Patriot Viper Fin Extreme Latency PC2 6400 Review

ccokeman - 2008-01-24 21:35:24 in Memory
Category: Memory
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: February 11, 2008
Price: $TBA


As DDR2 system memory has matured, the latencies that the modules run at have gotten tighter and tighter to reach levels that the enthusiast community look for to increase system performance. That is the name of the game isn't it? When DDR2 was introduced just a short two years ago, latencies ran as high as 6-6-6 but now, through ever improving modules, 3-3-3-or 3-4-3 are possible. It may take some additional voltage up and away from the JEDEC spec 1.8 volts to make it happen but that is what warranties are for aren't they? With the decrease in latency, a boost in performance is the expectation that the end user has. If that expectation is not there then why even bother with performance memory? For many, the benefits will not be realized since they are not in the know and good ole' generic system memory will work. For those that understand the benefits of decreased latency, this would be the sytem memory for you.

The Patriot Viper Fin PC2 6400 2 x 1 GB set of modules are one set of Xtreme latency modules. These recently introduced modules are designed to run at latencies of 3-4-3-8 at DDR2 400 speeds using 2.3 volts. While 2.3 volts may seem high for everyday use, these modules were designed to run at this voltage specification and even carry a warranty. Will the specially designed ACC (Aluminum Copper Cpmposite) heatspreaders be enough to keep these modules cool under fire from 2.3 volts? Only time and testing will reveal the answer to this question.

Closer Look:

The Patriot Viper Fin PC26400 comes in a clamshell enclosure with the modules securely locked in place. Included in the package is a quick start and installation guide to help with the installation.



The PC2 6400 modules are labeled as Xtreme Latency modules. Manufactured to run at 3-4-3-8 latencies at DDR2 400 speeds at 2.3 volts. The specially designed heatspeaders denote this set as part of the Viper Fin series of high performance modules.



The Viper Fin series of modules use a uniquely designed heatspreader to dissipate the heat load generated by 2.3 volts on the system memory. The heatspreader uses a design that Patriot calls ACC (Aluminum Copper Composite). This design uses a copper inner layer that contacts the modules to wisk away the heat to the aluminum outer layer that features many rdges to effectively increase the surface area of the heatspreader. This makes the design more efficient at dealing with the heat load.




Part Number
Memory Timings
Voltage Required




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 800MHz. In order to reach higher memory speeds, the memory will be run unlinked to take the CPU speed out of the equation and allow the memory speed to be the only variable for my performance measurements.

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:

So just how well did the PC2 6400 Viper Fin modules perform? Well at CAS 3 (3-4-3) the limit was reached fairly quickly. At 420 FSB the limit was reached. 2.4 and 2.5 volts would not let it past this mark. Moving the CAS latency to 4 (4-4-3) provided a whole new world of speed. The maximum speed for 4-4-3-was 520 FSB. At 4-4-4 540 FSB was achieved. Thinking there had to be some more left in the modules I moved the CAS latency to 5 (5-4-4). At CAS 5 I was able to reach a bit over 600 FSB, 617 FSB to be exact. Based on how you wish to run these modules there will be a speed that can be used at a 1:1 ratio. 217 FSB worth of overclocking headroom is pretty phenomenal. While it took an increase in the latencies to reach the final speed of 1234MHz, the other modules have the same issue. Overclcoking is a game of compromises, a tweak here, a bump in the voltage there, it all works out to get the final result.



The benchmarks used in this review include the following programs.




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 DDR2 800 and the highest achievable overclocked speed for the Patriot Viper Fin PC2 6400.








SiSoftware Sandra XII: In this program, I will be doing the following benchmarks: Cache and Memory, Memory Bandwidth, and Memory Latency. Higher scores indicate better performance in all tests except for Memory Latency, where lower is better.






In the PCMark Vantage testing the Patriot performance was sub par at stock settings in the overall scoring. On the memory testing the results are much closer, with only a few points separating the modules. In the cache and memory testing the Viper Fin series finished middle of the pack while pulling ahead in the memory latency test. The Viper Fin modules came out on top in both memory bandwidth tests.



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:







Higher is Better


The Patriot offering did well in our gaming benchmark; at 1024x768 and 1280x1024 the modules either won or tied for the best frames per second score. At 1680x1050 the Mushkin and Corsair modules both finished two frames a second better.


When it comes to memory, lower latencies at lower memory speeds usually outperform higher latencies at higher memory clock speeds. In five out of nine benchmark tests the Patriot Viper Fin PC2 6400 performed better than the competition. The things that make these modules attractive are the low latencies at DDR2 800 speeds and the ability of the specially designed heatspreaders to dissipate the heat generated by the modules. In fact, even when pushing 2.5 volts through them the modules were still cool to the touch. Of course, airflow over the modules needs to be present any time you go over 2.3 volts to DDR2 memory. When it came time to overclock the Viper Fin modules I was more than a little skeptical about how well they would scale based on the 2.3 volts requirement for only DDR2 800 speeds. DDR2 840 was a little dissapointing for the 3-4-3 timings the modules are designed to run at, but relaxing the CAS latency caused the Viper Fin modules to push up another 217 FSB. Pretty amazing from a set of DDR2 800 modules.

DDR2 memory has reached a point where the enhanced or Xtreme latency modules are at an affordable price point. When two gigabytes of performance system memory will run you around a hundred dollars or less, it's time to buy. With the performance capabilities of the Viper Fin modules this would be a good set to have on your shopping list when it comes time to press the buy button!