AMD Performance Edition 8GB Memory Review

formerstaff - 2012-03-15 22:15:08 in Memory
Category: Memory
Reviewed by: formerstaff   
Reviewed on: April 10, 2012
Price: $49.99

Introduction:

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.

 

Closer Look:

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.

Specifications:

 

 
Entertainment
Edition
Performance
Edition
Radeon
Edition
Heat Shield
Optional
ü 
ü 
Available in Kits
Optional
ü 
ü 
Enhanced Latency
 
ü 
ü 
AMD Overdrive
 
 
ü 
Data rate MT/S
From 1333MT/s
From 1333MT/s
From 1866MT/s
Density
2GB/ 4GB/ 8GB
PCB Height
30.0mm
Lead-free
RoHS compliant and Halogen-free

 

Features:

 

 

the following is information about the entire lineup of AMD memory including the upcoming top end 'Radeon' enthusiast modules.

 

AMD Memory™ DDR3 System Modules are ideally suited for use with AMD CPU and APU products. Components are tested to the highest industry standards on AMD platforms to help ensure reliability and performance.

 Entertainment Edition

- Designed for cost-conscious “white box” users and system integrators

- Meets industry standards specifications

- Tested to help ensure quality and reliability.

Performance Edition

- Fast and reliable

- Great choice for home entertainment platforms and HD/3D movie playback

- Video and music editing

- Ideal for entry-level gamers

Radeon Edition

- Hand-selected high quality memory parts

- Superior performance to succeed in critical gaming missions

- Ultra-fast and highly reliable

- designed to eliminate drop outs and delays

- Great choice for the enthusiast video gamer

- AMD OverDrive™ Software for unprecedented control*

All information courtesy of Advanced Micro Devices at http://www.amd.com/us/products/technologies/radeon-memory/Pages/system-memory.aspx#3">http://www.amd.com/us/products/technologies/radeon-memory/Pages/system-memory.aspx#3

Testing:

For testing the performance of the new AMD Performance Edition memory, I will be running them through the OCC battery of chosen tests at the stock speed of 1600MHz and at the highest frequency I was able to achieve to see how they compare to other makes of memory. Anyone who has spent any time overclocking previous generations on AMD systems knows that the memory controllers are very touchy and you may need to try a slew of different settings only to arrive at the same result. I started out experimenting with each of the three 8GB sets of 1600MHz memory I am using for this review to get a feel for what I had to work with, and where they would go. As luck would have it, I was left with a unique situation in that I have one set that is "optimized" for Intel, but is also AMD compatible. I have one set that is "optimized" for AMD, and is Intel compatible. And I have one set that gives its prowess equal billing for both CPU manufacturers.

As everyone wants to know "how fast will it go?" I don't wish to be anti climatic, but the answer for all three sets was a definitive 1866MHz. Without employing voltages or timings that were counter productive or damaging, two of the sets got to Prime 95 stable at 1866MHz (with different timings) and would not budge from there even with a very liberal loosening of timings. One of the sets managed one click to go on to 1904MHz, and that was it.  In two of the cases, applying a bump to 1.7 volts to try to squeeze more frequency from the modules immediately shut things down. The up side to all this is that represents a 16% bump in frequency, and it makes for a completely controlled comparison as I was able to use the next offered  memory clock (9.33) and all chipset speeds were kept precisely at the same speed. It will also hopefully make any optimizations very evident throughout benchmarking.

The AMD Performance Edition line of memory is optimized for the latest generation of AMD Processors (Zambezi and Llano), so I am doing the testing on my FX 8120/ GA-990-FXA-UD7/HD 6970 system both at stock speed, and the maximum overclocked speed I could attain from all of the 8GB sets I tested. Please keep in mind that while these results should carry a certian amount of proportion, these results are how the different memory kits performed and behaved on this particular configuration. As always, your results will vary, act now, supplies are limited, etc.

 

Testing setup:

 

Comparison Modules:

 

CPU-Z:

The best hardware information tool known by enthusiasts shows information regarding settings made in the BIOS from within Windows. With this tool we can see CPU frequency, memory info and timings, motherboard and BIOS version and much more.

 

CPU-Z

 

Task Manager: We use this utility to show physical memory, kernel memory, page file, and processor usage.

Task Manager

 

Overclocking

 

Overclocking the trio of same speed, but differently 'optimized' modules quickly became a case of deja vu. To get a feeling for the potential of each set, I started by raising the reference clock while lowering the NB and HT multipliers to make sure they did not become a limiting factor. As I mentioned in the testing section, all three sets reached frequencies within a click of each other. I moved on to using the next offered memory clock (x 9.33) to take the memory to 1866MHz. I found that  with any method or combination of settings, timings, or voltages resulted in the unusual situation of all three 8GB sets of memory to top out within a click of 1866Mhz. on this particular system. While this makes for a rather anticlimactic overclock session and review for you speed demons out there, It does at least provide an absolute equal playing field and control value to gauge subtle metrics in performance and optimizations at the same memory frequencies.

