|G.SKILL 2133MHz DDR3 Pi-Series Memory Kit|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Memory|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Tuesday, 14 September 2010|
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DDR3-2133 Final Thoughts
One thing to keep in mind is that how much memory you have is much more important than how fast the memory is. When I initially ran the Crysis Warhead tests, I was getting terrible frame rates, with minimums of 0FPS and maximums of only 20FPS or so. I eventually noticed that the system was only showing 2G of memory (due to a DIMM that was not fully in its socket, which is another reason I don't like "latch on only one side" DIMM sockets), and that's just not enough for Windows 7 and Warhead and a benchmarking tool: excessive disk thrashing (from Windows' virtual memory) was what finally clued me in. Shutting down the system and re-seating the errant DIMM cured that problem.
As the synthetic benchmarks show, G.SKILL's F3-17066CL7D-4GBPIS kit is indeed significantly faster than the standard 1333MHz memory, although not by the ratio one would think from the difference in clock speeds. The difference in performance in the application tests, however, ranged from small to nonexistent.
Enthusiasts looking to improve the performance of their systems can overclock the CPUs and video cards, but memory typically doesn't overclock well, especially if you're looking for frequencies beyond 1600MHz. Companies like Corsair, Mushkin, Crucial, and now G.SKILL have stepped in to address this perceived need with high-speed memory kits, often available in a dizzying number of variations. G.SKILL offers no fewer than 33 different combinations of speed, latency, and DIMM size in its DDR3 portfolio, so you're sure to find whatever fine-grained combination of these characteristics you want; of course, the converse is that you might be confused by the number of options. But given that the demonstrated "real world" improvements of high-speed memory are minimal, why would you want to spend the money on a kit like this?
The main reason is that lower memory speeds can act, indirectly, as a brake on your CPU performance. Unless you have an AMD Black Edition or Intel Extreme or K-series CPU, the only way you can overclock your system is by raising the base clock, which will also raise the memory speed. You can juggle the CPU and memory multipliers, but your options there are limited; so in many cases your overclock will be constrained by your memory, even though your CPU has more to give. In other words, high-speed memory, while offering little performance improvement on its own, can indirectly enable significant performance improvements by allowing higher CPU overclocks.
In the introduction to this review, I referred to memory as a "commodity", which is true: there's little to distinguish one set of memory modules of a given specification from another...except for price. And this is where G.SKILL holds a significant advantage over most of its competitors: the $174.99 price of this kit is far below the price most other vendors charge for their equivalents: for example, one vendor's DDR3-2133 4G memory kit costs twice as much, and runs at CL9 instead of CL7. I was not able to find another kit of similar specifications selling for anywhere near G.SKILL's price.
G.SKILL 4GB DDR3 Conclusion
Although the rating and final score mentioned in this conclusion are made to be as objective as possible, please be advised that every author perceives these factors differently at various points in time. While we each do our best to ensure that all aspects of the product are considered, there are often times unforeseen market conditions and manufacturer changes which occur after publication that could render our rating obsolete. Please do not base any purchase solely on our conclusion, as it represents our product rating for the sample received which may differ from retail versions. Benchmark Reviews begins our conclusion with a short summary for each of the areas that we rate.
The performance of this memory is excellent, in that it easily runs at its rated speed and low latencies, and supports a small (about 4%) overclock. The increase in performance is notable in synthetic benchmarks, illustrating that significant throughput improvements over standard speed memory are possible. While real-world performance improvements are minimal, high-speed memory can give you more versatility in overclocking the rest of your system.
The low voltages that DDR3 memory runs at mean that heat, even in stress-test situations, is rarely a concern, but enthusiasts expect a little bling from their expensive memory. The black aluminum heat spreaders with blue accents stand out, and the blue-lit LED cooling fan, while unnecessary in most situations, can be added for a little extra visual flair.
The heat spreaders also serve to protect the delicate memory chips and surface-mount components on the DIMM. But even if something bad happens, G.SKILL offers a lifetime warranty on the memory, which adds a nice "peace of mind" aspect to this product. The memory cooling fan's one-piece plastic construction seems a little cheap, but is just as effective as more expensive multi-piece aluminum mounting systems.
This memory's XMP profile renders it best suited for Core i7-860 processors; while it will work in any DDR3 system, you might not be able to run it at its full rated speed. Still, those who aren't afraid to dive in and start tweaking voltages, clocks, and memory timings (the ASUS Sabertooth 55i motherboard I used for this review offers 25 different memory timing settings you can adjust) will manage to extract excellent performance from this memory in most systems.
Compared to other high-speed memory kits, this kit represents an excellent value due to its low price; but compared to memory in general, it's still much more expensive at about twice the price of a typical DDR3-1333 4G kit. Your performance dollars are better spend on almost any other aspect of your system hardware: the CPU, graphics card, or even an SSD. But if you're looking to extract the last bit of performance from your rig, this product is an excellent way to do so. It's also a potentially good long-term investment for your system; the DDR3 standard isn't in danger of being superseded any time soon, since it will continue to be used even by Intel's upcoming desktop chipsets in 2011. At $174.99 at Newegg, a price that significantly undercuts its competitors, this memory represents an excellent value in its field.
+ 2133MHz 7-10-7-24 performance
- Tall heat spreaders may interfere with large CPU coolers
Final Score: 9.0 out of 10.
Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.
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