VisionTek has given Overclockers.com a chance to review their 2×4 GB DDR3-1600MHz (PC3-12800) RAM…wait, did you say RAM? VisionTek? Yes. Yes, I did! For those that do not know, VisionTek, outside of videocards and other components, is in the memory business as well! Let’s see if the little known RAM segment can produce some solid results like its AMD videocards and other components have for many in the past.
Meet the RAM
Pictured below is the RAM, both inside its retail packaging and out. Each stick comes in its own clamshell and of course is inside of the retail packaging. You can see the black and red scheme with a window showing off the goods inside. The sticks are supported well within the box by a third clamshell and a cardboard support ensuring a snug fit.
After opening up the package, you will notice it has some fairly tall heatsinks on them so if you have a large CPU cooler that hangs over the ram, make sure you check for available clearance when using these. The VisionTek sticks have a nice flat black paint scheme with its brand name on one side and rated speed on the other. Understated, and still aesthetically pleasing. Thumbs up from me as I’m not a huge fan of all the bling some components come to the table with.
Testing System & Methods
- i7 2600K (stock)
- MSI z68A GD65 G3 motherboard (Overclockers Approved!)
- VisionTek 2×4 GB DDR3-1600 (8-8-8-24 @ 1.65v)
- MSI TwinFrozr 6950 1 GB (Overclockers Approved!)
- SeaSonic X750
- Windows 7 64bit SP1
You are not going to see much out of the ordinary here with any of these results. Most applications and benchmarks are not memory limited in the first place. In the graph below, you see the results, even with a set of 2133 MHz RAM in the mix, are all within the margin of error for these tests.
The same goes here for SuperPi 1M and PiFast. You can see there is a notable difference though between the two DDR3-1600 kits and the DDR3-2133 kit in SuperPi 32M. As people who run this bench know, memory speed and timing are huge. Again SuperPi 1M and Pifast are within the margin of error for these tests really. Too many variables between one test system to another to report any type of winner here.
Last of the benchmarks are the Wprime 32M and 1024M. Again, these results are all similar with times varying little more than the margin of error for these tests. The VisionTek sticks continue to match its other better known competition.
Below you can see the MaxxMEM2 and AIDA64 results. Like everything above, these scores fall right in line with a dual channel setup for the RAM’s rated speeds.
There is something said for the advice commonly handed out in the forums to just get DDR3-1600 and call it a day. In some 3D tests, performance is slightly higher with faster RAM, but some anecdotal posts show maybe 1-2 FPS real world gain from much faster RAM. It is not worth the money in this reviewer’s opinion. Stick with DDR3-1333/1600, unless you plan on benchmarking.
This is a tough one to discuss when your test bench is Sandy Bridge. Most overclockers do not touch the bclk as it is extremely limited in the first place, so overclocking the CPU and memory are handled through a multiplier. The results for these chips were not exciting at all within those walls. I was unable to get to 1866 at CL8 or CL9, even with a voltage increase to 1.7 v. I was also unable to tighten up the timings at its rated speed of DDR3-1600Mhz on the CL side of things. I did however manage to undervolt to 1.6 v and the RAM was perfectly stable there with limited testing (Memtest and some gaming).
It seems like these specific samples I have really reached their limit with their stock settings without raising it up in smaller increments like you can do on an AMD platform or socket 1366 Intel (and possibly Sandy Bridge-E). As an overclocker though, this is quite disappointing. We are a minority though and VisionTek also offers faster rated sticks for those that have a need for speed. With that said, I still would have liked to have seen some headroom with loosening timings/adding voltage on the Sandy Bridge platform… which again is a pretty large jump up. That would certainly add to the ‘bang for you buck’ aspect.
Here is the part where we tie this all together. On one hand, you have a good looking 2×4 GB DDR3-1600 MHz kit that will run its rated speeds and, this sample, was even able to undervolt a bit at its rated speeds which is nice for those trying to save some pennies and power. On the other hand, partially due to Sandy Bridge’s lack of bclk freedom, these sticks were not able to make the jump up to 1866 MHz even with a bump up in CL and voltage, so that turns off the overclocker looking for headroom.
The VisionTek 2×4 GB DDR3-1600 MHz kit is currently selling for $69.99 on Amazon.com. That price is towards the higher end of the spectrum for DDR3-1600 2×4 GB kits, but that is due to the CL8 rating vs the CL9 rating all other sticks are sporting. So, the pricing is about where it should be.
So where do I go with this as far as our rating system? It’s a tough one. Did we get solid results? Absolutely. There is nothing bad at all about the kit, but there is nothing great about it either. Performance is spot on, the sticks looks shouldn’t turn anyone off, but the pricing is slightly higher than that of similar kits (due to the lower CL rating). Within the Sandy Bridge platform, there wasn’t any overclocking headroom due to the large jumps of the memory multiplier. I can’t, with a good conscious, give this a MEH as there is nothing bad enough to knock it down there and hold it. I also can’t, with a good conscious, give this an APPROVED stamp either, as I would have liked to have seen more headroom and a slightly cheaper price. So it gets no awards. That isn’t a bad thing though and I wouldn’t shy away from these sticks for your 24/7 PC…in fact they found an home in mine and will not be going anywhere.
If you want a good looking 2×4 GB DDR3-1600 MHz @ 1.65v CL8 kit that does as it states with no complaints, there is little reason this VisionTek kit shouldn’t be a consideration in the large pool of available memory choices for your PC.