G.SKILL Eco Series PC3 12800 2x2GB Review
Reviewed by: ccokeman
Reviewed on: March 28, 2010
While DDR3 memory has been out for some time now, manufacturers are designing new ways to remain competitive and increase the performance of its products. We have seen some of the most extreme designs with large protruding heat sinks and blazing fast speed that reach far past 2000MHz. The G.Skill Eco Series is designed for the Socket LGA 1156 platform, supporting both i5 and i7 processors in a dual-channel configuration. It offers fast speeds with low latencies and even lower power requirements, which make it environmentally friendly - hence the Eco Series brand. With lower power requirements come less heat generated and less power wasted, keeping the impact on the environment and your wallet to a minimum. With so many sets of memory from so many manufactures, you want to make sure you choose the best set of memory for your system. That is why we are here; to run them through the ringer and bring you the results so you can make a more informed decision. Next up on the test bench is the 2 x 2GB set of Eco memory with a speed of 1600MHz and designed to give you power without the waste.
The G.Skill Eco Series PC2 12800 memory comes packaged in a blister pack, which is quite nice so you get a clean full view of the memory and its heat spreaders prior to purchase. This helps you see how the cooling solution is designed and ensure that it will fit your system. On the back of the package is a little bit of information on the memory, letting you know what performance to expect from the memory. On the bottom of the rear of the packaging is also the support information for G.Skill, should you require any assistance with your product. One thing that stood out to me while examining the package was its logo for the memory, which is “Where Speed Is! Extreme Speed Extreme Power.” These modules also follow the Eco stance, as they follow the RoHS directive for hazards substances.
The G.Skill Eco modules we are taking a look at today is a 2 x 2GB set for a total of 4GB of memory, rated for 1600MHz with low latencies of 7-8-7-24 and an extremely low voltage of 1.35 volts. This lower voltage means less energy used and wasted, which makes them eco-friendly for the environment. The Eco series modules use a green-colored PC board with a grey, aluminum heat spreader containing the G.Skill logo and a tribal-style design. The top of the heat spreader has holes where they connect to allow the warm air to escape into the case and out with the natural case airflow. While not as extreme a design of heat dissipation as we have seen on some of G.Skill's latest memory, such as the Trident or Ripjaw series, with the lower voltage required to run them, there will be less heat generated and thus, these heat spreaders should work just fine.
Great timings at low volts sounds like a recipe for some serious overclocking headroom. Let's see if the Eco modules perform as well as they look.
4GB (2GB x2) /
8GB (2GB x4)
DDR3-1600 (PC3 12800)
Information courtesy of G.Skill @ http://www.gskill.com/products.php?index=247
To test the G.Skill Eco Series memory modules, they will be put through a series of benchmarks designed to see how well they perform under load. With the set having lower power requirements, I am curious as to how well they will stand up among other sets designed for raw speed. They will be compared to other sets of memory designed for the Intel Socket LGA 1156 platform. The CPU is run at a clock speed of 200 x 16 on the Patriot modules, while the balance of the modules are run with the CPU at 160 x 20 with the memory multiplier of 10 to keep the modules at their rated 1600MHz speed. For the overclocking test, I will use a combination of voltages and timing increases while increasing the base clock on the CPU to increase the clock speed of the modules to see if they are capable of reaching higher speeds to deliver additional performance.
- CPU: Intel Core i5 750
- Motherboard: ASUS Maximus III Formula
- Memory: G.Skill Eco Series PC3 12800 2x2GB
- Video Card: ASUS ENGTX260 MATRIX
- Power Supply: Mushkin 800 watt Modular Power Supply
- Hard Drive: Seagate 1 TB 7200.11 SATA
- Optical Drive: Asus DVD-R
- OS: Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit SP1
- Comparison Module #1: Mushkin Blackline 996782 PC3-12800
- Comparison Module #2: Kingston HyperX
- Comparison Module #3: Corsair Dominator
- Comparison Module #4: Patriot Viper II Sector 5
- Comparison Module #5: OCZ Intel XMP
- Comparison Module #6: Geil Black Dragon 2x2GB DDR3 1600MHz
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.
- Processor: Intel Core i5 750 195x20
- Memory: G.Skill Eco 1946MHz 6-9-6-24 1.55V
When I put these modules in, I was thinking just how far would they overclock with a paltry 1.35 volts running to them? The short answer is, they do quite well, thank you! The stock timings are 7-8-7-24 with the aforementioned low volts. They easily reached 1804MHz (902MHz Actual) without adjusting the timings or voltages to the modules. I see potential here! Seeing this, I tightened up the CAS latency and TRP to 6 and decided to see where it got me. With 1.35 volts, I didn't go to far, but by increasing the volts on the modules a bit to 1.42v, I was able to reach 1824MHz (912MHz actual). This looked really promising, so I kept moving the volts up and finally had to adjust the TRCD setting to 9, reaching 1946MHz with the timings set to 6-9-6-24 with 1.55 volts, still far from the Intel specified max of 1.65 volts. At this point, I was pretty stoked and figured 1.55 was good so 1.60v should do better. Unfortunately, Memtest stability could not be reached, so I left well enough alone and did not even try to boot into Windows. CAS 6 at almost 2000MHz with 1.5 volts! Not too shabby for a $130 set of modules.
The benchmarks used in this review include the following:
- CPU-Z Version 1.53
- Windows Task Manager
- PCMark Vantage
- SiSoft Sandra 2009
- Left 4 Dead
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 ECO modules perform at a comparable level when you look at all the modules used. The Eco modules did finish with the lowest memory score in the PCMark Vantage memory test while performing right on target in the Sandra testing.
Left 4 Dead is a first-person shooter 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. Your goal is to make it to a rescue point, all 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 zombies. These zombies are quick and work with pack mentality. You have but one job; survival!
- Anti-Aliasing: x0
- Anisotropic Filtering: x2
- Game Settings: High
- VSync: Off
The tighter timings help the G.Skill Eco modules deliver a higher level of performance.
This set of G.Skill modules has a lot going for them. Overclocking at 1.35 volts was much more than I had anticipated, reaching 902MHz with the as-delivered timings. Tightening the timings and bumping up the volts delivered an even more impressive 6-9-6-24 at 973MHz, or 1948MHz. The performance delivered at stock speeds was comparable to the rest of the modules in the comparison listing in the synthetic tests. However, the tighter timings helped deliver higher gaming performance, both stock and overclocked. Using only 1.35 volts, the Eco modules run quite cool and really may not be in need of a good set of heatspreaders to help keep the modules cool - but they just look so good with the "tribal" graphic. Heat was not an issue even at 1.55 volts. The lower voltage did not seem to cause any stability problems and is a way to drop the amount of current you computer uses. In this day and age of rising energy costs, any decrease in consumption is a good thing. The G.Skill Eco series modules deliver excellent performance with good looks and a competitive price - plus, they overclock like mad!
- Good looks
- Good overclocking headroom with low volts
- Cool running
- Low voltage requirements