OCZ PC3-17000 Flex EX 12GB Reviewccokeman -
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When I first saw this set of modules I was impressed with how well they were built but had to wonder just how well they would perform and even whether I could get them up to the rated speeds. I found that getting to 2133MHz was no problem at all at the rated timings and voltages requirements. This does mean you will have to work the voltages on your system to reach this level, specifically increasing the QPI voltage to allow the memory controller on your CPU to handle 12GB of memory at speeds above 2100MHz.
When it came to overclocking this set of memory I hit roughly the same walls I hit with the Kingston HyperX H20 set OCC just looked at. At right around 2200Mhz, the memory controller on my poor tetest-bed Core i7 920 just would not give me any more clock speed and would start dropping channels. By lowering the clock speed, I was able to tighten up the sub-timings to get the modules to run at Cas 8 at just over 2000MHz and Cas 7 at just over 1900MHz, if you choose to run this set at a lower speeds. But then again this is a kit meant to run at 2133MHz, so you will want to get what you pay for and use them at the rated speed.
I did find that running 12GB of system memory at this speed is possible without totally insane voltages. Not to say it does not require some tweaking, as it does to get there. If you find you need to really hit the memory voltage to get to your overclocking goals, you have the luxury of knowing that keeping your modules cool is easy enough to do by incorporating them into your liquid cooling loop or putting a fan right above the modules to take advantage of the large fin array. These cooling methods are not mutually exclusive and you reach the maximum cooling potential when using both cooling methods.
Now, in most of our benchmarks, I really did not see a game-changing increase in performance when you keep the CPU at close to its rated speeds while running the modules at the rated speeds and higher. This is something that really is the expectation, as gaming and some synthetic benchmarks are really not going to show where this much memory has an impact. Programs that chew up large quantities of system memory, such as Photoshop, really can show the value of this kind of capacity. With 2133MHz memory, you will need at least a 213Mhz bclock to get to the point where you can start maximizing the memory speeds with high bclock overclocking.
Priced at just over 500 bucks, this set of memory is not cheap. Even so, the pricing for a trio of 4GB modules is pretty steep when compared to a 6GB set, but when you double capacity and compare apples to apples, the costs comparison picture looks a bit more rosy. 12GB of performance memory comes with a hefty price tag no matter how you add it up - whether it's 6 x 2GB or 3 x 4GB.
There was a time in the not so distant past when 1GB of memory was enough to get the job done. With 64 bit operating systems that can take advantage of larger capacities of memory, those days are over. Is 12GB of memory overkill at this point for the average user that builds a high-end rig for gaming? Probably so, but in a multi-purpose build for video rendering or large file sizes in Photshop, too much is never enough. Evidence enough for me, is viewing the memory usage on my brother's Core i7 rig when working with huge files to show the need for this kind of memory kit.
OCZ has put together this Flex EX 12GB kit to meet the needs of the extreme user. This set from OCZ has rugged good looks, awesome cooling capabilities and comes with a lifetime warranty. If 12 gigabytes of memory is too much for your needs or budget, OCZ does offer a 6GB kit with the same great feature set in a 1600Mhz kit, of course with tighter timings and a lower price point.
- Dual cooling capability
- High speeds
- Good looks
- Lifetime warranty
- Ability to run tighter timings