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Corsair, G.Skill, Mushkin, and Patriot X79 Quad-Channel Memory Review

ccokeman    -   January 16, 2012
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Conclusion:

Corsair Vengeance:

Let’s start with the Vengeance modules. The LP set of modules is equipped with the shorter Vengeance heat sink and will fit well under large air cooling solutions. This allows all DIMM slots to be populated whilst running a large head sink and gives the end user the ability to pop in not just 8 GB or 16 GB in memory, but up to 64 GB without any clearance issues of any kind – something not possible with the standard Vengeance kits unless you use a smaller CPU cooler or one of the many self-contained liquid cooling solutions on the market such as the Corsair H100. Using only 1.5 V to reach the rated speeds and tight latencies of 8-8-8-24, the Vengeance LP modules deliver the expected level of performance for their specifications. That aside, the 1866 MHz Vengeance "Red" modules that use 9-10-9-27 timings and 1.5 V also performed right where it should, based on the rated speed and timings.

Overclocking the LP modules was fairly straight forward, but some consideration needed to be made for running 32 GB and greater capacities – kept stable by increasing the memory controller voltage. This was repeated with the 1866 MHz kit as well. All it took to get the Low Profile kit to 1898 MHz was choosing the 1866 MHz divider in the BIOS, increasing the bclock to 101.7, loosening the timings to 9-11-10-28, and bumping them to 1.6 V. Using 1.6 V on the LP kit does heat them up when packed in an 8 DIMM configuration, so additional airflow is recommended – pretty simple and straight forward. The 1866 MHz kit took some work and a different tact, requiring the use of the 125 MHz strap on the CPU to get the modules just over 2000 MHz while keeping the same timings and voltage tuning used on the LP kit. The higher voltage did not seem to influence the temperatures of the "Red" modules, due to the much larger cooling surface and intrusion into the airflow around the CPU.

With the move to quad-channel kits for Intel's X79 platform, there are a wealth of kits out there that won’t break the bank when using 16 GB of memory. The Low Profile kit retails for $149, while the 1866 MHz kit requires a little more spending on your part at $170. Going straight up to 32 GB will double these costs. Both kits come with Corsair's lifetime warranty, XMP Profiles, rugged looks, functional cooling and offer overclocking headroom for your hard earned dollar.

Pros:

  • Pricing
  • Overclocking
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Good looks
  • Cooling (standard Vengeance)
  • Low cost 16 GB kits
  • XMP profiles

Cons:

  • Low Profile modules warm up when pushed

 

Corsair Dominator GT:

The Dominator GT line-up from Corsair is often seen as the pinnacle "Halo" modules that come up in dream machine discussions. As such, there is that bit of exclusivity as the Dominator GT line-up is highly binned for max speed and latencies to deliver pinnacle performance. With that said, there is a price to be paid on this kit, much like buying a tuner corvette or any other super car you choose. The only pricing I can find for these modules puts them in a price club of their own, at close to $500. In testing, the modules delivered top performance in just about all of the bandwidth related tests, showing that 2400 MHz right out of the box is going to deliver an increase in performance over, say, a 2133 MHz or 1600 MHz set of memory. Higher speeds equal greater bandwidth and lower latency, ergo better performance.

Overclocking-wise, I had high hopes of taking these modules to 2500 MHz and above, but it seems that to get the most out of modules on the X79 platform, you need a really stout memory controller to reach the upper reaches, especially with all 8 slots populated on a motherboard. Even with only four slots populated, I could do no better than 2400 MHz with my chip. Tightening the timings at 2400 MHz was a no go either, as the chip would just not have it. The big takeaway is that having a stellar memory controller will be what it takes to get the most from these modules. Dropping down to 2133 MHz does offer some opportunity for tweaking, but these are rated for 2400 MHz. The most outstanding feature of these modules is, by far, the DHX+ conductive and convective cooling solution. Using very large replaceable heat sinks and heat shields, it pulls heat from both the PCB and memory ICs to allow the modules more tolerance of voltage-induced heat loads. Even with up to 1.75 volts, these modules remained at just about ambient temps with a Noctua fan blowing over them – the solution definitely works as intended. That excellent cooling comes at a penalty of using a large air cooled CPU heat sink though, as the modules are so tall, they will interfere with the fans or heat sinks. Another extra on the modules is the Corsair DHX Pro connector to interface with Corsair’s upcoming Link monitoring and control system. As "Halo" modules, the Dominator GT looks and acts the part with high performance and an incredible cooling solution.

