- Review Price: £92.00
When we reviewed the OCZ Reaper PC3-14400 6GB Triple Channel memory kit for Core i7 earlier this year it had a price of £197 and since then we have seen prices fall by an astonishing amount.
Indeed prices have fallen so far that your reviewer was trawling the net for fast DDR3 for a feature and came up with a 6GB kit of OCZ PC3 16000 Gold memory at £108.68. A moment later the deed was done, the button was clicked and the memory was bought. That’s right the memory you see on these pages has been bought for cold, hard cash. In the intervening weeks since this impulsive purchase the price has fallen even further to £91.99 which seems awfully cheap for a 6GB kit of DDR3 with a rated speed of 2,000MHz.
It takes a certain amount of digging through OCZ’s extensive range of memory to find out where the 2,000MHz Gold memory fits in the great scheme of things. OCZ lists seven distinct families of triple channel memory kits for Core i7 (Blade, Flex EX, Reaper, Intel Extreme, Platinum, Gold and Value) or you can see the range divided by application (Enthusiasts, Gaming, Special Editions and Value). We deduce that enthusiast gamers who like value for money don’t fit neatly into OCZ’s view of the world.
The Reaper memory we reviewed last time is high end, partly because of its clock speed but mainly thanks to the HPC (Heat Pipe Conduit) system that increases the cooling area with an extra cooling package located on heatpipes above the main body of the module. This increases the height of the module to 70mm which can be a deal breaker if your CPU cooler hangs over the memory slots on your motherboard.
By contrast the Gold series of OCZ memory is classed as a budget product even though it looks very similar to the more expensive Platinum and Titanium products. The heat spreader on Gold modules is, um, gold in colour while Platinum and Titanium are, well, you get the idea. Bar their colour, cosmetically there is nothing to choose between these three families of memory and you have to look quite closely to spot the differences in specification. For instance you can buy PC3-15000/DDR3-1866MHz Platinum that supports timings of 9-9-9-28 while the corresponding Gold memory has latencies of 10-10-10-28. Now ask yourself, do you fancy the job of speed binning all those memory chips and deciding which should be Gold and which Platinum? Us neither.
The specification of the OCZ Gold we bought can be seen here. It’s regular 240-pin DDR3 that operates on 1.65V which makes it compatible with the memory controller in Core i7. You get 3 x 2GB in the pack so a 64-bit Operating System is a natural choice. If you install 6GB of RAM on a 32-bit OS you will only see 2.5GB-3GB once the graphics have eaten their share of the addressable 4GB. By contrast 6GB on 64-bit gives you the full 6GB. In terms of speed, it runs at 2,000MHz while latencies are CL 10-10-10-30 (CAS-TRCD-TRP-TRAS).
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.
Score in detail
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