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OCZ EL DDR PC-3500 Gold GX Dual Channel

Date: August 17, 2005
Author(s): Rob Williams

OCZ has recently released some new memory geared for gamers. The memory comes clocked at DDR433 speeds, with tight 2-2-2-5 timings.. at a respectable 2.8v. We are going to see just how great this memory is, and how well it overclocks. So let’s get to it.



Introduction

When talking about performance memory, OCZ is not a name that’s too far from someones tongue. As mentioned in the intro, we are taking a look at the EL PC-3500 (DDR433) Gold GX Dual Channel modules. These sticks are not only meant for enthusiasts who want the best performance, but also people who just want fast memory with tight timings, without being forced to overclock at all. The GX stands for Gamer eXtreme, so it’s obvious who this memory is designed for. Before we go any further, here is a quick bio of OCZ, as well as info about the memory.

About OCZ

Entering the memory market in August 2000, OCZ Technology was built around the determination to manufacture the best high speed DDR and RDRAM. OCZ was founded by enthusiasts, for enthusiasts, and our commitment to the end-user has not digressed. OCZ Technology has been an innovator in many areas. We were the first manufacturer to make Dual Channel optimized memory available to the public, which originally took advantage of nVidia’s Twinbank or Dual DDR architecture, found in their nForce chipset. We have now taken that technology and tailored it for the Canterwood, and Granite Bay chipset’s. OCZ developed and was the first to implement ULN technology, which has been a critical element in our manufacturing process for some time. We at OCZ diligently work to improve communication with CPU and motherboard chipset manufacturers prior to the release of their products. Only in this manner can we fine-tune our memory’s SPD settings, ensuring a synergistic relationship between the memory module, memory controller, and microprocessor. In todays rapidly evolving semiconductor industry, such communication is not simply research, but a necessary component of our manufacturing process.

About EL PC-3500 Gold GX Dual Channel

OCZ PC-3500 Gold Gamer eXtreme Series is the latest addition to the extreme-speed Gold Series family. As part of the award winning OCZ Gold series, PC-3500 Gold is built with leading edge technology designed to provide users with unwavering performance features capable of excelling in even the most demanding gaming environments. With the slightly above average voltage of 2.8V, these high-speed modules run at DDR433 and turn out heart-pounding 2-2-2-5 timings with flawless performance and stability necessity for todays PC gamers.



Closer Look

The modules come in a tightly closed blister pack to protect them. It’s a simple package design, but I prefer it much more than modules that arrive in an anti-static bag. Just pulling the top of the package apart will allow you to grab the memory. As with most OCZ performance memory, these ones come with pure gold color heat spreaders, hence the Gold in the name.

After taking the modules out of the package, I was careful to not touch the spreaders and leave fingerprints. They are so clean and clear out of the package, I didn’t want to make them look dull right off the bat. Because this is a Copper heat spreader, I felt the weight difference immediately. With the high quality of the spreaders, it adds a lot to the product. These are the first OCZ modules I’ve used in a while, and just holding them, I’m impressed.

There are a couple additions to this memory that makes them special. OCZ offers a Lifetime Warranty on all their modules, which can leave you with a peace of mind. Also included in the warranty is EVP, extra voltage protection. They allow you to use up to 3.1 ± 5% on the modules without voiding your warranty. This goes to show how confident they are with their memory.. good stuff. Lastly, they use special techniques on the PCB to lower the electrical noise (ULN, Ultra Low Noise), to aide with the performance and stability of the modules.

Now that we have all that taken care of, now’s the fun part. Here is the system that the modules are being tested in.

Processor
AMD 64 3200+ S939 Venice @ 2.00GHz
Motherboard
DFI LanParty NF4 UT Ultra-D
BIOS is Official June 23, 2005
Power Supply
Ultra X-Finity 600W
Memory
OCZ EL DDR PC-3500 Gold GX Dual Channel 512MB * 2
Hard Disks
200GB * 2 Western Digital 8MB Cache
160GB Western Digital 8MB Cache
Sound Card
Chaintech AV-710 7.1
Video Card
BFG 6800 GT OC 256MB
Official 77.72
Etcetera
Windows XP Professional with SP2


Overclocking

To test the modules, I first set them to stock speeds and let MemTest do it’s thing overnight. I woke up to see zero errors, which allowed me to further tweak and test. It took me an afternoon to finish testing, and here are my results:

I quickly found out that these modules are not for overclocking a great deal. The modules use BH-5 chips, a Winbond UTT variant. BH-5 never usually allows much headroom for overclocking, at least to my liking. It has very little trouble handling voltage you throw at it, and that’s why they chose to use them for this kit, I suppose.

Even though it pains me to not be able to take the modules to at least DDR500 speeds, I realize that these are not really meant for overclocking. They are developed for gamers who want superb memory speeds and super tight timings. Loosening the timings is not expected with BH-5, but the goal is to keep the timings as low as possible, and in this case, I’m extremely satisfied with the 2-2-2 timings.

For benchmarking, I used EVEREST Ultimate Edition and SANDRA 2005. To test out the effects of overclocking in games, I used Half-Life 2, Doom III and Far Cry. The games were all run in 640*480, except for Far Cry which was 800*600. Anti-Aliasing and Antisotropic Filtering are disabled.



Sandra, Everest

Memory Benchmarks

When comparing the Ballistix PC4000 to the PC3500 Gold GX in the EVEREST tests, they come very close. Ballistix has a lower latency, and the Gold GX has higher write speeds. In SANDRA, the Gold GX performs amazingly and beats the Ballistix PC4000. Overall, these are great scores.



Gaming Benchmarks

Gaming Benchmarks

Doom III is benchmarked by running the built-in demo1 demo. It’s run twice, because the first time is always laggy no matter the setup. Far Cry is run at 800*600, because it doesn’t support 640*480. I used the built-in Volcano demo, and took the averages from the log file. Half-Life 2 is benchmarked using a custom C17 demo, and it’s scores are acquired using the HOC Tool.

Apparently it’s games where this memory excels, as should be expected. It performed better than the Ballistix overall here, which is impressive. The Half-Life 2 scores impress me the most, because the performance difference is quite noticeable. The source engine is one that absolutely loves CPU and Memory speed, so it’s not a real surprise that the memory shined here.



Conclusions

My primary complaint about this memory, is the lack of an overclocking ability. As mentioned earlier though, these modules are not designed for much overclocking, but rather low timings and extreme stability. Because of the goals of the memory, the lack of overclocking will not affect the final score.

DDR480 speeds for BH-5 is nothing to cry about, since it’s not that flexible to begin with. If my motherboard didn’t max out at 3.2v, I am confident that I could have taken it to at least DDR500 speeds, with 3.3 – 3.5v. Either way though, DDR480 at 2-2-2-5 timings is great.

In our previous Ballistix reviews, I mentioned about the MemTest errors that they received, even when they seemed completely stable. With those modules, even stock speeds would give me errors in MemTest, but it’s primarily due to a fussy motherboard. I was quite happy to see that I couldn’t even get a single error in MemTest with the Gold GX modules, even when I tried. All the speeds tested were completely MemTest stable. Since these are not very overclockable, loosening timings would halt MemTest before it could do anything. Therefore, I never got to see an error ;)

Because of the extreme stability and great performance of these modules, we are awarding it a 9 out of a possible 10, along with an Editors Choice award. If you are a gamer who doesn’t want to overclock, these may be the modules for you. They offer great performance and stability out of the box, and leave some leeway if you do want to boost the performance a tad.

Thanks to OCZ for allowing us to review the modules! If you have anything you’d like to comment on about the review, please feel free to leave it in our related THREAD. You do not have to register to post, so what’s your excuse? :)

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