The competition for the fastest computer has been particularly fierce the past few years, stemming from the rivalry between two industry giants: AMD and Intel. What the industry has found is that the computer is only as good as the memory feeding the processor.
Any computer enthusiast knows that if the memory cannot keep up, then the processor sits around twiddling its virtual thumbs. To this end, chipmakers have been increasing the front side bus speed of their processors (the speed that the processor communicates to the rest of the system, especially the memory).
Faster memory must be paired with these faster buses to keep up with the processor’s demands. Back in the days of the now ancient Pentium 3, SDRAM memory ran on a 133MHz FSB and achieved a peak speed of 1GB per second. Today’s fast buses utilize new technologies such as quad-pumping and dual-channel memory controllers to run at 800MHz FSB (with 1GHz on the way) to reach memory speeds of 5GB a second, and the speeds are still climbing!
Now that fast computers are a market staple, high speed DDR memory has flooded the industry, each trying to differentiate themselves from their competitors. For the most part, memory is memory, without much real difference between a cheap and expensive product. Manufacturer’s have been focusing on quality components featuring faster access times to win enthusiasts over. Faster memory timings translates not into higher bandwidth, but in overall system performance.
In this review, OCmodshop is testing OCZ’s Gold Edition PC4000EL DDR Dual channel kit. This 1GB of total memory consists of two 512MB modules and is specifically paired to use a dual channel motherboard. The OCZ PC4000EL DDR is rated to run at 250MHz while maintaing fast timings of 2.5-4-4-7 at 2.8V.
Unofficially, this memory can easily run at 265MHz. The DIMMs are absolutely beautiful and have a quality look. The copper heat spreaders are gold plated and buffed to a mirror finish with a light golden color. Not only does this help protect the module from physical damage, but it looks really shiny, and we all like shiny things! The spreaders also add to the product’s weight, weighing in at 74 grams (a normal DIMM weighs an average of 40g).
OCZ uses Hynix HY5DU56822BT-D43 TSOP-II DRAM in the PC4000EL Gold modules. Each DIMM is equipped with sixteen 256MB DRAM modules (8 on each side), totaling 512MB on each stick.
This memory is optimized for use with an Intel i865/i875P chipset and will not perform as well on Athlon systems or older motherboards using a single-channel memory controller. Athlon users are probably better off using OCZ’s Platinum Edition DDR. OCZ HyperSpeed technology denotes specific ICs built and selected for their ability to run at the highest possible frequency.
HyperSpeed enabled modules contain firmware and are built on a PCB that is optimized for the highest possible frequency and due to these optimizations the modules may not allow latency faster than 2.5-3-3-7, regardless of the module frequency.
Another quality feature of this memory is the EVP (or Extended Voltage Protection). When overclocking it is often necessary to increase the voltage to the processor and RAM. EVP ensures that you will not damage the RAM when doing so. Voltage circuits are usually expensive to implement, but this is yet another quality feature that protects your investment for the life of the PC.
Here is a recap of all the features: