 Overclocking Results

Results: As you can clearly see five of the seven kits were able to run 1GHz or higher in dual channel mode at these relaxed timings. 

PC2-6400 CL4 Overclocking Results

Results: The SyncMAX eXpress memory once again took the top spot running an impressive 1,001MHz at CL 4 timings.  The Kingston modules would not post at CL4 at 800MHz, so it was not included as it couldn't run these timings at its rated frequency. The rest of the modules hit right around 950MHz at CL4, which is impressive when most were rated CL5.

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.