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For testing we used the EVGA X58 SLI Classified motherboard that we reviewed recently. We also used an overclocked Core i7 965 Extreme running at 3.87GHz, a Radeon HD 4890, Intel X25-M SSD and 64-bit Windows Vista Ultimate Edition. We had every faith that this high level of hardware would give the memory a decent chance to show us its strengths. Just as importantly we hoped it would show us the differences between the low latency 1,800MHz Reaper and the not-quite-so-low-latency 2,000MHz Gold.
At the default speed of 1,066MHz with timings of 7-7-7-18-1T the two types of memory perform absolutely identically in terms of bandwidth and latency. This is clear in PCMark05 where the Overall and Memory scores match and just for fun we also decided to run Far Cry 2 as a gaming test.
For the next step we increased the memory speed to 1,600MHz using the EVGA Auto timings of 11-11-11-24-1T and once again the two sets of benchmark results show no differences. Both sets of memory were running slower timings than they could manage but we pressed on to the next clock speed instead of tightening the latency timings.
This clock speed is 1,867MHz which is technically beyond the capability of the Reaper memory although it seemed to work perfectly well in practice. The Auto timings at this clock speed are 11-12-12-26-1T and we saw something strange when we ran the memory bandwidth test in SiSoft Sandra as the bandwidth dropped from 24.52GB/second at 1,600MHz to 21.46GB/second at 1,866MHz. We re-ran the test and got the same results but the other tests all showed a benefit from the higher clock speed.
At 1,866MHz the Gold memory romped along and delivered slightly better performance in PCMark05 but you'd be a harsh judge to say that there was a significant difference between the two types of memory. We tried to clock the Gold memory even faster to take advantage of its 2,000MHz rating however the EVGA BIOS steps from 1,867MHz to 2,133MHz and the system wouldn't POST at this speed.
The final move was to pull in the latency timings to match the OCZ specification and this threw up some curious results. The Gold memory seemed happier on the EVGA Auto settings and didn't appreciate the slightly lower 10-10-10-30-1T timing figures while the Reaper memory loved the 8-8-8-26-1T settings. This gave the Reaper memory a small but distinct advantage over Gold in our tests but it brings us to an uncomfortable truth. The faster clock speeds and lower latencies give obvious results in SiSoft Sandra and PCMark05 but in Far Cry 2 the extra memory bandwidth made no difference whatsoever. This didn't come as much surprise as desktop applications cannot use the 20GB/second that is provided by the standard speed of 1,066MHz so any extra bandwidth appears quite unnecessary.
OCZ Gold DDR3 offers enormous clock speed and reasonably low latency timings but they are red herrings. All you need to know is that 6GB of Core i7 DDR3 can be yours for the absurdly low price of £92. Bargain.