XPG LANCER DDR5 5200 MHz Review: A New Era is Upon Us


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XPG Lancer Installed Cover
XPG Lancer Installed Cover

DDR5 Features

We want to take a minute and highlight some of the main differences between DDR4 and DDR5. For generational memory changes, such as DDR3 to DDR4, the primary focus has been increasing the frequency. Making the generational leap also meant lower power usage, higher density, and increased latency. However, when it comes to DDR5, we don’t simply see an increase in frequency like previous generational leaps. The entire data bus, channel architecture, and power delivery systems have been redesigned this time around. As expected, the new memory also brings higher die density, lower power usage, and increased timings to the table.

Speed 

The JEDEC rating for DDR4 ranged from 1600 MT/s up to 3200 MT/s at the end. The new DDR5 standard starts at a JEDEC rating of 4800 MT/s. We know that there will be higher JEDEC ratings to be released as DDR5 matures. As of right now, we have seen ratings up to 7000 MT/s marked for the future of DDR5.

DDR5 Speed
DDR5 Speed

Density 

The highest possible die density for DDR4 was 16 GB. In recent times, Samsung released 256 GB LRDIMM and RDIMM modules based on their 16 GB die. The new DDR5 standard doubles the die size to 32GB for UDIMM. Based on the 32 GB die size and using Samsung’s example of the 256 GB DDR4 module, it’s not a stretch to imagine that we will see 512GB of memory on a single module in the future.

Capacity
Density

Timings 

The very best that DDR4 had to offer, in terms of JEDEC rating at least, was 3200 MT/s running at CL22-22-22. Although there are lower data rates in the JEDEC specification for DDR5, the primary rating for desktop users at launch will be 4800 MT/s running at CL40-40-40.

Performance
Performance

Power Management

Another fundamental change with DDR5 is the way it gets its power. Until now, all previous generations of DDR memory received its voltage, pre-regulated, from the motherboard. The motherboard was responsible for taking the 12 V input and reducing that to a usable voltage for the memory controller, such as 1.35 v. Because of this, high-end motherboards generally provided better voltage control and thus resulted in better memory overclocking capabilities. The new DDR5 specification moves the voltage regulation from the motherboard to the individual memory stick. The motherboard provides 12 V host input to the individual memory modules, and the module takes care of the voltage control. Known as the PMIC, the new memory voltage controller is responsible for ‘bucking’ the voltage down to what’s required by the memory. We’ll get into this more later on.

Power Management
Power Management

Rank Structure 

The changes in the functional architecture are what make DDR5 unique from all other memory releases. Up until now, one stick of memory contained one internal memory channel. If you wanted to run dual-channel memory, for instance, you would need two memory modules. Mainstream motherboards, such as Intel’s Z590, had a maximum of 2 DIMMs per channel (2 DPC). Therefore, if you outfitted the board with 2 or 4 modules, you would be running dual-channel at maximum. The significant new change is that DDR5 contains two memory channels within one module. Therefore, with two sticks running in a Z690 motherboard, you get quad-channel memory. More memory channels dramatically increase performance for memory-intensive workloads. Mainstream motherboards still support only 2 DPC, but now that means you will be running quad-channel with 2 or 4 memory sticks.

Rank Structure
Rank Structure

On-Die ECC 

Error Correction Code (ECC) is something we typically only see implemented in the server and workstation world. Traditional performance DDR4 UDIMM does not come with ECC capabilities. The CPU is responsible for handling the error correction. Due to the frequency limitations, we’ve only seen ECC on lower-spec kits. DDR5 changes everything in this regard because ECC comes standard on every DDR5 module produced. Therefore, the system is then unburdened as it no longer needs to do the error correction.

On Die ECC
On Die ECC

Source credit: adata.com

XPG LANCER Specifications

We know that DDR5 modules manage their voltage regulation directly on the DIMM now. We also understand that the PMIC (Power Management IC) is a MOSFET, driver, and PWM controller wrapped into one package. Therefore, we can conclude that it will produce heat and add to the overall DIMM temperature. In the past, we’ve seen extravagant heat sinks for memory that effectively make no heat. Have we reached the point where heat sinks are actually needed? Not to worry, ADATA has outfitted the XPG LANCER module with thick aluminum heat sinks.

