In December of 2019 Team Group released the T-Force Xtreem ARGB memory modules. This addition to the company’s gaming memory lineup features a radical new design with a mirrored heat spreader that is also opaque and illuminated from behind. In the modern DDR4 arena, companies are constantly breaking new ground with design elements to attract customers. They’ve done enough to attract our attention, but we’d also like to know how the memory performs.
Beyond just a flashy exterior, the T-Force Xtreem ARGB modules were designed to be fully compatible with both AMD and Intel platforms. Today we will be reviewing this new offering from Team Group and putting it to the test with overclocking.
Specifications and Features
Although they focused heavily on the design elements, they haven’t left us wanting in the speedy XMP department either. The T-Force Xtreem ARGB was released with a small initial product lineup, but it’s rumored that the series will be expanded in the future.
There are a total of 5 SKU’s, all of which are 16 GB kits composed of two 8 GB modules. At the lower end of the spectrum are the 3200 MHz modules, and they are offered in two different timing options. One offering comes with timings of CL14-14-14-34, therefore, we can assume it’s running Samsung memory IC’s. The other is running CL16-18-18-38, which we take to be a Micron or Hynix based kit.
Their 3600 MHz modules fall in the middle of the pack and come in two different timing configurations. The current flagship in this product series is the 4000 MHz kit. It comes with a timing profile of CL18-22-22-42.
To make the Xtreem ARGB unique, Team Group developed and implemented new technologies for the heat spreader. It has a full mirrored surface on one entire side, top, and part of the second side. They didn’t stop with just a shiny surface though. Using the principles of optical reflection and penetrating light, they made the mirrored surface come alive and by illuminating it from behind with addressable RGB LEDs.
Today, we will be evaluating the flagship 4000 CL18 memory kit. In the table below, we examine the particular details of our test memory.
|T-Force Xtreem ARGB DDR4 4000|
|Capacity||16GB (8GB x 2)|
|Speed Spec||PC4 32000|
|Rated Frequency||4000 MHz (MT/s)|
Here is a closer look at the details. 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 out of the box.
As the Thaiphoon Burner screenshot shows, this specific kit of memory is composed of SK Hynix C-Die ICs.
Our review sample memory utilizes the modern A2 style PCB layout. This refers to the orientation of the eight ICs on the actual memory PCB itself. While it may seem like a useless tidbit of information, this is relevant, because it can play a very substantial role in the relative overclocking ability on some motherboards.
Packaging and Product Tour
You know it’s going to be a premium product when it arrives in a box which is three times larger than required. Like the memory, the box itself has a mirror quality to it. With very-high quality printing and a unique mirrored finish on the packaging, we expect great things from the product hidden beneath.
Sliding off the colorful sleeve, we are greeted with an anti-tamper sealed box. Inside we find the prototypical plastic clamshell packaging that most of the DDR4 on earth is shipped in. Team Group also included a dust cloth and a sticker.
Meet the Xtreem ARGB
With the packaging out of the way, we can get down to the good stuff. Just by looking at the outside, you wouldn’t know this memory comes packed with addressable RGB. The Xtreem ARGB is uniquely different looking from all other RGB memory we see on the market today.
The overall heat spreader and light diffuser system is broken into two main parts. Because the memory IC’s are only located on one side, there is no need for a traditional heat sink all around the memory module. For cooling, Team Group implemented a black anodized strip of aluminum mounted directly to the chips. Hynix memory IC’s don’t produce any noteworthy heat, even when heavily overclocked. This type of cooling solution, while seemingly minimal, should be adequate to keep this memory running flawlessly for its entire life.
Everything else that is not associated with cooling, makes up the light diffuser system. As you can see in the picture below, the color is blue with a strong purple tone.
Mirrored DDR4 is nothing new. We reviewed the G.Skill Trident Z Royal a while back, which sports an impressively polished aluminum heat sink. Unlike the Royal’s, and other memory like it, the design is such that only a small strip on top is illuminated with RGB.
Team Group takes it one step further and lights up practically the whole stick as well as providing that luxury-looking mirrored surface. The result is that the memory is a blue-colored mirror when the lights are turned off, and then completely transforms when the lights are on.
