|G.Skill RipJaws DDR3-1600 CL7 Memory Kit|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Memory|
|Written by Bruce Normann|
|Friday, 18 December 2009|
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Closer Look: G.Skill RIPJAWS DDR3-1600
There is no mistaking the design of the G.Skill Ripjaws series for anything else. It has a unique look that evokes the product name in a very graphic manner. I'm very happy with my OCZ Reapers, but do they look like Reapers? Not in the least. These modules look like Ripjaws...no doubt about it. They are a bright blue, which you might not associate with jaws, but they're just about the same color as high-chromium steel after it's been heated and cooled. So, jaws and blue steel, yeah it gets my attention.
The heat spreaders on the Ripjaws are able to effectively clamp down on the memory chips without the typical spring clips that many DIMMS sport, including many G.Skill products. Unless there are some hidden screws underneath the Ripjaws label, they've come up with an innovative and stylish way to fasten the heat spreaders in place. None of the modules in this series uses any color other than green for the PCBs; I think black PCBs would look nice for the red or black versions, but that's just me.
After we get past the visuals, let's take a look at what else we have here. This is a dual-channel kit, so it's geared towards the LGA1156 (P55) platform instead of the LGA1336 (X58) motherboards that feature a triple-channel RAM interface. What makes it specifically suited for that application is the Intel Extreme Memory Profile (XMP). This a set of SPD (Serial Presence Detect) settings that work the same way as the NVIDIA EPP scheme, for plug and play memory settings above and beyond the normal JEDEC standards. For an explanation of the benefits, see one of our recent RAM reviews that used an LGA1156 platform for testing.
As I mentioned in the intro, we are going to take a slightly different approach in this review, and see how well these kits perform on the AMD AM3 platform. The standard JEDEC values reported by the memory modules are shown here, along with the single set of XMP values in the right hand column. At the standard voltage of 1.5V, CAS Latency keeps rising as the memory clock goes up. It takes a wee bit of extra voltage to get the timings down to where they need to be for a set of gaming sticks. The i5 and i7 memory controllers can't stand voltages above 1.65V, so memory makers are doing everything they can to get high frequencies and tight timings on a restricted voltage budget. The AMD AM3 platform doesn't have that restriction, and there are plenty of memory modules that will run quite happily at 1.9V and above in this environment. We want to see how the low voltage chips run, though, so let's see what we can get out of these modules at stock voltage, or at most a reasonable overvolt.
The CPU-Z screenshot below shows the best I could do for timings at 1600MHz with a slight overvolt of 1.64V. I actually took the voltage quite a bit higher, trying to achieve the XMP settings, but could not get these modules below CL8 at 1600 MHz or higher clocks. The extra volts didn't seem to help, so I throttled back to 1.64V for the remainder of the testing, and both the 1600MHz and 1744MHz overclock were stable at this voltage. I tried for 1800 MHz, but was not able to reach that, no doubt a direct result of the binning process all the memory manufacturers use to identify higher performing chips, that can be sold at a premium.
So far, I'd say my experiment has been a qualified success. I was not able to hit the XMP profile settings, but I was able to overclock the RAM beyond the stock maximum frequency at timings just one notch above the XMP profile, at 8-8-8-24. I was also able to run tighter timings than stock at lower frequencies, even at the nominal voltage spec of 1.5V. So, now that we have defined some stable configurations. let's move on to the testing portion of our review where we see what sort of gains we have or have not achieved with these various memory profiles.