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Appeared on: Monday, April 17, 2006
OCZ PC4000 XTC Platinum Edition 2X1GB


1. Introduction

OCZ in one of the biggest, if not the biggest, memory manufacturer world-wide. Excellent quality products, high-end devices and a good web-site that gives full information to potential buyers, rank OCZ technology in first place with enthusiasts.

We have already tested a lot of OCZ's products, and we should add that there hasn't been a single instance or occasion where we had reason to question or doubt OCZ's quality and performance.

In a recent review on CDRinfo, we made the statement that 2GB of RAM will soon become standard for every new system. Especially now, that Windows Vista is on the doorstep, as well as the myriad of RAM hungry games like FEAR and Battlefield 2 pop up, 1GB is not really enough, if you want to get the best out of your system. Of course, by "googling" around for 2GB of memory to buy, you will see that there are a lot to choose from, but only few can actually offer low timings. The new OCZ PC4000 XTC Platinum Edition 2GB memory modules can offer large memory capacity while also keeping the timing at considerably low levels.

- A Closer Look

First of all, looking at the labels on the modules, two memory sticks are sold together and are tested by OCZ to work in Dual Channel mode flawlessly. The memory standard operating frequency is 500MHz (PC4000) and OCZ states that the timings at this frequency can be set to 3-3-3-8.

Of course, its no easy not to notice the flashy heat spreaders. There is a "Z" on each, making them look pretty cool if you have a windowed PC case. However, these are not like any other heat spreader we have seen before from OCZ. Small perforations give better air flow and helps cool the chipsets more effectively than the older heat spreaders.

These heat spreaders are also lighter in weight and a little thinner that the old heat spreaders

These memory modules are unbuffered 184-Pin DDR Synchronous DRAM DIMM modules, tested to work in dual channel mode. They are based on the Micron 5B-F inter grated circuits. We should say that this review will be particularly interesting since we have never tested memory with this type of IC until now.

OCZ uses the good old packaging for these memory modules. By reading the back of the package, you can get some information about the memory and its warranty. No matter how hard we looked, we could not find the word "limited" in the warranty. In other words, OCZ offers a full, life time warranty and not limited life time warranty, that most manufacturers do.

- Specifications

Below you can see the table with all the specifications for the OCZ PC4000 XTC Platinum Edition RAM modules.

Product Name PC4000 XTC Platinum Edition
Package 2048MB kit (2x1024MB) (dual pack)
CAS Latency
3-3-3-8
Test Voltage 2.8V
Speed DDR 500 MHz (PC4000)
Type 2x 184-pin DDR SDRAM
Error Checking Non-ECC
Registered/Unbuffered Unbuffered
Manufacturer Warranty  lifetime warranty

2. Test System - Configuration

For these tests, we chose to use an AMD 3800+ CPU so that we could have results that we can compare with previous reviews. Our nForce4 based motherboard was an ASUS A8N-SLI Premium, operating in Single VGA mode. We also used the ASUS A8N-SLI Deluxe motherboard, just to see that there was no difference in the results. Setting the BIOS to auto configure the modules, we got the default frequency and timings for the OCZ memory on this motherboard which was 400MHz at 3-3-3-10.

However, CPU-Z states that the SPD timings for the memory is 500MHz / 3-3-3-10. We ran all the tests with the auto configuration setting on, running at 400MHz, and then we re-ran the tests at 500MHz by setting the values manually from the BIOS. In all the comparison charts in this review, you will see test results for both 400MHz and 500MHz operating frequencies.

The CPU we used was an AMD Athlon64 3800+, running at ~2400MHz.

In this review, we will be comparing the OCZ PC4000 XTC Platinum Edition modules with some memory modules we tested several weeks ago, the Corsair CMX1024-4000PT dual-rank modules (2GB), and the Mushkin XP4000 Redline modules. Below you can see the SPD Timings for these modules, according to CPU-Z.

