CSX Diablo3 PC3-16000 (DDR3 2000) 2GB kit Page: 1
Diablo - A name that conjures up images of an extremely fast 1990's super car and horned beasts emerging from the fiery depths of hell. Sadly, OC3D declined to offer me a test drive of Lamborghini's finest and I wasn't keen on witnessing the spawn of Lucifer, so I settled for taking a look at a 2x1GB set of DDR3 ram bearing the same name.
Diablo3 are the current high end DDR3 modules available from little-known memory manufacturer Compustocx (CSX). While a relative unknown in the PC arena, Compustocx boast they are the largest European Apple memory upgrader, so they are no doubt very accustomed to using quality products and make use of only Grade 'A' chips. Being a JEDEC partner as well as holding ISO 9001 quality assurance in addition to over 10 years of experience only emphasises the fact that CSX are a premier outfit.
Not only do CSX build 'standard' memory modules, but they also provide modules built to order for system builders. You name your brand, chip and module size and CSX will do the rest. With a lifetime warranty also in place and without a lengthy RMA process (no RMA number is required), it should come as no surprise then that CSX sell over 5000 modules a day and have their modules in over two million Apple systems worldwide.
Today, however, we will be looking at CSX's latest addition to the PC sector in the form of the Diablo3 2x1 GB 2000 kit. Although at the time of this review we have no definite confirmation of prices, our Latvian friends have DDR3 2GB kits priced at 100Ls (LVL), which using current conversion rates is equal to approx £80-90. Even adding VAT to that, these modules will come in at around the £100 mark, proving that DDR3 ram is now becoming ever more affordable and accessible to most enthusiasts. Hopefully the cheap price will not transfer into a cheap product, so without further a do, let's take a look at the ram itself...
CSX Diablo3 PC3-16000 (DDR3 2000) 2GB kit Page: 2
Packaging & Appearance
Starting with the outer packaging, the Diablo3 has the popular blister-style packaging synonymous with the memory giants of Corsair and OCZ. Unlike the aformentioned manufacturers, CSX opted not to display the memory modules from the front and instead show a picture of the modules superimposed on a flame-esque background with "DDR3 Diablo - Extreme Performance" emblazoned across the middle.
I am not a big fan of this type of protection as blister packs can easily be bent by Mr postman when ramming (pun intended) them through the letter box. That said, as long as they are securely packed inside another cardboard box, then I'm sure they would be fine, but I can't say anything other than blister packs are simply 'adequate'.
Flipping the pack over, we get to see what we have purchased. The first thing we notice is the huge heatsinks placed over the ram module. The second thing I noticed and disliked was the font used on the ram, which I think cheapens the product again - surely a better font could be chosen? Opening the push-button style pack, we find that the budget theme continues as the insert feels very cheap, almost homemade in appearance. Strangely, there is no information about the ram other than the obligatory installation guide. I did have a chuckle when I noticed a warning at the bottom which states that the ram should not be used in critical or human affecting systems, which implanted the image of some power mad anaesthetist running around overclocking his instruments while some poor sap lay on the operating table.
As you can see, the featured heatspreader dominates the Diablo's appearance, being almost double the size of the ram module itself. Rather than have the ends ending abruptly like your typical heatsink, the edges are rolled over on a hinge so there is little chance of injuring yourself when installing the modules. The same cant be said of the motherboard slots, however, as due to the height of them, it would be very easy to break the DDR slots if you slipped while applying pressure.
To the right of the modules, there is a sticker showing the ram's speed and most interestingly the actual integrated chips, which in the Diablo's case are premium Micron D9GTR IC's. These chips are renowned throughout the overclockers' world as being among the best overclocking IC's available, something we will be putting to the test later in the review. Other than the rated speed, integrated chips, and module barcode/number, there was still no information regarding the specified voltage or timings of these modules, so a quick visit to the manufacturer's website would be needed.
As this sticker identified the actual chips used, I felt little reason to confirm this by removing the heatspreader and thereby risk damaging the chips and invalidating the warranty. The ram chips are single-sided and are affixed from the 8-layer PCB to the heatsink using thermal pads. Due to the hinge nature of the heatsink, I would guess that the heatsink itself is easily removed, allowing you to fit alternative methods of cooling should you wish. However, the black aluminium sinks appear to be sufficient enough to stave off any overheating issues you may encounter.
