Introduction

PNY XLR8 PC2 6400 CAS 3

Since 1985 PNY has been delivering a wide range of products to customers and this is our first look at one of their products. Most of us know PNY from big box retail stores that have ridiculously overpriced value memory, so it's likely that enthusiasts never really considered PNY when looking into high end overclocking memory but that is certainly changing. With the extremely low prices of RAM, PNY has jumped headlong into the high performance DDR2 market with the XLR8 DDR2 800MHz memory. Sure 800MHz is nothing to brag about but the memory we have here is rated for CAS 3 operation, which pushes it beyond value status. What's more is that our XLR8 sticks are also EPP ready.

PNY XLR8 PC2 6400 CAS 3

Rated officially for 3-4-4-8 operation at 800MHz at a full 2.3v, they certainly have the specs to back them up, and looking at those heatspreaders confirm that PNY is serious about this kit of memory. The XLR8 memory has a nice look to them that has a strong resemblance to that of Corsair's Dominator line. The “XLR8” signature is nice looking and has become, pardon the pun, a signature denoting their “Performance Edition” computer parts, such as their GeForce 8000 series video cards.

PNY XLR8 PC2 6400 CAS 3

The XLR8 sticks are organized in a double sided, 8x64MB configuration, which mean 512MB per side or 1GB per stick. PNY offers a lifetime replacement warranty on the XLR8 memory kits, which should give you piece of mind that you’re backed by a well-known company who has been in the business for years. Let’s take a look at the test system and how they performed!

Test setup and memory timings

Test Setup

Test Bench

 

Memory Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

 

Processor

Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6800

 

Motherboard

Asus P5B Deluxe Wi-fi
 

Video Card

OCZ 8800 GTX 
 

Hard Drive

Western Digital Raptor 150GB

 

Cooling

Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme

 

Power Supply

Corsair 620HX

 

Operating System

Windows XP Professional SP2

 

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. Forceware 158.22 drivers were used for 8800 GTX.

PNY XLR8 PC2 6400 CAS 3

In the picture above we see the default timings of our PNY XLR8 kit, you can clearly see that this kit of memory is EPP ready with 3-4-4-8 timings.

PNY XLR8 PC2 6400 CAS 3

And in this photo you can see that we were able to get the memory running 100% stable at 3-3-3-8 at the same 2.3v! Check the "Tight Timings" section for performance with the lower timings!

PNY XLR8 PC2 6400 CAS 3

And finally we have the highest memory frequency we were able to reach with the PNY XLR8 on our Asus board. Keep in mind you'll see much higher results on a 680i based board but this is still an impressive 1155MHz!

SuperPi, WinRAR, Battlefield 2142

SuperPi:

Super PI is a computer program that calculates pi to a specified number of digits after the decimal point - up to a maximum of 32 million.

PNY XLR8 PC2 6400 CAS 3

From the looks of things the lower timings of the PNY memory kit aren't helping us much here. Most of this 1M test fits inside the massive cache of the processor so it doesn't need to involve the main memory.

WinRAR:

WinRAR has a multithreaded version of the RAR compression algorithm, which improves the compression speed on computers with several CPU, dual core CPU and processors with hyperthreading technology. Multithreading is enabled by default, but you can disable it in "General" part of "Settings" dialog.

PNY XLR8 PC2 6400 CAS 3

In WinRAR we see a small bit of seperation with the more agressive 3-4-4-8 timings of the PNY XLR8 memory. Nothing earth shattering, but there is a measurable difference.

Battlefield 2142:

The year is 2142 and the dawn of a new Ice age has thrown the world into a panic. The soil not covered by ice can only feed a fraction of the Earth's population. The math is simple and brutal: some will live, most will die.

PNY XLR8 PC2 6400 CAS 3

In Battlefield 2142 the enhanced timings allow us to reach the frame rate cap the game has imposed of 100fps. Again this isn't much but it's hard to say what we may not be seeing since it can be drawn any faster.

Everest Performance

Everst Ultimate Edition 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.

Read Test:

PNY XLR8 PC2 6400 CAS 3

Everest read tests show that there is nearly 200 MB/s increase in memory bandwidth.