Pros:

  • 2400 MHz stock
  • DHX+ cooling
  • Memory bandwidth performance
  • XMP profile
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Replaceable heat sinks
  • DHX Pro connector

Cons:

  • Tall module makes heat sink selection tough
  • Pricing

 

G.Skill RipjawsZ:

This 16 GB quad-channel set of RipjawsZ is one of the higher speed bins in their X79 quad-channel line-up, with a rated speed of 2133 MHz. This set of memory delivered great performance throughout testing and was one of the better performing sets, especially when overclocked. Running at an overclocked 2414 MHz, this kit ran at the highest overall speed of all the modules. Not the largest increase over the baseline, but the highest speed overall. By loosening up the latencies and giving the modules a small boost in voltage, the modules responded well with increased bandwidth and memory performance. I think with even looser latencies and a better memory controller, there will still be some speed left in the modules – looks like it’s time for a 3930K! When I first laid eyes on these modules, the first thing I noticed was the new look of the RipjawsZ heat shield alongside the black PCB. The new design is taller, so it sits further out into the airstream to and from the CPU cooling solution. Although this allows the modules to be kept cool under load, you will still run into same interference issues when all of the DIMM slots are populated on the motherboard. There is not as much open space along the top of the heat shield as on the earlier design, but the modules do not seem to heat up above ambient air temps with a small amount of airflow over them. Backed by a lifetime warranty, G.Skill has these RipjawsZ modules prices aggressively at $159 for a 2133 MHz kit. Even with the low price of DRAM, this presents an enormous value for the end user looking to get increased memory performance.

 

Pros:

  • Low latency
  • XMP profiles
  • Pricing
  • Great overclocking
  • Effective cooling
  • Good looks
  • Warranty

Cons:

  • None

 

Mushkin RidgeBack Redline:

This quad-channel set of Redline Ridgeback modules from Mushkin delivers great performance and was usually in the top three out of six comparison kits throughout just about every test. As a 2133 MHz kit, it is already on the higher end of the binning spectrum and I was hoping to hit 2400 MHz with just a slight loosening of the latencies, but was unable to get there. That being said, this kit was able to reach 2364 MHz with voltage, bclock, and latency tuning to further cement its performance legacy as the prime kit to have. If spending the time to tweak memory or if unsure of how to manually set the modules in many of the complex uEFI BIOS implementations, there is no worry as Mushkin's quad-channel kits carry an XMP profile that will set them up with one click in the BIOS. The hand-testing process ensures that each kit will deliver consistent performance and live up to Mushkin's high quality standards. In case something goes wrong, Mushkin has a lifetime warranty on these modules, as well as their support forums for additional help. Mushkin's Ridgeback heat sink design is very beefy and allows the memory ICs to shed heat efficiently – more so than the Frostbyte design they have previously used. These modules are easily one of the heaviest in the comparison field, though that is not a bad thing in this case. The height of the modules will only cause concern with large CPU heat sinks when the DIMM slots closest to the CPU are populated. Keep in mind, this is not a problem exclusive to Mushkin, but one synonymous with all high performance memory equipped with tall cooling solutions. Currently priced at $209 from etailers, this kit carries a premium over the other 2133 MHz kit in this roundup. The heat sink package drives some of this upswing in cost but from a looks and cooling performance standpoint, the tradeoff is worth it. Once again, Mushkin offers a high quality kit that delivers performance and good looks – all in one package!

 

Pros:

  • 2133 MHz; hand tested
  • Pricing
  • Great overclocking
  • Warranty
  • Good looks
  • Cooling
  • XMP profiles

Cons:

  • None

 

Patriot Viper Extreme Division 4:

Earlier last year, I looked at a set of Division 2 modules and found that although they ran at stock settings, they just did not offer much up in the way of overclocking headroom. The Division 4 modules, on the other hand, jumped straight up to 2200+ MHz, simply by tweaking the primary timings and voltages. This was a complete turnaround in comparison to the earlier Sandy Bridge kits. While the Division 4 modules had the highest overall headroom in the comparison field, it is important to remember that your mileage may vary depending on the memory controller of your CPU and the speed binning of the modules. A speed bump of 600 MHz is pretty stout, even though it requires the timings to be loosened up considerably, though no more so than the rest of the field at 10-12-11-28. The stock speeds of 1600 MHz are slower than most of the comparison kits, while latencies of 8-9-8-24 are among the tightest. The Viper Extreme heat sinks are one of the most prominent features of this memory kit, with the extruded aluminum shell over a copper strip that runs across the memory ICs for effective shedding of heat generated by the 1.65 V and up that I put through them. This design builds off the original Viper series heat sinks AOC construction and combines it with the extruded shell used in the Sector 5 and Sector 7 modules from a couple years ago. In testing, these modules the heat sinks delivered cool temperatures and allowed for some spirited extra voltage tuning. As you might expect, clearance could get tight around the CPU cooling solution if all 8 DIMM slots are populated. The copper-colored labels and glimpses of copper through the black extruded aluminum heat sinks give these modules a unique look to go with their aggressive pricing of right around $119 for 16 GB of high performance memory. Good Looks, great headroom, excellent pricing, and a lifetime warranty from Patriot together on this quad-channel kit – simply great.

 

Pros:

  • Pricing
  • Great overclocking
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Good looks
  • Cooling
  • XMP profiles

Cons:

  • None




  1. Introduction & Closer Look
  2. Closer Look: Corsair Vengeance 16GB C9 1866MHz
  3. Closer Look: Corsair GTX8 PC3 19200 10-12-10-27
  4. Closer Look: G.Skill Ripjaws Z
  5. Closer Look: Mushkin Redline
  6. Closer Look: Patriot Division 4
  7. Specifications & Features
  8. Testing: Setup & Overclocking
  9. Testing: PCMark Vantage, PCMark 7, Geekbench, Super Pi 1.5
  10. Testing: SiSoft Sandra 2011, AIDA 64
  11. Testing: Battlefield Bad Company 2
  12. Conclusion
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