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Appeared on: Wednesday, September 19, 2007
PC2-6400 SO-DIMM Roundup


1. Introduction - Crucial PC2-6400 (DDR2-800) SO-DIMM

With the arrival of the Intel Santa Rosa platform, memory manufacturers have released new SO-DIMM memory with 400MHz running speed (DDR2-800). In either one or two gigabyte modules, upgrading the memory does improve performance, especially under the VISTA operating system. Since most currently sold laptops come with one gigabyte of memory and usually at DDR2-533 running speed, upgrading to the newest and fastest DDR2-800 SO-DIMM looks a good way to improve overall system response.

- Crucial PC2-6400 (DDR2-800) SO-DIMM

Crucial offers both one and two gigabyte SO-DIMM memory modules for laptop users. We tested the CT2KIT12864AC80E package that comes with 2x1GB setup:

The Crucial CT2KIT12864AC80E (2x1GB) retails for around US$179.99 and can be bought directly from the Crucial web site.

Our memory modules were wrapped in plastic anti-static bags:

Looking at the memory modules, on one side is a sticker with the Crucial logo, part number, and memory capacity details.

Under Windows and using Everest Ultimate Edition 2007, we can see more information about the memory modules. The memory modules can work up to 400MHz, according to their specs:

The SPD as reported by Everest Ultimate Edition sets the modules for 266MHz and 400MHz:

With both Intel 945 and 965 enabled laptops, the memory modules will run at 332.5MHz (aka 667MHz):


2. OCZ DDR2-6400 SO-DIMM

The OCZ DDR2 SO-DIMMs are built to provide optimal levels of compatibility using the highest quality components available. Each module comes backed with industry leading technical support and the OCZ Lifetime Warranty, ensuring complete product satisfaction for unparalleled peace of mind.

- Main features

OCZ provided us with the retail package of their DDR2-6400 (OCZ2M8002G). Alternatively, users can find the same modules in 1GB, 2GB, 2x1GB and 2x2GB memory configurations. The retail price of the package is around US$142 as found at several online stores. The retail package is small with the memory module secured in a plastic shell.

The memory modules have a sticker with the OCZ logo, part number, and capacity and timing information:

There's no information on the memory chipsets so it was not possible to identify the manufacturer:

Under Windows and using Everest Ultimate Edition 2007, we can see more information about the memory modules:

The SPD as reported by Everest Ultimate Edition sets the modules for 200, 266 and 400MHz with CL5:


3. Test Setup

In order to test the memory modules, we used two different laptops with different chipsets and operating systems:

- Asus A6JA (i945PM) - Windows XP SP2

- Asus A7s (i965PM) Windows VISTA 32bit

For benchmarking, we used:

Note that both memory modules didn't work at the manufacturer "claimed" speed of 400MHz. However, we cannot blame the memory manufacturers since both the Intel i945PM and Intel Santa Rosa 965GM don't support 800MHz memory modules. To be exact, Intel Santa Rosa supports 800MHz FSB but "only" at 667MHz memory speeds. In other words, both memory modules won't offer much performance improvement compared with "normal" DDR2-5300 memory modules. Perhaps the next generation of laptops will support 800MHz for memory so that performance can be improved significantly.

Another issue we encountered was the fact that the 2GB OCZ DDR2-800 module was only recognized as 1GB. After talking with OCZ, we believe that due to our modules being an early sample release, the sticker on our modules had been mis-configured, but this is not a major issue, the retail kits will be correctly labeled as 2GB :-)

We post only comparison results from the Asus A6JA. We benchmarked all modules under Windows VISTA but didn't see any major performance differences. In any case, the tested memory modules worked as follows:

Ratings
Real Memory Speed
Timings
DDR2-533
267MHz
4-4-4-12
DDR2-667
333.50 MHz
5-5-5-15
DDR2-800
333.50 MHz
5-5-5-15

4. SiSOFT Sandra - ScienceMark

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 took the average.

Comparing both 1GB OCZ and Crucial DDR2-800, the Crucial module is somewhat faster.

 

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.

In the ScienceMark 2 memory benchmark, the OCZ DDR2-800 SO-DIMM was faster than Crucial's.


5. SuperPi - RightMark

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. At all memory settings, we tested only up to 2M calculations.

SuperPI results are directly impacted by the memory. The Crucial modules produced lower calculation times than OCZ.

 

Before this test packet was created there was no proper software for measuring vital system parameters such as CPU/Chipset/RAM providing steady and reliable (reproducible) test results and allowing for changing test parameters in a wide range.

Vital low-level system characteristics include latency and real RAM bandwidth, average/minimal latency of different cache levels and its associativity, real L1-L2 cache bandwidth and TLB levels specs. Besides, these aspects are usually not paid sufficient attention in product technical documentation (CPU or chipset). Such test suite, which combines a good deal of subsets aimed at measuring objective system characteristics, is a must have for estimating crucial objective platform parameters.

RightMark offers a variety of test results, including both read/write performance from synthetic and performance tests:

In the RightMark memory analyzer benchmark, the OCZ memory modules were faster than Crucial.


6. PCMARK - 3DMARK

Click for homepage!PCMark®05 is everything you need to reliably and easily measure the performance of your PC and determine its strengths and weaknesses. With PCMark05, you will be able to select the optimal upgrades for your existing PC, or choose the right new PC that fits your specific needs. This easy-to-use product gives you the same tools and knowledge that virtually every professional tester in the industry uses. Below you can see the memory score.

In this test, there's very little between the Crucial and OCZ memory modules.

 

Click for homepage!3DMark®06 is the worldwide standard in advanced 3D game performance benchmarking. A fundamental tool for every company in the PC industry as well as PC users and gamers, 3DMark06 uses advanced real-time 3D game workloads to measure PC performance using a suite of DirectX 9 3D graphics tests, CPU tests, and 3D feature tests. 3DMark06 tests include all new HDR/SM3.0 graphics tests, SM2.0 graphics tests, AI and physics driven single and multiple cores or processor CPU tests and a collection of comprehensive feature tests to reliably measure next generation gaming performance today.

3D Mar06 tests both CPU and RAM, as well as the VGA card. The OCZ memory modules produced the highest score (1906) points but this is only marginally higher than the Crucial modules.


7. Conclusion

In this roundup, we examined the newly announced SO-DIMM DDR2-800 memory that can run up to 400MHz and improve performance...or perhaps not? Actually, none of the currently sold laptops can support this memory to its fullest (400MHz). So whether you buy SO-DIMM DDR2-667 or SO-DIMM DDR2-800 memory modules, the performance will be more or less exactly the same. There is no question about memory compatibility, since the DDR2-800 memory modules will work just fine at 667MHz in every laptop. Of course, we all would like to have a product that works according to its specs in our laptop, but its not the fault of the memory manufacturers, they indeed offer memory that can work at 400MHz, its just the laptops cannot utilize it.

Moving on to our tests, both Crucial and OCZ are well respected memory manufacturers and both their modules worked perfectly in our laptops, Asus A6JA and A7s. In half the tests, Crucial memory was faster and in the other half, OCZ got first place.

Looking at the test results in greater detail, we can see that upgrading your laptop's memory from 1GB DDR2-533 to 1GB DDR2-667 does offer an improvement in the overall performance as most tests showed. Adding a second 1GB of DDR2-667 is a good idea also (total 2x1GB), since this affects memory bandwidth in most tests.

Ending this roundup, we are satisfied with the performance of the memory modules from Crucial and OCZ. You probably won't notice huge differences between the various memory modules from different vendors, so the only issue would be compatibility, which wasn't an issue with either of the tested memory modules and price.



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