Memory Test Configuration

It was clearly illustrated in Conroe vs. AM2: Memory & Performance that DDR2 memory performance, in timings and required voltage, are equivalent on the AM2 and Core 2 Duo platforms. However, the first generation of AM2 on-processor memory controller does not support any memory timings below 3, or memory speeds above DDR2-800. Both these features are supported on the Intel platform. Timings of 2 are available for RAS-to-CAS and RAS Precharge, and DDR2-1067 is a memory speed option on most Intel motherboards. The lack of extended memory timings and memory speeds makes it more difficult to test the newest DDR2 memories rated at DDR2-1000, DDR2-1067, DDR2-1100, or even higher, on an AM2 platform

For all of these reasons, the Intel platform is the current AT test platform for DDR2 memory. The Core 2 Duo Extreme processor, which has available CPU ratios both up and down, is the processor of choice. When changes are made in future AMD and Intel products the memory test platform will be examined again.

The ASUS P5W-DH is the latest 975X board in the ASUS family and it fully supports the Core 2 processors, including Core 2 Quad. The P5W-DH Deluxe therefore replaced the P5W-D2-E premium used in past DDR2 reviews. A review of the updated ASUS P5W-DH Deluxe is available in the Conroe Buyers Guide.

Since most of the Core 2 Duo/Extreme processors run at a quad-pumped FSB of 1067 (base 266), instead of the FSB800 used on earlier Intel processors, the available options on the P5W-DH Deluxe at FSB1067 are particularly well-suited for benchmarking memory when a Core 2 chip powers the system.

Memory Configuration Options/ASUS P5W-DH Deluxe Motherboard
  Auto DDR2-400 DDR2-533 DDR2-667 DDR2-711* DDR2-800* DDR2-889* DDR2-1067*
FSB-1067 X X X X X X X X
FSB-800 X X X X   X    
FSB-533 X X X          

The memory test bench uses the following components:

Memory Performance Test Configuration
Processor Intel Core 2 Duo X6800
(Dual core, 2.93GHz, 4MB Unified Cache)
RAM 2X1GB G.Skill DDR2-800
2x1GB Patriot DDR2-1066
2x1GB Super Talent DDR2-1000
2x1GB TEAM DDR2-1000
2 x 1GB Corsair CM2X1024-6400C3
2x1GB OCZ Ti Alpha PC2-8000 VX2
Hard Drive Hitachi 250GB SATA2 enabled (16MB Buffer)
Video Card 1 x EVGA 7900GTX - All Standard Tests
Video Drivers NVIDIA 91.47
CPU Cooling Tuniq Tower 120
Power Supply OCZ PowerStream 520W
Motherboard ASUS P5W-DH Deluxe (Intel 975X)
Operating System Windows XP Professional SP2
BIOS AMI 1407 (October 2, 2006)

Core 2 Duo is as much as 35 to 40% faster than the earlier Intel Presler, which makes comparing memory performance between the two processors impractical. Therefore the only results shown in this review are DDR2 memories tested on the X6800 (Core 2 Duo) platform.

Index Stock Memory Performance
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  • Wesley Fink - Friday, November 3, 2006 - link

    Yes, you can use dividers in overclocking. The ratios and underlying frequencies are more complicated than they appear on the surface, but we have shown in numerous memory reviews that the penalty for not running the preferred 1:1 is really pretty small.

    If cost is a constraint in a build then money put in a video upgrade first will deliver the most improvement in performance, a CPU would be the next place the upgrade yields great value. Higher memory speeds do increase performnace, but the increases are very small compared to a video card upgrade or a CPU upgrade.
  • Madellga - Saturday, November 4, 2006 - link

    How do you run the memory slower?
    This was an option with the A64, but so far with the 965 chipset the options are to run the the memory faster, not slower.

    My sample size is small, but both the Abit AW9D (975) and Gigabyte DS4 (965) don't have ratios to slow down the memory.
  • Wesley Fink - Saturday, November 4, 2006 - link

    The memory may be RATED at DDR2-800, but you can select memory ratios to run the base at DDR2-400, 533, 667, 800, 1066 and sometimes in-between ratios. That allows you to set the memory at DDR2-400, for example, and overclock your CPU to much higher levels. This is how we test memory at different speeds. This feature is also available on almost every 975, 965, and AM2 board we have tested - except the very lowest models.

    For example, if I set my DDR2-800 to DDR2-533 (1:1 ratio) I can overclock my bus to 1600 (400 FSB) and then be at the specifed speed of DDR2-800. Remember the bus is quad-pumped on Intel - 266 is the base setting for 1067. Memory is DOUBLE dat tate, so DDR2-533 is a base setting of 266 - that is whay it is 1:1. So at a 400 setting bus speed is 1600 and memory is DDR2-800.
  • Madellga - Sunday, November 5, 2006 - link

    Wes, thanks for the explanation. I've always used 1:1, when you mentioned using dividers I thought you meant something under 1:1.
    The A64 "dividers" were less confusing than Intel's memory straps, despite the fact how the divider was calculated.
  • vailr - Friday, November 3, 2006 - link

    Any thought of running the memory tests under Windows XP x64? Do the Sandra benchmark tests run in the x64 operating system?
  • Gary Key - Friday, November 3, 2006 - link

    The Sandra benchmarks will run fine in XP-64. Once VISTA goes is RTM then we will be switching over to this OS. We had thought about doing some XP-64 tests when Conroe launched but decided to wait (and wait and wait and wait as it turns out) for VISTA.
  • vailr - Friday, November 3, 2006 - link

    Vista will also be offered in x64 and "x86" versions. Which version will be favored, as far as AT reviews & benchmark tests?
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, November 3, 2006 - link

    64-bit Vista is touted as the PRO version, with 32-bit Vista more akin to XP Home. Unless there are strong reasons otherwise the 64-bit version will likely be the standard.
  • MxChris - Friday, November 3, 2006 - link

    How is this different from this set:">F2-6400CL4D-2GBPK that I bought a coule months ago? Looks to have exactly the same rated timings and specs according to newegg.
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, November 3, 2006 - link

    According to G. Skill specs, your memory is rated 1.9-2.0V at 4-4-4-12 and it is pictured with a pale blue heatspreader. Our test dimms are rated 2.0-2.1V for the same timings and have black heatspreaders. You will need to ask G. Skill if your dimms use different memory chips since we don't have samples available to check the chips used on your model number.

    Your G. Skill kit is curently selling for $240 at newegg compared to $299 for the kit we tested, so I suspect they are based on different memory chips. The Micron chips are notoriously expensive - even with slower bins -and we have seen Mosel used in some mid memory of late, as well as the Elpida that is normal for low-mid memory.

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