It’s not every day that we see a new offering in the performance DDR4 arena, but today is one of those days. On the test bench is the OCPC X3TREME RGB AURA 4000 MHz memory kit. This memory seemingly has it all with a high XMP rating, RGB lighting, and sleek black design. But how does it overclock compared to the others in its class and what are its primary strengths within the modern DDR4 lineup? Today we are going to answer those questions so follow along as we give you a tour of this memory, its features, and overclocking capabilities.
Specifications and Features
You may not be familiar with them, but OCPC is a USA based company which has been offering memory and storage solutions since 2007. Unlike many other memory products we review, this memory is not currently available on retail sites like Newegg.com or Amazon.com. The only way to purchase OCPC memory modules is through a verified reseller. At the time of this review, the only seller North America is VISIONTEK PRODUCTS, LLC., which is where our sample shipped from.
OCPC offers up a multitude of memory configurations in its X3TREME RGB line. All of the memory modules are 8 GB, and are offered in kits of 2 for a total of 16 GB. The flagship kit within the X3TREME RGB line is their 4000 MHz kit which is rated to run at CL19-25-25. Starting with frequencies as low as the 2666 MHz set, there are a total of 9 different kit options to choose from. For those looking to add an artistic element to their system, OCPC offers a 3600 MHz limited edition kit with a highly stylized heat sink.
In the table below we examine the particular details of the memory being evaluated today.
|OCPC X3TREME RGB AURA 4000|
|Capacity||16GB (2 x 8GB)|
|Speed Spec||PC4 32000|
|Rated Frequency||DDR4 2000MHz (4000MHz Effective)|
|Kit Type||Dual Channel|
|Pricing||Pricing not available|
When purchasing DDR4 memory the main factors to consider, other than memory size or physical features, are the operating frequency and timings. 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 has a very high-performance XMP profile of 4000 CL19-25-25-44. The rating is high enough that many users might have compatibility issues with certain motherboards. The midrange and budget motherboards often have issues above 3600 MHz, so that should be a factor to consider when purchasing memory.
For those interested, here is a closer look at the particular details of this kit. 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 IC’s. 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.
Memory modules don’t come with a box full of accessories such as motherboards do for example. It’s for this reason that the box and packaging that the memory comes in usually gets discarded instantly as there is no need to keep it. However, we feel that the packaging is still an important aspect of the product. On the lower end of the spectrum for memory packaging, we see a basic clamshell without a box. Contrarily, the high-end packaging we often find a full box with die-cut foam inserts to house the memory safely. The packaging of the OCPC X3TREME RGB AURA falls right about in the middle of the gamut in terms of package quality.
Interestingly, the box itself didn’t give us any information about the rated speed. Often times we see a generic box to which the manufacturer applies a sticker that lets us know product details such as XMP, but in this case, we have none of that. Opening the full-color box we find a basic plastic clamshell to securely house the memory.
Once out of the packaging, we are pleasantly surprised by the overall feel in the hand. The side heat sinks are perhaps thinner than other modules in this same category, however, they don’t feel cheap or weak. The overall design is very simplistic and lends itself nicely to let the RGB lighting stand out. In many cases, the memory modules don’t actually heat up to a noticeable degree, so the thin heat sinks are effectively there for style only.
To start things off, OCPC has chosen a very simple color scheme and we applaud them for this choice. The all-matte, black and gray finish is the perfect color scheme to blend in with most builds. The flat nature of the paint/coating ensures that the RGB will not have a mirror effect.
A very streamlined and simplistic light diffuser sits on top of the memory module. The ends are covered up and the brand name “OCPC” is printed on top, but otherwise, the light diffuser is unobstructed and sits prominently on top. Looking at the module from the side, we observe a subtle “V” shape design to both the heat sink and the light diffuser. Looking from the top down, as they will be installed in motherboards, the light diffuser has a viewable size of 114 mm long by 4 mm wide.