A couple of notes here that should be seriously taken into consideration for this review and corresponding benchmarks. Because of a wayward motherboard in my OCC test rig, I am using my own machine for this review (build can be seen in the 'setup' section). While this will provide relative consistent results regarding the performance of the different memory sets, keep in mind that this is how it performed specifically in this machine and configuration of components. With that said, I will offer the ubiquitous disclaimer "your mileage may vary." After dialing in on the best frequencies and timings I could get from the three 8GB kits, I tortured them for a while using Prime 95 to confirm stability.  Now lets see how they fared in our bevy of benchmarks.

 

 

And now the most uneventful overclocked chart I ever expect to see. Again, this is how these modules performed on this particular system.

 

The following are the benchmarks used to gauge the performance of the tested modules

Benchmarks:

Testing :

PC Mark Vantage: With this benchmark, I will be running the system suite, as well as the memory test suite. The measurement for the system suite will be the total score. The measurement for memory performance is the total memory score.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PC Mark 7: is the latest iteration of Futuremark's popular PCMark system performance tool. This latest version is designed for use on Windows 7 PCs and features a combination of 25 different workloads to accurately measure the performance of all PCs from laptops to desktops.

 

 

 

Geekbench 2.1 provides a comprehensive set of benchmarks engineered to quickly and accurately measure processor and memory performance. Designed to make benchmarks easy to run and easy to understand, Geekbench takes the guesswork out of producing robust and reliable benchmark results.

 

 

 

 

Super PI Mod 1.5: is a program designed to calculate Pi up to the 32nd millionth digit after the decimal and is used as both a benchmarking utility and simple stress test to check your over-clock before moving forward with more rigorous testing. The world records for this benchmark utility are hotly contested.

 

 

Nothing too terribly extreme here. The three sets all jockey for position in the various benches. The most telling test of these three is the SuperPi where, despite all three brands being timed differently, running at the same speed, and a completion time of over 1100 seconds, there is a scant three second difference in completion times or .003%.

Testing:

SiSoftware Sandra 2011: In this program, I will be running the following benchmarks: Cache and Memory, Memory Bandwidth, and Memory Latency. Higher is better in all tests, except for Memory Latency, where lower is better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AIDA64 Extreme Edition: is a software utility designed to be used for hardware diagnosis and benchmarking. I will be using the Cache and Memory benchmark to test each module’s read, write, and copy bandwidth, as well as the latency test.

 

 

 

 

 

A bit of a good showing for the new line of AMD memory. With slightly tighter timings and fractionally higher frequency, the AMD/Patriot sticks take five out of eight contests in the AIDA 64 suite. Most likely due to discernibly lower latencies.

Testing:

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is a first-person shooter developed by EA Digital Illusions CE (DICE) and published by Electronic Arts for Windows, PS3, and Xbox 360. This game is part of the Battlefield franchise and uses the Frostbite 1.5 Engine, allowing for destructible environments. You can play the single-player campaign or multiplayer, the latter with five different game modes. Released in March 2010, it has sold in excess of six million copies so far.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Battlefield Bad Company 2 is a good choice for this type of testing. It uses as many cores as you throw at it. Even so I consider this test as a "taken with a grain of salt" deal. The overclocked memory speed has very little effect and the results are so close that during playthrough, if an event trigger is missed or an extra reload is required, it can account for that extra frame. We are within the margin of error here.

Conclusion:

I led off by expressing surprise that with all that AMD has going on in its agenda to get back in the game that the company would get into the memory business. It does appear that AMD has found a good partner in Patriot. Patriot has been manufacturing some of my favorite sticks for a few years now and certainly have the experience to bring component specific performance to the table. While I did not get the technical answers I am curious about regarding why these AMD branded modules will work better with AMD components, it appears that they may do just that. They seemed stronger in some areas, and were definitely 'plug-n-play' in my system finding the advertised speeds, timings, and voltages upon turning on the machine without messing around in the BIOS. They also ended up reaching a higher overclock (albeit slight) than the others as well. Again keep in mind that this is a representation of how the Performance Edition performed on my all-AMD machine. There may be more in way of optimizations to be had in other configurations.

Also noted was the heft of the modules due to the heavy-duty heat sinks. While many models of RAM have high-crested heat sinks to ostensibly do a better job with heat dissipation, they are stamped aluminum and can interfere with "big" air cooling solutions. AMD has opted to put all of the heat dissapation aspects of these modules into hefty, yet low-profile 30mm aluminum extrusions that seem to work very well. This decision removes the possibility of having  to leave your first and possibly second DIMM vacant. Not a desirable prospect if you are like me and run 16GB+ for running memory devouring software like Photoshop CS5, 3DSMax 2012, Auto CAD, etc. I am looking forward to seeing what level of performance the top level 'Radeon' series has to offer when It arrives.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: