X58 Triple Channel DDR3 Memory Roundup! 8 Mid-range Kits Tested

Memory by thorgal @ 2009-04-09

In the ever raging sales battle among memory manufacturers, the Core i7 launch must have been the wind that shook the barley. While everyone was convinced i7 would be the real start of DDR3 technology, it also was a ´back to the drawing board´ call for most, having to come up with lower voltage memory parts - with decent performance - in a hurry. Four months into the launch now, we present you with a roundup of 8 mid-range kits from 8 different manufacturers. Begun, the new battle has.

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Qimonda-Aeneon PC12800C9

Qimonda-Aeneon PC12800 "X-Tune"

The second test candidate comes from a giant in the memory industry, which rides upon rough weather lately: Qimonda. We can only hope they can sail through it to safe harbor. Here are some facts about one of the world's leading memory manufacturers:

  • Headquarters : Qimonda is headquartered in Munich (Germany)
  • Market Position World leading DRAM company, one of the broadest product portfolios in the DRAM industry. Pioneer in 300mm manufacturing: Almost 90% of the DRAM bits shipped are manufactured on 300mm
  • Employees :about 13,500 employees worldwide (status: December 31, 2007)
  • Financials : 3.61 billion EUR net sales in Financial Year 2007, 32 percent of Qimonda’s revenues derived in North America, 16 percent in Europe, 40 percent in Asia Pacific and 12 percent in Japan
  • Research and Development : about 2,500 employees in R&D with more than 1,100 engineers in product development (status: December 31, 2007)
  • Six major R&D facilities worldwide: Munich, Dresden (Germany), Padua (Italy) Raleigh (USA), Tokyo (Japan) and Xi'an (China)

  • Madshrimps (c)

    In comparison to these numbers, most "enthusiast" memory manufacturers are dwarfed. Qimonda is not that well known in the enthusiast community, so we're very glad they decided to participate in our roundup. The kit they sent us comes from the "X-Tune" lineup, which is part of the Aeneon brand "manufactured by Qimonda". Have a look at the box :

    Madshrimps (c)

    The X-Tune kit comes in a quite large, and well manufactured case. Another "see-through" design, this one makes use of the modules to create the box branding. Nicely done. Inside is a new kind of blister, which I hadn't seen before : the modules are slightly stacked in it, creating a thicker (and possibly a little smaller) package.

    Madshrimps (c) Madshrimps (c)
    Packaging, backside, blister

    This is how the modules look up close :

    (click for larger version)

    The modules are, just like the GeIL competition, equipped with standard height heatspreaders. In this case, they come with a nice black, matte finish, featuring the X-Tune logo and the Aeneon name. Like many other modules, the back is more sober. The design idea is the same, but without the X-tune logo, and with the specifications and warranty sticker applied. All in all, a very nice package, again not the most eye-catching design for the case-modder, but certainly more than classy enough for anyone else.

    Madshrimps (c) Madshrimps (c) Madshrimps (c)
    More module images

    These are the specs Qimonda gives in their spec sheet (.pdf) :

  • 1600MHz DDR3 (PC12800)
  • Latencies : 9-9-9-28-2T (CAS-TRCD-TRP-TRAS-CR)
  • Operating voltage : 1.5 Volts
  • Support for Intel XMP profiles as well as nVidia's EPP 2.0
  • 240pin DIMM
  • Parity : Unbuffered
  • Memory size : 3x 2048Mb

    It might not be immediately visible from the basic specifications, but Qimonda uses a different production process than other manufacturers, resulting in very different behavior when it comes to voltage and latency control. Their modules scale even beyond cas 9 (as is shown in the spec sheet) and sometimes I got the feeling that the latencies were not completely comparable to other modules running the same timings. Have a look at the performance results and you'll know what I mean. Although the "cas 9" label predicts a hard time for this kit when compared to the others, they might find their spot in the lower midrange market, depending on the price of course.


    Overclocking these modules was a bit of a disappointment at first, until I realized that they behave very differently from the other kits. Our stable results were "only" 680Mhz (1360 DDR) for cas 7, so barely above the 1333 or PC10600 Mark. For cas 8 we got up to 760Mhz, cas 9 gave us 840Mhz, or only 5% additional headroom above the guaranteed speed of 1600Mhz DDR. Overclocking did not pose many problems though, and the results were very linear up to failure at 846Mhz.

    Finally, we tried a cas 10 setting as well, 10-10-10-30-2T to be exact, which is the next speed grade that Aeneon advertises. As a matter of fact, the modules provide a JEDEC spec out of the box for 833Mhz at only 1.5V, at the given latencies. These are also the only modules in our roundup that do not scale with additional voltage : whether it's 1.5V or 1.65V, the modules do not show additional headroom and function best at 1.5V. The modules did not have any problem with 900Mhz this way, and were not even pushed hard to reach this speed.

    Madshrimps (c) Madshrimps (c) Madshrimps (c) Madshrimps (c)
    Maximum Overclock cas 7, 8 and 9, cas 10-2T

    Onto Patriot now >>>
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    Comment from Kougar @ 2009/04/10
    I decided not to include the results in this review yet, as there wasn't actually anything wrong with the kits at their rated speeds. Both did the rated speeds and timings without any issues, they just didn't overclock to any satisfying level.
    This has been observed with Corsair Dominator kits in other reviews. Link

    I was just about to buy a kit of OCZ Platinum, nice to see the overclocking results here, thank you. Should probably mention the 6GB OCZ Platinum 1600MHz kit is available for $80 shipped AMIR, cheapest 1600MHz kit of all those tested.
    Comment from blind_ripper @ 2009/04/10
    80$ , thats cheap!

    btw u got a pic mixed up @ page 8 from the OCZ's, cas 7 has the cas8 pic .
    althoughe very nice work thorgal
    Comment from thorgal @ 2009/04/10
    Originally Posted by Kougar View Post
    This has been observed with Corsair Dominator kits in other reviews. Link

    I was just about to buy a kit of OCZ Platinum, nice to see the overclocking results here, thank you. Should probably mention the 6GB OCZ Platinum 1600MHz kit is available for $80 shipped AMIR, cheapest 1600MHz kit of all those tested.
    Yes, I read the xbit article, they come to about the same conclusion indeed.

    The Patriots can also be had for $79,99 now at Newegg, could be the OCZ's are equally cheap somewhere (they're $89,99 at Newegg).
    Comment from leeghoofd @ 2009/04/10
    Great work Ram "Torsten" Guy
    Comment from Kougar @ 2009/04/10
    Yes, but the Patriots are CAS 9. OCZ Platinum is CAS 7 (better than anything Corsair offers too).

    Didn't hear it from me: Newegg Promo code EMCLRLV42 for $10 off OCZ3P1600LV6GK ($80). Even less if buying NIB on ebay.
    Comment from Jaco @ 2009/04/11
    good article / review .

    Still reading ... lots of numbers