A-DATA Plus-Series DDR2 800 2 x 2GB Review
Reviewed by: sdy284
Reviewed on: June 22, 2008
With Windows Vista and other memory hungry programs and games on the market today, the minimum amount of system memory needed has risen to 4GB. However, the more capacity you buy, the more it is going to put a dent in your wallet. The only way to overcome this is to buy the best kit for the most performance per dollar. What about name brand vs the little guy? What about value RAM, because all memory is the same right? Wrong, and that is a common misconception that system builders make every day. You spend all that hard earned memory on your Quad Core CPU and the multi-GPU gaming system or that powerful workstation you need and grab the bargain bin memory for a few bucks thinking it will do the same! There are three big areas for system memory you need to look at other than the price point. First is the voltage needed to run them if you are looking to make your PC a green PC. Second is the speed of the memory. JEDEC standards stop at 800MHz for DDR2 modules even though you can go beyond that limitation, with memory it is considered being overclocked. Lastly are the timings of the memory. Timings show how many clock cycles it takes to perform a task. The timings are broken down into tCAS-tRCD-tRP-tRAS. You ask what is all that? All are important but the main one is tCAS, or CAS for short, stands for Column Address Strobe latency, which is the amount of cycles needed to access a column of data stored on the memory.
A-DATA makes memory modules for all sorts of needs. Today we are going to be taking a look at the Plus-Series DDR2 800 memory modules which are part of the Vitesta Extreme Edition family. They have a speed rating of 800MHz stock with timings of 4-4-4-12 versus JEDEC's specifications of 5-5-5-18 for this speed. A-DATA even does this all with a voltage specification of 1.9v. The Plus-Series modules are geared toward mainstream use including gaming and workstations while other version of their memory are geared toward more specific uses. The Plus-Series offers quality and reliability at affordable prices. So how will this memory stand up? Let's take a look and find out.
The Plus-Series modules come packaged in the standard sealed blister pack that A-DATA uses for its memory modules. This is a great idea because it prevents the modules from accidentally coming out of the packaging in transit and from damaging them. The packaging is clear so you can plainly see the memory modules through the front of the package. This allows you to inspect the memory for damage prior to purchase and get an idea of what they look like. The back has some of the features of the modules and the instructions on how to open the packaging to remove the memory. When you remove the paper from the packaging and open it up there is the installation instructions and warranty information.
Once we get these bad boys out of the packaging, you can get a better look at them. The Plus-Series uses a red aluminum heatspreader to keep the modules cool under use. There is a sticker on each one that shows the model number, specs, latencies and voltages for the modules. These modules are rated at the JDEC standard of 800MHz, however A-DATA has, through research and development, worked the latencies down to tighter timings to improve performance. According to A-DATA, the Vitesta modules use top brand 64 x8 FBGA (Fine-Pitch Ball Grid Array) chips to improve performance and capacity.
Now that we have them out of the package, how about we move on over to see how they perform.
- Suitable for: Desktop PC
- 240 Pin Unbuffered-DIMM non-ECC
- Configuration: 64Mx8
- Bandwidth: 6.4GB/Sec (PC2 6400)
- Timings: 4-4-4-12-2T
- Voltage: 1.9V~2.1V
- Supports nVIDIA EPP Technology
- Warranty: Lifetime Warranty
"With dual channel motherboards getting increasingly popular, A-DATA releases these new Extreme Edition Vitesta DDR2 800+ modules in single and matched pair kits that provide users with guaranteed compatibility. All A-DATA Extreme Edition series modules pass A-DATA's rigorous dual channel testing, so users can rest assured their platforms will perform beyond their expectations."
All data taken from A-DATA's website at: http://oc.adata.com.tw/1_product_detail.asp?pid=AD2800EU
So how will these modules stand up to the competition? To find out, I will be putting them through a series of tests that will stress them to find out how well they perform during tasks. Then I will compare them with other modules on the market with similar specifications to see how they match the competition. All of the speed, timings, and voltages will be run at the same stock settings to ensure that the scores are accurate and that no variables exist to mess up the scores. I will be comparing the Plus-Series to A-DATA's G-Series, which are meant for hardcore gaming, and Mushkin's Redline Series, which are meant for hardcore users and overclockers.
- Processor: Intel Q9450 Core 2 Quad 333x8
- Motherboard: Gigabyte X48-DQ6
- Memory: A-DATA Plus Series DDR2 800 2x2GB
- Video Card(s): Gigabyte 8800GT
- Power Supply: Mushkin 800 watt Modular power supply
- Hard Drive: Seagate 750GB SATA
- Optical Drive: LG 20x DVD+/-RW
- OS: Windows Vista Ultimate Edition
CPU-Z: This is a great program to use in order to view the settings that we've set in the BIOS including, CPU speed, 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 usage, and processor usage (%).
- Memory: A-DATA Plus-Series DDR2 800 @ 1066 with 5-5-5-12 and 2.1 volts
I wanted to see how far I could push the memory within the modules' limits and still get good scores. The sweet spot for the overclock I reached was 1066MHz, and all I had to do was bump the voltage to the 2.1v maximum specification and loosen the timings to 5-5-5-12. This gave me a 266MHz overclock, which is a 33% bump. Now that is a great speed increase for a set of memory modules. Everything ran stable and I had no problems with the benchmarks or Memtest86+ with these setting, so that is where my overclocked numbers will be run.
The following benchmarks that will be used in this review include:
- CPU-Z Version 1.45
- Windows Task Manager
- PCMark Vantage
- SiSoft Sandra XII
- Company of Heroes
PCMark Vantage: With this benchmark, I will be running the system suite as well as the memory test suite. The measure for the system suite will be the total score. The measure for memory performance is the total memory score.
SiSoftware Sandra XII: In this program, I will be doing 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.
The Plus-Series was higher in total Cache and Memory but was slightly behind in the other marks.
Company of Heroes is a real time strategy game set during World War II. The object is to occupy and control the ground you capture, while forcing the opponents to capitulate. We will use the in-game performance test to measure the performance of the system.
The settings used in this test are listed below:
- All settings to maximum
Higher is Better
The Plus-Series seemed to peform better than the competition at lower resolutions but was taken over as it increased.
The A-DATA Plus-Series is a great set of memory for mainstream tasks, but don't expect to break any records if you are an enthusiast. At stock speeds and timings, the memory came in slightly behind the competition, including the G-Series memory which is based on the same Vitesta Family. The prices for the Plus-Series are to be less expensive than the G-Series however, so then the price to performance ratio comes into play. Overclocked, the Plus-Series is a different story. To achieve a 33% overclock on memory and for it to remain stable 100% of the time is great. This gives you better performance than the competition at a lower price and that is where the real power begins.
One thing I would like to point out is that the heat spreaders are only held in place by thermal paste attached to the memory chips and they give way quite a bit, so handle these modules more carefully than you would others. It would be nice to see A-DATA make a heat spreader that is more secure or add clips to mount the heat spreaders to each other to help improve stability. Other than that, if you are looking for a great set of memory for your workstation or everyday use computer, then buy these and bump them up a bit. You will not be disappointed and for the price you will not go wrong.
- Great overclocking headroom
- Low timings
- Low voltages
- Not as fast as other series in its class at stock speeds
- Flimsy heat spreaders