Memory Guide

The Great DDR3 1600MHz Memory Showdown

The Great DDR3 1600MHz Memory Showdown



The Dual-Channel Memory Kits

The Dual-Channel Memory Kits

We start off first by introducing our dual-channel memory kits. While it would be inaccurate to pigeonhole these memory kits to the AMD platform, they are effectively so for the purpose of this review, as we are only testing them on an AMD Phenom II system. However, memory itself being platform agnostic, these dual-channel kits should generally perform similarly on an Intel Core 2 or even Core i7 system (provided you're fine with using two out of the three memory channels).

All memory kits tested are DDR3 1600MHz 4GB sets (2 x 2GB) which are touted as the best from each vendor and they span quite the range in terms of voltage, memory timings and the design of their heat spreaders. During the benchmarks, we ran them at their rated timings and voltages. We have summarized their specifications in the following table for quick reference:

Specifications of the Dual-Channel DDR3 1600MHz Memory Kit
Model Name Part Number Latency Timings Voltage
Corsair XMS3 DHX 4GB PC3-12800 DDR3 DIMM Memory Kit TW3X4G1600C9DHX 9-9-9-24 1.8V
G.SKILL Trident PC3-12800 DDR3 Dual Channel Memory Kit F3-12800CL8D-4GBTD 8-8-8-24 1.65V
Kingston HyperX 4GB DDR3 1600MHz Non-ECC CL9 KHX12800D3K2/4G 9-9-9-27 1.7V
OCZ DDR3 PC3-12800 Platinum AMD Edition OCZ3P1600LVAM4GK 7-7-7-24 1.65V
Patriot DDR3 Gamer Series for AMD Black Edition PGS34G1600LLKA 7-7-7-20 1.7V

 

Corsair XMS3 DHX

First on the list, we have Corsair's XMS3 DHX series of DDR3 memory, where the DHX stands for Dual-Path Heat Xchange cooling technology. Four layers of tiny fins protrude at the top to dissipate the heat and maximize ambient air flows. What you see in the photo below is the standard layer of heat sinks that are in contact with the memory chips.

More importantly, Corsair's PCB design is different from the competition whereby its extended height exposes the copper ground plane underneath which has its own set of heat sinks that helps to remove heat more efficiently. Together, this forms the DHX cooling technology that Corsair employs on their high-end modules. On another note, the heat spreader is so stoutly attached to the memory chips that we didn't risk removing it to find out the brand of chips underneath.

Interestingly, most of the vendors sent us their low voltage DDR3 kits, but Corsair has instead opted for a 1.8V version that's more often seen among enthusiast memory kits in the days before the Core i7.

G.SKILL Trident

No prizes for guessing where the G.SKILL Trident gets its name from. A rather unique looking design for its heat spreader, this memory module has its aluminum fins only at both ends of the module. The heat spreader is a solid, two-piece design, attached or rather clamped securely on the memory chips and adds quite a significant amount of weight to it. It's also quite impervious to our attempts to remove the heat spreader and short of using extreme force, we gave up.

Kingston HyperX

Moving on to the familiar Kingston HyperX memory modules that are identical (except for the memory timings/frequencies) to the ones that we use for our usual CPU and motherboard testing. The heat spreader is the classic two-piece aluminum design that covers the memory chips and found in many other brands. Like the Corsair modules, we're not looking at one of those low 1.6 to 1.65V models here as this pair from Kingston is rated between 1.7 and 1.9V.

OCZ Platinum

Besides having the company's logo on its heat spreader, OCZ's Platinum series has a honeycomb design for the silver aluminum heat spreaders, which is dubbed Xtreme Thermal Convection. In their own words, this design improves airflow via "micro-convection throughout what is usually the dead air space inside conventional heat spreader designs". Well we can only say this is partially true because the underside of the heat spreaders have a long sticky thermal strip to contact the memory chips. Inspecting the rest of the module, we noticed the top of the module is also left exposed unlike some other models which enclose its memory modules completely.

Patriot Gamer Series

Patriot's latest memory product is meant specially for the AMD platform, with a "Ready for AMD Black Edition" branding to reinforce this image. It comes with the lowest latency among the dual-channel memory kits here at 7-7-7-20 and lightweight aluminum heat spreaders that made it feather light in comparison to the other modules.