Corsair CMX1024-4000PT (2GB - dual rank)

Mushkin XP4000 Redline

Here's a rundown of our testbed:

System Specifications
CPU: AMD Athlon 64 3800+ CPU (Newcastle)
Case: Antec
Motherboard: ASUS A8N-SLI Deluxe/Premium
Power supply: CoolerMaster 450W
Memory: Mushkin XP4000 - Redline (2x1024MB)
VGA: ASUS 6800GT PCI-E (driver version: 81.95)
Hard Disk Drive: WD800JD 80GB 7200RPM
OS: Windows XP Pro SP2
DirectX: v9.0c

Benchmarks & Applications used


3. SiSoft Sandra 2005

SiSoftware Sandra is a 32 and 64-bit Windows system analyser that includes benchmarking, testing and listing modules. It tries to go beyond other utilities to show you more of what is really going on under the hood so you draw comparisons at both a high and low-level in a single product.

You can get information about the CPU, chipset, video adapter, ports, printers, sound card, memory, network, Windows internals, AGP, ODBC Connections, USB2, Firewire etc. You can save/print/fax/e-mail/post/upload or insert into ADO/ODBC databases reports in text, HTML, XML, SMS/DMI or RPT format.

This version supports multiple sources of information gathering including: remote computers, PDAs, Smart Phones, ADO/ODBC databases or saved system reports. All benchmarks are optimised for both SMP & SMT (Hyper-Threading), up to 32/64 CPUs depending on the platform.

Memory Bandwidth Benchmark

Tests how your memory sub-system compares to other systems with the same or similar memory in other systems. The benchmark is based on the well-known STREAM memory bandwidth benchmark.

Cache & Memory Benchmark

Tests how your CPU cache and memory sub-system(s) compares to other systems with the same or similar CPU & memory in other systems. The benchmark is based on the Memory Bandwidth Benchmark test.

Combined Index: is a composite figure representing the overall performance rating of the entire Cache-Memory performance in terms of MB/s. The value is the logarithmic average of all the results for the entire address space. (Higher is better, i.e. better performance)

For block sizes that could not been tested - the average of previous blocks is used, thus the size of the memory (as long as it is not comparable to largest cache size) is not significant; all cache sizes are significant - larger caches will result in a higher index.

Speed Factor: is a figure representing the speed differential between the CPU’s cache and memory. The value is the ratio of the fastest cache (i.e. L1) bandwidth to the main memory bandwidth. (Lower is better, i.e. the memory is not very much slower than CPU’s cache)

As the factor is a ratio, it is useful only in comparing different CPUs and memory sub-systems rather than having a direct, physical interpretation associated to its numerical value.

Both Mushkin and Corsair memory modules received a CDRinfo award. The "Editor's Choice" for Corsair and "Best Performance" for Mushkin. This means that OCZ is up against some tough competition. These are the best modules that OCZ, Mushkin and Corsair can offer at 2x1GB. Also, all memory runs at the same operating frequency, with the Corsair modules having the highest timings and OCZ with Mushkin the lowest.

OCZ gave us excellent results, similar to the results we got with the Mushkin Redline memory. We also observed that SiSoft cannot easily discern the differences between 400MHz and 500MHz. Although it shows differences at these frequencies, they did not reflect the actual speed gain we got when we used 500MHz.


4. PCMark05

PCMark05 is an application-based benchmark and a premium tool for measuring overall PC performance. It uses portions of real applications instead of including very large applications or using specifically created code. This allows PCMark05 to be a smaller installation as well as to report very accurate results. As far as possible, PCMark05 uses public domain applications whose source code can be freely examined by any user.

PCMark05 includes 4 categorized suites for benchmarking your computer. These include CPU, Graphics, Memory and a Hard Disk Drive benchmark. In our case, we selected to run only the Memory test suite.

OCZ got the best score when running at 500MHz and the lowest score when running at 400MHz. Remember, that you cannot run these at 500MHz without making some BIOS changes. But then again, OCZ memories are aimed at enthusiasts who don't have any problem messing around with the BIOS. "No pain, no gain".

