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Appeared on: Tuesday, April 20, 2004
OCZ PC-4200EL Memory Review


1. Introduction - Specifications

OCZ PC-4200EL Memory Review

is a well known company producing quality memory for almost all lines of PC users, from amateurs to enthusiast overclockers. As a leading company in the memory field, it recently introduced a product called “PC-4200EL” that promised low latency times (CL2@400Mhz) along with the ability to run at a high speed of 533 MHz. Most PC-4000 and higher PC-4500 memory kits work only at high latency times of 3-4-4-8. OCZ’s memory is of interest to users who wish to reach maximum overclocking speeds while at the same time getting the best memory performance. Through our tests we will find out just how the memory performs and what the maximum possible overclocking limit is?

- Memory Description & Specs

The OCZ PC-4200EL comes as a dual channel kit and according to OCZ is hand tested as a matched pair to ensure flawless performance on most motherboards. Each memory module has a copper heat spreader and can handle up to 2.9V without voiding the OCZ Lifetime Warranty! This is important, as it allows users to tweak their systems without worrying about destroying their memory while enjoying maximum performance!

The OCZ PC-42000 comes with the "EL" suffix after the model name. But what does “EL” mean? EL is the acronym from 'Enhanced Latency', and is a special design procedure applied to each memory module allowing it to run at tighter CAS latency timings than those specified under the current JEDEC standards.

The memory specifications according to the OCZ website are:

- 466MHz DDR
- CL 2.5-4-4-7 (CAS-TRCD-TRP-TRAS)
- Available in 512MB and 1GB Dual Channel Kits
- Unbuffered
- Copper Heatspreader
- Lifetime Warranty
- 2.8 Volts
- 184 Pin DIMM

The retail kits are available in a 512MB Kit (PN- OCZ533512ELDC-K) and a 1GB Kit (PN- OCZ5331024ELDC-K). We used the 512MB retail kit, which was obtained at the price of ?220.00.

The retail kit also includes a case, stick-on badge, for those who want to use it to show-off their OCZ advanced memory powered system.


2. Test Setup - PC settings

OCZ PC-4200EL Memory - Page 2

- Test Setup

Processor Retail Intel Pentium 4 2.4C
CPU Cooler Zalman 7000Cu
Case Antec 1080AMG
Tested MotherBoard MSI Neo2 ? FISR (firmware v2.10)
ASUS P4C800-E Deluxe (firmware 1014)
Videocard ATI Radeon 9600Pro
Memory 2x256MB OCZ EL PC-4200
Hard Disk Drive WD800JD 80GB 7200RPM
CD-RW LiteOn LTR-52246S
PowerSupply Levicom 500Watt
Software Setup WinXP SP1
875P Intel Inf update v5.00.1012
Catalyst v4.3
Workstation Benchmarks Sisoft Sandra Standard 2004.2.9.104
  AIDA32 v3.93
  Unreal Tournament 2004 Demo Build 2004-02-10_03.01
  Standard CTF Botmatch Benchmark for UT2004demo v1.3
  3D Mark2001SE Build 330
  PC Mark 04 Build v1.0.0
  Prime95 v2.38
  Memtest86+ v1.11
  CPUZ v1.21

- Defining Stable Memory

In order to make sure our memory was stable we used the Memtest86+ software. At least 2 passes at extended mode should be error free before accepting the corresponding FSB speed. After running the benchmarking software (AIDA32, Sisoft Sandra 2004 & UT2004) under windows we ran two instances of Prime95 (Blend/Small FFTs) while 3D Mark 2001SE was continuously looping, for at least six (6) hours, to confirm the stability of the system. The 3D Mark 2001Se settings used for all tests are shown in the following screenshots:

The figures displayed from the test results (AIDA32, Sisoft Sandra) are the average after running each test three (3) times. Note that the Sisoft Sandra results (Integer value and a Float value) were added and divided by 2 to give us a single number for each test. For the UT2004 we used the Standard CTF Botmatch Benchmark for UT2004demo v1.3 at only 1024x768 and we present the average FPS results.


3. MSI Neo2 - FISR Testing procedure

OCZ PC-4200EL Memory - Page 3

- MSI Neo2-FISR general testing procedure

Each DDR memory module was installed in the 1st and 3rd bank respectively. For optimum results we didn?t overclock the SVGA card, running at stock speeds with official Catalyst v4.30 installed.

