It just so happens that there’s a Gigabyte X38-DQ6 on the shelf and it was the work of moments to plug in a Core 2 Extreme QX9770 with some extra voltage fed to the memory and processor. The Patriot memory requires 1.9V to hit full speed which is par for the course as all fast memory requires a small amount of extra voltage. We compared the Patriot memory with some OCZ PC3-1600 and it rapidly became clear that the Gigabyte front side bus won’t overclock with the QX9770. It’s easy enough to raise the clock multiplier from 8x to 10x but the front side bus will barely shift and that’s not much help when you want to overclock memory.
Switching to a Core 2 Duo E8500 dropped the front side bus from 1,600MHz to 1,333MHz and suddenly the Gigabyte responded. Unfortunately it didn’t behave properly enough as neither the OCZ or Patriot would run above 1,333MHz and enabling XMP made the system refuse to start. To say we were disappointed would be an understatement but the problems felt as though they could be laid at the door of the Gigabyte motherboard.
Switching to an Asus Striker II Extreme with nForce 790i chipset was a different proposition as it worked well with both lots of memory in conjunction with the overclocked Core 2 E8500. The switch from an Intel chipset to Nvidia meant a reinstallation of Windows Vista and somewhere along the way the graphics element of PCMark05 took a dive. It was the same MSI NX8800GT graphics card with the same drivers but the performance took a significant dip and it impacts the Overall score of PCMark05 too. Comparing the CPU and Memory scores between the Asus and Gigabyte motherboards gives us a valid result though.
XMP doesn’t apply to Nvidia chipped motherboards so some manual adjustments would be necessary. The OCZ happily ran at 1,600MHz with automatic latencies of 9-9-9-24 and a PCMark05 Memory score of 8,298 marks. Switching to the Patriot we started with the memory running at 1,280MHz which was the fastest speed it had managed on the Gigabyte X38. The tighter latency figures increased bandwidth and delivered an improved PCMark05 Memory score. When we increased the memory speed to the maximum rated speed of 1,866MHz the latencies slowed by a huge amount to 8-13-13-36 and the extra clock speed had very little benefit on performance.
The final step was to lower latencies to the 8-8-8-24 figures that Patriot supplies which helped the latency test in Sandra but it little effect on performance in PCMark05.
The final, final step was to push the Patriot memory to its limits. The PC started with a memory speed of 1,920MHz but trying another speed bump to 1,950MHz broke the Registry in Vista and the PC was dead.
Patriot delivers an exceptionally high clock speed with low latency at a moderate 1.9 volts. It’s very good value compared to the fastest Corsair on the market but the extra speed of the memory delivers little in the way of apparent benefit.