OCZ DDR3 PC3 12800 Platinum 6GB Low Voltage Triple Channel Review
Reviewed by: ccokeman
Reviewed on: February 25, 2009
When it comes to crucial system components one of the items that you just have to have is the system memory. Now that DDR3 has become almost mainstream, the costs associated with an upgrade are not as great as they were just a scant 6 months back. Sure the high-end enthusiast stuff will set you back a pretty penny or two, but for the most part decent 6GB sets can be had for a steal. If you don't install enough memory in your build you will get the lag and stuttering when trying to open programs and attempt to multi-task. You will see that familiar hard drive light just flashing away letting you know that you are hitting the swap file violently. With Vista being so resource intensive, it's a good idea to step up to at least 4GB of system memory or now even 6GB if you are running an Intel Core I7 based system. More memory can mean smoother operation as well as a computer that just feels more responsive. Ultimately that's what we are looking for in a system. Just any set of memory won't do with a high performance build. You've spent some serious money on high-end components and the system memory is not the place to skimp on quality or quantity.
The OCZ DDR3 PC3 12800 Platinum Low Voltage Triple Channel modules are designed for use with Intel's Core I7/X58 chipset. Operation at a speed of 1600MHz with tight timings of 7-7-7-24 with a low 1.65 volts that meets the Intel specified maximum voltage to be used to protect the processor. The modules feature OCZ's exclusive XTC (Xtreme Thermal Convection) heatspreaders that allow the modules to run cooler even at the reduced voltages these modules operate at. Most memory kits in the 1600MHz range are running much looser timings than these OCZ PC3 12800 modules - just how will that impact the performance comparison?
The OCZ modules come not in the usual blister pack or clamshell, but neatly packaged in a box that offers a bit more protection as well as a means of identifying the package. The front panel has the recognizable Z in OCZ with the fact that this is a triple channel kit is boldly stated on the bottom of the package. The rear panel shows a few of the awards given to their products. The listing on the back panel identifies this as a triple channel kit talks about OCZ quality and performance and gives a customer support number. The information given in multiple languages specifies that this set is optimized for use with an Intels X58 platform.
Pulling the modules from the case we get to the standard clamshell packaging we all know and love. The information on the outer box is shown again on the information in the clamshell.
This set of modules from OCZ part number OCZ3P1600LV6GK shows that this is a set of DDR3 memory rated for operation at 1600MHz and is a 6 gigabyte kit. This set is designed for use with Intel's X58 platform and is rated to run at timings of 7-7-7-24 with the specified maximum voltage of 1.65 volts. This voltage specification is directly from Intel and running higher than this voltage may damage the processors integrated memory controller. The modules feature OCZ's patented Z3 XTC heat spreaders to dissipate the thermal load from the modules. The heatspreaders are vented, allowing air to flow over the modules.
Let's see how these modules perform in relation to our test setup modules.
Platinum Z3 XTC Heatspreader*
240 Pin DIMM
3GB (3x1024MB) T/C Kit PN - OCZ3P1600LV3GK
6GB (3x2048MB) T/C Kit PN - OCZ3P1600LV6GK
All information courtesy of OCZ@ http://www.ocztechnology.com/products/memory/ocz_ddr3_pc3_12800_platinum_low_voltage_triple_channel
When it comes time to purchase your new memory modules, most people look to review sites to get a good idea on the performance capabilities of the memory they want to buy. Why, you ask? So they don't have to go through the endless buy it and return or sell it routine to find the set of their dreams. Hey, we do it for you! How? By testing the memory with a series of benchmarks that show some of the capabilities of the system memory. Synthetic benchmarks as well as real gameplay are used to show the capabilities. Also, there are comparisons to other performance modules, just so that this is not a one-sided affair. That just would not do, and offers up only the knowledge of what the featured product can do.
