As many of you may already know, the X79 motherboard combined with the Core i7 3960X is an extremely powerful platform for nearly anything you want to do. One key component of this platform is the fact that it supports Quad-Channel memory which results in a whole lot of memory bandwidth and memory slots. Most X79 motherboards either feature 4 DIMM slots or 8 DIMM slots depending on whether or not the manufacturer wants to tailor it for overclocking as many overclocking X79 boards only feature 4 DIMM slots or a single Quad-Channel setup.
All that aside, we are here to analyze the performance differences between different kits as well as the overclockability of certain kits to see which kits give you the best absolute performance and which ones give you the best absolute value.
For this review, we will be testing these 16GB (4x4GB) kits of RAM on our Gigabyte X79-UD7 board instead of the Intel provided DX79SI board as that board really struggled with memory stability when overclocked and generally had issues overclocking RAM. So, when you're looking into buying an X79 board consider this factor as some boards are better for overclocking RAM than others. We will also be running the board without any turbo settings or anything that could cause slight variations in the cache bandwidth, base clock, or memory performance in general. As such, we manually set the CPU to 3.7GHz and simply left it there, so if some 1600MHz benchmarks seem slower than something you may have benchmarked on your own, the likelihood is that you probably had turbo enabled and we don't.
In addition to that, we are going to focus heavily on price/performance as well as overclockability of the RAM. To us, overclocking is the ultimate value proposition as well as a measure of what kind of quality you're dealing with. We will illustrate what kind of clocks we managed to attain as well as what kind of performance resulted from those overclocks.
In this roundup we will have the following kits of RAM:
Corsair Vengeance 1866MHz 16GB (4x4GB) CL9 1.5v -CMZ16GX3M4X1866C9R
Kingston HyperX Genesis 1600MHz 16GB (4x4GB) CL9 1.65v - KHX1600C9D3K4/16GX
Kingston HyperX Genesis 2133MHz 16GB (4x4GB) CL11 1.65v - KHX2133C11D3K4/16GX
Patriot Division 4 Viper Extreme 1600MHz 16GB (4x4GB) CL8 1.65v - PXQ316G1600LLQK
Our testing protocols for these kits of RAM involved installing the RAM using the XMP profile for that specific kit of ram to ensure that the RAM performed at its intended levels. We then ran the RAM in a series of tests including AIDA64, SiSoft Sandra 2012 and SuperPi Mod 1.5. The first two we chose as simple measurements of speed and theoretical performance and SuperPi we chose because it is actual final performance of the kit factoring in both latency as well as clock speed.
In AIDA64 we ran the Read, Write and Copy tests for each kit of RAM and compared them against each other.
When you take a look at our AIDA64 results, you'll notice that we had nearly identical write performance across the board regardless of the frequency or timings of the kit. The write speeds were also significantly lower than the read and copy speeds which ranged between 15,000 MB/s and 18,000 MB/s. When it came to read speeds, the performance was almost directly attributable to the frequency of the kits as the faster the kit, the faster the performance. Interestingly enough, the lower latency Patriot 1600MHz kit did worse than the higher latency 1600MHz kit from Kingston. We believe this is because X79 simply does not like nor benefit from timings lower than CAS9. When it came to the copy test, the results were less drastic but still effectively the same placement as the read test with the faster kits coming in higher. In this test once again the Kingston 1600MHz kit beats out the Patriot 1600MHz kit.
SiSoft Sandra 2012
In SiSoft Sandra 2012, we took all of the memory kits and compared the measured memory bandwidth figures of each kit based upon the frequency and timings that they were set to.
With the SiSoft Sandra 2012 memory bandwidth benchmark, there is a combination of two different tests which dictate the systems overall memory performance. Looking at these speeds, we see that once again the trends from the AIDA64 tests are repeating themselves with the fastest 2133MHz kit breaking 45GB/s of memory bandwidth. The difference between the float and integer memory bandwidth tests were negligible in all the tests, so there's no cause for any concern there.
SuperPi XS Mod 1.5 32M
In SuperPi we simply took the same concept as in the previous tests and compared all of the different kits against each other. Except, in this test we also included the overclocked times against the stock ones so that you can see the performance improvements as a result of the overclocks as well as compare overclocked kits against stock kits and overclocked kits against other overclocked kits of the same frequency. Note that what SuperPi does is calculate multiple loops of n digits of Pi. The 32M test effectively forces the computer to calculate 32 million digits of pi more than 2 dozen times. Note that in this test lower is better.
With SuperPi we were able to get a real feel for memory performance and we could see that on stock speeds that the Patriot Viper kit was the slowest followed by the Kingston 1600MHz genesis kit. Once those two were taken out of the way, the SuperPi performance improved significantly jumping to 11 seconds over 9minutes instead of 17 and 19. In reality, the Kingston 2133MHz kit did beat out the 1866MHz Corsair Vengeance kit, but the truth is that the performance difference there is in the single digit percentages.
The real surprises came when we started overclocking these kits of RAM. We successfully managed to get both of our 1600MHz kits from Kingston and Patriot to 2133MHz and surprisingly enough , the Patriots lower latency helped it edge out the Kingston 1600MHz kit overclocked to the same speed. We also were able to get the Corsair Vengeance RAM to 2133MHz as well, and as you can see the kit was clearly running at lower latencies as it beat out both overclocked kits running at the same 2133MHz. And the performance crown once again goes to the Kingston HyperX Genesis 2133MHz kit as we were able to get it up to a lofty 2400MHz which further pushed our SuperPi time all the way down to 9m and 8.764s.
From our experience, the lower clocked kits yielded us the largest overclocking margins. We managed to take both the Patriot 1600MHz and Kingston 1600MHz kits to 2133MHz. We also were able to take the Corsair Vengeance 1866MHz kit to 2133MHz, we unfortunately hit a wall once we pushed for 2400MHz with that kit. With the Kingston 2133MHz kit, we managed to squeeze out 2400MHz and as you can see in our SuperPi overclocking results, it also was the best performing kit as well.
Overall, most of these kits overclocked pretty well, but people do need to keep in mind that not all X79 boards are created equally and not all of them are going to be able to squeeze a 533MHz OC on a 1600MHz kit of RAM. So if you want to overclock your RAM do your research first before buying, because not all of these X79 boards really can handle higher clocked RAM especially overclocked RAM.
Note that both our 1600MHz kits, when overclocked to 2133MHz actually had beaten our Kingston 2133MHz kit of RAM running at exactly the same timings and voltages.
The kits we have in hand have the following retail prices:
Kingston HyperX Genesis 1600MHz - $89
Patriot 1600MHz Viper Extreme 4 - TBD (similar slightly slower kit goes for $82.99 on Newegg)
Corsair Vengeance 1866MHz - $159
Kingston HyperX Genesis 2133MHz - $318
Based upon these prices and the performance we saw, the Kingston HyperX Genesis 1600MHz provides one of the best values for the consumer not looking to overclock their memory. Even so, if one does choose to overclock their memory, this kit can easily handle 2133MHz. This is in contrast to our Patriot Viper Extreme 1600MHz kit which didn't do too well at stock compared to the Kingston, but overclocked very well and outperformed the overclocked Kingston kit.
We feel that the Kingston 2133MHz kit is a little over priced at $318 considering that it was actually beaten by the 1600MHz kits which cost 1/3 the price when overclocked. Granted, the 2133MHz did overclock higher and deliver faster performance, but it is always going to be the question of whether or not it's worth paying for the guaranteed performance.
The Corsair kit sort of looms in between all of the kits as it delivers a price that isn't far off from the 1600MHz kits, but it promises higher performance and overclocking at a lower voltage which means that there's a chance of even more overclocking if the motherboard cooperates. Looking back at our scores, we believe that the Corsair Vengeance kit provides the best performance out of all of the kits that we have without actually spending 2-3x the price of the cheapest kit. Relative to all of the other kits, the Vengeance kit is probably the best 'performance' kit for the money as the Kingston kit just feels too expensive.
There is a lot that happened during the course of this review and we were really surprised to see such a mixed bag of results on a whole bunch of fronts. We were pretty satisfied with most of the overclocks that we got out of all the kits of RAM we had been running and we really weren't disappointed with any of the kits of RAM. The performance that we saw was simply astonishing and the overclockability of some of these kits is really quite awesome.
From our deductions based on performance and value, taking overclocking into consideration, we're inclined to say that its effectively a tie between the Kingston HyperX Genesis and the Patriot Viper Extreme 4 even though its clear that they don't actually perform the same, but rather they perform very closely to each other and trade punches. To us, the overclocked speed of the Patriot Viper Extreme Div 4 1600MHz kit really saved it from being handily beaten by the Kingston HyperX Genesis 1600MHz kit.
As such, since both of these kits are a tie in our eyes we would like to give both of them our value award for being extremely affordable but also providing an extremely good value when overclocked.
As for our editor's choice, it was a very hard decision to make as both the Vengeance and HyperX Genesis high performance kits did very well in terms of performance. The only problem is that the Kingston HyperX kit costs twice as much as the Corsair Vengeance kit. Because of the relatively negligible performance differences between these two kits, we're more comfortable with awarding the editor's choice to the Corsair Vengeance 1866MHz kit.