PCMark05
Memory Test
OCZ PC4000 XTC Platinum Mushkin XP4000 REDLINE Corsair TwinX2048 - 4000PT
Memory Read 16MB

5911.594

5912.645 5901.163
Memory Read 8MB 6048.289 6048.656 6049.526
Memory Read 192KB 10767.693 10768.931 10765.924
Memory Read 4KB 27957.453 27958.372 27955.679
Memory Write 16MB 5914.908 5914.397 5917.826
Memory Write 8MB 5953.365 5951.548 5954..624
Memory Write 192KB 7030.029 7031.874 7029.424
Memory Write 4KB 21515.163 21512.807 21516.387
Memory Copy 16MB 5737.964 5736.785 5738.492
Memory Copy 8MB 5782.267 5783.541 5780.454
Memory Copy 192KB 4430.237 4430.348 4428.336
Memory Copy 4KB 11458.701 11456.478 11459.116
Memory Latency 16MB 11.812 11.724 11.864
Memory Latency 8MB 13.537 13.984 13.289
Memory Latency 192KB 134.880 134.880 134.880
Memory Latency 4KB 734.751 734.751 734.751


5. Performance Test v5.0

Passmark PerformanceTest is an award winning PC hardware benchmark utility that allows everybody to quickly assess the performance of their computer and compare it to a number of standard 'baseline' computer systems.

Twenty seven standard benchmark tests are available in seven test suites plus there are five advanced testing windows for custom benchmarking. CPU Tests, 2D Graphics Tests, 3D Graphics Tests, Disk Tests, Memory Tests and CD/DVD Tests. In our case we selected the Memory suite Tests.

- Memory Benchmarks

This suite contains a number of tests that exercise the memory sub-system of the computer. (Random Access Memory- RAM)

Memory - Allocate small block
This test measures the time taken to allocate & free small zeroed memory blocks (around 100KB block size)

Memory - Cached
This test measures the time taken to read a small block of memory. The block is small enough to be held entirely in cache (if one is present)

Memory - UnCached
This test measures the time taken to read a large block of memory. The block is too large to be held in cache.

Memory - Write
This test measures the time taken to write information into memory.

- Advanced Memory Benchmark

Memory Speed Per Access Step Size
The first test type, ‘Memory Speed Per Access Step Size’ accesses a large block, of memory in various sized steps. First, it runs through the block of memory sequentially, accessing every value. Next it runs through the same block again, except this time it accesses every second value. On this occasion, it runs through the block twice in order to access the same amount of data as the initial step. Next it runs through the same block again, except this time it accesses every fourth value and so makes four passes. And so on, until a certain maximum step size is reached.

The size of the block of memory used for this test is one quarter the amount of system RAM. The size of the steps varies from 1 (continuous sequential access), to one quarter the size of the block of memory ( i.e. one sixteenth of the system RAM ).

Memory Speed (MB/Sec. per Step Size)
OCZ PC4000 XTC Platinum
Block Read Speed 19.81
Block Write Speed 23.13
Mushkin XP4000 REDLINE
Block Read Speed 19.78
Block Write Speed 23.39
Corsair TwinX2048-4000PT
Block Read Speed 18.70
Block Write Speed 22.79

Memory Speed Per Block Size
When a computer program wants to use a section of memory to store data, it makes a request to Windows for the amount of memory it requires. Windows allocates the memory to the program ( unless system resources are very low ) and returns to the requesting program the address of the first memory slot in the allocated block. It is possible that some programs may request very large amounts of memory. The ‘Memory Speed Per Block Size’ test like the ‘Memory Speed Per Access Step Size’ test, is composed of many steps. During each step of the test, PerformanceTest requests a block of memory and runs through the block measuring the average access time. However on each subsequent step the size of the requested memory is increased, until finally a block close to the size of the system RAM is requested. In this way it is possible to observe the different access speeds for the different sizes of blocks.

Typically it is possible to see very fast memory access for blocks which are small enough to fit entirely into the L2 RAM cache, and slower access times for larger blocks accessed from main RAM. In the case where system resources are low, swapping to the disk may even be required for very large blocks.

