G.SKILL Trident 2x1GB DDR3-1600MHz Memory Review
Reviewed by: ajmatson
Reviewed on: July 16, 2009
Computer memory has always been a crucial item when building a blazing fast system. There are many factors you need to take into consideration when choosing your modules other than speed alone. In the past, you merely picked what was compatible with your system. However, now you have to look at the speeds that they offer in addition to their the required, latencies that they use to reach those blistering speeds, and the cooling solution. Yes, I said cooling solution, since with the speeds that memory modules reach these days, cooling is no longer optional, but rather necessary. One last consideration I haven't mentioned yet is the capacity. What size modules do you need? 2GB, 4GB, or more? Today we are going to answer that question and more while taking a look at a new set of memory from G.Skill called the Trident. This is a 2GB set rated at 1600MHz with enhanced latencies of 8-8-8-21. When we look at the performance later on, it's important to keep in mind that it is only a 2GB set, and thus should not be marked down when compared to 4GB sets.
The modules came to us in a retail blister pack with a nice "shine" to them; a very futuristic look. The front of the blister back is completely clear, allowing you to get a nice look at the design of the heatspreader, which is crafted with maximum cooling in mind. The back of the blister pack has the support contact information for G.Skill, as well as a sticker showing the model number of F3-12800CL8D-2GBTD and the specifications of the memory.
Once the modules are out of the packaging, you get a nice look at the unique heatspreader that G.Skill chose for its Trident series memory. The heatspreader is comprised of a green PC Board with a black aluminum heatspreader. The heatspreader uses a unique fin design that protrudes from the top and is spaced to allow the natural airflow from the case to pass over them and draw away the warm heat. This set is a 2 x 1GB dual-channel set rated for 1600MHz with enhanced latencies of 8-8-8-21 at 1.65 volts.
Now that they are out of the package, let's see what they can do.
Now we get to the most important part of the review, the testing. When I went into this review, I had two questions I wanted answered. One was whether there a big difference between 2GB of system memory and 4GB, especially when working with Windows Vista. The second question was whether enhanced latencies have a big effect on a memory's performance? To answer these questions, I set up the testing twofold. First I ran every set at the speed and latency of the Trident series, which was 1600MHz @ 8-8-8-21. This was done to see the differences of 2GB vs 4GB, as well as judge the head-to-head performance when matched. Then I ran the two 4GB sets at their stock speeds, which were 1600MHz for both sets, with timings of 9-9-9-24 for the Corsair XMS3 set and 8-8-8-24 for the OCZ Spec Ops set (the ReaperX 2GB set is 1333MHz at stock, so it was not feasible to test them at stock speeds).
- Processor(s): AMD Phenom II X4 955
- Motherboard: ASUS Crosshair III Formula
- Memory: G.Skill Trident 2x1GB DDR3-1600MHz 8-8-8-21
- Video Card : NVIDIA GTX 260 (216)
- Power Supply: Mushkin 800w Modular Power Supply
- Hard Drive: 1 x Seagate 7200.11 750GB SATA w/ 32MB Cache
- Optical Drive: Lite-On 8x DVD+/-RW
- OS: Windows Vista Ultimate Edition
- Comparison Module #1: OCZ Spec Ops Urban Elite DDR3 2 x 2GB 1600MHz 8-8-8-21 (Matched run) / 8-8-8-24 (Stock run)
- Comparison Module #2: Corsair XMS3 DHX 2x2GB DDR3-1600MHz 8-8-8-21 (Matched run) / 9-9-9-24 (Stock run)
- Comparison Module #3: OCZ ReaperX 2x1GB DDR3-1333MHz @ 1600MHz 8-8-8-21
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: AMD Phenom II X4 955 233x16= 3728MHz
- Memory: G.Skill Trident DDR3 2x1GB 1860MHz @ 9-9-9-24 1.65v
When it comes to overclocking memory, it is not all about the maximum frequency you can obtain, but rather a delicate balance between the voltage, frequency, and latencies that allow you to get the maximum memory bandwidth. I had to play with raising the clocks while tightening and loosening the timings to get a balance of speed and performance. I was able to get the memory to boot at 2000MHz at 9-9-9-27, however the memory bandwidth was less and the performance was lower than 1860MHz at 9-9-9-24. I did try to bump the voltage up to get 2000MHz to run with lower latencies, but it was not stable. So for the overclocking test, I will be running at 1860MHz with timings of 9-9-9-24 for a total overclock of 260MHz.
The benchmarks used in this review include the following:
- CPU-Z Version 1.49
- 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.
Throughout PCMark Vantage and Sandra, the 2GB sets from OCZ and G.Skill held up nicely against the 4GB sets, although the latter did show a bit of a performance increase when the system was scored as a whole. Surprisingly though, when the memory was only tested in the Sandra Float and Integer runs, they were all the same. Interestingly, the two 4GB sets, when set with higher latencies, performed better than the Trident with lower latencies.
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. 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
When it came to the Left 4 Dead runs, the Trident memory kept up with the 2GB and 4GB sets with only minor differences amongst the various sets.
When it came to testing for the G.Skill Trident set, I was quite surprised. While only 2GB in capacity, they did perform quite well. They were only slightly behind the 4GB sets in the majority of the tests and when it came to the memory-only tests, they ran nearly equal. Their downfall comes in the multitasking field. If you look at the Task Manager screenshot, you will notice that while running Vista Ultimate in an idle state with no programs or apps open, other than what is running in the task bar from start up, there is already 735MB of our 2048MB memory used. If you plan on multitasking then the 2GB of the Trident series is probably not for you; I would get the 4GB kit instead. Other than for multitasking, this set performed quite well and faired better than I expected. Even though it was behind the other sets when run at stock, the difference was marginal. I was surprised to see that the sets with higher latencies perform better than when run at the latencies of the Trident series. This reaffirms my overclocking comments of having to find the delicate balance of speed and latencies for best performance. Having the lower latencies might not always be the best. If you are looking for memory to get that family PC up and running or just cant give up on Windows XP, I would recommend the G.SKill Trident 2GB set. However, if you need more capacity and are running Windows Vista, I would try the 4GB Trident series kit that G.Skill offers instead.
- Kept up with the other modules, including the 4GB sets
- Inexpensive compared to other 2GB DDR3-1600MHz sets
- Excellent cooling design
- 1600MHz speeds
- Only 2GB capacity