The non-RGB Lancer product line consists of just one offering at launch. It comes with an XMP 3.0 rating of 5200 MHz, timings of 38-38-38, and offers the product in two different SKU options. You can choose from a single-color box or a dual-color box.  Due to the limited nature of DDR5 at launch time, we are not surprised to see only one offering. For those looking to add an element of RGB, XPG also offers the Lancer in an RGB verity. We’ve spotted the Lancer available for pre-order on B&H Photo for $299.99.

In the table below are specific details of our test kit:

XPG LANCER
Part Number AX5U5200C3816G-DCLABK
Color Black
Capacity 32 GB (2 x 16 GB)
Type U-DIMM
Lighting None
Voltage 1.25 V
Rated Frequency DDR5 5200 MHz (PC5-41600)
Chipset Intel XMP 3.0
Multi-channel Kit Quad Channel Kit
Rated Timings CL38-38-38
Dimensions (LxWxH) 133.35 x 40 x 8 mm
Weight 74 Grams
MSRP Pricing B&H Photo $299.99
Warranty Limited Lifetime
Registered / Error Checking Unbuffered / Non-ECC
Links Datasheet

Right about now, we usually like to show you the Thaiphoon Burner SPD output. We use that piece of software to get a preliminary identification of the ICs under the hood. Unfortunately, the software is not ready for DDR5 at this time. However, don’t despair; CPU-Z now accurately reads the IC branding. Although it doesn’t display nearly as much information as Thaiphoon Burner, it gives us a good indicator of the IC.

CPU-Z Chip Manufacturer
CPU-Z Chip Manufacturer

As you can see, the Lancer appears to be running Micron ICs. Speculating on the overclock-ability at this point would be purely conjecture. We’ll put them to the test later on and show you what they can do.

Product Tour

Our test sample did not come with any retail packaging. Because this is an early test sample, It’s not surprising that the retail packaging is not ready for mass media consumption.

Meet the XPG Lancer

They may look very familiar to you. If you’ve seen the ADATA’s D50 series of DDR4, they share many similarities. The deep grooves cut into the heat sink, combined with an angular shiny black insert, give it a geometric look. For RGB DIMMS, XPG replaced the shiny black plastic piece at the top of the DIMM with an opaque plastic light diffuser.

XPG Lancer DIMM
XPG Lancer DIMM Overall

The stick has been silk screen printed with a parallel line design on about 1/3 of the heat sink surface. There is an information sticker on the backside. There’s also an XPG logo in three different places on each DIMM.

Please refer to the pictures below for a closer look.

We had a pretty good idea that it’s Micron-based memory from the CPU-Z screenshot, but a visual inspection confirms it. The second picture below is the PMIC. This voltage regulation circuit takes the 5 V host voltage and steps it down 1.20 V, or whatever you select in the BIOS. This device is often referred to as a VRM. However, it gets the elevated name of Power Management Integrated Circuit (PMIC) because of the power state shifting capabilities, among other reasons. It’s a much more advanced circuit than the traditional switching regulator.

Testing and Overclocking

Intel’s new Z690 motherboard implements a new socket, the LGA 1700 (Socket V). As such, the mounting holes may not be compatible with older generation coolers. ADATA was kind enough to send us their flagship AIO to use for this memory review. We will put it to good use in future memory reviews.

You can find the XPG LEVANTE 360 on Amazon for $149.99. We credit xpg.com as the source for the marketing media shown below.

XPG LEVANTE AIO
XPG LEVANTE AIO

HIGH-PERFORMANCE All-in-One
CPU LIQUID COOLING

XPG LEVANTE 360 Addressable RGB CPU
Liquid Cooler offers superb cooling capability in
stabilizing CPU temperature and maintaining
CPU proper functioning. ARGB lighting effects
create an additional gaming atmosphere.

