Specifications and Features
Around May 2019, Samsung announced that it’s incredibly popular B-Die 8 Gb memory chips will be discontinued. However, that didn’t stop companies like G.Skill from buying up huge quantities and offering amazing kits like the one we’re testing today. That’s right, not only is this a dual-rank kit that natively increases performance as well as capacity, but it’s composed of Samsung B-Die ICs for incredible overclocking headroom.
Today’s review is part of G.Skill’s new high-performance, low-latency memory series. The new lineup of ultra-fast memory consists of two main options: 4000 CL16 (2 x 16 GB) and 4400 CL16 (2 x 8 GB). Both of the kits are available across the Trident Z Royal, Trident Z RGB, and Ripjaws V series. These new memory specifications provide increased efficiency with low latency at exceptionally high-frequency speeds. That makes a total of 6 different specifications, all of which feature Samsung B-Die ICs. It’s worth mentioning that G.Skill also introduced a few other kits with the same tight CL16 timings, but with reduced frequencies.
G.Skill is known as one of the worlds leading providers for memory geared toward enthusiasts and overclockers. As of this review, they are the only ones to offer memory kits with such aggressive timings and high frequency. The reason they can offer memory with impressive specifications is because of their memory IC screening process. G.Skill claims the memory ICs are hand-screened, where they cherry-pick the best ICs for kits such as these. As such, we are not surprised to see a fairly strong price tag of $319.99 for the 32 GB 4000 CL16, and $229.99 for the 16 GB 4400 CL16. Those prices are for the Trident Z Royal series, but if you’re looking to save a few dollars there are the other two options we mentioned above.
In the table below are the specifications of our test kit:
|G.Skill Trident Z Royal Series
|32 GB (2 x 16 GB)
|288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM
|DDR4 4000 (PC4 32000)
|Intel XMP 2.0
|Dual Channel Kit
|Date First Available
|September 08, 2020
|Trident Z Lighting Control Software
Below is a screenshot of Thaiphoon Burner, a free tool that allows users 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 out of the box.
As the screenshot shows, this specific kit of memory is composed of Samsung B-Die ICs arranged in a dual-rank configuration. This refers to the fact that there are ICs located on both sides of the PCB. In the case of our 16 GB module, there are 8 on each side for a total of 16 x 1 GB ICs. The SPD read also shows us that this PCB is running the B1 layout, which we confirmed with a physical inspection.
DDR4 PCBs are broken down into three major layout designs. The older design, called A0, has the ICs spaced out evenly on the PCB and can limit the maximum frequency achievable. The newer A1 and A2 designs (which are effectively the same) place the ICs closer together and closer to the PCB connection edge. The A2-style PCB has become the new unofficial industry standard because it allows for higher frequencies and generally better compatibility. As a result, motherboard manufacturers are now routing memory traces to coincide with the IC placement on A2-style PCBs.
Our review sample memory utilizes the modern B1-style PCB layout, which is similar to the A1/A2 style but carries the ‘B’ to signify a dual-rank format. For testing today we will use the ASRock Z490 AQUA, which has been specifically optimized for A2-style memory PCBs, so we should have the optimal configuration for testing today.
Packaging and Product Tour
As the ‘Royal’ name suggests, this memory is intended to be a premium product. It should go without saying that we’d expect a premium unboxing experience to match the name. The overall look of the packaging 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 Trident Z Royal candy hiding below for an all-around excellent unboxing experience.
Meet the Trident Z Royal
The light diffuser has been designed for maximum light refraction, even when placed in low-light conditions. 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.
Complementing the patented high-class light bar is a polished aluminum heat spreader made with the award-winning classic Trident Z tri-fin design. With the inherently limited design real-estate of a DRAM module, G.Skill has managed to pack in an incredible amount of style and flair for your next build.
The module has a height of 44 mm / 1.79 inches and a weight of 8.5 ounces. The height is a concern for some low-profile coolers, but it should be compatible with most normal mainstream ones.
Trident Z Royal Illumination
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.
Whether or not you appreciate RGB lighting in your computer, we feel most people agree, the lighting and overall result is stunning. Depending on the lightning, there were some mild hot spots that could be seen from the LEDs.
The light show is striking 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 for free. The Trident Z Lighting Control software is designed to work independently of any motherboard control software. It works with all major motherboard brands including Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, and ASRock.
We tested the RGB functionality with ASRock Polychrome Sync and Trident Z Lighting Control software. Both control methods effortlessly communicated with the Trident Z Royal memory modules and allowed us to control the light show.
