G.Skill 4GB Kit (2x2048MB) PC2-8800/DDR2-1100 Memory Review

 

The introduction ...

G.Skill offers with the 4GB PC2-8800 a new High-End DDR2 memory kit, which promises high performance also
with a standard DDR2 voltage of 1.8V-1.9V.
The memory kit contains two 2GB modules with DDR2-1100 speed at CL5.
In this review we will test the performance of the inexpensive 4GB DDR2 kit with CL4 and compare them
to several other DDR2 memory modules.

 

 

 

Thanks for the support ...

Many thanks for the support with the F2-8800CL5D-4GBPI F2 4GB PC2 8800 / DDR2 1100 CL5 kit
by the manufacturer G.Skill.

GSkill

The 4 GB kit contains 2x 2048 MB 240-pin DIMM DDR2-1100 memory modules and has at present
a price of 110 euro (10/2008).
The memory is also available at our sponsors.

 

 

The supply of the two 2048MB PC2-8800 memory modules ...

In this box are the two memory modules:

 

The box is hinged and shows on the right side the improved heat distribution with and without heat spreader:

 

 

That is contained in the scope of delivery ...

G.Skill supplies the memory modules with nice stickers as well as an contact information sheet.
But they were delivered without an installation guide.

Here is a picture of the manufaturer information sheet and the stickers:

 

And here's a picture of the beautiful G.Skill modules with the eye-catching heat spreaders ...

 

 

The technical data ...

Manufacturer G.Skill
Article number F2-8800CL5D-4GBPI
Memory 4GB kit (2048MBx2)
Package 240-pin DIMM
Type DDR2 PC2-8800
Configuration 256Meg x 64
DIMM Type UNBUFFERED
Error correction NON-ECC
Speed DDR2 1100 (550 MHz * 2)
Voltage 1.8 - 1.9 Volt
Memory timing 5-5-5-15 (Tcl-Trcd-Tras-Trp) - EPP

 

 

Characteristics and other features ...

The memory ICs are provided on a green 8-layer PCB with two passive heatsink halves (heat spreader),
which are supposed to enhance the memory cooling also with higher frequencies and/or higher voltages.
With heat spreader one achieves on the one hand better overclocking results and on the other hand a longer life-time,
whereby G.Skill by the way grants lifelong warranty (Warranty Lifetime) for the buyer
(all informations to manufacturer conditions are of course without guarantee by ocinside.de).
Additionally the F2-8800CL5D-4GBPI kit has EPP (Enhanced Performance Profile) to detect the highest possible timings and frequencies for easy overclocking on current motherboards with EPP support.

Here is the PCB with the memory chips and the EEPROM for the SPD and EPP data:

 

The two HS halves are by the way only affixed with a double-sided tape on the modules and
can be easy removed by pushing the HS halves apart slightly for a few seconds to open them.
Afterwards they can be laterally pushed from each other.

 

The label U82018C095Y7 can be seen clearly on the memory ICs, however no further information or technical data was available by the manufacturer about these chips.

 

 

Not 4GB on booting, but only 3GB in the BIOS or Windows ...

The 4GB size is unfortunately still a matter of its own, therefore here is again a short explanation about 4 gigabyte memory in Windows from the previous review.

"At that time" with Windows 98, Win95, etc. it was necessary to clear the first hurdles with more than 512 MB with an easy trick.
In Windows 98 operating system it was necessary to add MaxFileCache=512000 in the [vcache] section of the System.ini to get it booting.

In the meanwhile the RAM size is fortunately much higher, because with 32-bit operating systems like e.g. Microsoft Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Vista the first things are starting approximately with more than 2GB.
2GB can be used both, for the operating system, and for some programs.
But starting from 3GB or starting from values between 3 GB and 3.5GB the memory management on 32-bit operating systems is unfortunately rather badly. Even the activation of Memory Hole and/or Memory Remapping in the BIOS and entries of /PAE (Physical Address Extension) or /3GB in the Boot.ini doesn't help WinXP to the full 4GB in a fast AMD PC.

The only thing which helps, is an update to a new 64-bit operating system like e.g. Windows Vista 64-bit, Windows Server editions, or 64-bit Vista edition, which supports different memory sizes.
Windows Vista 64bit Home Basic supports for example a capacity up to 8GB, Home Premium 16GB and
Vista Ultimate, Vista Business, as well as Vista Enterprise supports a size of more than 128GB.

So don't worry, if your PC just boots with 3183MB, 3184MB, 3.1GB, 3.2GB or similar RAM values into Windows XP.
Your memory is not defective, but it is because of the memory support (motherboard or operating system).
The exact memory capacity depends on different factors such as hardware used below 4GB and may vary depending upon PC.

 

 

Benchmark values and test results ...

Let us continue with the most important part of the test report, the highest possible stable performance of the modules.
The test results are based on an ASRock AM2XLI eSATA2 SLI motherboard (ULi M1697) with an AMD Athlon 64 Socket AM2 3000+ CPU on different frequencies depending on the reference clock for the different memory benchmarks.
Furthermore the memory modules were tested on another reference board to test the high frequency and higher voltages.
The Foxconn C51XEM2AA motherboard comes with the nVidia nForce 590 SLI chipset and supports the EPP feature to
realize an automatically adjustment of the memory timings.
The multiplier adjustment remains on 9x with all frequencies, because an adjustment for the CPU in half multiplier
steps would be too inaccurate to get nearly the same CPU frequency for all tests.
Microsoft Windows XP Professional SP2 is used as the operating system.
The stability was examined with the software Memtest86 and SiSoft Sandra Lite 2007.SP1 program is used for all
benchmarks, since it offers extensive adjustments and a fast result comparison.
BTW. the latest SiSoftware Sandra 2009 version is available on our server for download.
All benchmarks are also included in the free Lite version.

First the maximum possible frequency of the memory module was determined.
The memory frequency was increased in small steps with a fixed memory timing of 4-4-4-10 2T and default memory voltage, as long as the detailed memory test with Memtest86 runs without any errors.
This quite long testing time ensured that this frequency works really stable with these modules.

The highest possible frequency at 4-4-4-10 (Tcl Trcd Tras Trp) timings was stable with very high 453 MHz !

Of course it's possible to run much higher frequencies with increased voltages or lower timings,
because the frequency values and timings depends directly from each other.
Officially G.Skill specify a voltage between 1.80 and 1.90 Volt without loosing the warranty.
It would be nice to have a bigger range for example up to 2.40 Volt as customary on most other high-end modules.
Sure, the user can decide the maximum voltage, but the modules will loose warranty outside the manufacturer specification.
But 453 MHz at CAS-4 (more than 500 MHz at CAS-5) is a nice result and thanks to the very low default voltage,
the modules keep cool.

Now, this highest possible frequency was compared with two settings.
On the one hand 453 MHz with SPD values (these are programmed in the SPD IC by the manufacturer),
and on the other hand 200 MHz (x2) with SPD values.

By the way, the "Memory Bus Range" is no benchmark value, but this value is quite simple to calculate by the frequency and
this is useful for a benchmark comparison.

 

Here're the benchmark results:

Frequency
Timing
RAM Range Int Buff'd iSSE2
Memory bus range
453 MHz
fix (4-4-4-10 2T)
6347 MB/s
14496 MB/s
453 MHz
SPD (5-5-5-15 2T)
6267 MB/s
14496 MB/s
200 MHz
SPD (4-3-3-8 2T)
4664 MB/s
6432 MB/s

 

Here's a diagram of the benchmark values:

 

Here is a direct benchmark result comparison of some DDR2 and DDR memory modules:

The G.Skill PC2-8800 memory kit is currently on the first place of all tested 4GB DDR2 kits, but in the summary comparison at 1.8V memory voltage it achieves in spite of the DDR2-1100 rating "only" place five.
This is because the most important thing is not only the frequency specification, but also the latency specification.

 

Result and general impression ...

The G.Skill PC2-8800 4GB RAM kit F2-8800CL5D-4GBPI is well priced and supports also with the default memory voltage high frequencies at low latency timings, which results in good performance values.
As already explained in the previous memory reviews, the full size of 4GB or 8GB is only usable on latest operating systems.
But in view of the low price, the 4GB kit can be preferred instead of the 2GB kit, because the waste of a few hundred megabyte within Windows XP is not the end of the world.

All in all the G.Skill F2-8800CL5D-4GBPI 4GB kit offers a good cost-performance ratio and reserves for current PC systems.

 

Discuss in our forum and exchange experiences ...

 

Read on in the hardware test area with several hardware reviews ...

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All pictures and article copyright 2008 www.ocinside.de