OCZ PC3-17000 Flex EX 12GB Reviewccokeman -
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Finding the right system memory for your high-end build can seem like a daunting task. There is a wealth of information out on the Internet about what works best with what system and where to find it. There are many memory companies out there making some really stunning products that work to fill every consumers demand from the mild to the wild, including your basic value memory all the way to the high-end limited production set, equipped with the flavor of the week memory IC. It's all out there.
OCZ is one company that does cater to the enthusiast, offering a set of memory to fill each and every price point. Their FLEX XLC line is one that has been out and fits the criteria of being an enthusiast grade product just based on its design and intended use. This series of memory is put together for the high-end user that uses a liquid cooling solution to cool the seemingly ever increasing thermal loads in these systems.
Water cooling is a niche market that is quickly finding more and more people adopting this cooling strategy as a way to cool that high-end system without the noise factor normally associated with a high-end air cooled system.
Now, in the past, this market was made up of enthusiasts who used what they had available and used a bit of ingenuity to make a solution that worked and found ways to cool down everything from the CPU to the hard drives and power supply. Liquid cooling the memory was a logical progression and one made by OCZ several years back. This new series from OCZ features a new, slimmer heat sink design and comes in capacities from 4GB up to 12GB ranging in speeds from 1600MHz to 2400MHz in both dual and triple channel kits optimized for Intel's P55 and X58 chipsets. This set from OCZ is rated at PC3-17000 or 2133MHz and is 12GB in size and is currently the fastest 12GB kit in the Flex XLC lineup. Even though this set is meant to be incorporated into a liquid cooled loop, it still carries a lifetime warranty, so you have some piece of mind when it comes time to put them in the loop.
Instead of the traditional blister pack that you normally see memory modules sold in, OCZ has put this set into a full retail box. The front panel has several windows that show off the OCZ Flex EX modules illustrating their dual cooling capabilities. The back panel of the package lists the advantages of using OCZ memory and how this set is deigned to work with and take full advantage of Intel's Core i7 architecture and goes through a "sophisticated binning process". Also mentioned is the incredible customer support OCZ offers to their customers and the enthusiast community, plus a slew of awards that OCZ has earned with their products that include not only system memory, but flash and solid state drives. Further down is an illustration of how the large fin array and liquid injection system cool the memory IC's on this set of memory.
You have to package the modules in something that limits movement in transit to keep the modules alive. Inside the box are two plastic clamshells that hold the modules securely in place so they do not come into contact with another module. There are a total of three modules in this kit.
This set of modules from OCZ are part of the Flex XLC lineup. This series of modules feature heat spreaders that can be used with one of two cooling methods: air, by way of the large aluminum fin array, or with a water cooled setup, using OCZ's Liquid Injection system. Of course, to get the maximum cooling potential you can add a fan blowing over the modules for maximum heat dissipation. The information on the decal shows this triple channel set of modules carries part number OCZ3FXE2133LV12GK and consists of three 4GB modules for a total capacity of 12GB. This set is rated to run at PC3 17000 or 2133MHz speeds using latencies of 10-10-10-30 at the Intel maximum specified voltage of 1.65v.
The cooling solution used on this set of Flex XLC modules consists of large aluminum bodies over the memory IC's that have a dual purpose design allowing the modules to be used both passively and or water cooled by way of the OCZ Liquid Injection system. The large fin array is attached to the main heat sink body. the modules have two barbed fittings so that the memory can be incorporated into your water cooling system. Inside the heat sink are channels that the liquid passes through that are located right above the memory IC's. If you have seen the earlier revisions of this design, you can see that this latest design is thinner, allowing more modules to be used in a system so that increasing your memory capacity is no longer limited by the size of the cooling solution used on these modules. The diagram of the mechanics of the Liquid Injection system is courtesy of OCZ and illustrates how this cooling solution is used and how the heat dissipation happens.
This set of modules from OCZ not only looks good, but is binned for use at higher speeds, so your overclock is not limited by the system memory. I'm not sure how this set will handle and what kind of benefit we will see in the testing, but let's take a look and see just what this set has to offer in terms of performance. Of course, not without first showing the obligatory beauty shot!