G.Skill TridentX 8GB DDR3-2933 Memory Kit Review

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Today we’re going to have a look at an insanely-spec’ed memory kit, G.Skill’s high frequency, 2×4 GB DDR3-2933 TridentX kit. It is designed for one thing – hitting extremely high frequencies on the Intel Haswell platform. Of course, people looking to buy such a kit want to know how it performs too, so we’ll look at that for you as well.

Specifications & Product Tour

This kit is rated for DDR3-2933 with loose(r) timings of 12-14-14-35-2N. However, it’s one of those crazy kits that can do that kind of frequency at only 1.65 V, which is impressive in itself. The specifications were pulled from G.Skill’s product page.

Series TridentX
Memory Type DDR3
Capacity 8 GB (4 GB x 2)
Multi-Channel Kit Dual Channel Kit
Tested Speed 2933 MHz
Tested Latency 12-14-14-35-2N
Tested Voltage 1.65 V
Registered/Unbuffered Unbuffered
Error Checking Non-ECC
SPD Speed 1333 MHz
SPD Voltage 1.50 V
Fan Included Yes
Heat Spreader
Features Intel XMP (Extreme Memory Profile) Ready
Height 54 mm / 2.13 inch
Warranty Lifetime

Like all high-performance G.Skill memory that comes with a fan, the packaging is a rather nondescript cardboard box with a sticker for the memory specs and one denoting for which chipset the kit was designed. While they always put that sticker on there, remember that they will work just as well on any platform, but other platforms may not be able to run them to spec – especially ones rated for this kind of frequency.

TridentX DDR3-2933 Box

TridentX DDR3-2933 Box

Box Opened

Box Opened

Specs & Model Number

Specs & Model Number

The included fan is your standard G.Skill fare, with two 50 mm fans mounted into a metal cage. I wish they’d ditch the MOLEX connector and go for a 3-pin fan header so you could plug it right into the motherboard. That would help with wire management.

G.Skill Fan

G.Skill Fan

Fan Specs

Fan Specs

Another Fan Angle

Another Fan Angle

Here are the sticks themselves, which are the tried and true TridentX heatspreader design. That top fin does come off if you have an air cooler that extends a bit too far over your memory slots.

G.Skill TridentX DDR3-2933 Kit

G.Skill TridentX DDR3-2933 Kit

G.Skill TridentX DDR3-2933 Kit

G.Skill TridentX DDR3-2933 Kit

G.Skill TridentX DDR3-2933 Kit

G.Skill TridentX DDR3-2933 Kit

These are different than past kits in that they’re single-sided 4 GB modules. While I’ve agreed not to pull the heatspreaders off of G.Skill RAM and photograph the ICs, if you know anything about high frequency, single-sided RAM from any manufacturer, you’ll know right off the bat these are Hynix MFR ICs.

Single-Sided Sticks

Single-Sided Sticks

What’s that? You want a few more photos? Ok!

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G.Skill TridentX DDR3-2933 Kit

G.Skill TridentX DDR3-2933 Kit

Good looks and very high frequency; so far so good!

Test System

Our test system is a Haswell-based machine using an i7 4770K and a very strong memory clocking board, the ASUS Maximus VI Extreme.

CPU i7 4770K
MB ASUS Maximus VI Extreme
RAM G.Skill TridentX DDR3-2600 10-12-12-31
G.Skill TridentX DDR3-2933 12-14-14-35
OS Windows 7 Professional x64

The ROG red and black sure pairs well with TridentX sticks.

G.Skill TridentX DDR3-2933 Running

G.Skill TridentX DDR3-2933 Running

Stability at Rated Speed

The first thing we need to do is make sure these sticks work as advertised. I put the CPU at stock, set the XMP profile, set VCCSA (System Agent Voltage) at 1.25 V and booted into our tester kindly provided by UltraX, the UltraX R.S.T. Pro. In this case, our PCIe tester was down so I used the conveniently supplied USB tester. Both of them perform the same intense testing. As you can see, five passes passed over four hours of hammering on the RAM. The sticks were nice and toasty when finished, even with a fan blowing over them.

DDR3-2933 R.S.T. Pro Stable

DDR3-2933 R.S.T. Pro Stable

Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t test in-OS too. The kit passed HyperPi 32M testing without complaint.

DDR3-2933 HyperPi Stable

DDR3-2933 HyperPi Stable

With stability out of the way, let’s see how this kit performs.

Performance

First, the methodology. All benchmarks here on both of the kits tested were run three times with the results averaged. There is a third set of results that were run once. This kit was underclocked and the primary timings were tightened to see how much of a difference it would make. They did so admirably, running at DDR3-2800 with timings of 11-13-12-28. The rest of the timings remained at XMP. All results are graphed relative to this kit’s performance. The DDR3-2933 TridentX kit is always 100% and the other tested configurations go over or under that, depending on whether they perform better or worse, respectively.

Now we’re where the rubber meets the road and when I got this kit, the extremely high frequency actually worried me, as it should be worrying those of you that care about more than RAM frequency. Timings are almost always sacrificed when raising frequency. Often the main four timings aren’t the only thing sacrificed; secondary and tertiary timings invisible to the end-user (when running XMP) also play a role. Indeed that was the case here.

When graphing the results I noticed that in many cases, this kit was out-performed by the much less expensive DDR3-2600 TridentX kit. So I wanted to see if lowering the speed and cranking down the timings would help. Thus, I lowered the speed to DDR3-2800 and was able to lower the four main timings as noted. I left the rest of the kit running at XMP. At that speed & timings, the results should have gotten close to mirroring the DDR3-2600 kit, and in some places it did, but for the most part the DDR3-2600 kit won out again. The only reasonable explanation is that the secondary and tertiary timing sacrifices necessary to run this kit at such high speed were too much to help performance.

You can peruse the benchmarks yourself and I won’t put too much text in between them. The takeaway is that this kit is out-performed by a cheaper TridentX DDR3-2600 kit.

Synthetic Testing

AIDA is going to show the largest difference between the competing kits; synthetic tests always do. Here you can see the DDR3-2933 results just get trounced across the board, especially in write & copy speeds. reducing the speed & tightening the timings did help a lot though.

AIDA64 Memory Tests

AIDA64 Memory Tests

Compression, Video Conversion and Rendering

Real world tests always show very little variation between RAM speeds. Where you’ll see the biggest difference between kits of memory are in synthetic testing and SuperPi benchmarking. Thus, there is a very small difference between these kits here. However, in four out of the six tests run, the DDR3-2600 kit comes out ahead. It’s only slightly ahead, but it was a consistent increase over the DDR3-2933 kit, with the exceptions of Cinebench R10 and PoV Ray 3.7.

7-Zip & x264 Benchmark

7-Zip & x264 Benchmark

Cinebench R10, Cinebench R11.5 and PoV Ray 3.7

Cinebench R10, Cinebench R11.5 and PoV Ray 3.7

Benchmarking

Last but not least, we’ll check out SuperPi and WPrime for the benchmarking crowd. With the exception of WPrime 1024M, which showed the DDR3-2933 kit just ediging out the DDR3-2600 kit, the latter kit wins the benchmarking brawl. The most important metric here by far is SuperPi 32M and the DDR3-2933 kit lost by nearly five seconds, which is big in the benchmarking realm.

SuperPi 1M & 32M and WPrime 32M & 1024M

SuperPi 1M & 32M and WPrime 32M & 1024M

Overclocking

So performance is not necessarily this kit’s bag. I emailed G.Skill with my results and basically gave them nearly the same conclusion I’ll be giving you here. They would agree that this kit’s purpose isn’t to necessarily perform better – it’s to have FUN with when overclocking memory.

The first thing I did was see if it could run DDR3-3000 without issue. Indeed it did, no problem. No effort, no voltage changes, just bumping up.

Running DDR3-3000

Running DDR3-3000

SuperPi 32M took a little more voltage to stabilize at DDR3-3000, but it did with 1.7 V applied to the RAM. Not too bad so far.

DDR3-3000 SuperPi 32M Stable

DDR3-3000 SuperPi 32M Stable

Then I started working the kit for what it’s made for – raw frequency. Before figuring out how to really clock RAM and with two sticks in, the kit seemed to stop at DDR3-3071 at 1.75 V.

DDR3-3071 Validated

DDR3-3071 Validated

So I went to work on actually clocking the RAM. First I pulled one of the sticks and went with a single stick in DIMM 1 on the board (the one closest to the CPU socket). Then I quit being a wuss and threw 1.85 V (in gradual increments) at it. That was how, with a little trial and error, I was able to clock this kit to a phenomenal DDR3-3330 with the CPU on water and the memory on air.

DDR3-3330 Validated

DDR3-3330 Validated

Let me say that again – this is air cooled memory reaching DDR3-3330. Wow. For those that like more proof, here’s the validation.

Final Thoughts & Conclusion

As usual, bleeding edge, high frequency memory isn’t cheap. Thankfully memory prices have dropped a little bit recently and the 8 GB G.Skill TridentX DDR3-2933 kit has come down to $369.99 shipped at Newegg. To state the obvious, that is a lot of money for a kit of memory. It’s not as much as some DDR3-3000 kits on the market – G.Skill’s is $799.99 and Corsair’s is $749.99 but out of stock.

Performance has been the elephant in the room in this review, so let’s drag that elephant right out front & center (as if you couldn’t see it before). This kit is out-performed by its little brother. The 8 GB G.Skill TridentX DDR3-2600 kit used for comparison here is $139.99 on Newegg. That’s 37.8% of the price of this DDR3-2933 kit. Not nearly 40% less than the price of the kit being reviewed, it’s under 40% of its price. Oh, and it performs better. So for anyone out there that wants memory currently on the market for performance, go for that kit. G.Skill will be happy; they’ll still be getting your money, just not as much of it.

That’s not the whole story though. For a subset of a subset of overclockers that really enjoy memory overclocking (of which yours truly is one), this kit is tailor made for you. If you find yourself in that subset that is willing to spend a good sum of money purely for the fun of overclocking your memory to DDR3-3000 and beyond – well beyond – this kit has your name written all over it. Believe me it is A. Lot. Of. Fun. Fun in spades. This is a memory geek’s dream at half the price of those DDR3-3000 kits.

For the rest of you, those that value performance over frequency numbers, have a look at the frequencies this kit can achieve. Then say “Ooohh” and “Aaaahhh”. Then go buy a cheaper kit.

Because this kit does what it says it will do and it can overclock to the moon – with regard to frequency only – as designed, I will not give it a “meh.” However, because it fails to do the one thing that higher-priced, higher-spec’ed memory should do – out-perform its cheaper-by-a-long-shot little brother – it doesn’t get to be Overclockers Approved either.

Sorry G.Skill – and all the other manufacturers putting out these crazy high frequency Hynix MFR kits like Corsair, Avexir, Adata, etc – you’ve got to bring the performance to go with the MHz. Without it, your kit is dead in the water aside from those that are either really into memory overclocking (see: subset of a subset) or those that are compensating for something else.

– Jeremy Vaughan (hokiealumnus)

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Discussion
  1. Awesome review as always Hokie:thup:

    Just want to share my test here with same kit on air/cpu on H20 @ 3500

    Will try for 3600+



    Nice; thanks for sharing that.

    The best part about it is that Massman talked to G.Skill and they actually gained respect for us thanks to this review. When you can give a company a less than glowing review and they respect you for it, that is a company that's worthy of respect.
    You hit the HWBot frontpage Hokie! Here's the forum thread for said frontpage post: http://forum.hwbot.org/showthread.php?p=255969#post255969
    EarthDog


    At the risk of opening a can of worms, what do you mean by 'not balanced well'??


    Balanced means that the timing is good at the same time and not MHz only. For example when running games the reality is that the best RAMs are the ones with a good balance and not the ones with super timings or super clocks. Thats why the 2600 kit can beat the other 2 but i didnt actually see the timings on the graph (1 kit only, would make stuff easyer visible when all timings revealed directly). But that counts for almost any program. Of course there is nearly endless things able to test but the only stuff truly able to create visible or feelable improvements is usualy the synthetic stuff. Sure i mean when some benchers using Aida 64 and then pushing everything to the "absolute max" in order to compete... why not, but the users doing so are probably in the one thousandth of a percent range.

    Of course, i do understand the "intended" use, its simply for benchers who enjoy every percent at all cost. Well i mean, i do understand when people feel proud about theyr peformance "achievements" but some stuff is simply not any practical at all, not even to benchers. Its just not my world but what matters most is simply to respect it, i try hard doing so.

    For sure, im thankful for all the stuff i was able to learn while browsing those forum, i got my "practical use" already.
    Ivy
    What market?


    hokiealumnus
    This kit is solely for people that enjoy clocking memory and want to have fun with it. Anybody else needs to get a cheaper kit; this would be a bad investment for them.


    Let me translate for you Ivy: You guys agree with each other, essentially.

    These speeds are not meant for the average joe user like you and 99% of others. But for people that benchmark and push the limits. His conclusion said that and his post above said that as well. :)

    At the risk of opening a can of worms, what do you mean by 'not balanced well'??
    What market? They got insane clocks but barely able to perform better with almost any of the "real programs", its like buying a super fast car and then having to limit the speed by the road signs. The problem is that the processors are limiting the performance unless we use some "memory-only" synthetic benches with almost any focus on RAM but its not realistic. Oh well, i dont need to understand because im probably a person with to much practical mentality. At least Overclockers wasnt making it a "recommended" deal because it would exclude 99% of the people.

    But no matter what, those RAMs are a (put word inside, i dunno what to say) because not balanced well, in almost any task, even synthetic ones, a balanced one owns the machine.
    +1 to Woomack's post. Ivy, you're not the intended market. This kit is solely for people that enjoy clocking memory and want to have fun with it. Anybody else needs to get a cheaper kit; this would be a bad investment for them.
    Nah, i wouldnt even buy it in term i got 1 million dollar. Because a good timed 2400 stick owns more than that for my needs. But its always waste of bucks i feel, the CPU is limiting the effective RAM performance and Aida 64 is truly awesome but i got something more funny to do than that. :) The only useful program making some visible use of those RAM speed is probably 7 Zip but the difference is in the few % range, not serious enough in order to make me invest into those "cherry pick" RAMs.
    Availability of so high clocked memory is usually limited. In countries where almost no one is buying stuff like that ( look Poland :D ) it's almost impossible to buy anything from the top lines.

    Look at Corsair, prices are sometimes much higher and some kits are available only as an order directly in their office.

    These highest series are good marketing tool. They're award winners, something to show that they're the best ... most clients see it and grab some lower kits from the same series.

    You rarely see reviews of standard products but most being sold are actually these cheapest series.

    Highest series are overpriced but for small % of all users it's still worth it. Limited quantity also makes price higher as dedicated group of employees have to work on this product and additionally test it. Lower sales but higher profit from each stick. On the other hand you pay more to be sure that you get best product for your needs.

    Memory like that can't be recommended for every user as it's not meant to be used by regular user.
    Thats true, but the question is the "why", finally its not free of cost releasing such product. Guess still worth it in term its "overpriced".