Walton Chaintech Apogee GT 3x2GB DDR3 1866 Review

The Smith - 2009-02-11 16:10:38 in Memory
Category: Memory
Reviewed by: The Smith   
Reviewed on: February 26, 2009
Walton Chaintech Corporation
Price: TBD

Introduction:

DDR3 memory is quickly becoming the new standard in the personal computer industry. A few months ago, Intel had lauched its Bloomfield i7 processors that made use of tri-channel DDR3 for increased bandwidth. A few days ago, AMD followed with its Phenom IIs DDR3 enabled, to be used with the new AM3 motherboards. More and more options are available on the memory side and the prices are not what they were at the launch of the 790i and X38 chipsets from Nvidia and Intel, respectively. Today, we'll take a look at a 2x3GB kit, DDR3 obviously, made by Walton Chaintech Corporation. The modules are called Apogee GT. For those wondering, Apogee is the position of the moon at its farthest point from the Earth, as opposed to the Perigee. The Moon-Earth distance is not constant because of the elliptical orbit of the moon; it rotates around a point on the Earth that is much closer to the surface than to the center of it. This variation in distance has many effects on Earth. For example, it is a factor in weather and tides. Okay, enough astrophysics for today, let's see what this memory kit looks like, and if it has an effect on performance.

 

Closer Look:

The sticks come in a standard clear package. A vividly colored paper emphasizes the name of the modules, even though it is written on each of them. The type and capacity of the memory are found in the top right corner. Upon scanning the package, this is the only technical information one can find. In a smaller font under the name Apogee, the meaning of it is explained, as I said in the introduction. It is also mentioned that "the spirit of brand is endlessly seeking perfection, providing users memory modules of the best quality and performance." At the back, a caution about overclocking warns the user. It states that overclocking beyond specifications is not recommended and that the PC should be able to tolerate the over-spec settings. At 1866MHz, these modules are almost the fastest ones available, 266MHz short of the 2133MHz attained by some other modules on the market. Of course, at OverclockersClub, we'll certainly go beyond these specs and see what these modules have to offer. Finally, another paragraph states the conditions of the lifetime warranty.

 

 

The memory modules were securely held in the plastic package. Upon taking them out, one can feel the toughness of the heatsinks installed on the modules. The spikes at the top of over 1cm long will help keep the modules at safe temperatures. On the third picture, one can see that the modules are tightly sandwiched between the two heatsink plates. It won't move from there by accident, that is for certain. The name of the modules is only written on one side, on the stylish pink stripe. The only thing found on the other side is the sticker. Another bit of information is found on it, the timings. At 1800MHz speeds, this memory is rated with latencies of 8-8-8-24. Strangely enough, there is still no hint about the voltage needed for them to be run at such speeds.

 

 

 

So let's take a look at the specifications to see if we can find the voltage required for 1800MHz speeds.

 

Specifications:

FUNCTION DESCRIBED

FUNCTION SUPPORT

DDR3 SDRAM cycle time at Max. Supported CAS latency=X

1.11

CAS# Latencies Supported

8
DDR3 SDRAM Device Minimum Row Precharge Time tRP
8.88
DDR3 SDRAM Device Minimum RAS# to CAS# Delay tRCD
8.88

DDR3 SDRAM Device Minimum RAS# Pulse Width tRAS

26.64

 

Features:

 

All information on this page is courtesy of Walton Chaintech Corporation at http://www.chaintech.com.tw/a2111_product_spec.php?serno=557

 

Testing:

Here is the moment you were all waiting for, testing. To see what kind of performance the Apogee GT modules can deliver, I will install them in an i7-based system since it is a tri-channel kit. I will run synthetic benchmarks and finish with a gaming benchmark, in order to see the real-world capabilities. Of course, this kit will be compared head-to-head to some other kits on the market. Naturally, the same setup is used from one test to another to ensure consistency in the scores. The last step will be to proceed to overclocking of the RAM kit. To discover its hidden potential, I will once more run all the benchmarks at the highest speed attained. So all you need to do is enjoy the results!

Testing Setup:

Comparison Modules:

 

CPU-Z: This application shows us the settings that we have chosen in the BIOS. Items shown in this application include CPU speed and bus settings, motherboard manufacturer, BIOS revisions, memory timings, and SPD chip information.

