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Appeared on: Thursday, September 13, 2007
PC2-8500 Roundup

1. Introduction and GSkill F2-8500CL5D-2GBHK

DDR2 has become mainstream this year and the DDR2-8500 category is probably one of the most popular, providing a balanced mix of good performance and overclocking capabilities. The recent price drops have also made these memory modules very appealing for most users. In this review, we compare three PC2-8500 rated modules from Crucial, OCZ and GSkill, in order to find out which is the fastest, and how well they overclock, something that will interest enthusiast users.

The Crucial Ballistix PC2-8500 modules have previously been reviewed by us. You can read the full article here.

So we begin this review by taking a quick look at the GSkill F2-8500 modules.

- GSkill F2-8500CL5D-2GBHK

"G. SKILL", established in 1989 by enthusiasts, is a leading memory Module Manufacturer based in Taipei, Taiwan. This is the first time that we will test a G Skill product and we hope and expect to see very high performance.

- Main features

- Retail package

G Skill provided us with a retail package of 2x1GB from the F2-8500CL5D-2GBHK series. The retail price for the package is around US$176 as found online at several stores. The retail package is rather unique, carefully packaged and aesthetically very good

There is also a sticker in the retail box:

The modules are carefully packaged in a plastic shell.

The modules come with heat-spreader and the G Skill. On one side, there is a label with the part number, timings and other information.

Under Windows and using Everest Ultimate Edition 2007, we can see a thorough rundown on the memory modules:

The SPD, as reported by CPU-Z, indicates only 533MHz with CL5:

Lastly, here are the settings for FSB and voltage. While we couldn't get low CL4 either at 500/533MHz in our setup, even with 2.40V, it maybe possible to achieve this with another motherboard and chipset (for example P965/P35). The highest memory frequency we got was 580MHz with 2.50V memory voltage.

2. OCZ DDR2 PC2-8500 NVIDIA SLI-Ready Edition

The new OCZ PC2-8500 SLI-Ready Series is equipped with NVIDIA Enhanced Performance Profiles (EPP) to optimize the modules performance with nForce® 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 system.

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 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.

Each OCZ SLI-Ready module comes equipped with an exclusive NVIDIA XTC heat-spreader for the most efficient heat dissipation and a look that stands out like its performance. Additionally, all SLI-Ready memory is backed with toll-free technical support, the exclusive EVP (Extended Voltage Protection) coverage, and an industry leading Lifetime Warranty.

With the fusion of the sophisticated EPP memory specification and cutting-edge, high-speed OCZ DDR2 architecture, the PC2-8500 edition is the ultimate breakthrough for advanced SLI platform performance.

- Main features

- Retail package

OCZ provided us with the retail package of the PC2-8500 SLI (2x1GB). The retail price is around US$200 as found at several online stores. The kit we received arrived in our labs in a common carton box, with the memory modules packed in anti-static plastic bags.

On both sides of the heat-spreader is the nVIDIA SLI Ready logo, while one side has a sticker with part number, timings and other information.

Under Windows and using Everest Ultimate Edition 2007, we can see full details on the memory modules:

The SPD as reported by CPU-Z is set for 533MHz with CL5:

As was the case with the GSkill modules, here too we couldn't get low CL4, either at 500/533MHz, even with 2.40V. The highest memory frequency we achieved was 580MHz with 2.40V memory voltage.

3. Test Setup

In order to test all memory modules, we used the following setup:

While for benchmarking we used:

The eVGA 680i LT motherboard offers many possibilities for overclock both memory and CPU, synced or not. For most of our tests, we left the memory and CPU un-synced and tried to find the best possible memory timings. Each test had to pass a 30min burn-in with Memtest86+ v1.70 (DOS), without producing any errors. We also tried the Pov-Ray benchmark and Orthos Stability test under Windows to ensure that our system was rock solid. All benchmarks were run twice and all displayed results are the average of both measurements.

For comparison, we provide the results from the Crucial PC2-8500 memory kit that was tested with the same testbed, at however different timings, since the memory could handle them:

  Crucial PC2-8500 OCZ PC2-8500 SLI GSkill F2-8500
4-4-4-12 (1T)
4-4-4-12 (1T)

4. SiSOFT Sandra

SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility. It should provide most of the information (including undocumented) you need to know about your hardware, software and other devices whether hardware or software. It works along the lines of other Windows utilities, however it tries to go beyond them and show you more of what's really going on. Giving the user the ability to draw comparisons at both a high and low-level. You can get information about the CPU, chipset, video adapter, ports, printers, sound card, memory, network, Windows internals, AGP, PCI, PCIe, ODBC Connections, USB2, 1394/Firewire, etc.

Sisoft Sandra offers two tests, un-buffered and buffered. We summed both results and divided by two to get the average.

The Crucial PC2-8500 modules are faster due to their lower timings. Both the GSkill and OCZ modules have exactly the same timings, so there is a direct comparison there. We can see that at the 800, 1067 and 1150MHz speeds, the OCZ PC2-8500 SLI is faster than the GSkill FP2-8500.

5. Science Mark

Science Mark 2.0 is an attempt to put the truth behind benchmarking. In an attempt to model real world demands and performance, SM2 is a suite of high-performance benchmarks that realistically stress system performance without architectural bias.  Science Mark 2.0 is comprised of 7 benchmarks, each of which measures a different aspect of real world system performance.

Again, Crucial PC2-8500 is faster due to its lower timings. As for the other two modules, we can say that they are about equal since the differences between them are very slight.

6. SuperPi

SuperPI has become a utility to benchmark modern systems. In August 1995, the calculation of pi up to 4,294,960,000 decimal digits was succeeded by using a supercomputer at the University of Tokyo. The program was written by D.Takahashi and he collaborated with Dr. Y.Kanada at the computer center, the University of Tokyo. This record-breaking program was ported to personal computer environments such as Windows NT and Windows 95 and called Super PI.

A Total SuperPI result from Intel XE6800

The software offers up to 32M calculations of PI numbers. For all memory settings, we tested up to 2M calculations.

In this test, the OCZ PC2-8500 SLI proved faster than the GSkill FP2-8500 module, and in some cases, the difference with the Crucial PC2-8500 modules was only slight.

7. Conclusion

In this roundup, we examined three DDR2 memory modules that are certified to work at DDR2-1067, aka 533MHz. While the specifications for the three memory modules are similar, the performance tests revealed significant differences, especially with the Crucial PC2-8500 modules. Both the GSkill and OCZ modules could not be set at CL4, 500/533MHz, even with 2.40V, at least on our EVGA 680i LT motherboard. In contrast, the Crucial PC2-8500 modules could be set at CL4 and therefore, produced the best performance.

Overlooking this "problem", both the GSkill and OCZ modules were set with exactly the same memory timings. This means that their test results are directly comparable. From the results, OCZ PC2-8500 seems to be slightly faster than GSkill, at 800/1000/1067MHz. Overclocking performance was about equal, and we got 580MHz as the top speed for both modules. It's possible that with other motherboards, you could get even more MHz, but this can vary from module to module and motherboard to motherboard.

In finishing, we have no qualms about recommending both modules to all users. The Gskill F2-8500CL5D-2GBHK has a small advantage when it comes to price. You can search the retail/online stores to get the best deals on both products. Their performance should be considered about equal, and both have a lifetime warranty. They will also both help you reach high levels when you overclock your Intel C2D processor. The Crucial PC2-8500 modules were faster and better than both the GSkill and OCZ modules when it comes to overclocking, but they also cost a lot more :-)

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