Late last month we announced the launch of AMD’s new memory lines, now we have a kit of said ram to review!
The kit we have today is a 2×4 GB kit from their “Entertainment Edition” series. It is officially rated at 1600 MHz with 9-9-9-24 timings at 1.5 V. Not exactly breakneck speeds, but not what I would call “slow” either. Plus being rated at 1.5 V they should run nice and cool, and there is lots of room for overvolting if you feel like overclocking them. We’ll get to that later in this review though, first let’s look at some specifications.
(Courtesy of AMD.com)
Unbuffered DDR3 SDRAM DIMM
|Density||2GB / 4GB / 8GB|
|Package||240-pin socket type dual in line memory module (DIMM) Non ECC buffered|
|Lead-free||RoHS compliant and Halogen-free|
|Data rate MT/s||1333MT/s||1333MT/s / 1600MT/s||1866MT/s|
AMD’s web site seems to have interesting ideas on this subject, the “Entertainment” line isn’t shown to have 1600 MHz sticks. The sticks I have in my hand most definitely say 1600 MHz as well as having “Entertainment” stamped right on them, as you’ll see below. Don’t really know what to make of that, so lets move on. In fact, let’s leave amd.com behind and move over to AIDA64 and see what the SPD tables have to say about the specifications of this RAM. SPD is the method by which the RAM communicates it’s specifications to the memory controller, and the SPD tables are the data that is sent via SPD to the memory controller so it knows how fast to run the RAM.
With the specifications out of the way let’s look at some pictures of the RAM, then we’ll then move onward to actually lighting it off and testing it.
As noted on the sticker, the AMD RAM is actually manufactured by Patriot. This explains how AMD was able to suddenly appear with a full lineup of ram from scratch. I was hoping that AMD was making it themselves just so it might be possible to buy a little embedded computer with an AMD CPU, AMD chipset, AMD onboard GPU, and AMD onboard RAM. Not that they actually make such a thing, but it was a nice concept.
On the other hand, Patriot has a lot of experience in the memory world and makes some very good RAM indeed. It’s hard to fault AMD for choosing Patriot for the OEM of their RAM. In any case, the label is very informative and displays all the information needed to properly set the speed of the RAM. This is a very nice feature, one that some RAM kits lack surprisingly enough. So here is a quick “Thanks!” to AMD for being thorough. Thanks AMD!
Installing RAM is a simple affair, line it up in the slot with the little notch in the RAM on the same side as the small wall in the motherboard’s DIMM socket, push till it clicks, and presto! RAM installed.
Ready for the second plus to this kit? It’s short! Not perhaps as short as some of the memory tested lately, but shorter than the majority of RAM kits these days. The heatspreaders are aluminum (Another thanks! Steel doesn’t conduct heat for beans, it drives me nuts when companies use it for heat spreaders/heatsinks), and do not stick up past the top of the RAM. This means that you should not have any issues with your heatsink running into this RAM. The following picture is the RAM installed under a TRUE, photo taken from the side. There is a solid half inch of room between the bottom of the TRUE and the top of the RAM.
Testing and Overclocking
First, the specs of the test system and the RAM used for comparison:
- Motherboard: Gigabyte 990FXA-UD5.
- CPU: AMD FX-8150 “Bulldozer”.
- RAM: AMD 2×4 GB Entertainment Edition Dual Channel Kit.
- RAM: Adata XPG 2000-9-11-9 kit used for 100% default settings comparison.
- PSU: Cougar SX550w.
- GPU: MSI 4670 Ice-Q
- OS: Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit.
Benchmarks used are SuperPi 32M, MaxxPI2, and AIDA64’s “Speed and Latency” test.
All of the stock clock speed testing was done with the “optimized defaults” loaded in BIOS, and absolutely no BIOS settings changed. This gives a good idea of the settings and performance you will get if you don’t want to, or cannot, set the speed and timings manually. On the left is the AMD Entertainment kit, on the right is the Adata kit.