Xtreem ARGB Illumination
When the computer is turned on, or RGB activated, then the magic happens. The entire body of the memory stick comes alive with addressable RGB light. As you can see below, the light is located at the center of the stick and emanates out from there via the built-in light diffuser. The result is quite stunning.
Below is a slideshow so you can get a better idea of the color transition. We noted that the factory programmed color sequence seemed to show predominantly blue and green colors.
In addition to the third-party software compatibility, Team Group offers its own standalone control software. The T-Force Blitz software gives you all of the control and synchronization capabilities that we have come to know and expect from RGB computer elements.
Software download: T-Force Blitz
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.
|CPU||AMD RYZEN 7 3900X @ 4.3 GHz|
|Cooler||NZXT Kraken X62 280mm – All-In-One Cooler|
|Motherboard||ASRock X570 TAICHI AM4|
|Graphics Card||PowerColor RED DEVIL Radeon RX 580|
|Solid State Drive||Team Group L5 LITE 3D SSD|
|Power Supply||Enermax RevoBron 700W 80+ Bronze|
|Operating System||Windows 10 x64|
|Memory Speeds Compared|
|XMP ~ 4000 MHz CL18-22-22 + XMP Sub Timings @ 1.35 V|
|Test Case 1 ~ 4266 MHz CL18-22-22 + XMP Sub Timings @ 1.50 V|
|Test Case 2 ~ 4000 Mhz CL18-20-20 + Tight Sub Timings @ 1.50 V|
|Test Case 3 ~ 3600 MHz CL16-20-20 + Tight Sub Timings @ 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 the AMD Ryzen Master utility. AIDA64 is a powerful system diagnostic and benchmarking tool that can be purchased for a reasonable price.
The modern DDR4 market offers a vast range of XMP memory. Quickly looking at online retailers, we find everything from DDR4 2400 MHz, all the way up to DDR4 5000 MHz. The improvement 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.
Team Group designed the Xtreem ARGB to work no matter which platform you are running. Whether it’s the new AMD Ryzen 3000 series or Intel’s current Z390, you can buy with confidence, because this memory has been extensively tested with all platforms. That being said, most budget motherboards aren’t designed for high-frequency DDR4. It’s always a good idea to look at the QVL and check with your motherboard manufacturer to make sure 4000 MHz DDR4 is supported.
As you can see below, we had no problem running our memory using the one-click XMP memory profile. In this case, the FCLK = 1800 MHz and UCLK = 1000 MHz.
When stat looking at performance and overclocking capabilities, we need to take into consideration two new variables of the X570 platform: FCLK and UCLK. Even though these variables are somewhat out of our control, they play a huge role in the overall performance and benchmark scoring. That being said, it’s not always fair to compare one frequency against another. The FCLK and UCLK might be running at different speeds, which can skew the results when doing a head-to-head comparison. While it’s not within the scope of this memory review to dive deeper into the Ryzen 3 memory structure, just keep in mind those additional variables.
To start things off, only the operating frequency was increased with no other settings adjusted. We quickly found that this memory needs voltage levels of between 1.45 V and 1.50 V to achieve the optimal overclock results. With a voltage of 1.50 V, we were able to increase the frequency by a modest 266MHz. Overclocking mileage and headroom will vary depending on your motherboard and the modules themselves. We should point out that the primary timings are quite loose at CL18-22-22.
Below is the resulting first overclock test case with FCLK = 1800 MHz and UCLK = 1066 MHz.
Contrary to the first test, this time only the memory timings were manipulated in order to provide an alternative example of what types of overclocks are possible. The operating frequency was held at the XMP rating of 4000 MHz, but the primary and secondary timings were decreased as far as possible while still maintaining relative stability.
It’s worth noting that the Hynix memory seemed to have difficulties running low primary and secondary timings. This is one area where competitors such as Samsung have a clear advantage because in general, they can run substantially lower timings all around.
The primary timings in this test just didn’t allow for much overclocking. We were only able to take the memory from CL18-22-22-42 to CL18-20-20-38. However, we made substantial changes to the sub-timings, which helped our cause greatly. As is the case with modern memory overclocking, the sub-timings play a very big role in overall system performance.
Below is the resulting second overclock test case with FCLK = 1800 MHz and UCLK = 1000 MHz.
In the third and final overclocking test, the goal was to achieve a well-rounded overclocking profile that shows favorable results in benchmarks. For this round, we will stay within the maximum allowable voltage of 1.50 V, according to XMP 2.0 specifications.
Because our T-Force Xtreem ARGB memory proved to be difficult to overclock, we wanted to try something different for the last test. We know that keeping the FCLK and UCLK locked into a one-to-one ratio can have a beneficial outcome for the overall system performance. With that mind, we lowered the frequency down to 3600 MHz, which we theorized would allow remarkably better timings. Unfortunately, we didn’t gain as much from this approach as we had hoped for, but we were still able to produce an efficient memory profile using 1.50 V.
Below is the resulting first overclock test case with FCLK = 1800 MHz and UCLK = 1800 MHz.
First of all, we used AIDA64 Cache and Memory Benchmark. In the graph below, it’s clearly visible that each of the four different memory speeds compared had a noticeable change in the benchmark result.
How did our memory overclocking impact the overall performance? In total, our overclocking endeavors had a noteworthy impact on performance. It comes down to how we interpret the results and which tests we choose to look at. For the copy performance, increasing the frequency had a clearly massive effect.
Across the board, our attempt at creating a harmonious memory profile at 3600 Mhz did not show favorable results in this benchmark. As our results show, the AIDA64 benchmark clearly favors raw memory frequency above everything else.
Next, we used Geekbench 4 to test our memory profiles. 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.
Focusing on the total score, we see that this ‘real world’ test benchmark favors the tighter sub-timings. Here, all of our overclocking endeavors showed an increase in performance. Given the low overclocking headroom, the increased performance is quite small. Adjusting the sub-timings and frequency had an overall beneficial effect on the scores.
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 computer performance of all major components, including the processor, graphics, memory, and disk.
The tight timing profiles showed a noteworthy gain in memory bandwidth performance. In the Cache & Latency test, we saw the biggest improvement by keeping the frequency at 3600 MHz and lowering the timings as much as possible.
In this next section, we will examine the XMP profile scores of a few kits of memory we have in the lab. We used the same exact X570 test bench and operating system for all of the testes. Due to this fact, we are able to make some direct performance comparisons. For the purposes of continuity, we will examine only the XMP profile and exclude any overclocked comparisons.
In the Geekbench 4 results below, we found it interesting that the percent difference between all kits is quite small.
We have come to appreciate Geekbench 4 for its ability to scale the result scores with memory speeds and timings. However, looking at the hard comparison data, it’s difficult to make a compelling argument to justify spending extra money on speedy memory kits for the average user.
The performance difference between the various kits becomes small when overclocking results are excluded.
Team Group set out to turn the DDR4 memory market on its head, and that’s exactly what they have done. We feel the T-Force Xtreem ARGB has the potential to be successful. The heat sink design is classy and elegant with the mirrored blue finish. We can appreciate the memory styling even without any of the RGB elements. However, when the RGB lights on, you know you’re looking at something special. This is not the typical aluminum heat spreader with a plastic light diffuser on top, but an original creation that is sure to make heads turn.
From an overclocking perspective, we were a bit let down. Team Group has made a name for itself by offering innovative and highly-overclockable memory at reasonable prices. While they certainly live up to their name with an innovative design, the overclocking ability left much to be desired. Because our review sample was built with Hynix IC’s, we know the inherent overclocking headroom will be small.
As tested, our review sample sells for $144.99 For comparison, the Trident Z Royal, with a nearly identical XMP rating, sells for the same price of $144.99. Looking at the current DDR4 market purely from a cost-per-gigabyte standpoint, this memory is oriented at the high end. So naturally, we need to ask ourselves if this memory has earned its spot among the ranks of premium modules. The answer is a resounding yes! The lifetime warranty, excellent performance, and unparalleled RGB lighting would make this an excellent choice for gamers, computer enthusiasts, and system builders alike. Overclockers Approved!
David Miller – mllrkllr88