OCZ PC8500 SLI/EPP: A familiar sight
The well known OCZ memory package
A rather unexpected arrival in our memory roundup were these OCZ modules. OCZ has a very broad range of memory products of course, and originally we planned on reviewing a Titanium Alpha part, the latest lineup of OCZ memory. But as for all manufacturers, availability is fluctuating nowadays, and FedEx showed up on my doorstep with a different memory part: the OCZ PC8500 Platinum SLI/EPP edition. Quite a name for a memory kit isn't it.
Before we get started, a little word on SLI/EPP programming. EPP stands for "E
rofile", which is a technology that nVidia and Corsair recently introduced. As EPP is an open technology, other memory manufacturers have followed suite, and OCZ is now fully nVidia certified as well.
EPP gives users the possibility to install high performance modules and use them at their full capacity, without lifting a finger, plug and play onto the next level if you like. In the past, only one set of timings was programmed into the SPD (Serial Presence Detect), the chip which contains the necessary data for the memory modules to work properly. With the introduction of EPP, more than one setting will be programmed into the SPD, and it will be dependent on motherboard and applied voltage which setting is chosen during boot-up. A compatible bios/motherboard will chose the best settings automatically when you boot up, thus giving you the best possible performance without the pain of going through hours of tweaking. EPP does need some dedicated hardware to function though: an SLI/EPP capable motherboard and bios with a compatible chipset is needed. And you guessed it; these chipsets are only made by nVidia, at least at this moment.
This is OCZ's take on their kit:
” The new OCZ PC2-8500 Platinum Series is equipped with NVIDIA Enhanced Performance Profiles (EPP) to optimize the modules’ performance on nForce® 590 SLI-based motherboards. OCZ exclusively engineered select high-performance modules with advanced SPD (Serial Presence Detect) settings to allow compatible motherboards to recognize and utilize the added information, ultimately increasing the performance potential of the entire platform.
OCZ SLI-Ready memory modules are programmed to boot at 1066MHz DDR2 with supremely fast timings of 5-5-5. Only motherboards equipped with the custom-designed BIOS, such as those designed for NVIDIA nForce 590 SLI MCPs, can detect the optimized SPD profiles and ensure the memory functions under the best possible conditions. The exclusive OCZ SPD specifications take out the guesswork and provide enthusiasts and gamers with significant overclocked performance with no manual adjustment or compatibility issues.
With the fusion of the sophisticated EPP memory specification and cutting-edge, high-speed OCZ DDR2 architecture, the PC2-8500 Platinum edition is the ultimate breakthrough for advanced SLI platform performance.”
So far so good, but we're not planning to use any nVidia hardware today! Not to worry though, it's not because the settings are not directly "sensed" by our motherboard, that we can't use the modules... The memory actually works fine on most motherboards; you'll just have to do a bit of tweaking yourself to get the most out of them...Look and Feel
The PC8500 Pt
, are part of the Platinum lineup of memory products. In the past, this lineup stood for the enthusiast offerings by OCZ, with some famous examples like the DDR TCCD kits we all got to love. Lately, the lines have started to differentiate a lot more, and a few were added in the process (Titanium, SLI-certified, ATI certified, …). This kit is now part of the "Extreme Gamers" Platinum lineup, a sub division if you like.
About two years ago, OCZ decided to update their enthusiast line of memory modules with a revamped heat spreader design: the now famous "honeycomb grill". For this redesign OCZ has received much and deserved praise from all around the globe, not in the least for having the courage to bring some designing motion into the - let's face it – visually rather dull memory market. If you want to be picky, the design is actually not a real honeycomb, but the overall sight is there... The difference between this heat spreader design and a classical design is huge though: the top of the memory module is open, and the closed heat spreaders have been opened up by drilling dozens of holes in them. This way cooling is improved tremendously of course: air is allowed to move between the different memories chips, and the surface for heat exchange by convection is multiplied.
OCZ gave the heatspreaders the prefix XTC, and this is their description:
”XTC (Xtreme Thermal Convection) heatspreaders optimize the thermal management of memory modules by promoting greater airflow by means of micro-convection throughout what is usually the dead air space inside conventional heatspreader designs. In this manner, build-up of heat is avoided and thermal dissipation of the memory components is offloaded more efficiently through the honeycomb design. At the same time, mechanical stability is maintained”
For a more complete description of the heat exchange principles, please visit our previous article
front of the module with specifications
back of the module, design in all its glory
Here are the specifications for these modules:1066MHz DDR2
EPP 5-5-5-15 (CAS-TRCD-TRP-TRAS)
Parity : Unbuffered
Platinum Mirrored XTC Heatspreader
Operating voltage : 2.1 Volts
EVP (Extended Voltage Protect) : 2.4V +-5%
Nvidia SLI™ certified
Let's see what they're made of.
OCZ PC8500 installed on the P5B-deluxe
This kit is rated to work at speeds of 1066Mhz at 5-5-5-15 timings. Let's start with these rated timings, and see what the modules can do at a cas setting of 5 cycles. Well, we're pleased to announce that the OCZ PC8500 was able to get up to 1130Mhz DDR, a 6% overclock. The voltage at which the modules reached this setting was 2.4V, nicely within warranty.
At the cas 4 setting, the performance was the most impressive in my opinion: the PC8500 reached a speed of 1116Mhz with 4-4-4-15 (CAS-TRCD-TRP-TRAS) timings, still within the warranted voltage of 2.4V. This is a significant upgrade from the standard timings and provides a nice performance boost, as you'll see later on. At this setting, overclocking of the OCZ modules proved a little more difficult than the Mushkin modules, as these modules were very dependent on the correct TRAS setting. The highest memory speeds were thus recorded at a TRAS setting of 15 cycles.
Finally, at the cas 3 setting, the PC8500 reaches the very respectable 843Mhz setting at timings of 3-3-3-9, 2.4V.
Below are once more the screenshots for the different cas and system settings.
Left to right (click to open) : Maximum CAS3, CAS4, CAS5
On to the Team Group modules now ->