CSX Diablo3 PC3-16000 (DDR3 2000) 2GB kit Page: 3
To ensure that all reviews on Overclock3D are fair, consistent and unbiased, a standard set of hardware and software is used whenever possible during the comparative testing of two or more products. The configuration used in this review can be seen below:
Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 "G0" 2.4GHZ 2x4MB
Asus Striker II Extreme 790i
Crucial Ballistix PC3-16000 (DDR3-2000) 2GB
CSX Diablo PC3-16000 (DDR3-2000) 2GB
Sapphire Ultimate X1950 Pro 256mb PCI-E
ATI Catalyst 8.6.64789
Windows Vista Ultimate SP1 + Updates
Checking the CSX website, we were able to confirm the following regarding the specified settings required for the modules as follows :
• Intel X38: 1600MHz 7-7-7-14 1.85V (command rate: 2T)
• Intel X48: 1866MHz 8-8-8-15 1.90V (command rate: 2T)
• NVidia NF790i: 2000MHz 8-8-8-28 2.0-2.1V (command rate: 2T)
Strangely, there was no mention of the P35 or P45 chipsets, so one can only assume that X38 and X48 represents Intel's 3- and 4-series chipsets respectively.
To guarantee a broad range of results, the following benchmark utilities will be used:
• Lavalys Everest 4.0
• SuperPI Mod 1.4
• Cinebench 10
• Unreal Tournament 3
• Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
All 3D based benchmarks were performed using a resolution of 1024x768, low quality settings and no additional AA (Anti Aliasing). This reduces any affect that the graphics card may have on the results, either positive or negative, leaving the CPU and Memory subsystem to do most of the work.
As both the Crucial Ballistix and now the CSX Diablo both use the D9GTR IC's, I would expect that both sets would overclock to similar levels. What is interesting is the amount of voltage CSX recommend pumping through the modules with our test board 790i. 2.1v is a crazy amount of voltage for DDR3, so I certainly hope these heatspreaders are up to the task as things are going to get rather toasty in this section of the review. If not, then it would appear that CSX are happy to warrant voltage up to this extreme amount.
To the left we see the stock clocked settings and to the right are the max stable overclock we achieved. Although not a massive leap, we did achieve a 133mhz boost from the stock 2000mhz. As we couldn't take them any further in the bandwidth stakes, we tightened the timings up a little, so it's a win/win scenario for the Diablo3. Surprisingly, adding extra voltage didn't allow any more headroom and the settings were still stable at 1.95. Any lower and we started running into some issues. So with 2133mhz ram and tight timings on tap, these sticks are proving to be more than meets the eye. Let's see how the benchmarks fair.
CSX Diablo3 PC3-16000 (DDR3 2000) 2GB kit Page: 4
Everest is an information & diagnostic utility complete with a benchmark utility suitable for testing the read, write and latency performance of the memory subsystem. Each of these benchmarks were performed a total of 5 times, with the highest and lowest scores being discarded and an average calculated from the remaining 3.
Cinebench 10 is a benchmarking tool based on the powerful 3D software Cinema 4D. The suite uses complex renders to gauge the performance of the entire PC system in both single-core and multi-core modes. Testing was performed a total of 5 times, with the highest and lowest results being omitted and an average created from the remaining 3 results.
SuperPI is the benchmark of choice for many overclockers. It's lightweight to download and can give a quick indication on how good a system is at number crunching. Once again, testing was performed a total of 5 times, with an average being calculated from the middle three results.
As both the CSX and Crucial kits make use of the D9GTR chips, I expected to see very similar results and as the benchmarks show, both kits perform pretty much on par, with the Crucial kit edging the runs in Everest and Cinebench but the Diablos making back some ground on SuperPI. It should, however, be noted that the Diablo kit is quite capable of running with tighter timings (8-8-8) as opposed to the 9-9-9 configuration used here, so I would expect the Diablo kit to come out on top. For the purposes of this review though, and the fact that CSX's stock settings are unknown (their website only shows overclocked settings), we used the 9-9-9 configuration to best compare the kit against its Crucial counterpart.
CSX Diablo3 PC3-16000 (DDR3 2000) 2GB kit Page: 5
3DMark is a popular synthetic gaming benchmark used by many gamers and overclockers to gauge the performance of their PC's. All 3DMark runs were performed a total of 5 times, with the highest and lowest results being removed and an average calculated from the remaining 3 results.
In both tests, the Diablo and Ballistix were pretty much on par and certainly within the scope of error. Once again, I would expect the Diablo to be slightly ahead if the 'overclocked' settings were used, but at stock settings once more the Ballistix just edges ahead.
