Back when 4GB density sticks first appeared on the scene it was clear that you had the choice between running a very fast setup, or having a lot of RAM. Since then, as is always the case with technology, things have improved to the point that 4GB sticks with high speeds aren't unheard of.
G.Skill have long been one of the providers of the very fastest memory, indeed some of the highest performing DIMMs we have tested come from Taiwanese company.
Always seeking to further their grip upon the memory market we are looking at a new brand from G.Skill, the Ares. Coming in at a whopping 16GB with 2133MHz speed it is compatible with both Sandy Bridge and Sandy Bridge-E motherboards. Can this high-capacity, low-profile memory deliver the goods?
Although it's capable of 2133MHz the timings are a little slack, being 11-11-11-29-2N. We also find the kit needing a pretty hefty 1.6v so overclocking should be very limited, if any capacity exists at all.
|M/B Chipset||X79 / P67 / Z68|
|Multi-Channel Kit||Quad Channel kit|
|Tested Speed||DDR3-2133 MHz (PC3-17000)|
|Tested Latency||11-11-11 2N|
|SPD Speed||1600 MHz|
|Features||Intel XMP (Extreme Memory Profile)Ready|
Time to take a look at the Ares.
Thankfully G.Skill have gone down the normal route for packaging, requiring nothing more complicated than opening the packet, rather than the 'chainsaw and welding torch' approach that some memory kits come in.
And here are the sticks themselves. The colour is best described as a very orange version of copper. When coupled to the black circuit board it certainly looks classy.
One of the important things about the Ares when we compare it to other heatspreaders we've seen is how low it is. Indeed it's barely taller than the circuit board so it will happily fit under any cooler you can think of. The bottom right picture is the closest to how the sticks actually look in real-life.
G.Skill Ares 16GB 2133MHz 11-11-11-29-2N
Intel Core i5-2500K @ 4GHz
Cougar CM1000 PSU
Windows 7 64 Bit
Sadly being only .05v away from the maximum DIMM voltage, and the lack of overclocking options available on the P67 chipset, the Ares wasn't able to run at tighter timings at all. Obviously Sandy-E and potentially Ivy Bridge have more tweaking available, but the LGA1155 isn't the most overclockable memory controller around.
PC Mark Vantage
Considering that the G.Skill Trident in our graph was rated at 2500MHz CAS9, the Ares performs very well indeed in comparison. The Genesis just about edges it in some tests, but regardless the Ares certainly has a lot of performance in PC Mark Vantage.
Demonstrating that, to a certain degree, tighter timings can assist in getting a big score, the CAS11 Ares is just behind the CAS9 2133MHz RipjawsX and Genesis, but easily ahead of the 1866MHz and 1600MHz kits.
The latency test backs up the above, where the lower timings obviously give lower latency which just about helps edge the performance. The Ares is still a mighty fine performer.
CineBench relying so heavily upon the CPU, even more than the memory, gives a fairly standard score. Although the faster kits naturally end up on top and the Ares slots nicely in to second place.
Whereas CineBench prefers super-fast RAM almost regardless of timings, wPrime95 is much happier with low CAS. The 32 million place test is all much of a muchness, but similarly to PC Mark Vantage in the big 1 billion place test the Ares slots in just behind the CAS9 RipjawsX and Genesis.
We've often remarked upon the incredible ability of Sandra to separate the element being tested away from the rest of the system, and again it shines brightly here. The G.Skill Ares sneaks in to fourth place here, with the three kits ahead of it being the two CAS9 ones, and the 2500MHz Trident.
In the cache and memory bandwidth test the scores are all very close, thanks to the excellent base performance of the Intel Core i5-2500K.
There is a lot to like about the G.Skill Ares.
Firstly, and obviously most importantly, is the performance. Even accepting that it's got reasonably slack timings it still neatly straddles the line between the extreme speeds available from a 2133MHz CAS9 kit, and the capacity of a full 16GB setup.
In all of our testing it generally was just shaded by the Kingston Genesis and G.Skill RipjawsX, both of which are CAS9 kits. However, it's worth noting that they are 4GB and 8GB kits respectively.
If you require a large amount of RAM in your system but also don't want to compromise performance, then the choices available to you are somewhat limited. Which is exactly the hole that the Ares is designed to fill.
Besides the performance the looks are excellent. The heatspreader retains some of the trademark G.Skill elements, particularly with the bottom indentation and the four grooves at the top. However where as in the RipjawsX the grooves are part of a large bulge in the top, the Ares is only as high as the circuit board, allowing for easy fitting beneath any large CPU cooler you can name. G.Skill could have easily called it Low Profile RAM without issue. Finally the orange-y copper colouring against a black circuit board naturally is a great combination. It's got enough copper to blend in with almost any motherboard you choose, but equally if you're in the mood for some orange it has that covered too.
So it's a very high performing kit that looks really nice. The only downside to it is that it requires 1.6v to hit its rated timings which leaves no headroom at all for overclocking on a P67/Z68 board. Getting it running at 1.5v might have allowed us to drop it down to CAS10. So this is more of a plug and play style kit for those who want great performance and tons of capacity.
It's worth noting that if you prefer (or don't object to) a blue heatspreader then a 9-11-10-28 16GB kit is available, but in this particular colour you're limited to the CAS11. However as a low-profile kit with great performance and lovely looks we're happy to award this particular variant of the G.Skill Ares our OC3D Silver Award.
Thanks to G.Skill for providing the Ares for review. Discuss in our forums.