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Kingston HyperX DDR2-800 2GB Memory Kit
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Date: Jul 05, 2006
Section:Misc
Author: Alex Evans
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Overview

Kingston has been known throughout the industry as a steady-hand, a reliable partner, a company which is stable and never really pushed the bar in terms of enthusiast memory modules. If you wanted a solid, name-brand memory module which would be almost guaranteed to work, Kingston was one of the few brands which one should look for. They were respected in many markets, but until a few years ago, they weren't a name you would think of if you were looking to push the envelope in terms of overclocking.

Over the last year in particular, Kingston has been particularly aggressive in promoting their new HyperX line of memory modules, designed to directly target overclockers. Kingston has kept their "standard" memory modules in their "ValueRAM" lineup, whereas HyperX modules are designed to clock higher, run at lower latencies, and generally allow for more flexibility for the enthusiast. Of course, for this privilege, HyperX modules are far more expensive compared to standard modules. Despite the ultra-competitive nature of this subset of the memory market, Kingston's modules have been able to truly make a name for themselves, regularly mentioned along with companies like Corsair and OCZ, both favorites of overclockers.

Not surprisingly, Kingston has expanded their HyperX lineup to DDR2, targeting high-end Intel platforms until recently. As AMD's new Socket-AM2 processors, along with Intel's upcoming Conroe (Core 2 Duo), feature support for DDR2-800 memory modules, it appears as if a major battle is under way for this rapidly expanding market. Kingston recently shipped out a new pair of HyperX memory modules in a dual-channel pack designed specifically for enthusiasts looking for the lowest-latency operation at DDR2-800 speeds without having to overclock. These new modules are dubbed the KHX6400D2LLK2/2G, or more easily know as the Kingston HyperX DDR2-800 Low Latency kit, which we'll be looking at today.

 

 

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Memory Module Details

 

Kingston's KHX6400D2LLK2/2G is a kit of two low-latency 128M x 64-bit 1GB (1024MB) DDR2-800 CL4 SDRAM (Synchronous DRAM) memory modules, based on sixteen 64M x 8-bit DDR2 FBGA components per module. Total kit capacity is 2GB 2048MB). Each module pair has been tested to run at DDR2 800MHz at low latency timing of 4-4-4-12 at 2.0V. The SPD is programmed to JEDEC standard latency 667Mhz timing of 5-5-5-15 at 1.8V. Each 240-pin DIMM uses gold contact fingers and requires +1.8V.

Kingston's HyperX modules ship in a slim, sturdy plastic protector, which is quite a bit smaller and less flashy in comparison to other enthusiast targeted memory modules. Kingston lets you directly see the module information from the outside of the package before you purchase, although besides the model number and recommended voltage level (1.95V), we are not able to decode any useful information.

Interestingly enough, a cursory glance at Kingston's website and PDF files for these specific memory modules actually differ from what is stated directly on the memory module. While Kingston states a 1.95V voltage level, their PDF file states the following recommended timings and voltages.

 

"DDR2-800 - CAS 4-4-4-12 @ 2.0V"


That's odd. Luckily there is not too much variance between 1.95V and 2.0V, so if your motherboard supports it, we would say just go ahead and stick with 2.0V to be safe.

The recommended latencies of CAS 4-4-4-12 at 800 MHz clock speeds are very good, as the vast majority of "standard" DDR2-800 memory modules on the market run at CAS 5-5-5-18 latencies at this same clock speed. Our testing in the past has shown that CAS 4-4-4 latencies typically deliver about 5% better overall system performance across the board compared to CAS 5-5-5 modules. Kingston's HyperX modules can run at these timings without any overclocking, so we're looking at a nice performance upgrade with zero stability risk here by using these KHX modules over generic ones.

These particular Kingston HyperX modules do not support EPP (Enhanced Performance Profiles), although at the time of writing, Kingston is now producing EPP-compatible variants of these modules. EPP will auto-adjust the memory timings to the manufacturer's specific high-end settings on EPP-enabled motherboards. Since these modules do not support this technology, clock speeds and timings have to be set manually in the motherboard's BIOS. If manual timings are not set, the motherboard will fall back on SPD (Serial Presence Detect) defaults, which in the case of this particular module are DDR2-667 clock speeds with CAS 5-5-5-15 latencies @ 1.8V. Obviously, running these modules at SPD defaults would very much be a waste, so manual timing of these modules is a necessity.

In standard Kingston HyperX fashion, these modules are equipped with dodger blue anodized aluminum alloy heat spreaders which are bolted (more or less) to the memory chips by a set of high-pressure metal clips. The heat spreaders have proved themselves to be effective in the past, so we have no reason to doubt their abilities now. Underneath the heatsinks, if you choose to pry them off (we'll do it, so you don't have to), lie Elpida-branded memory chips. Our chips were labeled as Elpida's E5108AG-6E-E, which are officially rated as DDR2-667 CAS 5-5-5 chips from Elpida, according to their PDF sheet. Despite the chip rating, the module had no issues running at Kingston's promised CAS 4-4-4 latencies at 800 MHz clock speeds.

