For the next memory review, we are looking at a newly launched product from G.SKILL. We have seen over the last few years that DDR4 memory has been dressed up to make them stand out; however, G.SKILL has taken things to a new level. The Trident Z Royal is G.SKILL’s attempt at a high-end, premium RGB memory that is guaranteed to add a luxury element to your next build. There are several different XMP’s available and two different color options, but today we are looking a the DDR4 4000 CL17 kit in silver.
Specifications and Features
Innovative designs and exceptional overclocking prowess are not new phrases to describe G.SKILL, as they have been a leader in the enthusiast memory world for a long time. As you may or may not know, G.SKILL was “Established in 1989 by PC hardware enthusiasts, G.SKILL specializes in high performance memory, SSD products, and gaming peripherals designed for PC gamers and enthusiasts around the world. Combining technical innovation and rock solid quality through our in-house testing lab and talented R&D team, G.SKILL continues to create record-breaking memory for each generation of hardware and hold the no. 1 brand title in overclocking memory.” (source: G.SKILL)
In the table below we examine the particular details of the memory being evaluated today.
|G.SKILL Trident Z Royal Specifications|
|Capacity||16 GB (2×8 GB)|
|Speed Spec||PC4 32000|
|Rated Frequency||DDR4 4000 (2000 MHz)|
|Kit Type||Dual Channel|
|Rated Timings||17-17-17-37 2T|
When purchasing DDR4 memory, the main factors to consider, other than memory size or physical features, are the operating frequency and timings. The XMP is a memory profile stored inside the actual memory, which allows the user to easily apply the rated frequency and timings. This kit of memory comes with a very fast XMP 2.0 profile of 4000MHz with primary timings of CL17-17-17.
For those interested, here is a closer look at the particular details of this kit of memory. Below is a screenshot of Thaiphoon Burner, which is a wonderful free tool that allows one to read the Serial Presence Detect (SPD) firmware of the DRAM. The SPD information is critical in determining how the stick will perform and how the computer will recognize it.
As the Thaiphoon Burner screenshot shows, this specific kit of memory is composed of Samsung B-DIE ICs. Furthermore, to a sharp observer, the rated speed of 4000MHz with CAS 17 is a good indicator that this kit of memory is using B-DIE ICs. This is because the rated speed of 4000MHz with tight timings of CL17-17-17 is practically impossible to achieve with other IC manufacturers, such as Hynix. This memory uses a total of 8 ICs, all of which are located on only one side. As you might know, Samsung B-DIE has become synonymous with high frequency and tight timings.
The packaging is often an overlooked element to a finished product, but it shouldn’t be. The packaging is simply a delivery mechanism to ship the product safely, but it also serves as a preview of what’s to come. We have all opened products with cheaply-made packaging, and whether you think about it or not, we believe that it has an effect on the first impression of the product.
The Trident Z Royal packing is the first indicator that something special lurks below. The overall look is very sleek and professional, consisting of an all-black exterior with a simple slide-off band to hold it together. The lid hinges up to reveal the most eye catching memory you are likely to see. This memory is not purely functional. When you put these sticks in your rig, you are taking a definitive stance on style.
The overall shape might look familiar, because we have seen this same tri-fin design on all of the Trident Z DDR4 models. However, for the Trident Z Royal lineup, they have chosen to feature this memory with highly-polished, all-aluminum heat spreaders. Due to the polished nature of the memory modules, G.SKILL has kindly included a microfiber cloth to wipe away those pesky fingerprints.
The entire top of the memory module is one contiguous plastic light diffuser, which G.SKILL is calling the “crystalline light bar”. This serves the function of softening the light from eight individually selectable RGB LEDs. It also serves the function of adding a premium element to your build with the unique diamond-shaped light bar.
Of the two color options available, we are reviewing the silver variety today. This might be the obvious choice for more computer builders, since it is more of a universal color tone compared to the gold option.
As seen below, the Trident Z Royal puts on a very unique light show. Booting up the system we find that the memory comes from the factory with a pre-programmed, rainbow-like fade effect. Each module cycles through all color options as the color shifts from one end of the stick to the other.
The light show is beautiful right when you plug in the memory. However, this memory features highly programmable RGB LEDs, so you don’t need to keep the stock settings for long. The RGB control software for the Trident Z Royal is free and available for download from their support website. The software is easy to use and setup is a breeze. I commend them for having the courage to produce software which is extremely streamlined and simple, yet highly effective. Within the software, you will find more options than you thought possible. The combinations of lighting configurations are nearly limitless, and the memory changes colors as soon as you hit “Apply”. The software is compatible with all mainstream motherboards.
In the pictures below you can see one of the many possible options which you can set within the software. Here we have both sticks set to a solid, non-blinking color that shifts from one color to another on a slow time delay.
Testing and Overclocking
The overall objective is to evaluate the memory under a variety of different conditions in an effort to evaluate performance for daily life tasks. To accomplish this, we will turn to benchmark programs to examine the performance of the memory and overall system under various conditions. The approach is to first test the Intel XMP profile. Once we have established that the XMP profiles are working on the test system, then the real fun begins as we evaluate the memory from an overclocking perspective.