The following BIOS settings were used for all tests:

- Dynamic overclocking: Disable
- Performance Mode: Slow
- DRAM Frequency: 400Mhz
- Spread Spectrum: Disabled
- AGPI/PCI: 66.66/33.33
- VCore: 1.550V
- AGP: 1.60V
- DDR Voltage: 2.85V
- Burst Length: 4

The first step was to set the memory timings at 2.5-4-4-7 and 2-3-3-6. Unfortunaly the MSI Neo2-FISR, despite our efforts, could not set the memory timings to 2-3-3-6 but only to 2.5-3-3-6. The BIOS showed timings of 2-3-3-6 but under windows we saw that the correct timings were 2.5-3-3-6.

Also, no higher relaxed timings were possible (3-4-4-8). After checking other hardware reviews, we believe the problem lies with the MSI motherboard?

After the initial tests at 200 MHz, we started pushing the system by raising the FSB. We found the upper limit with the tight timings (2.5-3-3-6) at both 1:1 and 5:4 and the maximum speed with default timings (2.5-4-4-7) at both 1:1 and 5:4 (FSB:RAM).

PAT was not used for any test since the system could not boot at either speed (again, possibly a specific M/B problem?). With the FSB 290 MHz (1:1) we raised the DDR voltage up to 2.90V to reach maximum stability. Both Memtest86+ and 3D Mark2001SE did not report any problems but?Prime95 after running for one hour stopped working, producing an error! This is why we selected the FSB 270 MHz as the maximum speed for this test. We decided to provide the FSB 272 MHz results for evaluation proposes. It is possible that a different combination of M/B and CPU cooler could produce higher (and better) results than even 272 MHz as various other testers have shown.

Summarizing, we tested the following FSB/Divider/Timings/DDR Voltage:

FSB
Divider
Memory
Timings
DDR
Voltage
CPU
Speed
Comment
200
1:1
2.5-4-4-7
2.85V
2.40 GHz
200
1:1
2.5-3-3-6
2.40 GHz
228
1:1
2.5-3-3-6
2.73 GHz
(max FSB with tight timings for 1:1 stable)
267
1:1
2.5-4-4-7
3.20 GHz
270
1:1
2.5-4-4-7
3.24 GHz
(max FSB with relaxed timing for 1:1 stable)
272
1:1
2.5-4-4-7
3.26 GHz
280
5:4
2.5-3-3-6
2.90V
3.36 GHz
(max FSB with tight timings for 5:4 not stable)
290
5:4
2.5-4-4-7
2.85V
3.48 GHz
(max FSB with relaxed timings for 5:4 not stable)

As you can see, with FSB 290 MHz (5:4) the CPU reaches the incredible 3.48 GHz. Of course the system was not stable enough to run 3D Mark2001Se neither Prime95 at both FSB 290/280 MHz, however by using liquid cooling, it could produce a stable system?:-)

The system was rock solid at 1:1 at 270 MHz, while the CPU reached?3.240 GHz. That?s a 0.8 GHz overclocking gap!


4. MSI Neo2 - FISR Test Results

OCZ PC-4200EL Memory - Page 4

- MSI Neo2-FISR Test Results

As we can see, the best read performance comes from FSB 272 MHz, while the best write from FSB 290 MHz. The FSB 270 MHz is very close and should be used for a stable system, while the tight timings (2.5-3-3-6) seem to offer significant performance improvement over the relaxed (2.5-4-4-7) as was expected.

Let?s now look at the Sisoft Sandra results!

The higher the FSB goes, the higher the memory performance we get as the above chart shows. The tight memory timings do impact upon memory performance, but when running the memory at its designed (and above) speeds, you get the maximum performance. The memory will work very well under 5:4 at both 280/290 MHz but with lower Unbuffered results (as expected since Memory is underclocked?)


5. ASUS P4C800E Deluxe - Testing procedure

OCZ PC-4200EL Memory - Page 5

- ASUS P4C800E-Deluxe general testing procedure

After our disappointing results with the MSI Neo2-FISR we contacted OCZ, who suggested that we should use a motherboard capable of reaching high FSB speeds, like the ASUS P4C800E-Deluxe. Actually most PC4200/4400 work perfectly only with ASUS and several other motherboards, so it is suggested to search before buying memory that will not perform as you would expect…

Again each DDR memory module was placed in the 1 and 3 bank respectively. The following BIOS settings were used for all tests:

- Performance Mode (PAT): Standard/Turbo
- DRAM Frequency: 400Mhz
- Spread Spectrum: Disabled
- AGPI/PCI: 66.66/33.33
- VCore: 1.550V
- AGP: 1.60V
- DDR Voltage: 2.85V
- Burst Length: 4
- VIA Raid: Disabled