Memory Speed (MB/Sec. per Block Size)
OCZ PC4000 XTC Platinum
Block Read Speed 187.59
Block Write Speed 230.02
Mushkin XP4000 REDLINE
Block Read Speed 185.88
Block Write Speed 234.39
Corsair TwinX2048-4000PT
Block Read Speed 172.80
Block Write Speed 215.44

The OCZ memory is one of the fastest around, but as the Passmark tests show, not the fastest. Mushkin Redliners clock up the highest memory marks, although once, OCZ came very close. Of course, speed differences are so small that they might be due to other reasons and not just the performance of the modules themselves.


6. Half Life 2

Half life 2 is no doubt the most anticipated pc game of all times.

Physics - From pebbles to water to 2-ton trucks respond as expected, as they obey the laws of mass, friction, gravity, and buoyancy.

Graphics - Source's shader-based renderer, like the one used at Pixar to create movies such as Toy Story® and Monster's, Inc.®, creates the most beautiful and realistic environments ever seen in a video game.

AI - Neither friends nor enemies charge blindly into the fray. They can assess threats, navigate tricky terrain, and fashion weapons from whatever is at hand.

Half Life 2 awards first place to the OCZ PC4000 XTC memory modules, while the Mushkin and the Corsair memories produced lower frames per second, even lower than OCZ's modules running at 400MHz. We already new that the timings are important for this test, but we expected to see similar results to the Mushkin modules. Gladly, OCZ proved us wrong.


7. Overclocking

We already had the OCZ PC4000 XTC working at 500MHz with some BIOS changes, but we needed to go even higher than the SPD frequency to see just how high the OCZ modules could go. To do this, we used the ASUS A8N-SLI Premium motherboard, but we had problems going above 525MHz, most probably because the ASUS motherboard cannot offer more than 3.0v to the RAM modules.

We also tried a DFI LAN Party SLI motherboard, and we fired the OCZ memory with 3.6v. The OCZ PC4000 was running smoothly, even at this high voltage, and the modules were slightly hot to touch. We should also add that we did not provide any extra RAM cooling.

The highest stable operating frequency that we managed to get was 580MHz (2x289.8MHz), which was even higher than the overclocked frequency we had with Mushkin (577MHz). However, we had to increase timings to make the memory stable. The stability of the modules was checked with MemTest and Prime95.

Especially with Prime95, we had the system running for almost 2 days continuously and we had no errors. We then re-ran all the tests to see how if there was ny gain with the modules overclocked.

All tests showed a clear improvement in performance, but always keep in mind that we had the memory running at 3.6v, which is voltage hungry. The OCZ PC4000 XTC Platinum Edition is an excellent overclocker, but also a very good performing memory as it is. If you want to buy memory modules to do some serious overclocking, these have to rank among the best.


8. Conclusion

Most manufacturers have already released 2GB memory packs, but there are not many that can offer 3-3-3-8 timings at this capacity. The OCZ PC4000 XTC Platinum Edition memory modules are among the few that can. OCZ Technology has always maintained high standards in quality and performance, and we did not expect anything less from these new platinum modules.

The performance of the PC4000 XTC was one of the best we have seen for a 2GB set. Unfortunately, with our ASUS motherboard, the default frequency was set to 400MHz, but you can always raise it to 500MHz with some manual BIOS tinkering. To change to 500MHz, you do not have to sacrifice timings or provide higher voltage to the memory banks. In almost every test, the OCZ PC4000 reported the best performance in our comparison charts.

The OCZ PC4000 XTC Platinum modules are excellent overclockers as well. We got 580MHz without a sweat, but we had to pump up the voltage to make the system stable. If you are an overclocking maniac, these are definitely worth checking out.

The OCZ PC4000 XTC Platinum Edition 2GB memory is priced at US$239.99 at newegg.com.

The Good:
- Excellent performance at 500MHz.
- Cool operation
- Excellent overclocking potential
- Very good timings

The Bad:
- Voltage hungry when it comes to overclocking



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