The thickness of the aluminum that composes the heatsink is 1 mm, and the total weight of one memory module is 53 grams. The overall maximum dimensions are 136 mm long, 47 mm tall, and 6.2 mm thick. The memory PCB utilizes the most modern and current A2 style layout. This refers to how the IC’s are arranged on the PCB itself in accordance with modern engineering practices.
The OCPC X3TREME RGB AURA puts on a truly beautiful light show. Booting up the system we find that the prototypical rainbow-like color shift algorithm is pre-programmed into the module. We found that the color changed very rapidly, which might make it difficult to see all color transitions and colors. Regardless of the color shift speed, it cannot be denied that these modules have a very pleasing light diffuser and overall RGB tone.
If the pre-programmed rainbow transition moves to fast, or you just simply want to change the settings, that’s not a problem. OCPC recommends the use of the AURA RGB software, made by Asus. We tested the aforementioned software with an ASRock Z390 ITX motherboard. We were able to fully control the memory RGB lighting with the Asus AURA software, which was obtained from a Dropbox link provided on the OCPC website.
OCPC offers up an updated version of AURA, which can be found on their website: Updated AURA Software
Testing and Overclocking
The overall objective is to evaluate the memory under a variety of different conditions. To accomplish this task, we will turn to benchmark programs to examine the performance of the memory under various conditions. Our approach is to start out by fully testing the 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 excessive voltage. According to the XMP 2.0 certifications, the absolute maximum allowable voltage is 1.50 V VDDR. Thus, our overclocking endeavors will be conducted with less than 1.50 V. However, later in this review, we will examine what happens if we push this memory to the extreme limits with more than 2.0v.
Below is 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||NZXT Kraken X62 280mm AIO|
|Motherboard||ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/AC|
|Graphics Card||MSI R9 290X Lightning|
|Solid State Drive||Team Group L5 LITE 3D SSD|
|Power Supply||Enermax RevoBron 700W|
|Operating System||Windows 10 x64|
|Memory Speeds Compared|
|Intel XMP ~ 4000 MHz CL19-25-25-45 – 1.40 V|
|Test Case 1 ~ 4500 MHz CL19-25-25-45 – 1.40 V|
|Test Case 2 ~ 4000 MHz CL16-16-16-45 – 1.40 V|
|Test Case 3 ~ 4500 MHz CL16-16-16-45 – 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 of Intel-based system.
Below is the XMP profile. This particular kit of memory comes with an XMP profile of 4000 MHz CL19-25-25-45 @ 1.40 V. Most of the kits we review, and indeed most of the kits available on the market today come with an XMP voltage of 1.35 V. The manufacturer decided to set 1.40 V in order to make the rating stable. While it’s not common on modern DDR4, some modules come with even higher XMP rated voltage of up to 1.50 V.
The improvements in XMP profile speeds is greatly attributed to modern manufacturing processes and memory PCB layouts, however, it 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 be 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 to 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. Our methodology is to set my maximum working voltage of 1.50 V and see what could be accomplished, then lower the voltage to find the stability point. The motherboard being used is the ASRock z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX, which is an entry-level priced motherboard that has elite-level memory overclocking capabilities.
For the first test case, only the operating frequency was increased with no other settings adjusted. With a voltage increase from 1.40 V to 1.45 V, the frequency was able to be increased by an astonishing 500MHz. Below is the resulting first overclock test case.
For the second overclock test case, the same small voltage increase of 1.40 V to 1.45 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 4000 MHz, but the primary timings were decreased as far as possible while still maintaining relative stability. Below is the resulting second overclock test case of 4000 MHz with CL16-16-16.
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 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 beyond XMP, with tighter timings (decreased) as well. Given the test equipment and the voltage constraint, this is a very remarkable overclock.
First up, we used AIDA64 Cache and Memory Benchmark. The graph below shows that overclocking the memory beyond XMP had a positive impact for all test cases. Simply lowering the primary timings as in test case 2 showed a negligible impact on the relative performance. Increasing the frequency in test cases 1 and 3 showed a noteworthy performance gain as well.
