G.Skill F3-12800CL8T-6GBHK Review

RHKCommander959 - 2009-07-07 13:03:34 in Memory
Category: Memory
Reviewed by: RHKCommander959   
Reviewed on: August 9, 2009
Price: $199.99

Introduction:

With the release of i7 processors, DDR3's popularity greatly increased. Also, due to the triple channel nature of the CPU architecture, memory has been bundled in groups of three. The average speed of memory targeting the i7 is generally 1600MHz, with value memory at 1333MHz and performance memory above 1866+MHz. Intel suggests a maximum of 1.65V for operation with JEDEC voltage at 1.5. Most kits are using intricately designed heat spreaders nowadays since DDR3 runs fairly cool. Being reviewed today is a triplet of blue and silver memory from GSkill that operates at 1600Mhz with tight 8-8-8-21 timings at 1.6V. These modules are labeled F3-12800CL8T-6GBHK.  They should provide great performance at 1600MHz and will most likely overclock well since there is some head room on the voltage and timings.  This 6GB of memory also comes in handy with 64-bit operating systems!

 

Closer Look:

Opening the shipping box, mixed in with the packing peanuts, I find a petite little clamshell package with some beautiful blue and silver GSkill memory. The insert is dark and smoky with a beam of white across the top on both sides. The red Gskill logo is present in the top right corner of both sides as well, with the rated memory settings visible directly on the memory with their stickers. The front itself only states that these are for Intel i7 systems. Rotating to the back, a paragraph summarizes the qualities of the memory inside, as well as the company that created them. Near the bottom is a white box with detailed information similar to what is found on the memory stickers, along with contact information for GSkill, and RoHS compliance badge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The memory has a deep blue radiance to it, the silver parts are lines that reflect light and color well while scrambling images. The sticker noting the memory speed, timings, and other information is an off-white or grayish color. The heat spreader design is almost entirely cosmetic, but will still dissipate some heat. The green PCB is considered outdated to some, but personally I think it looks good. The other side is entirely the same, minus the sticker and the notch being shifted.

 

 

The GSkill sticks have a small footprint with their basic heat spreaders. The design looks great and these modules likely run very cool at their rated speed of 1600MHz, and thus they do not require larger heat spreaders to dissipate heat. This kit is definitely flashy thanks to the reflective silver and glowing anodized blue heat spreaders.

 

 

These sticks of memory are thin enough to fit side by side on motherboards, while some memory cannot due to larger heat spreaders. The top is clean and rounded. The heat spreaders are attached with thermal tape, snapped together at the top and raised along the silver design. The PCB layers are fairly visible with a keen eye.

 

 

With the GSkill memory examined, let's get a good look at their features and then see how they overclock!

Specifications:

Brand
GSkill
Main Board
Intel
System
Desktop
System Type
DDR3
M/B Chipset
Intel X58
CAS_Latency
8-8-8-21
Capacity
6GB (3x2GB)
Speed
DDR3-1600 (PC3 12800) 
Test_Voltage
1.6~1.65 Volts 
PCB
6 Layers 
Registered/Unbuffered
Unbuffered 
Error_Checking
Non-ECC
Type
240-pin DIMM
Warranty
Lifetime 

 

 

All information courtesy of GSkill@http://www.gskill.com/products.php?index=106

Testing:

To test these modules, they will be ran at their rated speed through a handful of tests, and again when they are overclocked at a stable speed. Testing the memory while overclocked will be difficult. Not all memory manufacturers produce all of the parts to their memory. Generally, companies will purchase memory ICs from other vendors and either run them at or under/over their rated settings. Obviously, when companies pre-overclock memory, they generally have less headroom for extra overclocking. Some companies speed bin the memory ahead of time and sell memory targeted to overclockers. This all factors together as to how well a kit will overclock. Once the results are in they are compared to similar memory kits and the results are examined.

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:

When I set out to overclock these modules, I had a goal of reaching 1866 with reasonable settings. Loosening the timings and increasing the voltage did not greatly improve stability beyond 1800MHz, and the modules weren't hot at all. Nothing like the original DDR days. No matter how much QPI or memory voltage I poured in, the results were similar. The highest I could manage to boot with was 1868MHz, unstable and 2Mhz over of my goal of 1866, with rolling blue screens proving that these modules were finicky at higher speeds. They appeared stable with CAS 10, which didn't add any headroom, but then what's the point at running that loosely with high voltage.  At CAS 9 they would boot happily and run for a while until a random BSOD would appear. Testing was conducted with 1.66V at stock timings.  The overclocked testing was done at 1800MHz, rather than the volatile settings and loose timings that were needed for the extra 66MHz. 1800MHz was very simple.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Overall the F3-12800 HK's did great here with high scores being good in all of the tests except Memory Latency - where lower is better. These GSkill modules scored great - especially when overclocked to 1800. The PCMark Vantage scores were slightly lower than other 1600MHz kits, although the score was close and excelled when overclocked. The Kingston's showed a slight advantage at stock, performing very similarly to the Patriots. Sandra 2009 also saw great gains at both stock and overclocked speeds, with the overclocked GSkill coming in close to the 1866MHz kit from Mushkin. The Patriots were the lowest scorers in Sandra since they are clocked in at 1333MHz. The 1600MHz kits all scored very similarly.

Testing:

Left 4 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, 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:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The GSkill F3-12800's did great with Left 4 Dead, beating the competition out at stock and gaining further ground in the first two resolutions when overclocked. The overclocked settings did very little to nothing in the two higher resolutions, due to bottlenecks elsewhere.

Conclusion:

Overall the kit performed very well! Without touching any of the timings and bumping up voltage slightly as insurance for stability, the kit operated at a little above 1800MHz readily. Adding more voltage and loosening timings had little effect to the overclockability of this kit, with a maximum overclock not much greater than 1866MHz. During the testing the modules ran cool.  At their peak temperature I would call them barely warm to the touch. When setup properly in the BIOS, these sticks were rock solid stable at 1600MHz up to 1800MHz. CAS 7 was unreachable at 1600MHz, and going above the stock timings of CAS 8 had very small yields. The stylish heat spreaders have been around for a while but still look good.  Adding the solid timings to the heat spreaders makes an attractive package. With the amount of bandwidth received from these, faster memory isn't absolutely necessary.  The ratio of cost to performance goes way out of whack. Around 1600MHz to 1866MHz, memory is a good range for price for performance speeds for the i7 platform. This kit did superb in the testing, especially when overclocked, fighting toe to toe with the 1866MHz sticks. Priced right around $200, this kit is priced close to the upper avarages for modules rated for operation at DDR3 1600.  The modules offer a value for their performance, but when you can get similar performance for less money, price does become a consideration. These modules from GSkill offer performance with their tighter stock latencies and ability to reach 1800MHz+ speeds.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: