CSX Diablo PC3 16000 DDR3 2x1GB Review

NCC10281982B - 2008-07-08 21:19:15 in Memory
Category: Memory
Reviewed by: NCC10281982B   
Reviewed on: July 16, 2008
Price: Est. $200

Introduction:

When it comes time to build that killer new rig, part of the equation is the system memory. If you won't be overclocking (blasphemy!!) then just about any good set of memory will do the job. Now if you will be overclocking, benchmarking or just hardcore gaming, then just any set will not do. At this point DDR2 memory is incredibly inexpensive, so there is little to lure the masses from their DDR2 comfort zone into the realm of DDR3. Four gigabytes of performance DDR2 memory will set you back less than $150. The same four gigabytes of performance DDR3 will hit the budget to the tune of $350 and up. A steep price of admission for moving to the newer product. But isn't that always the case when migrating to a newer technology? Two gigabytes of DDR3 1333 MHz, on the other hand, is quite inexpensive at this point with many kits retailing for around $100 mark. Still, the performance modules do come with a premium, as can be expected.

One of the performance DDR3 sets of memory just recently introduced is the CSX Diablo DDR3 2000 MHz 2x1 GB set. Featuring XMP (Extreme Memory Profile) for X38 (7-6-5-14 1600MHz 1.85v) and X48 (8-7-6-15 1866MHz 1.9v) based motherboards, performance is just a quick couple of settings away. To reach the 2000MHz speeds, a NF790I chipset motherboard, or at least a well tweaked X48 board, are required. Timings for use at 2000MHz are 9-9-9-28 but should be able to be tweaked to reach 8-7-7-19 at 2.0 to 2.1 volts. With 2.0 plus volts required, it's a good thing CSX has used its "Extreme Metal Cooler" to help offload some of the heat from the Micron D9GTR memory chips. With the product name of Diablo, the implication is that this is one hot set of modules. Will that heat be the temperature of the modules or the performance that is delivered? Let's find out.

Closer Look:

The modules come in a standard retail blister package. The front view shows the Diablo name on a fiery background and shows these modules to be the Extreme Performance DDR3 series. The rear view shows the modules. Nothing more, nothing less.

 

 

The documentation that is included with the Diablo kit shows off the CSX memory lineup and includes a set of installation instructions so that the installation goes off without a hitch.

 

 

The Diablo modules are rated at 2000 MHz with 9-9-9-28 timings. Although XMP profiles are incorporated into the SPD programming for use with Intel chipset boards (X38 1600MHz and X48 1866MHz), to reach the 2000MHz speed requires an Nvidia 790i chipset based motherboard or "a highly tweaked X48 board." There isn't an XMP profile for the 2000MHz speed, but the literature for these modules states that they can run at 8-7-6-19 1t at 2.0 to 2.1 volts.

 

 

There is no need to wonder what memory chips are attached to the Diablo modules. Why, you ask? CSX has included that information on the info tag on the heatspreader. This set uses Micron D9GTR modules. The JEDEC DDR3 specification calls for 1.5 volts to be supplied to the memory modules. So you can imagine the increase in volts to 2.0 is going to cause some heat to be generated. CSX has covered with the installation of the Extreme Metal Cooler that is used to help dissipate the heat load.

 

 

Now let's see if the Diablo modules perform as well as they look.

Specifications:

CSX-order-no: 
DIABLO3-2000-2GB-KIT
aticle number: 
10014307  
capacity:
2 (2x1) GB 
capacity:
2048 (2x1024) MB 
chip type:
DDR3  
module type: 
DIMM  
amount pin:
240 pin 
Jedec Standard Setting: 
1333MHz CL9  
Max. Speed: 
2000 MHz
Max. Speed: 
2 Ghz 
Chip organisation:
128x8  
Overclocking Setting 1:

max. setting for INTEL X38: 1600MHz 7-6-5-14 1.85V (command rate: 1T)  

Overclocking Setting 2: 

max. setting for INTEL X48: 1866MHz 8-7-6-15 1.90V (command rate: 1T)  

Overclocking Setting 3: 

max. setting for NVIDIA nF790i: 2000MHz 8-7-6-19 2.0 - 2.1V (command rate: 1T)  

heatsink: 
EXTREME METAL COOLER  
amount of chips:
8  
module organisation:
128mx64  
PCB-Layer: 
  8  
Chip manu.:
  MICRON 
Chip PN:
  D9GTR  
CSX SERIE:
DIABLO  
on stock:
on stock:

Testing:

The way to verify that one set of memory modules is better than another is to run a series of benchmarks and gather some basic comparison data. When all things are equal and the only variable is the module being tested, the results are a great way to compare performance. In order to eliminate the variables, the only settings that will be manipulated will be the memory timings and voltages when overclocking. The comparison modules will be run at the manufacturer specified timings and voltages at a speed of 1333MHz. In order to reach 2000MHz, the processor used in the test setup will have to be overclocked from 333MHz to 450+ MHz. All of the comparison modules were run at 1333 MHz, the CSX Diablo modules were run at both 1333 and 2000MHz. The memory and CPU were run in unlinked mode throughout the testing.

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:

Try as I might, I could not push the Diablo modules any further than the 2000MHz they are rated for. They ran the same 2000MHz whether the timings were tightened up or loosened up even further than the 9-9-9-28 stock latencies. Increasing the voltage was not the solution this time it seems. 2.2 volts did not bring any gains to the maximum clock speed or to the timings. At the 1333MHz mark the modules easily ran 6-5-5-15 all day long with 1.75 volts to the modules. Since I could not break through the 2000MHz mark, I started tightening up the sub-timings and was able to drop them to 8-7-6-20 at the same 2.04 volts that the modules ran the looser timings. Without a processor to push a higher FSB speed on this platform, I had to settle for the reduction in memory sub timings. This tightening of the timings offers up an increase in performance that you can't pass up.

 

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. A comparison will be made of the performance at DDR3 1333 for a comparison point, and the highest achievable speed for the Mushkin XP3 16000.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

In the PCMark Vantage 1333MHz testing, the Diablo modules did not fare as well in the total suite score as the other modules. In the Vantage memory testing though, it cleaned house, finishing almost 500 marks higher than the closest set of modules. In the Sandra testing, the scores at the 1333MHz level were just about identical, given that the speed and latencies were again almost identical. Once the modules were raised to 2000MHz, the performance skyrockets.

 

Testing:

Company of Heroes is a real time strategy game set during World War II. The object is to occupy and control the ground you capture, while forcing the opponents to capitulate. We will use the in-game performance test to measure the performance of the system.

 

The settings used in this test are listed below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher is Better

 

The performance of the modules showed increases through all four resolutions when the timings were tightened up at the 2000MHz mark.

 

Conclusion:

Now that motherboard manufacturers are pushing out high performance DDR3 motherboards in mass quantities, the DDR3 standard has started gaining traction with more and more people adopting its use. Sure, you can use the 1333MHz JEDEC standard rated modules, but that just won't do when pushing past 1600MHz. Since Intel's release of the QX9770 and native 400FSB speed (400x8), 1600 MHz is now just the jump off point for high performance memory modules. Along with the 1600MHz speed, memory manufacturers are including XMP (Extreme Memory Profile) programming onto the SPD chip to take advantage of a guaranteed to run profile. Kind of like the SLI profiles that can be used on Nvidia based boards. To push memory up to these higher speed of course means that you have to push the voltage as well. That in turn means more heat the modules need to shed. CSX has this problem covered with the Extreme Metal Cooler that is used on the Diablo modules. The modules actually were cool to the touch with even 2.2 volts running through them, something I was quite pleased to see. Even though they run cool, it's always a good idea to keep a fan on the modules when running at higher than stock voltages.

Performance wise, the Diablo modules performed better than or equal to the comparison modules at the 1333MHz level in all but two tests. At the 2000MHz level, performance was better than the Mushkin modules that we recently looked at. Surprising, but true. At the 1333MHz level, the timings were able to be dropped to 6-5-5-15 for a performance boost down low. At the top end of the scale, the stock timings of 9-9-9-28 were able to be reduced to 8-7-6-20 at the same volts needed to run the 9-9-9 timings. CSX has included XMP profiles onto the Diablo modules so you can just enable the use of the profile in the BIOS of your motherboard and not have to worry about whether or not the settings will work. The only downside to these CSX Diablo set of modules is that I was unable to push any higher than the 2000MHz rating on the modules at any voltage or timing. Compustocx (CSX) has produced a high performance set of memory modules that can run at insane speeds at tight timings while staying cool. Add the lifetime warranty and the attractive pricing and you have a winner.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: