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Gigahertz Memory Head to Head

Testing

Testing was actually quite an eye-opener in many respects. Usually I have a single CPU to work with but on this occasion, the gods had configured the workload in such a way that I had three CPUs to go at, and fortunately so as it transpired.

The first test platform consisted of our ASUS P5WD2 Premium and a Pentium 4 3.73 Extreme Edition CPU. This worked reasonably well but for the slight disadvantage of having only a single 14x multiplier to choose from.

Assuming I’d been foiled by an outdated BIOS I went ahead and updated it, only to be faced with the exact same problem on reboot.

At this stage I switched to a regular P4 3.8GHz which yielded some unusual results to say the least. With this CPU in place the Corsair memory immediately hit 1067MHz. Result! Unfortunately Crucial’s modules, the ones actually rated to 1GHz, began to falter as early as 900MHz and went on to peg out completely at a mere 960MHz. Re-seating the memory a few times to be safe then running through a range of voltages failed to improve the situation leaving me convinced I either had a bad stick or that Crucial were guilty of optimistic marketing.

Finally, and with fingers crossed, I slotted in a 3.46GHz Extreme Edition CPU which offered its native 13x multiplier and, thankfully, also a 12x multiplier too. Needless to say I selected the smaller multiplier and set about cranking up the FSB. Remarkably, with this CPU onboard the Crucial suddenly seemed to find its second wind. This time it climbed all the way to a respectable 1040MHz before deciding it’d had enough, while the Corsair again managed its previous high of 1067MHz. Both modules were being fed 2.2V

As a final test, I decided to try and run both sets at their overclocked speeds but at a tighter 5-4-4-9 setting. The Corsair breezed through this, while the Crucial coped with the Particle Fury and EVEREST benchmarks but refused to complete SiSoft Sandra’s memory bandwidth benchmark.

The initial conclusion I wrote for this review waxed lyrical about sitting on the fence, horses for courses and various other vague attempts to disguise the fact that there was no clear winner to this head to head due to the slightly faster memory also being slightly more expensive.

Since then it seems Corsair have taken an axe to their prices lopping off a pretty significant chunk in the process. At well over a third more expensive this serves to render the Crucial memory extremely uncompetitive. The fact that the Corsair was also faster and more capable at tighter timings means there can only really be one winner.

Of course you need to remember that Crucial’s memory is guaranteed to run at 1GHz while Corsair’s isn’t, and while our Corsair modules clearly did the business I should imagine you’d get short shrift from your retailer when you try to return them on the basis that yours stopped dead at 950MHz. We like to think our samples are indicative of what’s available on the wider market but for obvious reasons we can guarantee that.


Verdict

Prices seem volatile at present so I’d keep a close eye, but as they stand right now Corsair is the clear choice.

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