AMD Performance Edition 8GB Memory Reviewformerstaff - April 10, 2012
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When my local UPS guy handed me a thin box that had two red and black aluminum clad 4GB sticks of AMD branded memory, it got me thinking. The tortured five year wait for Bulldozer that by any metric ended in a resounding thud for AMD fans. The rapid exodus of leadership and talent, and most recently, a very good line of graphics cards has been edged out by team green. The last thing I expected Advanced Micro Devices to do was to get into the memory business. If for no other reasons than it is a hyper-competitive market flush with an array of quality, inexpensive choices for any level of performance you might be seeking to assemble, it just just vicerally feeels like an odd move. As an AMD user, I then thought about how finicky the 890 and 990 chipsets have been with memory, and how the highest frequency does not always mean the best performance. AMD chipsets have been notorious for a while now for responding more to the manipulation of the timings than merely just cranking the frequency and voltage as far as it will go.
The stated purpose of these modules, after all, is that they are optimized for AMD platforms and to squeeze every last bit of performance out of your AMD system. While I am on board with the concept, what I really wanted to know was what changes exactly have been implemented to these Patriot-made modules that make them 'optimized' for AMD platforms while remaining Intel compatible. Try as I might, this was a question that I was not able to find an answer to online in any of AMD's or Patriot's specs or write ups. I then decided to call AMD directly and ask the techs there. The first line tech was not able to tell me what the technical aspects of this optimization was. He did tell me, however, that he would take my email address and get the answer I was seeking from a higher level tech. As of right now I have not received my answer. When and if I get the technical info on this optimization, I will share it with you.
The modules come in a standard size box that most are packaged in. The front of the retail box features a black background that fades toward the top to reveal a honeycomb or carbon fiber-like pattern, and images of the black and red low profile modules within. To the right of the large AMD logo and arrow is a sticker that lists the capacities, model, speed, voltage, and the CAS latency. In the bottom right corner a small emblem tells us that this is the 'Performance Edition' line we are in possession of.
These modules are designed to work specifically with the latest generation of Zambezi/Llano processors and the 990/950 chipset. It is important to remember that they are, in fact, compatible with Intel's processors as well. These are 2x4GB modules that run at 1600MHz with relatively tight timings of 8-9-8-24 at 1.65v. These are Patriot-built modules that carry the part number AP38G1608U2K. There is a small sticker on eack module that states the AMD/Patriot brand, as well as timings, voltages, and part number. Upon firing up the system, voltage,divider, and timings were all identified and in place. AMD says these modules are built using high-quality pre-screened IC's, have each been "vigorously" tested prior to being sent out, and have a lifetime warranty to back it all up.
The modules do not have the skyscraping showy heat sinks that many modules have these days. This is something that I (and others) have been skeptical about regarding the necessity and effectiveness. The first thing I noticed about the modules, once I wrestled them from the grips of the clamshell plastipak, was the heft of the units for having such low profile 30mm aluminum heat sinks. A closer look at the end of the units revealed that unlike many of the thin stamped aluminum heat sinks used today, the heat sinks on the AMD performance edition are much thicker and appear to be aluminum extrusions. This not only has the benefit of being compatible with many of the top-end air coolers, but also conduct a greater amount of heat without needing towering cockatoo-looking crests on your memory. As I will get into later on, the thicker extrusions on these modules are effective in keeping the modules cool even under overclocked conditions. The shaded red and black artwork with the black PCB and extruded aluminum heatsink make for attractive modules
The modules look unassuming and keep a low profile. Let's heat 'em up and see if AMD's venture into memory is worthy of filling your DIMMs.