- CPU:Intel Core I7 920
- Motherboard:MSI X58 Eclipse
- Memory: OCZ PC312800 1600MHz 7-7-7-20
- Video Card(s): Nvidia GTX 260-216
- Power Supply: Mushkin 800watt Modular Power supply
- Hard Drive: Seagate 1 TB 7200.11 SATA
- Opticals:Asus DVD-R
- O/S: Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit SP1
- Comparison Module #1: Mushkin HP3 12800 3x2GB 1600 MHZ 9-8-7-20
- Comparison Module #2: Patriot Viper Series DDR3-10666 3x2GB 1600MHz 9-9-8-24
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 I7 920 158x20
- Memory: OCZ Platinum PC3 12800 9-8-7-28 950MHz 1.7 volts
The OCZ PC3 12800 3x2GB kit comes with relatively tight timings of 7-7-7 at the 800FSB mark. It would seem that this would be difficult to improve upon, and it was to a point. I started pushing in larger increments initially but even at the 1.7 volts it took to reach 1600MHz at the delivered 7-7-7-24 timings I was only able to gain another 30MHz. Leaving the voltage at 1.7 I bumped the Cas latency to 8 and was able to reach 900 MHZ at 8-8-7-24. I could boot into windows as high as 920MHz but just did not have enough stability for the benchmarking. With the final push on, I changed the Cas latency to 9 and was rewarded with 950MHz(1900Mhz) at 9-8-7-28 with the same 1.7 volts I used throughout the testing. To reach this level I made adjustments to the QPI voltage, the IOH and ICH voltages. Seeing Cas 8 at over 900MHz without massive volts was pretty sick. Sure there are sets of memory out there capable of higher speeds with tighter timings, but you pay through the nose for them. For the 150 dollars this set will cost you, the overclocking potential is there.
The benchmarks used in this review include the following:
- CPU-Z Version 1.49
- Windows Task Manager
- PCMark Vantage
- SiSoft Sandra 2009
- Left For 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. A comparison will be made of the performance at DDR3 1600 for a comparison point, and the highest achievable speed for the OCZ Platinum Triple Channel kit.
SiSoftware Sandra XII: In this program I will be running the following benchmarks: Cache and Memory, Memory Bandwidth and Memory Latency. All benchmarks will be at default timings. Higher is better in all tests, except for Memory Latency, where lower is better.
In the PC MArk Vantage testing the OCZ Platinum PC3 12800 finished below the Patriot for the total score, but was unbeaten in the memory testing. The Mushkin came close to the performance generated by the OCZ modules. The Sandra testing shows the benefit of the tighter timings the OCZ Platinum modules, as the performance they deliver is above that of the other two sets of modules.
Left For 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 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!
- 0x AA
- 2x AF
- All other settings High
- Vsync disabled
Higher is Better
The OCZ modules show an increase in performance across the resolutions. The benefit of tighter timings is seen down at the 1024x768 resolution with the 11 FPS increase when the modules and system were overclocked.
The OCZ PC3 12800 Platinum 6GB kit did not disappoint! This set of modules was easily the fastest or highest performing in every test save one (PCMark Vantage total score). This is something that was expected going into the testing because of the tighter timings that the modules are designed to run at. Although specified to run at 7-7-7-24 with 1.65 volts, it took 1.7v to gain stability at the 1600MHz (800MHz) level. Even by playing with the subtimings the result was the same. This voltage requirement is not that far out of the realm of possibility, but falls outside the Intel recommended maximum voltage for the supplied voltage to the memory. Using this voltage as a maximum I was able to push the modules from 1600MHz to 1900MHz with just an increase in the subtimings. At this level I needed to run the memory at 9-8-7-28 to successfully pass all of the benchmarks. Not bad when you consider that this resulted in an 11 FPS increase in Left 4 Dead at 1024x768 and memory bandwidth of almost 32GB/s at the 1900MHz level. All with the voltage no higher than 1.7v. The Z3 XTC (Extreme Thermal Convection) heatspreaders allowed the heat to be dissipated effectively and the modules were cool to the touch under load - something not every set of modules can do effectively. When it comes to buying memory most of us do take price into consideration when deciding on a set of memory. It's nice if you can go out and buy the ultra-hot top-of-the-line modules for an ungodly amount of money, when something a little less pricey will work for you just as well. With these modules OCZ has you covered on the performance front, the looks front, the cooling and most of all, they have the price point covered with modules that run a cas latency of 7 at 1600MHz for 150 bucks. That's right 150 dollars for a 6 gigabyte set of high performance memory that delivers the goods. How can you go wrong?
- Tight timings
- Z3 XTC heatspreaders
- Excellent performance
- Took 1.7 volts for stability