G.Skill Sniper Series PC312800 Cas 7 Review

ccokeman - 2011-05-17 15:17:49 in Memory
Category: Memory
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: June 21, 2011
Price: $149


Purchasing memory for your system oftentimes involves some hard compromises ranging from price to capacity to the latencies of the DRAM. Since the DRAM market is still depressed, the capacity and cost concerns are not as significant for the time being. Purchasing an eight or 12GB set of memory for your system are low-cost economic realities at this point. The tighter latency higher speed binned kits still come with a price premium though. With higher densities you usually have to settle for looser latencies if you want the larger capacities. G.Skill has addressed this issue with one of their latest kits which is targeted straight at the gaming market. This set of G.Skill Sniper series modules are designed to work with systems based on Intel's P67/Z68 chipsets and second generation Core series processors. Even so, earlier chipsets are able to take advantage of the abilities of this series of modules. This set of modules are designed to run at PC3 12800 speeds (1600 MHz) at 7-8-7-24 using just 1.6v to get the job done and comes with a price tag that seems to match its unique heat shield at $149. For this price you do get G.Skill's lifetime warranty in case something should go wrong

Closer Look:

The modules come in the classic retail blister pack designed so the product is front and center to capture your imagination. The "Sniper" and company logo are at the top of the ad card and do not take away from the visual appeal of the modules. The rear of the ad card illustrates in words why this set of modules is a great fit for that latest gaming build where the image is part of the build. The bottom right has the part number information and specifications of this set of modules. The "Sniper" series modules are offered with different latencies depending on the kit with this PC3 12800 kit sporting the tightest latencies of the group.








Stripped of the packaging, the allure of the "Sniper" series modules is evident with the most prominent feature being the black gun shaped heat shields. Pointed straight at the FPS gamer and modder, the gun theme and black coloring would look good in just about any of the industrial and military themed products out on the market. One place in particular this set would fit is in ASUS Sabretooth or Gigabyte's G1 lineup of motherboards. This set of modules, part number F3-12800CL7D-8GBSR breaks down to a set of 240 pin DDR3 modules rated for operation at 1600MHz with a CAS latency of seven with an 8GB density for the pair. This set of Sniper modules are designed to operate at 7-8-7-24 2t using 1.6v. This set offers the tightest latencies of the "Sniper" lineup from G.Skill and are designed for use on motherboards that support Intel's second generation Core processors. As with most sets of modules designed for use in an Intel based system, the "Sniper" series come with X.M.P. profiles to make setup easy for even the person who wants to just drop the modules in and go.



The aluminum heat shield is a full cover design with venting along the top to facilitate additional cooling. The stamped design of the sniper rifle breaks up the surface to also help with keeping these modules cool but with only 1.6v required to reach the rated speeds and latencies, the heat generated is really nowhere as severe as it was with early DDR3 modules. It's more about the image that fits the build. As with any large heat shield you can run into clearance problems with some CPU cooling solutions depending on the size and location of the DIMM slots on the motherboard. G.Skill's "Sniper" heat shield equipped modules appear to be the same height as the shield used on the "RipJaws X" modules in a side by side comparison but in reality are slightly taller at 42mm vs. 40mm.




The targeting of the modules is clear enough and what you get for the cost of admission into the ownership club is a set of modules with a unique look and G.Skill's lifetime warranty. Will the tighter latencies these modules run at add up to higher performance or will the latency tolerant P67 system just laugh off the tighter timings?


System Type
M/B Chipset
Intel Z68
Intel P67
Intel P55
CAS Latency
8GB (4GB x2)
DDR3-1600 (PC3 12800)
Test Voltage
1.6 Volts
42 mm / 1.65 inch
Error Checking
240-pin DIMM



All information courtesy of G.Skill @ http://www.gskill.com/products.php?index=386


To find out just what kind of performance these kits of memory will deliver, I will be running them through a series of benchmarks to see how they compare. Both 4GB and 8GB kits that range in speed from 1600MHz to 2133MHz will be tested at their native speeds as well as overclocked as far as the test platform and CPU will allow. Overclocking on the Intel P67 series platform is very BCLK limited so most of your speed gains will come from adjusting the memory multiplier and working the timings down to a more respectable level if possible in an effort to improve performance. The test setup used for this evaluation is listed below. Turbo Boost has been disabled to eliminate an uncontrolled clock speed increase to skew the results. The operating system is Windows 7 Pro 64bit with all current patches installed at the time of testing. The Video drivers are the AMD Catalyst 11.2.

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.

Task Manager




G.Skill Overclocked settings:

The stock clock speed rating on these G.Skill modules is 1600Mhz. That being said, the expectation that they might reach the 1950Mhz range was where I expected them to wind up. The fact is they kept going on up to just about the 2200MHz level that is occupied by the other G.Skill modules in this comparison, the Ripjaws X. Going this high did mean that the stock timings of 7-8-7-24 had to be thrown to the wind and adjusted as needed to reach the higher clock speeds. I ultimately settled on 9-11-9-24 using 1.70 volts instead of the as-delivered 1.60. A small jump but needed for the speed and timings I was attempting to run. If looked at on a percentage basis the Snipers saw a roughly 35% increase or 556MHz boost in clock speed. Pretty much the highest percentage increase I have run across in my testing. Not all sets will scale like this based on past history but if these sets do then the $149 price point is worth the investment.



The maximum memory speed for each set of modules when overclocked is a measure of how well the modules ran on this test system. As such, your results may differ in either a positive or negative way based on the capabilities of your hardware. That said, your mileage may vary!



The benchmarks used in this review include the following:


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.




















Geekbench 2.1 provides a comprehensive set of benchmarks engineered to quickly and accurately measure processor and memory performance. Designed to make benchmarks easy to run and easy to understand, Geekbench takes the guesswork out of producing robust and reliable benchmark results.



Super PI Mod 1.5: is a program designed to calculate Pi up to the 32nd millionth digit after the decimal and is used as both a benchmarking utility and simple stress test to check your overclock before moving forward with more rigorous testing. The world records for this benchmark utility are hotly contested.



In the PCMark Vantage testing the Sniper modules deliver comparable performance on the suite score while coming in at the top on the stock memory scoring. The Geekbench scoring shows the Snipe modules performing as expected in the stock scoring but suffering at the overclocked settings in two of the three tests. The Super Pi results show the modules not performing as well as expected. Repeated testing showed the same results.


SiSoftware Sandra 2011: 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.
















In the Sandra testing the Kingston Grey series modules have the highest performance in every one of the Sandra Tests to date. The G.Kill Sniper series modules perform to their abilities and speed rating at stock speeds while when overclocked they do show an increase in performance that closely mirrors that of the Ripjaws X modules. The 2156MHz overclock speeds do help them to achieve this performance.


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The G.Skill Sniper modules fall into the middle of the pack at stock speeds and timings. When overclocked the differences in performance come via an increase in both bclock and memory ratio. The modules that show a larger BCLK increase at the specified ratio show a higher increase in performance.


G.Skill knew the market segment they were aiming for with the "Sniper" Series modules. The gamer and modder who are after a certain look but do not want to sacrifice performance. With memory prices still depressed the cost of entry into a set of 8GB modules sits right around 75 to 90 dollars for CAS 9 kits and around 130 dollars for CAS 7 kits. The Snipers do however come with a price premium of $20 over the 130 dollar price point. Is it worth the extra money? That depends on what you are looking for in a memory kit. If it's a unique look that sets you apart from the crowd then yes the Sniper series do that and more. Then again it has been proven time and again that the gaming segment will buy products that are priced over and above the norm. Just look at the current crop of high end X58 boards that retail in the $499 and up range. It's a niche market that will pay for what it wants. Couple them with the ASUS Sabretooth or Gigiabyte G1 series and you have a set of modules that "Finish" the look. That being said the Sniper modules are not without performance merits to back up the look. The modules offer comparable performance across the board at stock settings but seem to lack a little bit of luster at the top of the range due to the looser latencies needed to get there. Even so, with some more tuning time to really nail down the sub timngs at 2100+Mhz more performance can be had. During testing the Sniper heat shield kept the modules cool to the touch even with 1.7v being pushed through them. Airflow from the CPU cooler intake fan is sufficient to keep the modules cool in a well ventilated case. If not, G.Skill's Turbulence II memory cooling kit could be employed to make sure you keep them cool. Putting the modules up against a set of RipJawsX modules initially showed them to be roughly the same height but the Snipers are a bit taller at 42mm or 1.65 inches tall. Still shorter than some of their competitor's designs so large heat sinks may present some challenges. All things considered the F3-12800CL7D-8GBSR modules delivers performance, massive headroom and a unique look but come with a price premium.