Next up is Geekbench 4, 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.
Geekbench 4 tells a similar story to AIDA64 with a few exceptions. Across the board, the integer and floating point tests showed an insignificant performance gain from all overclocking test cases. The memory and crypto scores showed that memory overclocking, whether increasing the frequency or lowering the timings, have a marked improvement on the score.
Next, we will examine the performance using a few of the memory benchmark tests offered within the SiSoftware Sandra suite of benchmarks. The flagship product, known as Sandra, is a powerful suite of many different benchmarks to evaluate computer performance of all major components including the processor, graphics, memory, and disk.
Some benchmarks tests don’t show much performance gain from memory overclocking, and the SI Sandra Transactional Throughput is one of them. Here we can see that all test cases showed a noticeable gain in the memory bandwidth. As is often the case, overclocking the memory frequency showed the biggest gain in performance.
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 a recent review based on the Threadripper 2 and an X399 based motherboard, we showed astronomical performance gain in the UL Benchmarks from memory overclocking. On this Intel Z390 platform, the results are less than stellar. Memory overclocking, in general, showed little to no performance gain to be achieved, though at least the benchmark performance was not hindered by overclocking.
Memory overclocking and relative performance are directly relatable to the tasks being performed. For mathematical tasks such as encoding, Geekbench 4 shows us that memory overclocking plays a fairly important role. However, when we look at gaming performance, as is the case with UL Benchmarks, we see that memory overclocking has no noteworthy effect.
Certain benchmark programs such as Geekbench 3 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 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 IC’s the standards are changing.
Here we have a frequency of 4133 MHz that could be accomplished in Geekbench3 using CL12-12-12 timings. The secondary and tertiary timings are also exceptionally tighter when compared to XMP.
The memory was able to pass Geekbench 3 at slightly higher frequencies, however, the core and cache speeds were altered in the process making a comparison to XMP speeds impossible. The next memory frequency required to keep the core and cache consistent was 4205 MHz, which was not possible with this memory. There was no form of exotic cooling used for this result.
In the graph below we can see that extreme memory overclocking has a huge benefit on the memory score. Looking closer at the other test we see that the floating point test showed relatively no increase from extreme memory overclocking. What matters to competitive overclockers is the overall score. In this case, we can see that the extreme overclocking gave us a mere 4.59% gain over XMP.
In the competitive arena, where every last bit of speed is critical, an overall score gain of close to 5% is excellent. However, to an average user or gamer, the risk factor certainly doesn’t outweigh the reward.
Our overall experience with the OCPC X3TREME RGB AURA 4000 is very positive. With high-quality Samsung memory IC’s, a beautiful RGB light show, and a subdued matte-black finish, this memory has something for everyone. The biggest limitation is that this memory is not currently available on retail sites like Newegg and Amazon.
With an XMP rating of 4000 MHz CL19-25-25-45, this memory does not need to be overclocked to achieve excellent performance in games, daily tasks, and even serious computational tasks such as encoding. That being said, high-performance XMP has never stopped us from overclocking before. Once we started to evaluate the memory in terms of overclocking potential, we soon realized that’s where the memory’s real strength is. We were able to go from the XMP rating of 4000c19 @ 1.40 V to an overclocked and benchmark stable setting of 4500c16 @ 1.50 V. Staying within the 1.50 V voltage limit, and attaining 4500 MHz with CL16-16-16 is remarkable.
The OCPC X3TREME RGB AURA memory comes backed with a limited lifetime warranty. For technical support questions, they offer a U.S. based, toll-free phone line. The OCPC X3TREME RGB AURA met or exceeded all of the criteria for modern DDR4 needs. We feel confident that this memory would make a nice addition to any build whether it be oriented for overclocking, gaming, power computing, or even just surfing the web.
David Miller – mllrkllr88