Write Test:

PNY XLR8 PC2 6400 CAS 3

Our read tests have me completely baffled as the Kingston with slower 4-4-4-12 timings actually performed slightly higher.

Latency Test:

PNY XLR8 PC2 6400 CAS 3

There is no mistake which memory kit provides faster response, the PNY XLR8 memory was a full 6.2ns faster!

Tight Timings: SuperPi, WinRAR, Battlefield 2142 Performance

SuperPi:

Super PI is a computer program that calculates pi to a specified number of digits after the decimal point - up to a maximum of 32 million.

PNY XLR8 PC2 6400 CAS 3

Super Pi again shows that the lower memory timings aren't contributing to the output of a 1M place test.

WinRAR:

WinRAR has a multithreaded version of the RAR compression algorithm, which improves the compression speed on computers with several CPU, dual core CPU and processors with hyperthreading technology. Multithreading is enabled by default, but you can disable it in "General" part of "Settings" dialog.

PNY XLR8 PC2 6400 CAS 3

WinRAR loves the 3-3-3-8 timings of our XLR8 memory going above 1800 KB/s!

Battlefield 2142:

The year is 2142 and the dawn of a new Ice age has thrown the world into a panic. The soil not covered by ice can only feed a fraction of the Earth's population. The math is simple and brutal: some will live, most will die.

PNY XLR8 PC2 6400 CAS 3

Again we see that the frame rate cap in 2142 is holding back what gains could be seen.

Tight Timing Everest Performance

Everst Ultimate Edition 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.

Read Test:

PNY XLR8 PC2 6400 CAS 3

By dropping the timings to 3-3-3-8 we gained another 98MB/s read speed in Everest, bringing us to 270MB/s over the 4-4-4-12 timings of the Kingston.

Write Test:

PNY XLR8 PC2 6400 CAS 3

The write tests look a little better here with the lowered timings showing a 55MB/s advantage over the looser CAS 4 settings.

Latency Test:

PNY XLR8 PC2 6400 CAS 3

Our latency tests don't show nearly the improvement that the change to 3-4-4-8 showed over the loosest settings. When you're performing large calculations over long periods of time (like Folding@home) this change can have a pretty dramatic impact on how long it takes to complete.

Conclusion

PNY XLR8 PC2 6400 CAS 3

What we’ve seen is that there is not a huge performance difference between the two kits of memory based on the normal timings. However, where this memory really shines is how cool it runs and the ultra low 3-3-3-8 timings we achieved. Most other kits of memory get warm during heavy operation at this voltage but in my testing, they always ran cool even when pushed to the max. Obviously this is unscientific but they were cool to the touch during all tests, I never felt that running 2.3v through them was overheating them in any way and have no fear of running them at this voltage for a 24/7 machine. Even more impressive is that I don’t need a fan running over the top of the memory to keep them this cool. How many other kits out there would you feel safe running this way? For some folks like me this is a big piece of mind. When you have other concerns in your life and can’t or don’t want to spend an hour a day tweaking your PC it’s hard to argue against the CAS 3 6400 XLR8 from PNY. I have yet to see one issue of instability even with my non-EPP Intel 965 motherboard, I simply set the voltage, input the timings, and I was off and running.

The only problem that I have with this particular kit of memory is the price. The least expensive price I could find online was $315 from Tiger Direct. Compared to 6 months ago this price is a steal for CAS 3 DDR2 800MHz but you can get PNY’s XLR8 4-4-4-12 800MHz kit for less than half the price at $149. So for the price of the CAS 3, 2GB kit you could have 4GB of the CAS 4, which in may be a better deal for some. You should really keep in mind that this memory is the elite memory kit from PNY and is a great deal for CAS 3 memory. It’s an ambitious move that I applaud PNY for as there are very few companies offering CAS 3 options at 800MHz and even fewer at this price. The fact that these stick were capable of 3-3-3-8 and remained cool and stable for all testing at those speeds(and subsequent writing of this review) was the icing on the cake!

Legit Bottom Line: PNY has released an enthusiast product worthy of the title buy it now! For the price it’s a top end kit of 2GB memory that’s hard to beat!