Kingston Hyper X PC3 12800 Cl9 6GB Review

ccokeman - 2009-07-03 21:09:00 in Memory
Category: Memory
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: August 3, 2009
Price: Memory $131.99 HyperX Fan $22.99


Memory that is running at 1600MHz or higher is what you might call enthusiast class by definition, as most of the world is going to be running 1066 or 1333Mhz when they buy memory for their new Intel Corei7 based computer. Sure some people don't overclock their hardware, but it is all the rage, so why not get a set of memory that can run higher than what the stock frequencies offer? Depending on the memory divider used you can run the memory at speeds from 1066MHz on up to 2000MHz just by changing the divider. While that does give a small benefit, the real benefit comes when you increase the clock speed of the CPU and the memory. This is where memory that can run at the higher frequencies pays off. But speed is not everything. When Intel introduced the Corei7 processors and X58 chipset with the ability to run memory in a Tri Channel configuration, the race was on to develop memory kits that would work within the confines of this architecture. At the time DDR3 2000MHz modules were running with voltages as high as 2.1 volts and many high performance kits running in the 1.8 to 1.9 volt range. On the i7 the maximum voltage specified by Intel for the memory was reduced down to 1.65 volts to give the CPU a chance at a long and happy life - or so the story goes. This came at a time when 64 bit operating systems were coming into their own as more and more desktops and notebooks were being sold with 64 bit versions of Windows Vista to take advantage of the ability to use the additional memory. Of course with the pre-builts, there had to be some thought on making sure you can actually "see" the memory to reduce those nuisance customer service calls.

The HyperX line has long been the standard bearer for Kingston's high performance memory line up. The HyperX KHX12800D3T1K36GX kit includes three 2 GB modules rated to run DDR3 1600MHz speeds with latencies of 9-9-9-27 using just 1.65 volts. The modules do not use just the standard flat heatspreaders, but use Kingston's T1 heatspreader design to let the modules run as cool as possible under load and contain an XMP profile to allow for a no hassle setup. Included with this set of memory is something that should prove useful when it comes to overclocking the HyperX modules. This is the HyperX fan assembly. How many of us have aimed a 120mm fan at the modules in the system in the hope of keeping the modules cool? I have! Now you can couple this fan assembly with the T1 heatspreaders to keep your modules alive and cool when laying the voltage to the modules to get the most from them. Let's find out just how well the HyperX modules compare to some of the other performance modules on the market.

Closer Look:

The HyperX modules come in a retail blister pack that stacks the modules up to give the visual impact of the large heatspreaders. Across the front is a red band containing the Kingston and HyperX logos while below it there is the model number designation of the 3x2GB kit. The rear of the package contains no information. The red band doubles as the brand identifier as well as the seal to prove that the modules have not been opened and have not been tampered with. The memory kit number is KHX12800D3T1K36GX. The blister pack is opened by cutting the seal and pulling off the clear front of the package.











This set of Kingston modules contains three 2 gigabyte modules that are rated for operation at 1600MHz with latencies of 9-9-9-27 using 1.65 volts. The modules use Kingston's T1 heatspreader design that are made up of large finned aluminum heatsinks that protrude well above the top of the PCB to provide additional cooling to the modules, increasing their lifespan and potentially increasing the clock speed they can run. Cooler is better.



Taking a closer look at the modules you can see how the T1 heatspreader is configured. The top part of the assembly is slotted and rises well above the PCB with additional fins on each vertical rib to increase the surface area for heat dissipation. The sides of the heatspreader are also ribbed again, adding to the available surface area. Similar, but vastly different from the design used by Patriot on their Viper series modules.



I mentioned the HyperX fan earlier so let's see what it looks like and how it mounts to the motherboard.


Closer Look:

Included with this set of HyperX memory was what Kingston calls their HyperX Fan! This assembly will come in handy when pushing the clock speeds and voltages on the HyperX modules or any memory for that matter. The fan assembly is well packaged and is lined with both foam and bubble wrap to make sure the pieces come to the end user without any damage. There is a manual included, but the installation and mounting is pretty straight forward.


















Once you pull all of the pieces out of the box you can see roughly how the assembly should be put together. It includes the top that houses the two 60mm LED fans and sleeved 3 pin power connection, the legs and the screws used to secure the legs to the fan assembly and at the same time mounting to the DIMM slots. The fans are mounted to an aluminum plate that slides out of the main enclosure so fan replacement is no problem. I could not find any information on the fans but they have a clear frame and blue LED's.




To get the HyperX Fan mounted there really is not a whole lot that needs to be done. The legs slide into the fan enclosure and the thumb screws attach the two together. First install the HyperX modules in the correct DIMM slots for your application and then you are ready to install the fan assembly. The legs are shaped to lock in place over the DIMM retention brackets and holds the assembly over the modules when the thumb screws are tightened. Plug in the fans and the HyperX fan is ready for use. Last but not least is a picture of the whole package installed on the test motherboard.




The only issue I could see with using the HyperX Fan, is that with large heatsinks the assembly may get in the way of the cooling fan. Especially if you use 38mm fans on your heatsink. With the heatsink in both possible mounting locations there is a slight amount of interference but the HyperX fan can be slid further out to accommodate.




Kingston HyperX
240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM
6 GB
Cas 9
Yes T1 design



To find out just how well a product performs, you have to test it in a real world environment so that you don't just blindly believe what the manufacturer says the product will do. Some are right on the money, while others fall somewhat short. On the other hand, there are products that exceed the manufacturer's specifications and will perform at a higher level than what the specifications lead you to believe. To find out what kind of performance the Kingston modules deliver, I will be running them through the OverclockersClub suite of benchmarks to see how the performance compares to that of modules that are rated both lower and higher than the rated speed and timings of 9-9-9-27. The CPU is run at the default clock speed of 133 x 20 and the memory multiplier is increased to reach the rated speed of each set of modules. For the overclocking test I will use a combination of increasing the bclock on the CPU to increase the clock speed of the Kingston HyperX modules.

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.



Overclocked settings:

Since the modules are rated at 1600MHz 9-9-9-27 what better place to start then to see if the loose timings can be improved upon. To start with I lowered the Cas Latency, TRTP and TRD to 8 and the TRAS to 24 all while running the default 1.65 volts. Expecting a black screen I was surprised that the modules booted and then tested fine at 8-8-8-24. Next I started bumping the memory speed up by increasing the bclock a few MHz at a time and rebooting. Then thing is the modules kept scaling with the 8-8-8 subtimings until I reached 1884MHz. So far 284MHz worth of extra clock speed. At this level I was able to benchmark game and run stability tests at will. Any higher though required the Cas Latency to move to 9. Voltage did not help and above 1.68 I would get errors so the max voltage used was 1.67 volts. Moving on up from 1884 I finally reached 1976MHz with the timings at 9-9-8-24 with the memory voltage at 1.66 volts QPI volts at +220 and the CPU at 1.28 volts. 376MHz (187MHz actual) worth of increase for a set of memory that costs just 131 bucks is nothing to sneeze at. Unfortunately 2000MHz just was not to be for me on this set. So close yet so far.



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.

















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.






In PCMark Vantage the Suite and memory scores delivered by the Kingston's was very competitive. When compared to the Mushkin PC3 12800 modules that are rated at 9-9-9-24 the performance is almost identical between the two sets. When the modules are pushed to almost 1000MHz the performance in the Sandra testing puts the modules at the top of the charts. In PCMark Vantage the overclock got the modules to perform at a much higher level.



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 and 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! 
















The gaming test shows that the memory is not having a substantial impact on performance as all of the scores vary by only a maximum of 1 FPS. Overclocking the Kingston modules and CPU results in a measurable performance increase in all four resolutions tested.



The Kingston modules showed comparable performance to modules that are rated similarly when run at the rated timings and speeds without overclocking the CPU to gain an advantage. Really that is the expectation here. What was not expected was that the fact that the modules overclocked stably within a few MHz of 2000MHz with the just over the rated voltage and slightly tighter timings. 987MHz (DDR3 1974MHz) to be exact. 2000MHz just would not happen on my test platform. In my book those are pretty stellar results. Whats even better though is the performance can be improved upon by tightening up the timings to 8-8-8 without bumping the voltage and running the modules from the stock 1600MHz all the way up to 1884MHz with these timings. Above that the Cas latency had to move up to 9 for stability. That is a great performance from a set of modules that currently retails for less that 150 dollars. Currently $131 at popular online retailer Newegg. The T1 heatspreaders do the job they were designed to do and kept the modules cool even without the use of the HyperX Fan. The HyperX Fan just adds that additional bit of insurance and bling when you decide to push the voltage to the modules, something that really was not needed on this set. It's there for you if you need it though. The only issue I had with the fan and modules was that with large heatsinks and thick fans you may run into clearance issues depending on the orientation of the CPU and DIMM sockets. The Kingston HyperX PC312800 3x2GB kit delivers good looks and functionality coupled with excellent overclocking and performance that can be improved upon by tightening the timings all for a price that is quite reasonable for a kit of this ability.