Posted: June 18, 2003
Author: Jason Kohrs
Source: N/A (Search PriceGrabber for Best Deal)
With the available speed of system memory increasing more often than the average user can afford to keep up with, it has become important to identify high quality modules from reputable manufacturers, and hope you can get a relatively long life out of them. Determining who is a reputable manufacturer may be the tricky part, as new brands of memory spring up almost as often as the new speeds of memory. I remember not too long ago that for the most part you either used Crucial or you were using generic memory. Now, there are several players in the high performance / high speed DDR market, and Geil has become one of the more prominent ones in the past year.
Up on the test bench today is Geil’s 512MB PC3200 Dual Channel DDR Kit, which includes two (2) 256MB matched sticks of DDR optimized for use on motherboards supporting ‘dual channel’ operation. Although PC3200 is currently the fastest officially recognized DDR standard (per JEDEC), there is faster DDR on the market, summarized in the list below:
4PC3700 = 466 MHz DDR
4PC3500 = 433 MHz DDR
4PC3200 = 400 MHz DDR
4PC3000 = 366 MHz DDR
4PC2700 = 333 MHz DDR
4PC2400 = 300 MHz DDR
4PC2100 = 266 MHz DDR
4PC1600 = 200 MHz DDR
Highlighted in red, you see that the PC3200 is no longer the overall speed king, but it does hold the speed crown when compared to the other official speed standards, including: PC2700, PC2100, and PC1600. What I am hoping to find is that the value of the Geil PC3200, compared to the faster speeds, can be made even more appealling through solid performance, and perhaps a bit of overclocking. Lets see what we can do...
Official Specifications (as provided on the Geil website):
45ns Geil GL2000 Chips
4Enhanced SPD for Dual Channel DDR motherboards
4Pure Copper Heat Spreader
46 Layer Ultra Low Noise Shielded PCB
4184pin High Performance DDR module
432x8 Low Density, Un-buffered
4CAS 2 6-3-3 2T Running @ 400Mhz DDR
The Dual Channel DDR Kit arrives in the unique acrylic packaging pictured on the left. The cover slides off to one side, and the two sticks of memory are individually sealed in anti-static bags. Although the special packaging is an unnecessary expense, the price of the Geil kit is competitive with other brands so I won’t obsess on it. Available online from a few reputable retailers, the PC3200 512MB Dual Channel DDR Kit carries a price tag of about $99.00 (US).
Once out of the package, you have the two identical sticks of DDR as pictured in the below left image, with one stick isolated in the below right image. The copper heatsinks are substantial, and feature Geil’s name in embossed pewter colored lettering at the center. This special lettering and the unique acrylic packaging already have me thinking that a little too much attention is being paid to the presentation, and I’m hoping it isn’t at the expense of performance!
Confirming the official specifications on the Geil website, each stick of DDR has a sticker on it listing some of the key information, as pictured in the image on the right. As you can see, each 256MB stick of PC3200 “Ultra Dual Channel” DDR is rated for CAS 2 6-3-3 2T timings at 400 MHz DDR. Simply put, lower numbers reflect potential for higher performance for all four numbers listed in the specs. Each of these timings can be tweaked in your motherboards BIOS, or can be set automatically via the SPD (serial presence detect) stored in the memory itself.
Although I am still not 100% convinced of the necessity of the heatspreader on DDR memory, as the speeds get faster the amount of heat generated is becoming greater and they do make a nice insurance policy. In the past I have received DDR (from manufacturers other than Geil) with pre-installed heatspreaders that weren’t even making contact with all of the chips. I made sure to check the Geil sticks thoroughly, and can report that the thermal adhesive makes good contact with all of the chips, as detailed in the image on the left.
Getting back to the other DDR with the poorly installed heatspreader... Obviously no cooling would be provided, and I assumed the heatspreaders were just there to hide less than stellar memory chips. Slapping a “Warranty Void if Removed” sticker on there would keep most people from taking a look inside, making it easy for a less than reputable manufacturer to pull a fast one! Luckily, that isn’t the case with the Geil memory. The heatspreader is well installed, and there is no sticker claiming the warranty will be voided if removed.
Now that the memory has been checked out, it’s time to take it for a test drive. The testing portion of the review will consist of seeing how well the memory performs on two standard benchmarks, Sisoft Sandra Professional 2003 and PCMark2002, at default and overclocked speeds, as well as seeing if there any issues with general use at any of the speeds tested. In addition to the two sticks of Geil PC3200 DDR, the setup used for testing consists of the following hardware/software:
4AMD Athlon XP2200+ Processor
4Asus A7N8X nForce2 Motherboard Rev. 1.04, BIOS AN8B1004
4PC Toys AeroMaxx cpu cooler
4Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 8 40GB ATA-133 hard drive
4Enlight 420 Watt dual fan power supply
4Windows XP Professional SP1 with all current updates
Installation into the system described is pictured above, and was just as easy as it should have been.
Please read on to page two for the start of the testing... Next
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