Memory Test Configuration

We have recently been testing memory with the ASUS P5W-DH Deluxe, which is based on the Intel 975X chipset. We once again did all initial testing on that platform. The ASUS platform was used because 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 ASUS motherboard. Timings of 2 are available for RAS-to-CAS and RAS Precharge, and DDR2-1067 is an available memory ratio.

In addition, 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, with the evolution of the Intel P965 chipset, it is apparent that higher memory performance can be achieved with different memory "straps" used for the highest DDR2-1067 ratio setting. The P5W-DH Deluxe is very demanding of memory at high speeds, and the "looser" base ratios used at the top of most P965 boards allow higher memory overclocks with some memory modules.

This is another way of saying that the very best memory performs about the same on 975X and P965, but that we are aware of some DDR2 memory designs in the midrange that perform best on the P965. Recently the NVIDIA 680i chipset has demonstrated an even greater range of performance at the top of memory overclocking, with extremely flexible options for squeezing the most performance from almost any memory.

For all of these reasons, we revised test procedures for this memory review and memory reviews going forward. We first tested standard memory performance and overclocking on the ASUS P5W-DH Deluxe. This allows valid comparisons to earlier reviews of DDR2 memory on the Core 2 Duo platform. We then ran overclocking tests on the NVIDIA 680i test platform, using the same X6800 Core 2 Duo processor. We will continue this test procedure until we can fully evaluate the NVIDIA 680i as a potential replacement for the Intel 975X as our memory test platform.

The memory test bench uses the following components:

Memory Performance Test Configuration
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo X6800
(x2, 2.93GHz, 4MB Unified Cache)
RAM: 2X1GB PCZ PC2-9200 Flex XLC (DDR2-1150)
2x1GB Patriot DDR2-1066
2x1GB Super Talent DDR2-1000
2x1GB Team DDR2-1000
2 x1GB Corsair CM2X1024-6400C3
2x1GB OCZ Ti Alpha PC2-8000 VX2
Motherboards: Asus P5W-DH Deluxe (Intel 975X)
EVGA nVidia nForce 680i SLI
Hard Drive(s): 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
Operating System(s): Windows XP Professional SP2

What about the P965 as a memory test platform? We have also personally seen cases where the P965 on midrange memory performed much better than the 975X in memory speed, but where the P965 bandwidth was still the same or less than the 975X. On the very top memory, however, the P965 and 975X perform similarly. Since the ASUS P5W-DH Deluxe appears the more demanding platform we will continue testing base performance on the 975X.

However, a cross-section of enthusiast memory manufacturers were also asked which motherboard performed best with their top DDR2 memory. In all cases the answer that came back was the NVIDIA 680i motherboard. For that reason we have added the 680i to our tests of memory overclocking. Other alternatives will be evaluated for memory testing, but for now we will continue testing with the ASUS P5W-DH supplemented with the EVGA NVIDIA 680i tests for overclocking performance.

We recently have reviewed value DDR2-800 from both G.Skill and Super Talent. Results for those two memories are not included in comparisons in this review. For performance comparisons with those two memories you can refer to the linked reviews.

OCZ PC2-9200 Flex XLC Specifications Stock Memory Performance


View All Comments

  • snout - Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - link

    I would like to see the ocz up against the Team Group Extreme 800 mhz c3 sticks at The memory choices at test make it (ocz) look better than it is. Reply
  • ZOOAIRZ - Saturday, December 30, 2006 - link

    Reguarding article:">

    "On the nForce 680i the OCZ Flex XLC took DDR2 memory performance to a new gold standard. On Air Cooling, Flex XLC reached DDR2-1300 at the rated timings of 5-5-5-18."

    OCZ Flex with the following stable ratios:

    1) cpu: 3.22 (11x293) FSB: 1172 - linked 1 to 1 - RAM: 1172 Quake4 FPS: 127.3
    2) cpu: 3.03 (7x433) FSB: 1733 -unlinked 1.3 to 1- RAM: 1300 Quake4 FPS: 122.1

    Say one then ups the multiplier as follows and assume it is stable:

    1) cpu: 3.52 (12x293) FSB:1172 - linked 1 to 1 - RAM: 1172 Quake4 FPS: ?
    2) cpu: 3.46 (8x433) FSB:1733 -unlinked 1.3 to 1- RAM: 1300 Quake4 FPS: ?