This time we decided to take a different approach to our testing and tested only four memory/timings as the following table shows:

Summarizing, we tested the following FSB/Divider/Timings/DDR Voltage:

FSB
Divider
Memory
Timings
DDR
Voltage
CPU
Speed
Comment
201
1:1
2-3-3-6
2.85V
2.412 GHz
267
1:1
2.5-4-4-7
3.207 GHz
272
1:1
2.5-4-4-7
3.265 GHz
(max FSB with normal timings for 1:1 stable)
279
1:1
2.5-4-4-7
3.35 GHz
(max FSB with relaxed timings for 1:1 stable)

As you can see the memory has no problem working at 2-3-3-6 at 201FSB with PAT enabled (Turbo). Actually, we enabled PAT for all the above testing FSB since it gave much better overall results. The maximum FSB we reached while maintaining a 100% stable system was 272 with normal timings, while relaxing timings (3-4-4-7), we reached the incredible 279 FSB. At that speed, the CPU reached 3.35 GHz!

Note that the system was fairly stable at 282 FSB but Prime95 Small FFTs reported errors, while the Blend test didn?t. Maybe with better cooling users can achieve even higher FSB. Another problem is that the ASUS P4C800E-Deluxe allows only up to 2.85V for DIMMs. There are several mods that can fix this problem, so there is certainly room for higher speeds for experienced overclockers.


6. ASUS P4C800-E Deluxe Test Results

OCZ PC-4200EL Memory - Page 6

- ASUS P4C800-E Deluxe Tests

The memory bandwidth was very good (~6.5MB/s) as both AIDA32 and Sisoft Sandra 2004 showed. PC Mark 04 also showed clearly that at higher FSB we have higher bandwidth. Let?s see whether the increased memory speeds affect 3D performance or not...

The 3D Mark 2001SE test didn?t show any affects from the overall FSB/RAM increments. The difference between 267 and 279 FSB is only 20 marks, while the CPU difference is 140 MHz. We knew that recent games were mainly affected by GPU performance and not from the CPU/Memory combination and this shows up perfectly in the UT2004 demo results. The 267/272/279 MHz FSB speeds have almost the same FPS (Frame Per Second). Buying a better SVGA card (ATI 9800XT for example) would have a big impact on games performance.


7. Conclusion

OCZ PC-4200EL Memory - Page 7

- Conclusion

The OCZ PC-4200EL is referred as a ?Universal High-Speed Memory? according to the official OCZ press release. It offers what it promises, memory speeds up to DDR558+Mhz (depending the M/B and memory voltage) and lower memory timings than any other PC4200/4300/4400 memory kits currently sold. The memory will be useful for people who have a P4 2.4, 2.6 and even 2.8 GHz processor and wish to overclock (1:1) their CPU to the maximum speed. P4 3.00, 3.2 and especially 3.4 GHz users might not find the memory useful since other OCZ products offer lower cache latency (2-3-3-6) and good overclocking abilities as well.

Coming back to our tests, we saw that it is important to use the proper motherboard in order to get the best results. The MSI Neo2-FISR was not a good choice for testing since we couldn?t get CL2 at DDR400 and higher than 270 FSB speed (1:1). The OCZ PC-4200EL memory showed its true performance with the ASUS P4C800E-Deluxe and nearly gave 1 GHz overclocking on our P4 2.4C while the system was rock solid even with air cooling. If the ASUS motherboard allowed voltages higher than 2.85V for DDR, we are sure it could reach even 290 FSB (1:1) as several other reports have shown. Possibly with 5:4 (FSB:RAM) setting the FSB could break the magic 300Mhz barrier, but we wanted to test only the 1:1 synchronous operation.

We hope in the near future to test the latest OCZ PC-4400EL and other high speed memory from other vendors so we can have a clearer view regarding such fast memory devices and what can be offered to both low/high end P4 users. Overall, the OCZ PC-4200EL is a product we would highly recommended for all overclocker enthusiasts!

The Good:
- Supports CL2 at DDR400
- Supports CL2.5 at DDR533
- Can go up to DDR558+ offering very good overclocking capabilities (1:1)
- DDR Voltage can raised up to ~3.0V without breaking warranty
- Very good performance at all speeds

The Bad:
- Works best with specific motherboards, so be careful before buying!

Like to be fixed:
- Maybe a lower price? ;-)



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