Patriot Viper Fin DDR3 PC14400 2 x 1 GB Review

ccokeman - 2008-03-20 21:19:32 in Memory
Category: Memory
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: March 26, 2008
Price: $349.99


Motherboard manufacturers are quickly adopting DDR3 as the next leap forward to meet the demands of Intel's ever increasing front side bus speeds. The still unreleased QX9770 sports a 400MHz core clock speed standard. To natively support it, DDR 1600MHZ (800MHz) speed memory which meets this specification will be needed from the system memory manufacturers. With DDR2 system memory so incredibly inexpensive right now ($130 for four gigabytes) and DDR3 prices for just two gigabytes of system memory still in the $230 and up range, it makes adopting the new technology a financial commitment. You might say that the high latency, additional cost and poor performance in comparison to the previous generation of system memory makes adopting this new technology a poor decision. I remember the same things being said about DDR2 when it first arrived on the market. For enthusiasts looking to take advantage of the performance the next generation of chipsets and processors provide, you will need to step up to DDR3 modules. Since AMD has no plans to go with DDR3 until 2009 or beyond, this memory will be used by the Intel crowd exclusively.

The Patriot Diamond Viper Fin PC3 14440 2 x 1 GB modules feature timings of 8-8-8-20 at DDR3 1800MHz speeds using 1.9 volts to maintain these timings at the rated speed. 1.9 volts! That sounds like a lot of volts for the modules to handle. Exactly 0.4 volts above the JEDEC spec of 1.5 volts. Running that kind of voltage through a set of modules sounds risky, but Patriot backs its modules with a lifetime warranty and uses patented AOC technology heatspreaders. But that's not all, these modules carry with them that little bit extra. The modules have two XMP (Extreme Memory Profile) profiles that allow for settings to be preloaded by the BIOS, very similar to Nvidia's EPP programing. The XMP profile is supposed to be more aggressive than the Nvidia solution, but you will need a board with an X38 or better chipset to use the profile. Let's see how these modules compare to several others on the market.

Closer Look:

The Patriot Viper Fin modules do not come in the standard retail blister pack. Instead, they arrived in a box that features a window in the front to show off the modules. The rear panel speaks about the warranty, free tech support as well as the engineering benefits of the Patriot modules. A specific highlight is that all Patriot DDR3 modules are hand tested. A nice fact to know.



Removing the modules from the box shows that they indeed are shipped in a clamshell, rather than loose in the package. Included with the modules is a detailed troubleshooting and installation guide to help the end user through any troubles that may occur.



The Patriot Viper Fin PC3 14400 modules are rated for 1800MHz at timings of 8-8-8-20 using 1.9 volts. The Viper Fin Low Latency series of modules are the extreme performance modules in Patriot's arsenal. The Viper Fin name is derived from the unique heatspreader designed by Patriot. One thing I noticed on these modules that is different from the literature on its website is that the modules are the PC3 14400 kit but list 1866MHz on the module. Something a little special maybe?



The Viper Fin heatsink is an aluminum/copper composite that Patriot calls ACC technology. The inner layer that contacts the modules is composed of copper to draw the heat away from the modules. The outer layer is aluminum and features additional raised ribs along the outer surface to provide more surface area and turbulence to promote faster heat dissipation.


Now that we know a little bit more about the modules, let's see how they perform.









The way to verify that one set of memory modules is better than another is to run a series of benchmarks to put down some basic comparison data. When all things are equal and the only variable is the module being tested, the results are a great way to compare performance, good or bad. In order to eliminate the variables, the only settings that will be manipulated will be the memory timings and voltages when overclocking. The comparison modules will be run at the manufacturer specified timings and voltages at a speed of 1333MHz. In order to reach 1333MHz and 1600MHz, the processor used in the test setup will have a slight overclock from 266MHz to 333MHz and 400MHz. All of the comparison modules were run at 1333 MHz, with the Patriot ran at both 1333MHz and 1600MHz to test the modules at each level.

Testing Setup:



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 usage and processor usage (%).



Overclocked settings:

When it came time to overclock the Viper Fin modules, I had to wonder how much was left on such a high speed rated module. The answer was not what I was looking for but was kind of expecting. I topped out the modules at 1884MHz (942MHz), or 84MHz (42MHz) over the baseline rated speeds. Not a bad increase by any means, but I had thoughts of 1000MHz running through my skull. Loosening the timings to 9-9-9-24 or increasing voltage beyond 2.1volts did not help at this point. The modules were air cooled and felt similar to the ambient air temperatures, so heat was not a factor during the testing. One unexpected side effect was the ability to tighten the timings up at the max overclock. Sweet! It just took a little more voltage to get there.


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 measure for the system suite will be the total score. The measure for memory performance is the total memory score. A comparison will be made of the performance at DDR3 1333, DDR3 1800 and the highest achievable overclocked speed for the Patriot Viper Fin PC3 14400.








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.






At the 1333MHz level, the Patriot offering fell short in the PCMark Vantage system suite, Sandra memory bandwidth and latency. In the Cache and Memory Sandra score it bested the scores by all of the modules except the Qimonda. At its rated speeds though, the modules easily came out on top as expected.



Far Cry: For this game test, we will use the following settings and run the Hardware OC 1.8 benchmark utility. The measure for this benchmark will be in FPS.







Higher is Better


The Patriot offerings consistently outperformed the comparison modules tested in this benchmark.



Having a set of memory that can scale with the CPU you have is a bonus that can't be understated. The Patriot Viper Fin PC3 14400 modules do this very well. The modules provide this benefit at low latencies running at a 1t command rate. Each set of DDR3 memory I have tested has been able to do this up to the highest possible clock speed I could reach, and this set is no different in that respect. The gaming performance improvements I noticed with Patriot's PC3 12800 Viper Fin Modules continues with this set of modules. Patriot make use of a proprietary cooling system for the Viper Fin series of modules; the ACC Technology (Aluminum Copper Composite) heatshields kept the modules nice and cool during testing. While any modules is going to be warm to the touch with 2.0+ volts running through them, the Patriot modules remained cool with just normal case airflow. After pushing the timings to 6-5-5-16 at 1333MHz on the PC3 12800 modules, I tried the same thing with the PC3 14400 modules and was pleasantly surprised to see them reach the same latencies with the same low 1.76 volts. With literally the same abilities as the PC12800 set of Viper Fin modules, I figured that the PC3 14400 set would follow suit in the overclocking department, but they fell a little short of the 1600MHz rated modules at 1884MHz versus 1924MHz. What this amounts to in real world terms is 20MHz worth of raw clockspeed on the modules. That kind of difference will only be noticeable by the hardcore benchmark crowd as it was not noticeable in everyday tasks and gaming.

Migrating to DDR3 comes with the same initial challenges as DDR2, higher price and a perceived lack of performance. At comparable speeds with the same timings, the gap is not going to be noticed by many. What DDR2 cannot do even as it has matured is to scale up toward 800 or 900MHz speeds. Those are the exclusive domain of DDR3 modules. With the added bandwidth and performance at these speeds, migrating to DDR3 on the current crop of boards would be a wise decision. If cool running, good looking extreme performance modules are in your future, the Patriot Viper Fin Low Latency series of modules offer excellent performance for your hard earned dollars.