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Intel Performance Testing

Performance Testing : Intel Pentium-D Platform
For Intel based testing, our system consisted of an Asus P5WD2-E Premium motherboard, based on the Intel 975X chipset. The board officially supports DDR-800 memory speeds, and allows for manual timing and voltage adjustments. We paired the motherboard up with an Intel Pentium-D 940 dual-core processor and a GeForce 7800 GTX 256MB graphics card.

We first ran some tests comparing the Kingston HyperX DDR2-800 modules to "generic" DDR2-667 and DDR2-800 modules, both of which ran at CAS 5-5-5-15 latencies, in order to see how much the lower latencies of the HyperX modules help memory performance.

 

 

 

As we can see, when using an Intel Pentium-D processor, using the HyperX memory modules does not help performance greatly over "generic" modules. We see positive improvements in terms of latency, but our memory bandwidth numbers are virtually un-changed between modules.

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Intel Overclocking Testing

Performance Testing : Intel Pentium-D Platform : Overclocked
Starting from our base 800 MHz (4-4-4) timings and clock speeds, we set out to see how far we could overclock these modules. While trying to keep the same 4-4-4 timings, we were immediately met with defeat, as the modules could not overclock more than 5% at these timings. However, if we eased the timings down to 5-5-5, we were able to move up to 933 MHz at a maximum.

 

 

 

Overclocking certainly helped our bandwidth scores, boosting actual memory bandwidth numbers from 5.5 GB/s to 5.9 GB/s (about 8.5%). However, even at 933 MHz, our latency numbers did not improve greatly, likely due to the inefficiency of Intel's off-die 975X memory controller becoming a bottleneck. Nevertheless, solid performance gains over stock speeds all around.

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AMD Performance Testing

Performance Testing : AMD Athlon64 Socket-AM2 Platform
For AMD based testing, we grabbed one of AMD's new Socket-AM2 based Athlon64 processors and paired it with the Asus M2N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard, based on the nVidia nForce 590 SLI chipset. The board supports DDR2-800 natively and allows for incredible amounts of memory module tweaking via timings and voltage alteration. Just as with our Intel based platform, we ran our first set of tests with the Kingston HyperX modules at their stock CAS 4-4-4 timings against our "generic" 5-5-5 based DDR2-667 and DDR2-800 modules.

 

 

 

Our AMD platform shows much better performance gains with the HyperX modules over our stock brands, both in terms of memory bandwidth and latency. At stock 4-4-4 timings, our Kingston HyperX modules have an incredibly low 70.5ns latency, compared to over 100ns for our heavily overclocked Pentium-D platform. AMD's integrated dual-channel DDR2-800 memory controller really gets the most out of these memory modules.

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AMD Overclocking Testing

Performance Testing : AMD Athlon64 Socket-AM2 Platform : Overclocked
Similar to our Intel platform, we were not able to overclock our Hyper-X modules far at all using the stock 4-4-4 timings, even when the voltage was raised. However, if the timings were dropped to 5-5-5, we were able to overclock to a very respectable 950 MHz on our Athlon64 Socket-AM2 platform. Let's see how it helps performance.

 

 

 

Overclocking our Socket-AM2 platform provides excellent increases in memory performance, as our peak memory bandwidth numbers were able to jump from 6.2 GB/s to 7.8 GB/s, a jump of over 27%. However, while our bandwidth numbers increased, lowering the timings to 5-5-5 actually raised our memory latency by about 10%.

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Conclusion

With Intel's Core 2 Duo about to ship, along with the increasing demand for Socket-AM2 processors, demand for high-quality, high-speed DDR2-800 modules will skyrocket in the next few months. Kingston is right there with an excellent set of DDR2 memory modules which can appeal to those who want excellent stock performance and overclockability as well.

Granted, Kingston's HyperX DDR2-800 modules are not as overclockable as some newer enthusiast-class modules which are hitting clock speeds of over 1GHz, but we were able to get quite a bit more juice from these memory modules through overclocking, we simply had to lower the timings in order to gain a little more flexibility when it came to upping the clock speed. With our Socket-AM2 platform, we were able to see peak clock speeds of 950 MHz, impressive considering the Elpida chips used on this memory module are actually only rated for 667 MHz operation.

Our HyperX pack performed exactly as stated, providing excellent CAS 4-4-4 latencies at 800 MHz clock speeds without any stability or heat related issues. Our Socket-AM2 platform was able to achieve higher bandwidth numbers and lower latencies compared to our Pentium-D platform, simply due to the effectiveness of AMD's integrated DDR2 memory controller. Those looking to use HyperX modules with an nForce 590 SLI platform may want to wait for the EPP-enabled variants of these modules to be released, as these will allow for simpler setup and operation. Performance levels will not differ from the modules we're testing today, however.

While Kingston's HyperX 800 MHz modules are more expensive compared to "generic" 800 MHz modules, they certainly can provide better stock performance and lower latencies, all without any overclocking. We've found that Kingston's HyperX 800 MHz modules are also quite a bit less expensive than similar Corsair and OCZ DDR2-800 modules, making them a solid buy all around.  We're giving them an 8.5 on the Heat Meter.

 

  • Excellent Stock Timings
  • Moderately Overclockable
  • Reasonable Price Compared To Other "Enthusiast" Modules"

  • Does Not Support EPP
  • Recommended Voltage Confusion
  • Not As Exciting As New 1066 MHz+ Modules

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