OCZ Gold PC4000 VX 1GB Dual Channel Kit

Written by Randy Torio    Friday, 18 March 2005 11:00
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OCZ Gold PC4000 VX 1GB Dual Channel Kit
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Introduction


OCZ and InsaneTek are like two peas in a pod.  They have always managed to send us their latest gear and we continue to be impressed with each new product.  Although they started as a memory company, they have always provided unmatched customer satisfaction with enthusiast-minded products.  They have released innovative products, such as the PowerStream and ModStream power supply line, the OCZ Booster, and the VGA/HDD power leads.  Although their primary focus has been on providing end-users with pure overclocking power, they also have never failed to impress with their implementation of aesthetic appeal.  OCZ has continued to surprise us with their upcoming Titanium line and their introduction of PLL technology.  I am more than excited to see what OCZ has planned for the future. 
 

Today, OCZ has wowed us again with a much revamped update to their 3200 Voltage Extreme Kit: the OCZ PC4000 VX series.  That's right. OCZ has developed a 2x512MB dual-channel kit that guarantees DDR500 speeds at 2-2-2-5 with a voltage of only 3.3v.  While some of you new to overclocking may see 3.3v as rather high, veterans may recall 2x512MB BH-5 ICs being "hit or miss".  When it came to overclocking these ICs past 250MHZ, it was definitely a gamble, let alone at only 3.3v.  Although OCZ never fails to impress, how will these sticks compare to the current mainstream TCCD sticks that are arguably more convenient to overclock?  Read on...

 


 

OCZ PC4000 Gold Edition VX

OCZ has always included the same style of reliable packaging for quite some time.  However, while it may be because I am a reviewer, OCZ should include some kind of disclaimer regarding VX's and their need for excess voltage.  I have seen PC3200 VX for sale at Fry's Electronics, and I would not want your average consumer to mistake these sticks for any other normal, high-performance memory.

 
OCZ has also included the same style of impressive copper, mirror-finished, gold-plated heatspreaders that they include in most of their high-performance product lines.  While the old heatspreaders had stamped OCZ spreaders, OCZ has opted for a new look by incorporating the use of a glued-on OCZ emblem, a look that makes it look more professional. 

 
The PC4000 VX's have a label marked for the timings of 2-2-2-8; however, these timings need at least 3.0v of VDIMM and for the normal VDIMM options of 2.5v - 2.9v, the timings of 2-3-3-6 will only work.  While I do have the option of taking off the heatspreaders, I already know that OCZ has probably labeled the ICs with their OCZ logo, which they have been doing with the older PC3200 VX line.  This makes removing the heatspreaders to reveal the ICs a moot point, although most of us would already know they use OCZ speed binned Winbond "UTT" chips.  I also noticed that OCZ used the B6U808 Brainpower PCB, which has proven its worth in being the most acclaimed PCB for DDR1 IC overclocking.  OCZ was arguably the first company to utilize the B6U808 PCB on their modules and now other companies are following this trend.
 
Again, OCZ's PC4000 VX are rated to run at the low latencies of 2-2-2-X at the speeds of 250MHZ at 3.3v.  OCZ implements the use of their EVP (Extreme Voltage Protection) that allows overclockers to raise VDIMM voltage up to 3.5v without violating OCZ's unprecedented warranty.  OCZ's warranty alone justifies a VX purchase over any other UTT-based kit such as Twinmos's or Mushkin's PC3200 Blue line.
 

 
Test System and Overclocking

Test System:

  • DFI NF4 Ultra-D
  • Athlon 64 4000+
  • Connect3D Radeon X850XT PE
  • Thermaltake PurePower 680W
  • 2 x 512MB Centon Advanced Gemini PC3200LL Rev. 2
  • 2 x 512MB OCZ Gold PC4000 VX

Overclocking:

Choosing a motherboard to overclock this memory with was not difficult at all.  Currently, there exists only one board that can take VDIMM voltages past 3.0v: the DFI NF4 series.  I also chose an A64 platform because of the ability to lower multipliers for benching purposes.  Adjustable lower multipliers allows for excellent comparisons in determining the performance results of increasing memory bandwidth.  It also allowed me to compare TCCD at 300HTT 1:1 to VX at 250MHZ with the same CPU frequency. 

Obviously, the first thing I did was attempt to run the modules at 2-2-2-5 at normal voltages.  The system quickly kept rebooting, indicating instability.  So I raised the VDIMM to 2.9v and still the system was unstable.  At 3.0v the system was stable with the VX at DDR400.  The DFI NF4 requires the change of a jumper setting to enable VDIMM voltages past 3.2v up to 4.0v.  However, the motherboard's MOSFET's, especially the MOSFET near the DDR sockets, can get extremely hot without active cooling.  Therefore, I tried testing for the highest overclock up to 3.2v as this was maximum voltage allowed without having to enable the 4.0v jumper.  I also only tested for low latency timings of 2-2-2-5 as these modules were solely designed for these timings and nothing else (obviously, you can adjust the TRAS to however you see fit).  My results are as follows:

  • 200MHZ     3.0v     CPU Speed: 2.4GHZ (200x12)
  • 219MHZ     3.1v     CPU Speed: 2.4GHZ (219x11)
  • 240MHZ     3.2v     CPU Speed: 2.4GHZ (240x10)
  • 250MHZ     3.2v     CPU Speed: 2.763GHZ (307x9 with a 166Mhz memory divider)
  • 260MHZ     3.4v     CPU Speed: 2.6GHZ (260x10)
  • 307MHZ     2.9v     CPU Speed: 2.763GHZ (307x9 at 1:1 ratio) Centon Advanced Gemini TCCD Rev2

As you can see, OCZ's VX PC4000 surpassed my expectations since it was able to run at its rated speed with less voltage than I expected.  At a voltage of only 3.2v, this meant I did not have to enable the 4.0v option on the DFI NF4, which would make the motherboard extremely hot.  However, in order to overclock past 250MHZ, I needed to raise the VDIMM voltage past 3.2v, which required the 4.0v option.  My highest overclock was an impressive 260MHZ at 3.4v.  The first three results shown are all at the same frequency of 2.4Ghz, to show the relative increase in performance by raising the memory alone.  I also included benches for the max result overclock of 260MHZ and also a comparison of TCCD to VX at the same CPU frequency of 2.763MHZ (307x9), but with the VX at 166Mhz memory divider.  This will answer the age old question "Is high HTT 1:1 better than running high HTT with a divider of low timings?"  Let's find out.



 
 

Results

SiSoft Sandra

Everest Home Edition

3DMark2001SE

Half Life 2

Doom 3

Unreal Tournament 2004

Far Cry

Super PI

As you can see, every time the memory frequency increased in speed at the low timings of 2-2-2-5, the performance increased in all the benchmarks.  The memory was also complimented well when I increased the overclock of the CPU to 2.6GHZ and ran the memory at 260MHZ 1:1. 

 


 

 Results Continued

Now we will compare my Centon Advanced TCCD running at 307MHZ 1:1 at the timings of 7-4-3-2.5 to OCZ's VX at 251MHZ, which is also running at the same HTT speeds of 307MHZ but with a divider of 166Mhz that keeps it at 251MHZ.

SiSoft Sandra Memory Bandwidth

Everest Home Edition

Super PI

Half Life 2

Unreal Tournament 2004

3DMark2001SE

As you can see from the results, VX running a full 57MHZ less than TCCD is able to keep up and in some cases surpass TCCD at 300+ speeds.  Considering not all TCCD can easily hit speeds of 300+MHZ, VX may be the fastest DDR solution to hit the enthusiast market.

 


 

Conclusion and Thoughts

Boasting the highest overclocks with the lowest timings that we have seen here at InsaneTek, OCZ's PC4000 VX's easily take the crown for the fastest memory currently on the market.  At its rated speeds of 250MHZ, the VX's are able to perform equally to TCCD-based memory running well over 300MHZ.  And the best part is, these modules were able to overclock a full 10Mhz past their rated speeds.  However, these modules are definitely not for your beginning overclocker.  Managing to keep a motherboard cool while running past 3.2v can be difficult and perhaps dangerous towards your hardware if not done carefully.  Both the DFI NF4 Ultra-D and the OCZ PC4000 VX were made to cater solely towards the use of hardcore overclockers.  I also ran some tests without the use of active cooling on the motherboard and the memory.  I noticed Prime would fail once things started to heat up intensely.  There is also the option of running these modules in another motherboard with OCZ's DDR booster, but when taken to extreme voltages even the booster can get significantly hot without active and proper cooling.  Despite these shortcomings, InsaneTek is primarily an overclocker's community, and it is for this reason plus the exceptional price tag of only 260 dollars that OCZ's PC4000 VX series will receive InsaneTek's "Must Have" award.

John's Addition:

OCZ never ceases to impress.  There are a couple of downsides to the use of the Gold PC4000 VX, but the upsides sure make up for it.  The memory requires extremely high voltages, beyond the typical high of 3.2v.  Unless they can find a motherboard compatible with the OCZ Booster, user's are pretty much required to purchase the DFI nForce4 motherboards.  The use of high voltages also causes the system to run incredibly hot, and because of that, more fans and better cooling is needed.  If enthusiasts already own a DFI motherboard and don't really care much about system noise, then this memory is definitely a must.  Its incredible performance is like none other.  As Randy mentioned earlier, extremely high speed TCCD memory is not a common thing.  It's very difficult to find TCCD that can reach 300MHZ+ at 2.5-3-3-7 1T or even 2.5-4-3-7 1T.  Most of the PC4800 available run the command rate run at 2T.  The PC4000 VX guarantees a speed of 250MHZ 2-2-2-5 with 3.3v.  The PC4000 VX continues what the legendary BH5 left off, allowing memory to run extremely low latencies of 2-2-2-5 at higher frequencies. 

Pros:

  • OCZ's unmatched warranty
  • Beautiful mirror-finish heatspreaders
  • Excellent performance at low timings
  • Excellent overclockability

Cons:

  • Only one motherboard that support high VDIMM
  • Motherboard and modules get rather hot without active cooling

We would like to thank OCZ for providing us the sample.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to hit us up in the forums. You can also check out more of our latest reviews on the front page.

 

 

 

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