XPG LEVANTE Water Pump
XPG LEVANTE Water Pump

Asetek’s PATENTED COOLING
SOLUTION

XPG LEVANTE 360 Addressable RGB CPU
Cooler utilizes Asetek’s latest cooling solution
to ensure CPU temperature management is at
the highest efficiency performance. Its
thermal-optimized copper plate with 0.15 mm thin micro channel provide a large cooling area

XPG LEVANTE Fans
XPG LEVANTE Fans

EFFICIENT COOLING SOLUTION

XPG LEVANTE 360’s three Vibrant Dual Ring
120mm ARGB fans have 20 ARGB LEDs
each. PWM Fan with Fluid Dynamic Bearing
(FDB) fans are designed with auto-restart
mechanism (up to 40,000 hours at 40ºC of
MTBF).

XPG LEVANTE RGB Controller
XPG LEVANTE RGB Controller

EXTERNAL ARGB CONTROLLER

XPG LEVANTE 360 AIO CPU LIQUID Cooler’s
external ARGB Controller allows users to
switch Mode, Speed, and Light functions of
both the ARGB Fans and the Water Pump.

 

Below is the test system and resulting memory speeds used to evaluate the memory and run the various benchmarks.

Test Setup
CPU Intel Core i9-12900KF – Core i9 12th Gen Alder Lake 16-Core
Cooler XPG EPS Levante 360 Addressable RGB CPU Liquid Cooler
Motherboard MSI MPG Z690 CARBON WIFI DDR5 LGA 1700
Graphics Card EVGA GeForce RTX 3090 K|NGP|N Gaming Graphics Card
Solid State Drive T-Force CARDEA ZERO Z330 1 TB
Power Supply be quiet! Dark Power Pro 12 1500 W PSU
Operating System Windows 11 x64
Memory Speeds Compared
JEDEC Profile ~ 4800 MHz CL40-40-40 + JEDEC Sub Timings @ 1.1 V
XMP Profile ~5200 MHz CL38-38-38 + XMP Sub Timings @ 1.25 V
Overclock ~ 5600 MHz CL38-40-40 + Auto Sub Timings @ 1.30 V

 

 

 

The XPG Lancer memory turned out to be a match with our test system. The flat black matched our motherboard perfectly.

XPG Lancer Installed
XPG Lancer Installed

JEDEC Profile ~ 4800 MHz CL40-40-40 + JEDEC Sub Timings @ 1.1 V

Because this is the first time we’ve had a chance to test DDR5, we’re going to change things up and explore what this memory has to offer with less of an emphasis on overclocking. When you install memory in your motherboard and don’t go into the BIOS to change the settings, you will be running JEDEC memory speeds. Most computers out there in the real world are running JEDEC memory speeds, and indeed, many enthusiast computers are running JEDEC as well. Therefore, we’re going to test the memory at the JEDEC rating of 4800 CL40-40-40.

JEDEC AIDA64
JEDEC AIDA64
JEDEC CPUz
JEDEC CPU-Z

 

XMP Profile ~5200 MHz CL38-38-38 + XMP Sub Timings @ 1.25 V

Does the XMP profile even work? That’s the first question we intend to answer and get a baseline performance to compare against an overclocked result. We are happy to report that the XMP profile worked perfectly right out of the box with no settings or adjustments in the BIOS.

XMP AIDA64
XMP AIDA64
XMP CPUz
XMP CPU-Z

Overclock ~ 5600 MHz CL38-40-40 + Auto Sub Timings @ 1.30 V

This is our first look at DDR5. As such, we’re going to take it easy with the overclocking and not dive too deep into the secondary and tertiary timings just yet.  The goal is to first get the highest stable frequency set and then optimize the primary timings as much as possible.

The result is an overclock of 400 MHz for the frequency and marginally better primary timings.

AIDA64 5600c38
AIDA64 5600 c38
CPUz 5600c38
CPU-Z 5600 c38

Benchmark Results

AIDA64

 

XPG Lancer AIDA64
XPG Lancer AIDA64 Benchmark

The big takeaway here is the big read performance scores. The JEDEC read score is about on par with the fastest DDR4 available on the market. This makes sense because we know that DDR5 picks up where DDR4 ended, but it’s reassuring that this notion holds up visually. Our mildly overclocked read score beats anything that can be done with even the very best DDR4, excluding extreme overclocking.

Geekbench 4 Multi-Core

XPG Lancer Geekbench 4 Benchmark
XPG Lancer Geekbench 4 Benchmark

Looking at the total score, our overclocking efforts only gained us a scant 0.5% increase over the XMP profile. Even comparing the JEDEC profile to our overclocked one, the performance gain is only 3.5%. Geekbench is perhaps the best real-world simulator for memory usage. It implements many different types of tests and averages them together to give you an overall picture of the performance.

Game Tests

XPG Lancer Game Benchmarks
XPG Lancer Game Benchmarks

Lastly, we’d like to examine the performance effects of our memory profiles using game benchmarks. For consistency sake, we used the same settings found in the GPU Testing Procedure article.

It doesn’t look like much at face value, but the game testing results are better than expected. In Far Cry 6, we saw a performance increase of 4.25% between XMP and overclocked. The same comparison yielded very little increase for the F1 2021 game benchmark. However, looking at the JEDEC numbers, we did notice a nice FPS jump going from JEDEC to overclock.

Thermal Results

There’s been a lot of misinformation in the media about DDR5 and its thermal performance. It does have the memory VRM controller on each DIMM now, so there’s certainly a possibility for higher temperatures. Therefore, we conducted some basic thermal experiments to give you a general understanding of the heat output. We will use a K-Type thermal probe and a Fluke F51-II digital thermometer for temperature readings to be as thorough as possible.

To keep our data consistent and conduct testing in all seasons, we will use the ambient-adjusted method for reporting temperatures. The temperature recordings were done in an open-air environment with no active airflow on the DIMMs. We use two approaches to generate heat and allow the DIMMs to return to a steady-state with a 20-minute cooldown.

Thermal Performance
Thermal Performance

Do enthusiast DDR5 memory modules require active heat sinks, as some tantalizing media headlines have suggested? At this point, we feel the Micron-based DDR5 modules don’t need much cooling if any. Based on the disassembled pictures above, we know that the PMIC heat output was not included in the thermal plan for this module. Realistically, we feel the majority of the heat increase we observed here is a result of the overall thermal growth of the motherboard and not necessarily the DIMM alone.

Conclusion

The XPG Lancer DDR5 modules were a blast to test. They’re built with high-quality materials, and the overall fit and finish were excellent. We expected great things from ADATA, and they delivered. The heat sink design is clean-looking and very straightforward. The styling is perhaps a bit on the ‘safe’ side, but it’s also timeless in that regard. With a total height of 40 mm, there shouldn’t be any clearance issues with most coolers.

As for the overclocking, we felt the Micron ICs fell a bit short of the expectation. We know that XMP ratings of 6400 MHz and much higher are on the horizon for DDR5, so we expected a bit more overclocking headroom from the IC. We managed a stable 400 MHz overclock with just a five mV increase in voltage. This produced favorable performance results across the board, ranging from a 2-4% increase. Aside from DDR5 being fundamentally different from DDR4, in terms of overclocking, they are surprisingly similar.

We found the XPG Lancer at B&H Photo for $299.99. As expected in the current chip-shortage climate, the retail market for the DDR5 launch is relatively small. Looking at XMP ratings of 5200 MHz, we’ve seen the price vary from 289.99 up to 369.99. Considering that the Lancer doesn’t come with RGB lighting, the price point is slightly above where we’d expect it. To ADATA’s credit, they built the Lancer with premium products and it’s got the style to back up the price tag. If you’re looking to make the jump to DDR5, and you definitely should, then we’d recommend putting the XPG Lancer at the top of your list for RGB-less memory.

Overclockers_clear_approved

Click the stamp for an explanation of what this means.

David Miller – mllrkllr88

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Discussion

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  1. I have the exact, same RAM, motherboard and CPU as you do and yet I cannot get the XMP profile to successfully load. It gives me some sort of error screen and bounces me back to the BIOS. How did you get yours to work?
    Did you update your board to the latest bios? Two sticks or 4? If two sticks, are they in the right slots?

    What exactly is the error? Does that board have a debug code on it before it reboots.





    Quote Originally Posted by EarthDog
    View Post

    Did you update your board to the latest bios? Two sticks or 4? If two sticks, are they in the right slots?

    What exactly is the error? Does that board have a debug code on it before it reboots.



    1. Yes, I believe so. I checked the MSI website and the latest bios they had available was the one installed.

    2. 2 16Gb sticks. XPG Lancer black DDR5 5200 CAS38.

    3. Yes: A2 & B2.

    4. & 5. I'll re run the XMP OC and see what it says. The MB should display the error code if there is one. The message that comes up is along the lines of the XMP profile not being stable or something and being reverted to the previous state, i.e. 4800MHz and Cas40.

    The system is an MSI z690 Carbon, RAM as stated above. and an i9 12900 KF. All the BIOS settings are at default with the exception of toggling XMP profile 1 when attempting the XMP OC.
    Okay, I went thru and tried a few things. First off, there is not a memory related error code on the motherboard (more on that below). A message pops up saying the memory overclocked failed and then bounces me back to the BIOS page after a few second. There are options like alt-F1, but regardless, I'm ultimately back on the BIOS mainpage. A code does appear on the MB when this message pops up: 98, and the led right above the main power connector is lit up on the VGA light, but I'm not sure how this is related to the memory OC fail. I'm a novice to memory overclocking so I'm sure it might mean something to someone with more experience. The GPU I'm running is a Gigabyte Vision OC 3080ti if that helps with any details.

    I tried manually overclocking the RAM as well. I looked up the values for the XMP profile for 5200 cas 38 in Memory Z and then plugged in the numbers in the corresponding slots in the advanced overclocking menu. I cranked up the voltage to 1.26 just in case and tried both 5200 cas38 G2 and G4. All failed identical to the XMP profile failure.
    If the VGA light is lit up... that would (should) be where the problem is.

    Bt have you tried one stick (in the proper slot for one stick) and try XMP?

    You can also try raising system agent voltage.





    Quote Originally Posted by EarthDog
    View Post

    If the VGA light is lit up... that would (should) be where the problem is.

    Bt have you tried one stick (in the proper slot for one stick) and try XMP?

    You can also try raising system agent voltage.



    Hmm, what could being going on with the VGA? The GPU is detected both in BIOS and Windows 11, and in CPU-Z. The latest drivers are installed and working perfectly. I have no issues gaming on it in 4K HDR.

    When I get some time later this evening I will try testing each stick in the A2 slot and see if the XMP profile sticks.

    How should I got about raising the system agent voltage? I don't want to fry a bunch of new, unreplaceable components.

    Again, I'm confused. Because according to your review. You have the same board, CPU and RAM as I do. The only difference is you used a 3090 instead of a 3080ti. And yet your XMP profile didn't fail, and you were able to overclock the RAM as well, right?

    - - - Auto-Merged Double Post - - -

    Wait! I see it, I see the difference. You're using a more recent BIOS! Yours is 1.11 and is from 10/5/2021. Mine is 1.00 and from 9/23/2021. Where did you get that BIOS from? It is unavailable from MSI site. They only have 1.00 from September. Also, why did you use the PCIe gen 4 slot and not the gen 5?





    Quote Originally Posted by bfoxsyracuse
    View Post

    - - - Auto-Merged Double Post - - -

    Wait! I see it, I see the difference. You're using a more recent BIOS! Yours is 1.11 and is from 10/5/2021. Mine is 1.00 and from 9/23/2021. Where did you get that BIOS from? It is unavailable from MSI site. They only have 1.00 from September. Also, why did you use the PCIe gen 4 slot and not the gen 5?



    As reviewers, companies will issue us an alpha/beta BIOS that isn't public to address specific issues we are seeing. These BIOS haven't been thoroughly tested by the Engineers so still aren't available publicly.
    That being said I would go ahead and test the sticks, that speed should work at XMP without any additional tweaking.





    Quote Originally Posted by Johan45
    View Post

    As reviewers, companies will issue us an alpha/beta BIOS that isn't public to address specific issues we are seeing.



    I'm guessing you either A. encountered the same problem, reached out to MSI and XPG and got the experimental BIOS, or B. they preemptively sent you that BIOS knowing of the problem. I'm curious if the BIOS XMP fix caused the PCIe generations to downstep.






    Quote Originally Posted by Johan45
    View Post

    These BIOS haven't been thoroughly tested by the Engineers so still aren't available publicly.
    That being said I would go ahead and test the sticks, that speed should work at XMP without any additional tweaking.