    Which combo is better/faster overall?

    - 1) Linked (fast) FSB and RAM with slightly higher (+.05GHz) CPU speed
    - 2) Unlinked (raging) FSB and RAM with slightly lower CPU speed?

    This question comes from the following statement found in this article:">

    Now you have your OCed system. Here is something to remember a
    processor running 200*10 =2000MHz and a processor running
    210*9.5=1995MHz yet the second is faster because its running a faster
    FSB so it has more memory bandwidth.(note that if you have to use a
    slower ram speed i.e. using the FSB:RAM ratio of 5:4 you wipe out this
    increase in bandwidth)

    I don't see a FSB:RAM ratio 1.3 : 1 wiping out too much bandwidth but I just don't know. I am just interested in the overall good of playing my favorite games And getting the most out of a PC. If gettting that crazy 1300 speed of the memory just sets a record, that doesn't do it for me.

    Thanks in advance.
  • Gannon - Thursday, December 14, 2006 - link

    Could we get better simpler graphs when doing these comparisons? I hate looking at having just these charts, the overlapping colored lines and dots are useful for analysis but not for someone who's time is valuable and simply wants to know whats the best at a glance and thats what you guys should be doing! Serving your users the information they want in the way they want it. Anyone interested in performance is going to go for the highest performing ram, but it's also good for those of us curious to be able to tell at a glance what different ram will buy us.

    i.e. the way firingsquad does graphs or the way you do it ususally when comparing FPS between video cards would be just as useful.
  • Beachboy - Saturday, December 9, 2006 - link

    This OCZ Flex RAM is the equivalent of a chrome exhaust-pipe extension on a Hyundai... a $490 one that is, lol. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Sunday, December 10, 2006 - link

    For the Hyundai analogy to make sense we would have to have a BMW in DDR2 memory. The Flex XLC is as good as it gets, so it is the BMW even though it doesn't go a lot faster. The chrome exhaust extension on the Hyundai would be a matched pair of 2GB value dimms based on Elpida memory chips with flashy heatsinks. You will reach DDR2-800 just fine, but nothing over about 900. It will definitely get the job done.

    Of course the BMW isn't only about speed, and luxury cars sell well despite the fact that you probably would have a hard time justifying "value per dollar" on anything more than a Japanese V6. Some buyers want the handling and flexibility that comes with the best.
  • yyrkoon - Sunday, December 10, 2006 - link

    I agree with your analogy for the most part. I guess the only real question is: "is it worth buying". Which of course, you've already answered in the article.

    I would think this memory would be perfect for you guys, in testing potential OC's of systems you're reviewing, other than that, IMO, it would be a waste of money.

  • Wesley Fink - Sunday, December 10, 2006 - link

    The Flex XLC actually DOES go a LOT faster, so the BMW analogy applies, but you don't get similarly big gains in performance with the big speed increases since our DDR2 processors are not particularly sensitive to memory bandwidth.

    It's sort of like a world where a 500 horse power engine doubles your speed, but 80% of the speed increase just goes to fighting the incresed head wind. It does not mean the Flex XLC is not a good design, because it definitely is as good as it gets in current DDR2 designs.
  • Avalon - Saturday, December 9, 2006 - link

    It seems to me that it was the 680i that allowed the OCZ Flex to reach an outstanding DDR2-1300, so why not test previous memory modules to see how much further they'd also get on the new Nvidia platform? It seems only fair. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Saturday, December 9, 2006 - link

    We also tested on our standard platform - the Asus P5W-DH Deluxe - where the Flex reached DDR2-1172 on air cooling. That was the highest ever on that platform - the previous high was DDR2-1111. That was fair, which is why we tested on the current memory test bed.

    As we said in the review, we will add overclocking tests with the 680i going forward, but we will still do base testing with the 975x baord.
  • Avalon - Sunday, December 10, 2006 - link

    Right, but my point was that many other modules might have a ton of additional headroom if placed into the 680i platform. I'm not contesting the fact that the Flex reached the highest speeds on the 975x, but that previous modules should be tested on the 680i to see how much of a difference it makes, not just for the Flex. Reply

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