 

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

 

Overclocking:

Overclocked settings:

To get the Apogee GTs up to 1980MHz, I first began by lowering the CPU multiplier, increasing the RAM voltage to 1.9V and increasing the main timings to 9-9-9-27-2T. Then, I slowly increased the base clock, testing the RAM stability each time using a bootable CD of MemTest86+, leaving everything else on Auto. This lead me to 2016MHz. Next step was to boot into Windows. Unfortunately, I was savagely attacked by a BSOD as soon as the Windows logo appeared. So I took control over the QPI voltage, increasing it up in 0.05V steps until I could boot into Windows with no problems. I needed to go as high as 1.60V. Once I got into Windows, it was time to get some more aggresive stability tests going on. I fired up OCCT Petroïska and I found out that stability was still far, far away. I verified if another small increase in voltages could help, but unfortunately, no. I finally needed to back up the frequency a bit, down to 1980MHz, and I reduced the RAM voltage back to the stock 1.8V. I thought I would have needed to give them more to get to higher frequencies, but surprisingly, it did not help at all. At that point, everything had no stability problems. Finally, just a bit more tweaking needed and I would be good to go. First of all, I wanted to reduce the QPI voltage, as 1.6V is pretty high considering the stock 1.2V. I could reduce it to 1.58V. That's a bit better. I also worked on the main timings, checking stability in Memtest86+ once again. I could reduce them back to 9-8-8-24-1T. Anything lower lead to errors. Next, now that RAM overclocking was out of the way, I increased the CPU multiplier to 20, along with a small bump in core voltage. Last, but not least, I tweaked the advanced timings one by one.

The benchmarks used in this review include the following:

Benchmarks:

 

Testing:

PCMark 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SiSoftware Sandra 2009 SP2: 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.

 

 

 

 

 

The Apogee GTs won every test from the SiSoft Sandra suite. In PCMark Vantage, they were in the average.

 

Testing:

Left For Dead is a new release from Valve that leaves you as part of a group of survivors in a world where an infection has rapidly turned the populace into a zombie horde. You goal is to make it to a rescue point, all the while fighting what seems like overwhelming odds. Along the way there are safe houses where you can replenish your weapons and health. The movie 'I Am Legend' comes to mind to set the stage for this game. But unlike the movie, there are four characters and not just a lone gun and his faithful companion. The horde is not at all like the typical slow walking, foot shuffling zombie. These zombies are quick and work with the pack mentality. Your job: survival! 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the gaming test, the Apogee GT from Walton Chaintech was in the average. The kit fell behind a bit on the lowest resolution but performed a tad better at the last two resolutions.

 

Conclusion:

The Apogee GT 3x2GB DDR3 1866MHz kit is awesome. Its stock settings are 1866MHz at 8-8-8-24 timings. These are tight timings for such a speed. The design of the sticks is awesome. The fins at the top of each stick as well as the flashy pink stripes create a nice look. Furthermore, these fins definitely help keep the modules cool. During testing, even at overclocked frequencies and at 1.80V, the kit's temperatures were well below the safe limit. Speaking of overclocking, I achieved 1980MHz on the memory, at main timings of 9-8-8-24. I was hoping for the 2000MHz step. I came so close!

However, even at stock settings, the voltages required to run these sticks are somewhat high. They need 1.8V on the memory, and 1.45V was also required on the uncore of the i7 920. For the overclocked settings I achieved, I needed to run 1.58V through the uncore, that is +0.38V greater than the maximum recommended settings by Intel, and 1.80V on the memory, this is also well above Intel's "safe" specification of 1.65v maximum. Personally, I would not run such voltages on the uncore 24/7, but that voltage might differ a lot from one rig to another. However, these sticks might as well be run at lower frequencies and voltages for daily usage. Undoubtedly, the kit is an excellent performer when the time comes to bench and impress your friends. The kit won almost all scientific benchmarks except on the gaming part, where it could not keep pace with its opponents.

Overall, the Apogee GT 3x2GB DDR3 1866MHz is a great set of memory. I recommend it to everyone in need of a fast set of 6GB of DDR3, but more particularly, I recommend it to overclockers who like to push their hardware to the limit.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: