Last December we reviewed G.Skill’s acclaimed Samsung B-Die-based dual-rank performance memory kit. Today, it remains one of the best performing kits on the market, but there’s a new challenger to the dual-rank 2 x 16 GB throne. Team Group quietly released their own ultra-performance Samsung B-Die-based dual-rank kit. The T-Force XTREEM ARGB is rated for 3600 MHz at shockingly low primary timings of CL14-15-15. We tried to get our hands on this memory for testing, but it’s out of stock the same day that it shows up on Newegg. We reached out to Team Group and they supplied us with their best dual-rank offering, the aforementioned kit.
Specifications and Features
We covered what dual-rank is and what it means for the PC enthusiast community in our G.Skill review. In summary, dual-rank modules offer better interleaving and thus better performance at the same clock speed compared to single-rank ones. In an age where a rare few games consume more than 16 GB of system memory, it just makes sense to choose dual-rank for your next 32 GB memory kit purchase so you can leverage the additional performance. Not all 2 x 16 GB kits are dual-rank, so keep that in mind when purchasing.
Team Group chose to wrap this impressive memory kit in their ARGB heatsink and populate it with 15 ultra-bright LEDs. To make the XTREEM ARGB unique, they 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 those addressable RGB LEDs.
The T-Force XTREEM ARGB initially launched with only five different products, but they’ve since expanded it to 13 different SKUs. Individual module density comes in the form of 8 GB, 16 GB, and 32 GB. All SKUs are composed of two modules, so that means you’d need to find matching kits if you wanted to populate more than 2 DIMMs. In terms of frequency options, you can choose from 3200 MHz, 3600 MHz, and at the top end, they offer 4000 MHz. The IC you might find under the hood can be Hynix, Micron, or Samsung – however, with an XMP of 3600 CL14, you can be certain that it’s Samsung.
Features at a glance
- Full mirror light penetration
- Latest ARGB technology
- Aluminum alloy heatsink with high performance
- Supports Intel & AMD motherboards
- Selected high-quality IC
- OC profile support
- Energy-saving with ultra-low working voltage
- Taiwan Utility PATENT (number: M584969)
In the table below are the specifications of our test kit:
|Team Group T-Force XTREEM ARGB Series
|Capacity||32 GB (2 x 16 GB)|
|Type||288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM|
|Rated Frequency||DDR4 3600 (PC4 28800)|
|Chipset||Intel XMP 2.0|
|Multi-channel Kit||Dual Channel Kit|
|Downloads||ARGB Product Line|
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 motherboard 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.
The B1-style PCB layout 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 Z590 OC Formula, which has been specifically optimized for A2-style memory PCBs, so we should have the optimal configuration for testing.
Packaging and Product Tour
There’s no doubt that the T-Force XTREEM ARGB is a premium product by its packaging alone. Some might see it as overkill, or not being environmentally friendly, but it does deliver that high-end feel we expect to see when paying a premium price.
Sliding off the colorful sleeve, we are greeted with an anti-tamper sealed box. Inside we find the typical plastic clamshell packaging common to most DDR4 retail packages. Team Group also included a dust cloth and a sticker. We found it interesting that the packaging is set up to handle 4 sticks of memory, but there are no offerings larger than 2 sticks in the current product lineup.
Meet the XTREEM ARGB
You wouldn’t know it by holding them in your hand, but this is an ARGB LED module. Team Group radically departed from the conventional aluminum heatsink with an opaque light diffuser on top and delivered something totally unique.
The overall heat spreader and light diffuser system are broken into two main parts: One complete side and one-third of the other side are covered in plastic. The plastic is somewhat opaque to allow light to pass through – due to this, nearly the whole stick lights up as well as providing that luxurious-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.
For cooling, Team Group implemented a black anodized strip of aluminum mounted directly to the chips on one side. This heatsink system works well for single-sided modules.
We know from the above analysis that there are Samsung B-Die ICs on both sides of this module. It’s well known that Samsung memory has a tendency to produce more heat than competitor ICs such as Micron, especially when overclocked. Taking this into consideration, we are left to question their decision to equip warm dual-sided memory modules on a heatsink that was clearly intended for single-side use only. Effectively, half of the memory has no cooling solution or cooling performance may even be hindered by a layer of insulating plastic.
XTREEM ARGB Illumination
As seen below, the lighting effect is truly one of a kind. 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 the center of the module outward.
Whether or not you appreciate RGB lighting in your computer, we feel most people agree, the lighting and overall results are stunning. Depending on the lighting, there were some mild hot spots that could be seen from the LEDs. We’d like to point out that although it’s incredibly unique, the resulting light output appears to be less than other modules we’ve seen. We can guess that the light output is lower because of the relative opacity of the light diffuser, regardless of the fact that the LEDs are extremely bright.
Below is a slideshow so you can get a better idea of the color transition.
We tested the RGB functionality with ASRock Polychrome Sync. The bundled motherboard software easily handled the control of the lighting. Although it’s not as advanced as other control software suites we’ve used in the past, it does the job and gives you full access to each of the 15 LEDs. We’ve seen independent software for RGB control from Team Group in the past, but they appear to have phased that out as it’s no longer listed on their website.
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.
|CPU||Intel Core i9-11900K Rocket Lake 8-Core|
|Cooler||Corsair H115i RGB PRO XT|
|Motherboard||ASRock Z590 OC Formula|
|Graphics Card||EVGA RTX 2080 Ti Kingpin Edition|
|Solid State Drive||T-Foce CARDEA Liquid 1 TB|
|Power Supply||EVGA Supernova 1600 W P2 80 Plus Platinum|
|Operating System||Windows 10 x64 V1909|
|Memory Speeds Compared|
|XMP Profile ~ 3600 MHz CL14-15-15 + Auto Sub Timings @ 1.45 V|
|Overclock 1 ~ 3773 MHz CL14-14-14 + Improved Sub Timings @ 1.50 V|
|Overclock 2 ~ 4000 MHz CL14-15-15 + Improved Sub Timings @ 1.50 V|
|Overclock 3 ~ 4400 MHz CL16-16-16 + Improved Sub Timings @ 1.50 V|
XMP Profile ~ 3600 MHz CL14-15-15 + Auto Sub Timings @ 1.45 V
It’s not a foregone conclusion that the XMP profile will work, especially for radical ones such as what we are testing today. It’s somewhat common for the XMP profile to simply not work or have stability issues. 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 ~ 3733 MHz CL14-14-14 + Improved Sub Timings @ 1.50V
The objective of the first overclock test was to create the absolute best profile we could with the Gear 1 setting. The Gear 1 setting can be a huge performance increase for some programs and it can also be slightly slower in others. We know that single-threaded applications can benefit from Gear 1 while multi-threaded ones might be hindered by it. Regardless of the potential efficiency difference, we wanted to show the best the Gear 1 has to offer.
Overclock 2 ~ 4000 MHz CL14-15-15 + Improved Sub Timings @ 1.50V
How far can we overclock the frequency while still keeping the XMP primary timings of 14-15-15? Our second overclock endeavor answers this question with an impressive 400 MHz gain over XMP. Let’s not forget the secondary and tertiary timings have been dramatically enhanced as well.
Overclock 3 ~ 4400 MHz CL16-16-16 + Improved Sub Timings @ 1.50V
Lastly, we wanted to know where the frequency wall is. We started out with very loose primary timings of 19-21-21-48 and soon found out that we couldn’t train anything beyond 4400 MHz. Once we had that frequency dialed in as our relative max, we went to work enhancing all of the timings to be the best they could be within the 1.50 V ceiling.
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.
The scoring based on our overclocking profiles came out to be nearly perfectly linear. Each sequential overclock profile had a noteworthy effect on the overall score. The scores came out very linear because our frequency overclocking had a linear progression.
Next, we used Geekbench 4 to test our memory profiles. It’s one of the best synthetic benchmarks at predicting ‘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 shockingly similar to AIDA64. Typically we see Geekbench 4 scores trend with timing efficiency more than frequency overclocking, but here our scores came out linear. The Gear 1 test showed no performance degradation compared to the Gear 2 ones.
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. All of the test results below were newly generated on the Z590 OC Formula motherboard.
Dual-rank modules appear to have no extra advantage with scoring potential in AIDA64. The benchmark is too limited by frequency to make use of improved interleaving. Therefore, we find the 3600 MHz a big limiting factor in this benchmark when compared to speedy XMP profiles such as the Crucial Ballistix MAX 4400 19-19-19.
Our Geekbench 4 results show off the power of dual-rank modules nicely. Looking at the total score, we find that both of our dual-rank kits came out ahead of the pack. As we mentioned in the intro, G.Skill has enjoyed the first place ranking when it comes to dual-rank performance, but that has changed. Here we see that Team Group just barely grabbed the lead over G.Skill.
We found it interesting that the 3600 18-22-22 single-rank Corsair kit came out last even though it’s equipped with 32 GB worth of memory ICs. It even scored worse than the 3200 16-18-18 XPG kit, proving that Geekbench 4 is quite sensitive to timing efficiency.
The Team Group T-Force XTREEM ARGB is a premium product meant for serious PC enthusiasts. We absolutely loved the RGB design and the unique light diffuser system, it’s a true one-of-a-kind creation. Team Group has always been on the cutting edge of innovation, but their ARGB module is a cut above, even by their standards. However, we want to give you the whole story and not just focus on the positive side. Simply put, we did not like their decision to put this double-sided module in a heatsink that was clearly intended for single-sided modules only. The module is not equipped with a thermal sensor, so we measured temperature on the outside of the stick with a K-Type probe. The module temperature stayed below 35°C for the duration of our testing.
When it comes to performance though, we have nothing bad to say. The XMP profile was the fastest we’ve ever tested in Geekbench 4, and the overclocking results are simply amazing. You might not be shocked to see 4000 CL14 on the modern Z590 platform with 16 GB of memory, but considering that we managed it with 32 GB is outstanding. All of the memory overclocking profiles we were able to accomplish yielded exceptional performance with impressive timings. If there was one weak area in terms of overclocking it would have to be the upper-frequency range limitation of 4400 MHz.
It should be clear by now that we had a great experience overclocking this memory and we feel it’s a must-have for enthusiasts. Having said that, we know the price is a huge factor and this kit definitely falls in the premium category with an MSRP of $359.99. It’s at the top of the range for this type of product and we only found one comparable kit priced higher, the Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB. If you’re already spending thousands on a high-performance computer, then you’re likely not going to put up too much fuss over the inflated price tag.
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David Miller – mllrkllr88