We will examine the overclocking potential without expressly voiding the warranty due to over-voltage. According to the XMP 2.0 certifications, the absolute maximum allowable voltage is 1.50 V VDDR. Thus, all overclocking endeavors will be conducted with less than 1.50 V. However, later on in this review we will examine what happens if we expressly void the warranty and push this memory to the extreme limits with more than 2.0 V.
Below are the test system and resulting memory speeds that will be used to evaluate the memory and run the benchmarks.
|CPU||Intel i9 9900k@ 5.0 GHz (4.7 GHz Cache)|
|Cooler||Alphacool Eisblock XPX CPU Block with custom water loop|
|Motherboard||ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/AC|
|Graphics Card||ASRock Phantom Gaming X Radeon RX 580|
|Solid State Drive||Team Group L5 LITE 3D SSD|
|Power Supply||Seasonic 1200W Platinum PRIME|
|Operating System||Windows 10 x64|
|Memory Speeds Compared|
|Intel XMP ~ 4000MHz CL17-17-17 1.35 V|
|Test Case 1 ~ 4400MHz CL17-17-17 1.40 V|
|Test Case 2 ~ 4000MHz CL15-15-15 1.40 V|
|Test Case 3 ~ 4500MHz CL16-16-16 1.50 V|
As is the case with all overclocking adventures, your results may vary, so proceed only if you assume all risk. To view and examine all of the various memory profiles we use two primary tools, which include AIDA64 and ASRock Timing Configurator. AIDA64 is a powerful system diagnostic and benchmarking tool that can be purchased for a reasonable price. Next, we will be using the ASRock Timing Configurator, which is a free piece of software that allows users of all major motherboard brands to see the primary, secondary, and tertiary timings which have been applied in the bios.
Below is the XMP profile. This particular kit of memory comes with an XMP profile of 4000MHz CL17-17-17 which is rated at 1.35 V. The manufacturing progress of Samsung B-DIE memory is clearly evident. Just a few years ago this XMP profile would not be possible without the use of higher volts and considerably more relaxed timings.
The improvements in XMP profile speeds are greatly attributed to modern manufacturing processes and memory PCB layouts; however, they might not be attainable on all motherboards. The profile is intended to be a one-click overclock, but it likely only applies to enthusiast-grade motherboards. If you are building a computer based on a budget motherboard, don’t bee surprised if you cannot achieve stability with this XMP.
Memory overclocking is all about pushing the frequency higher and lowering the timings. One hurdle for memory overclocking is the motherboard. The distance between the CPU and the memory modules has a direct relationship with the overclocking potential of the memory. Motherboards with a larger distance between the CPU and the memory will have greatly-reduced overclocking potential compared to motherboards with a shorter distance. Therefore, motherboards with only two dual, in-line memory modules (DIMMs) will have a better likelihood of increased memory overclocking potential than motherboards with four DIMMs, because the distance is inherently shorter.
Once the XMP profile has been successfully tested, we can dive into overclocking. The methodology is to set my maximum working voltage of 1.490 V and see what could be accomplished, and then lower the voltage to find the stability point. The motherboard being used is the ASRock z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX, which is a very reasonably-priced motherboard that has elite level memory overclocking capabilities due to it only having two memory slots.
For the first test case, only the operating frequency was increased with no other settings adjusted. With an incredibly modest voltage increase from 1.35 V to 1.40 V, the frequency was able to be increased by an astonishing 400MHz. Below is the resulting first overclock test case.
For the second overclock test case, the same very small voltage increase of 1.35 V to 1.40 V was used. Contrary to the first test case, this time only the memory timings were decreased to provide an alternative example of what types of overclocks are possible. The operating frequency was held at the XMP 4000MHz, but the primary timings were decreased as far as possible while still maintaining relative stability. Below is the resulting second overclock test case.
For the third, and final overclocking test case, the goal was to achieve the best overclock possible while still staying within the maximum allowable voltage of 1.50 V according to XMP 2.0 specifications. Finding the optimal overclock for a given criteria like voltage is not an exact science and requires a high degree of knowledge, patience, and the right combination of equipment. However, the results can be quite impressive. The resulting overclock was a 500MHz increase in frequency from XMP, with tighter timings as well. Given the test equipment and the voltage constraint, this is a very remarkable overclock.
Benchmark programs allow us to examine the performance gain or loss from making changes to the various computer components such as the CPU, GPU, or memory. In this case, the goal is to remove all variables and examine only the performance change from memory overclocks. To accomplish this, all benchmarks were run with the CPU held at a constant 5 GHz for every benchmark. I will investigate the overclock potential not just because it’s fun, but because it has real-world implications and can help with the productivity of daily tasks.
First up, I used AIDA64 Cache and Memory Benchmark. Specifically speaking, “Memory bandwidth benchmarks (Memory Read, Memory Write, Memory Copy) measure the maximum achievable memory data transfer bandwidth. The code behind these benchmark methods are written in Assembly and they are extremely optimized for every popular AMD, Intel, and VIA processor core variants by utilizing the appropriate x86/x64, x87, MMX, MMX+, 3DNow!, SSE, SSE2, SSE4.1, AVX, AVX2, and AVX-512 instruction set extension.” (source: www.aida64.com)
In the graph below, it is clearly visible that each of the four different memory speeds we compared had a noticeable improvement in the benchmark result. As the frequency goes up, or the latency becomes faster, the resulting score has a nearly linear progression of performance. However, an interesting trend has also developed. Overclock test case 2, 4000 CL15, shows a very slight gain in performance compared to the other test cases.
Next up is Geekbench 3, and it has proven itself to be an excellent tool for determining the real-world performance of the system being tested. This type of benchmark is purely 2D calculation-based and there is no graphical processing element, so it’s a great analytical tool to evaluate memory performance. Specifically speaking, “Geekbench 3 features new tests designed to simulate real-world scenarios. This helps make Geekbench an invaluable tool to determine how your current computer (or your next computer) will handle your tasks and applications.” (source: www.geekbench.com)
Below, it can be observed that the overclock test cases show a noticeable improvement in performance for the memory tests. The overall system tests, such as multi core and single core, show very small gains in performance. The small gains in performance are expected as the first two tests are primarily CPU-based and only mildly influenced by memory. As with the first benchmark example, it can be observed that overclock test case two was relatively ineffective at increasing performance, irregardless of the fact that the timings are substantially tighter.
The next benchmarks are Intel XTU and Hwbot x265. These benchmarks are being used, because they have been known to yield noticeable improvements in the overall score from memory overclocking. More specifically, “HWBOT x265 Benchmark is based on the open source x265 encoder. It can take advantage of modern CPUs instruction sets, and multithread support is also very good. However, this benchmarks is also capable of running even on old processors, such as the AMD Athlon or Intel Pentium III. Of course, on the legacy hardware, the encoding time is rather long. There are two presets available – 1080p and 4k. The main goal of both of them is to convert H264 source video to H265/HEVC and measure average fps.” (source: hw-museum.cz)
By looking at the four memory speeds compared in the graph below, it’s clear to see that memory overclocking has a small overall effect on the total system performance. Interestingly, for the XTU results, all of the overclock test cases showed a noticeable improvement.
The next benchmarks we will examine are ones centered around 3D rendering and games. The Futuremark 3D Mark suite of benchmarks is a real-time graphical rendering benchmark that also contains an element of memory and CPU testing. For each of the benchmarks from Fire Strike to Time Spy, we will only examine the CPU/memory testing portion and disregard the graphical test elements.
In the graph below we observe that the performance increase from memory overclocking is small. It is very interesting that overclock test case 2 actually performs worse in both benchmarks. The difference is less than 1/4%; however, it’s clear that the 3DMark benchmark suite prefers high frequency to tight timings, as timings can actually have a detrimental effect.
Many people within the competitive overclock community run very tight timings with high frequency to increase benchmark performance. Here we take a look at what can be accomplished by voiding the warranty and taking overclocking to an extreme level. With potentially destructive voltages of 2.10+ V, the memory comes alive and allows truly astonishing timings and frequency. The gold standard for Samsung B-DIE within the extreme overclock community has been 4000MHz with CL12. However, with new B-DIE ICs on the standards are changing.
Here we have the maximum passing frequency of 4216MHz that could be accomplished in Geekbench3 using CL12-12-12 timings. The secondary and tertiary timings are also considerably tighter when compared to XMP. There was no form of exotic cooling used for this result.
With considerable risk of damaging the memory and voiding the warranty, you might be asking yourself if it’s worth it. In the graph below, we can see a gain of up to 25% for the memory score and a gain of 16% for the multicore score. For daily tasks and even moderately-competitive benchmarking, the risk may not be worth the reward.
Our overall experience with the Trident Z Royal memory is very positive. While it may not be for everyone’s taste or suited to all build designs, this memory clearly has an unprecedented visual appearance. The integration of their unique ‘crystalline light bar’, ultra high polished aluminum heat spreaders, and eight individually addressable RGB LED’s make the memory sticks really stand out. The addition of a high-end box, microfiber cloth, and G.SKILL sticker round out the package to make this a nice unboxing experience.
In this review, we showed three possible potential overclocks that could be easily accomplished. Beyond what was seen here, the possibilities for overclocking are very open and flexible. While overclocking the system memory is not for everyone, rest assured that it’s not only possible, but also quite easy with this kit of memory. On the extreme overclocking end of things, we estimate that less than 1% of the results ever posted on Hwbot or elsewhere can reach or exceed speeds of 4200 CL12 that this memory accomplished without the use of exotic cooling.
We have shown that the Trident Z Royal provides exceptional overclocking capabilities with unparalleled style. The upsides to this memory are certainly plentiful, but it does not come without a very considerable downside. While we do not have pricing information for this particular kit at the moment, by looking at retail prices we can see that Trident Z Royal kits are about 30% more expensive compared to regular Trident Z or Ripjaws V of the same XMP rating. This kit has style and speed, but those attributes don’t come without a hefty price tag.
David Miller – mllrkllr88