Software download: Trident Z Lighting Control Software
Software download: ASRock Polychrome Sync
Testing and Overclocking
If and when the XMP profile has been established to be stable, we will evaluate the memory from an overclocking perspective. We want to see what this memory can do, but without hurting it. Therefore, we will stick to what could be classified as 24/7 stable daily memory voltages. 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 no more than 1.50 V.
Below is the test system and resulting memory speeds that will be used to evaluate the memory and run the various benchmarks.
|Intel Core i9-10900K 10-Core
|Corsair H115i RGB PRO XT
|ASRock Z490 AQUA OC
|EVGA RTX 2080 Ti Kingpin Edition
|Solid State Drive
|T-Foce CARDEA Liquid 1 TB
|EVGA Supernova 1600W P2 80 Plus Platinum
|Windows 10 x64 V1909
|Memory Speeds Compared
|XMP Profile ~ 4000 MHz CL16-19-19 + Auto Sub Timings @ 1.40 V
|Overclock 1 ~ 3800 MHz CL14-16-16 + Improved Sub Timings @ 1.45V
|Overclock 2 ~ 4000 MHz CL15-16-16 + Improved Sub Timings @ 1.45V
|Overclock 3 ~ 4266 MHz CL17-18-18 + Improved Sub Timings @ 1.50V
XMP Profile ~ 4000 MHz CL16-19-19 + Auto Sub Timings @ 1.40 V
Although the Z490 AQUA has been expressly verified to work with this memory, there is no guarantee that the XMP profile will work. However, despite the impressive speed and latency rating for 2 x 16 GB, we’re happy to report that we had absolutely no trouble with the XMP profile. With all of the bios settings on auto, we were able to simply boot the XMP profile without any tweaking needed.
The XMP profile proved to be incredibly stable too. We never once crashed from the OS even after a few hours of hard testing. Below are the resulting AIDA64 test bench result and the XMP profile timings.
Overclock 1 ~ 3800 MHz CL14-16-16 + Improved Sub Timings @ 1.45V
For the AMD X570 series platform, many gamers and enthusiasts choose to run MCLK and UCLK in lockstep 1:1 ratios. Depending on the fabric overclocking quality this means they end up running between 3600 and 4000 MHz for the DDR4 memory. Because of this, we thought it’d be worthwhile to investigate what type of memory overclock could be accomplished in that frequency range. Obviously overclocking on an AMD platform would be different, but in general, we have found the limits to be about the same, so it’s a worthwhile test.
We ended up with a very impressive 3800 MHz CL14-16-16 with just 1.45 V. This is the type of result we’d expect from a good-bin 16 GB B-Die kit, but not a 32 GB one. We didn’t stop there, to make sure efficiency would be good, we spent some time and created a good working profile for secondary and tertiary timings as well.
Overclock 2 ~ 4000 MHz CL15-16-16 + Improved Sub Timings @ 1.45V
Next, we thought it would be interesting to keep the XMP profile frequency of 4000 MHz and tweak the timings to be more efficient. Again, we managed a very impressive overclock of 4000 MHz CL15-16-16 with just 1.45 V.
Overclock 3 ~ 4266 MHz CL17-18-18 + Improved Sub Timings @ 1.50V
For the third and final overclocking attempt we wanted to see what the maximum frequency would be without sacrificing timings too much to do so. Unfortunately, we hit a wall pretty quickly. Our test kit performed incredibly well up to about 4000 MHz, however, after that they proved to be difficult. We only managed 4266 CL17-18-18 with 1.50 V. We know the dual-rank kits overclock differently than single rank ones, but given the first two results, we expected to see about 4400 CL17 from this kit.
First up is AIDA64, perhaps the most common benchmark used to assess memory performance. When it comes to AIDA64, frequency is the most important factor for producing the best score, but as we proved here, it’s not the only factor. We managed to increase the score beyond XMP in every case, even with dropping the frequency by 200 MHz. Our overclocked profile of 4266 CL17 performed excellently and proved to be an average of 11.7% faster than the XMP profile.
Next, we used Geekbench 4 to test our memory profiles. It’s one of the best synthetic benchmarks at predicting the ‘real-world’ performance. This benchmark utilizes 25 unique sub-benchmarks of varying complexity and then collates them to create an overall picture of performance.
Focusing on the total score, we see that the ‘real world’ benchmark results look similar to AIDA64, but with a bigger emphasis on timings. The results here are very interesting to us because it shows a trend we haven’t seen before. Typically, we see fairly substantial gains in performance from overclocking, but looking at the total our best result is only about 4.5% faster than the XMP.