    I think I'm going to refrain from that for now. I am reluctant to put the sticks thru needless wear and tear testing for something I'm 99% sure is a BIOS issue. Others on Newegg in their reviews have also blamed the BIOS for the problem. And MSI on their forums in response to my post on the matter have more or less confirmed that the BIOS is to blame and said that I am lucky that things work so well on their default settings this early in the generation.

    Since you're the professional overclocker, I'd challenge you to see if you can get the XMP profile or manual overclock to work on the 1.00 version of the BIOS. That is, if you're still in possession of the MB, RAM and CPU. Because replacement parts are next to impossible to acquire at the moment, especially the RAM, I'm unwilling to risk damaging any components running tests. I'd rather have a working PC running DDR5 at 4800MHz cas40, than not working at all while trying to reach 5200 cas38.

    I'm willing to bet also, that the XMP fail and the manual overclock fail are related. Compare my CPU-Z to yours: ; mine says "Unknown" while yours says DDR5. That might be the problem right there, or a clue to it.

    Anyway, I appreciate your feedback on this matter.
    You're running an older version of cpuz than the review. Update cpuz. Alder Lake wasn't supported until 1.97. ,

    As far as system agent voltage. See where it's setting it at and raise it 0.1V. It's good to well over 1.4V so... a little bump won't hurt anything. I think stock is 0.9V.
    I am sorry to hear that the XMP is not working for you. Trust me, I feel your pain, as I have been in that same situation many times. We all want the XMP to just work, but sometimes there are other factors at play and it's easy to point fingers.

    As you said, I had no issues with the XMP profile, it was rock solid. Furthermore, I was able to overclock up to 5600 MT/s...which is the effective limit of Micron ICs at this point. I've tested a few Micron kits and they all exhibit the same behavior with regards to top-end OC.

    I am happy to set up a test and run the 1.00 bios for you with all of the same equipment.

    When I tested the XMP profile, all of the voltage options were untouched in the bios. I would probably just hang tight and wait for a new bios, but if you would like to try increasing some volts I am sure you can get XMP stable. The two key voltages are CPU VDDQ and CPU VDD2, along with DRAM voltage. As EarthDog said, the SA volt level can help, but its less effective on Z690 than previous generations. Here is a screenshot showing what I consider to be the maximum safe voltage levels for testing, however, I still wouldn't recommend for 24/7 stability.





    Quote Originally Posted by bfoxsyracuse
    View Post


    Since you're the professional overclocker, I'd challenge you to see if you can get the XMP profile or manual overclock to work on the 1.00 version of the BIOS. That is, if you're still in possession of the MB, RAM and CPU. Because replacement parts are next to impossible to acquire at the moment, especially the RAM, I'm unwilling to risk damaging any components running tests. I'd rather have a working PC running DDR5 at 4800MHz cas40, than not working at all while trying to reach 5200 cas38.

    I'm willing to bet also, that the XMP fail and the manual overclock fail are related..



    I had the board up and running on my test bench, so this was a quick test. With Bios 1.00 the XMP fails entirely. I was not able to train XMP, even with hardware-destruction level volts. As for lowering the frequency, the only thing that worked was 4800. I tried 5000 MT/s and it didn't work, even with CL40





    Quote Originally Posted by mllrkllr88
    View Post

    I had the board up and running on my test bench, so this was a quick test. With Bios 1.00 the XMP fails entirely. I was not able to train XMP, even with hardware-destruction level volts. As for lowering the frequency, the only thing that worked was 4800. I tried 5000 MT/s and it didn't work, even with CL40



    Okay;this is helpful to know! I really appreciate you're effort looking into this! You're willingness to help with this issue is really nice.

    So do you think I should just hold tight and wait for a BIOS update? My RAM is probably not faulty, right? I think what I'll do is when a BIOS update comes out saying that it addresses the XMP wonkiness, then I'll try again, and if I can't get it to work, then test each module.

    Honestly, 4800 cas 40 is just fine for now. I'm coming from a 4790K DDR3 2400, so everything feels fast and fancy anyway. lol.

    - - - Auto-Merged Double Post - - -






    Quote Originally Posted by EarthDog
    View Post

    You're running an older version of cpuz than the review. Update cpuz. Alder Lake wasn't supported until 1.97. ,



    Ah okay. Nevermind that idea then. lol. Thanks for letting me know.