CSX Diablo3 PC3-16000 (DDR3 2000) 2GB kit Page: 6
Call of Duty 4 is a stunning DirectX 9.0c based game that really looks awesome and has a very full feature set. With lots of advanced lighting, smoke and water effects, the game has excellent explosions along with fast gameplay. Using the in-built Call Of Duty features, a 10-minute long gameplay demo was recorded and replayed using the /timedemo command a total of 5 times. The highest and lowest FPS results were then removed, with an average being calculated from the remaining 3 results.
Crysis is without doubt one of the most visually stunning and hardware-challenging games to date. By using CrysisBench - a tool developed independently of Crysis - we performed a total of 5 timedemo benchmarks using a pre-recorded demo designed to stress the CPU and Memory subsystem. To ensure the most accurate results, the highest and lowest benchmark scores were then removed and an average calculated from the remaining three.
Quake 4 is a game built on the Doom 3 engine. Benchmarking was performed using Quake4Bench and a custom timedemo recording. The benchmark was set to run a total of 5 times, with Quake4Bench automatically calculating an average result at the end of the run.
Unreal Tournament 3 is the highly anticipated game from Epic Games and Midway. The game uses the latest Unreal engine, which combines fast gameplay along with high quality textures and lighting effects. All benchmarks were performed using UTbench to create a bot match on the DM-BioHazard map. As usual, all benchmarks were performed 5 times, with the highest and lowest results being removed and an average calculated from the remaining three.
Well, the above scores confirm my suspicions. Under the skin, the Ballistix and Diablo kits are identical, scoring pretty much exactly the same.
CSX Diablo3 PC3-16000 (DDR3 2000) 2GB kit Page: 7
DDR3 has been labelled as overpriced since its release and as such, enthusiasts have been slow to take advantage of the higher bandwidth available. However, prices are starting to drop more in line with DDR2 and the CSX Diablo3 kit is now well within reach without making your wallet cringe at the prospect of the upgrade. Add to the fact that this kit is basically identical to the much more expensive Crucial kit makes the CSX's a seriously attractive buy.
The packaging is the only aspect I could fault with the kit, but it is clear that this is the only area in which corners have been cut, and personally I don't mind that too much if it helps bring the price down, which it certainly appears to have done. The modules themselves are near perfect, but if I was nit-picking then I would have preferred a more dynamic font than the one used. Still, that's a very minor point as the heatspreaders are lush and cool the modules very well.
Weighing in at a little over £100 (estimated), I can see no reason, other than the presentation, why anyone wouldn't want to buy this kit over lower specification, more expensive kits on the market. With a little persuading, these kits break the 2000mhz barrier, managing to hold tighter timings than our previous extreme clockers, the Crucial Ballistix. Add to that a massive 2.1v available and warranted for use, it's clear CSX have faith in the quality of this kit. Sure, CSX are a little bif of an unknown area, but Micron chips (D9GTR) are not and if you can live with the packaging for the minute or so you will see it, then I couldn't recommend this kit more.
So in short, as its name suggests, the Diablo kit is the supercar of DDR3. Its sleek lines, gaping heatsink and ultra fast performance match that of the Lamborghini namesake, but unlike the Italian beast you won't need an off shore bank account to pay for them.
Recently one of the Diablo3 Sticks started to create errors and this was confirmed by memtest86+. How this stick became faulty is a bit of an unknown. It could have been static from the numerous setups it's been installed on or it could just have been over zealous overclocking. However, a quick call to Ahmad in the returns department for CSX sorted the problem with a 'no quibble exchange' and as promised, no RMA number was required. A 'next day delivery' was also promised by CSX and sure enough, they arrived on my doorstep the next day. This was quite simply an amazing returns procedure which was both hassle free and speedy in resolution. An excellent example of how it should be done.
CSX have also taken on board our comments regarding the packaging as the cheap printed paper insert has gone, replaced with a card insert that folds out to give you a guide on what voltages and timings to use on each chipset tested. Well done CSX!
In view of the update the ratings have been adjusted accordingly.
• Ultra fast performance
• Lifetime Warranty/fast returns turnaround
• Cool running
• Micron D9GTR IC's
• Heatsink size may be an issue for some
• Additional voltage (up to 2.1v) while good didn't seem to allow the ram to scale any better
• Nothing, zip, nada.
Many thanks to CSX for providing us with the Diablo3 2GB kit used in this review.