We’d like to present a theory as to why the performance increase is relatively small here. As we mentioned before, dual-rank kits are inherently faster than single-rank, so we feel that Geekbench 4 has reached a plateau for scoring potential. Because the kit is already blistering fast, overclocking the memory just doesn’t yield huge results in this bench with this memory configuration.
Lastly, we examined the performance using a few of the memory benchmark tests offered within the SiSoftware Sandra suite. The flagship product, known as Sandra, is a powerful suite of many different benchmarks used to evaluate the computer performance of all major components, including the processor, graphics, memory, and disk.
So we’ve seen how the memory compares against itself when overclocked, but how does it compare against other XMP profiles on the market today? In this section, we exclude all overclocking results and use only XMP profiles for comparison against different brands.
Recall above that we claimed AIDA64 scales the most with frequency, and not as much with kit density or timings, here is the proof. Simply put, nothing beats the D50 EXTREME kit because it comes with an XMP rating of 5000cl19. Our G.Skill test kit did show a surprising result in the copy test, this clearly takes advantage of the faster interleaving from dual-rank, but in the end, it was no match for raw frequency. We’d also like to point out that the XMP 5000 profile shown in the graphs here is incredibly loose, with some of the slowest timings our motherboard would allow.
The Geekbench 4 comparison shows the magic of this kit. As we’ve been talking about this whole time, faster interleaving from dual rank equates to faster performance. That statement is proven nicely with the total score result.
Here we observed a more than 8% increase in the score ahead of the 2nd place kit. Performance is always subjective because it depends greatly on how you measure it. But when it comes to Geekbench 4, our test kit completely trounced the competition. It’s for this reason that overclockers and gamers have flocked to dual-rank kits because you not only get more memory but also increased performance.
Extreme Overclocking with AMD X570
Certain benchmark programs, such as Super Pi, have a direct relationship between memory overclocking and the overall score. For competitive overclockers, memory overclocking is critical for the overall score. Here we take a look at what can be accomplished by taking overclocking to an extreme level. With unlimited voltage, the memory comes alive and allows for truly astonishing timings and frequency.
Because we used the Intel Z490 platform for the main review testing, we thought it would be fun to test this memory out with our trusty ASRock X570 Taichi. We managed a mind-boggling overclock of 4000 MHz with CL12-12-12 timings at 1.91 V DIMM. The secondary and tertiary timings are also exceptionally tighter when compared to XMP. Our kit of memory has truly exceptional overclocking capabilities up to 4000 MHz. However, similar to our results with Z490, we did experience difficulties reaching high frequencies.
We’ve reviewed the Trident Z Royal back when they were first introduced and the design really impressed us back then. Fast forward to current times and the now-iconic Royals can be seen in just about every high-end computer out there, but they are not any less special because of that. The unboxing experience is excellent and they make a big impression with a polished aluminum heat sink and crystalline light bar. Although we do still love the Royals, we’d like to see some new heat sink and RGB designs from G.Skill. It’s changed slightly from the original, but effectively the Royal is running the same Trident Z tri-fin design that dates back to 2015.
In terms of performance, the new XMP profile of 4000 CL16-19-19 proved to be exceptionally fast in all of our tests. In recent years, we’ve seen the need for more system memory as games and applications are optimized to utilize more than the typical 16GB kit. G.Skill’s answer to the growing demand for system memory is nothing less than we expected from the company. It’s an extremely overclockable kit of memory with amazing performance, which is exactly what G.Skill is known for. The dual-rank PCB is not just a sales gimmick, we observed an impressive 8% performance increase compared to the best single-rank kits in Geekbench 4. Overclocking results can be very subjective, but we were amazed by the potential at 4000 MHz or less. However, our particular kit didn’t scale well above 4000 MHz and we didn’t hit the high-frequency numbers we had hoped for.
These sticks are ideal for overclocking due to the hand-screened Samsung B-Die ICs. You can rest easy at night because they’re backed by G.SKill’s lifetime warranty. The Trident Z Royals exceeded our performance expectations, but how does the $319.99 price point stack up against other 32 GB kits? There literally isn’t anything on the market that directly compares to this in terms of XMP profile, but you can find 2 x 16 GB of 4000 MHz memory for as low as $160 on Newegg. While that budget option is not equipped with Samsung B-Die (nor CL16 ratings), Corsair’s Dominator Platinum RGB is running Samsung, but it’s priced over $400 for the 2 x 16 GB 4000 MHz CL19 kit. Given the reasonable price point, exceptional performance, and iconic design, we feel this new Royal is a slam dunk for PC enthusiasts and overclockers.
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David Miller – mllrkllr88