DDR3 memory prices have been at an all time low for some time now, and if there was ever a time to stock up, it would be now. If you were thinking this only pertains to entry-level or value RAM, you’d be wrong. Performance grade memory with fancy heatsinks, boasting of really high speeds can be purchased for less than 5K and not just 2GB or 4GB, but 8GB, too. G.Skill, a reputed player in the memory business has sent us their RipjawsX high-performance 8GB memory kit for review. Let’s see how much 'bang-for-buck' you actually get.
Design and Features
The RipjawsX series is classified in three performance brackets that are recognised from the colour of the heatsinks. The one we received is the F3-14900CL9D-8GBXL with the red heatsink, which denotes it’s from the mainstream line-up, while the blue is mid-ranged and the black is a high-end one. The metallic red heatsinks are visually appealing, but it’s not there just for decoration. The raised fins help cool the memory chips underneath during normal operation and come in handy when overclocking.
Aggressively designed heatsink
Even though this may belong to the mainstream category from the Ripjaw series, there’s nothing mainstream about its specifications. This 8GB DDR3 kit is designed with Intel’s Sandy Bridge CPUs in mind and are guaranteed to perform at their native speeds on a P67 and Z68 motherboard. G.Skill even has a list of all the motherboards they’ve tested this memory on. Of course, this will work just fine with an AMD-based system. The RAM is designed to run natively at 1866MHz giving you a theoretical bandwidth of 14,900MB/s. The CAS timings are 9-10-9-28, which is not very tight, but you have to remember this not a high-end memory kit. Finally, it also has an XMP (Intel Xtreme Memory Profile) profile to run the RAM at the native speed. All this is achieved with the modules running at 1.5v, which is quite impressive.
High bandwidth out-of-the-box
So, the RipjawsX look great, are built well and boast of impressive specs. Let’s see how this translates into real world performance.
We compared the G.Skill RAM to the Corsair Dominator GT, which we normally use on our testbench. These memory chips are rated to run at 2000MHz with 8-8-8-24 timings at 1.65v. Sadly, the Gigabyte board we tested this on didn’t support the exact speed the Dominator’s were rated at, so we had to run them at 1866MHz with the same timings. This was a lucky accident, as now both the G.Skill and Corsair ran at the same speed, except for the tighter timings on the Dominator, so we can see if that really made a huge difference.
Fares well against the more expensive Dominator GT
The Gigabyte motherboard is on the compatibility list of the G.Skill RAM, so simply switching to the XMP profile in the BIOS instantly set the speed to 1866MHz without much hassle.
The tighter timings on the Corsair does show up in some tests like the memory benchmark in Everest. The latency is much lower, which is what we were expecting and even in gaming tests, the maximum frame rate was higher. But, overall, the G.Skill put up a really good show in front of the more expensive Corsair memory. For everyday use or even gaming, you’ll barely notice the difference.
Another good thing was the heatsinks, which do a really good job of keeping temperatures in check. After the round of tests, the Dominators got quite hot, whereas the Ripjaws barely got warm.
Rather than trying to push the speed of the memory further, we tried tightening the timings. Our goal was to get it to at least 8-8-8-24 at the rated speed. First, we tried lowering the timings by dropping the speed to 1600MHz. We were able to get it down to 8-8-8-24 quite easily without having to fiddle with the voltage, but the performance dropped by a good 15 percent and oddly, the latency didn’t really improve much. Going further down to 7-7-7-20 didn’t work, unless the speeds were dropped to 1333MHz, which degraded the performance even more. Ultimately, we were able to get to 9-9-8-28 at the native speed, but it made no significant real world difference.
The G.Skill RipjawsX 8GB memory kit is priced at Rs. 4,500, which is good value for DDR3 memory rated at 1866MHz. If you’re looking for something a little cheaper, but don’t want to compromise on performance too much, then their F3-12800CL9D-8GBXL 8GB kit is a steal for just Rs. 3,500. The difference is that it runs at 1600MHz, instead of 1866MHz, but the timings are a bit tighter at 9-9-9-24. Overall, the RipjawsX offer great value for the price and will complement your gaming rig very well.
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