First, CPUz to display what the BIOS loads for stock settings:
See the difference? The AMD kit actually runs at it’s full rated speed on “optimized defaults”. This is quite rare, I don’t think I have seen it before on kits rated at higher than 1333 MHz. Let’s look at those SPD tables again…
Well now that explains that, this kit has the 800 MHz (1600 MHz DDR speed) as part of the normal SPD table and at 1.5 volts. This means that the BIOS finds it when it reads the table and presto! Full rated speed on default settings. The Adata memory has to use XMP for it’s rated speeds as they are at much higher voltage and cannot be listed in the SPD tables.
This gives the AMD RAM a fairly serious advantage in the benchmarks, as we see below. AMD is again on the left, Adata on the right.
As you can see, AMD putting the full RAM speed in the SPD tables helps a lot. To be fair to Adata if I manually set all the speed/timings their rather more expensive 2000 MHz kit will win as it is much faster. That, however, is not what I am testing here.
Next, I spent some time overclocking the AMD kit, it did 1688 MHz at the stock 9-9-9 timings and the stock 1.5 V, but more than that would fail in SuperPi 32M. A 5% overclock isn’t bad for a budget kit of RAM, RAM is generally “binned” much more closely than CPUs are. Raising the voltage to 1.65 V allowed me to run all the benchmarks at 1800 MHz with 9-9-9 timings, and loosening the timings to 10-10-10 allowed me to run MaxxPI2 at 1866 MHz, but SuperPi 32M failed. Below are the benchmark results from overclocking the AMD Entertainment RAM.
I am actually fairly impressed with how well this kit of RAM overclocked, I did not expect RAM that comes in 4 GB sticks, comes with decently fast speed / timings and costs $22/stick on Newegg to do this well. Generally RAM in this price range doesn’t overclock at all, or very very little.
The only disappointing part of the overclocking section is that even running 1.65 V I could not tighten the timings in the slightest at 1600 MHz, let alone higher. Oh well.
As I said in the first bit of this review I was excited to see what AMD and Patriot have come up with, and now that I have tested it I have to say that they did a good job. 1600 MHz with 9-9-9 timings isn’t staggeringly fast, but it is plenty for an average system, and the price quite literally cannot be beat for this speed. Only two companies have 4 GB sticks rated at this speed and 1.5 V, one of them is Patriot (go figure), and the other I have never heard of before. Neither of them can match the price of the AMD RAM, giving AMD the clear win in the price/performance category. To get any tighter timings requires more voltage and more money, or a lot more money.
The only downside that I ran into is that this RAM doesn’t seem to exist in two stick kits, I cannot find anything but individual sticks of the 1600 MHz Entertainment Edition RAM for sale anywhere. Not really a big deal, but something to be aware of before you drool too much over the $22 price tag! You’ll have to buy two of those $22 kits. At $44 for a 2×4 GB set it is priced right on par with most other 2×4 GB 1600MHz 9-9-9 timing RAM rated at 1.5 V.
Performance testing RAM at identical timings and speed will give results that are identical or nearly identical, hence I tested at the default speeds rather than identical speeds. The fact that the AMD Entertainment kit ran it’s full rated speed right out of the box without touching anything in the BIOS makes me very happy indeed.
To summarize, there are pros:
- Short heat spreaders.
- Decent overclocking room.
- Runs at full speed without touching the BIOS.
In this existence everything has cons, too:
- Doesn’t appear to be sold in any form but single sticks.
Pretty short con list. The con is really sort of odd as I was sent a 2×4 GB stick kit. Maybe AMD is about to release the RAM in kit form, I don’t know. Not listed as a con but being mentioned anyway is the lack of this RAM on AMD’s web site, I don’t know what is going on there, either.
All told, I think AMD and Patriot have done a good job on this set of RAM, earning it an Overclockers.com seal of approval.