When we reviewed the Gigabyte Assassin recently we loved how the name was more than just something cool to stick on the box, but had made it through to the design too. If you were tempted by that, or even lucky enough to get hold of one, then today's review, the G.Skill Sniper, will be right up your alley.
G.Skill are quite a powerhouse in the Memory market providing everything from blazing fast kits down to good value for those of us on a tight budget.
The Sniper SR2 we're reviewing today is a nice middle-range kit, being both big on capacity, 8GB, and sensibly nippy, 1600MHz @ CAS9.
However the big thing is the heat-sink, but before we grab a shuftie at that let's look at the specs.
As you can see it's a dual-channel kit boasting a buxom 8GB of capacity. Running at 1600MHz 9-9-9-24 is neither the fastest nor slowest kit around, but the SR2 variant runs those timings at an ultra-low 1.25v! Which is pretty staggering by any measure.
8GB (4GB x2)
|Speed||DDR3-1600 (PC3 12800)|
|Test Voltage||1.25 Volts|
The heat-sink is what gives this kit the Sniper name, so let us get up close and personal.
The Sniper comes in the standard plastic-sleeve style packaging 90% of memory arrives in. Otherwise there is little of note.
The heat-sink is shaped to ape a pistol and does so perfectly. As this is running at a mere 1.25v there is unlikely to be much heat to dissipate and that's enabled G.Skill to go bonkers with the design. The iron sights at either end aren't the nicely things to catch your fingers on, but otherwise the kit is a certain looker.
One of the things we like most is how they have resisted the temptation to go so crazy the Sniper ends up being a couple of inches tall. Rather they've compacted the design to ensure it still fits under pretty any CPU Heat-Sink you care to mention, which always scores points in our book.
G.Skill Sniper SR2 8GB Kit
Intel Core i5-2500K
Muskin Joule 1200w
Windows 7 Ultimate x64
Normally at this point we'd slide into our overclocking results, but one of the major downsides to Sandybridge is that all the Memory overclocks have to be in steps, so from 1600MHz the next is 1866MHz which is a major leap in anyone's book and despite giving the kit the full 1.65v it just wasn't playing ball. So our results will just be at the stock.
Starting off with SiSoft Sandra and the pure memory benchmark we can see the Sniper isn't too bad at all. Although it's the smallest result in our graph the other three kits were all 2000MHz+ which shows how well the Sniper performs especially given its 1.25v running speed.
This is backed up by the combined CPU and Memory bandwidth test that shows the 8GB Sniper just edges ahead of the faster 4GB Kingston Genesis.
AIDA64 Memory Benchmarks
The Memory tests of FinalWire's AIDA64 show how well the Sniper performs across the board. Around 20000 MB/s in all of the tests is very good for a 1600 MHz kit.
AIDA64 CPU Benchmarks
Having such a huge capacity to play with certainly helps in the CPU tests of AIDA64. It can't compare to the blazing speed of the Genesis kit, but you're getting twice the memory capacity for the same money so there has to be a trade off somewhere.
Sometimes it's easy to get bogged down in numbers. We learn that for some things, time taken to render, latency etc, a smaller number is better than a large one and sometimes, bandwidth or Vantage scores, bigger is better.
It's important to remember that although there might be an apparent big difference here in the latency, a whole 10ns slower than the other kits, we're measuring in billionths of a second. So it's 100,000,000th of a second slower. Exactly. Nothing to worry about.
PC Mark Vantage
Just as the proof of the pudding is in the eating, the proof of performance is the PC Mark Vantage suite and here the Sniper is an able performer. Not on the leading edge, but more than enough for most uses.
So is the Sniper SR2 all show and no go? Absolutely not.
It's actually a great demonstration of how if you haven't got the money to splash out on super high-end hardware you don't have to compromise either looks or performance.
Let's start with the looks. Normally a sensibly priced RAM kit will be a basic heat-spreader with perhaps a sticker on it to show who made it. Here G.Skill have given us a unique design that looks way beyond the £90 they're asking. The matt black finish is gorgeous and will match almost any board you think of. There is no denying it would be epic in a Gigabyte Assassin. The only minor niggle is how pointy the replica iron sights at each end of stick are, but the looks outweigh having to remember to push in the middle when inserting.
Performance is surprisingly good considering our sub-£100 outlay has given us 8GB of DDR3 to play with. Although the kit doesn't overclock that's more of a fault of the way Sandybridge overclocks memory than the kit itself. Timings are reasonable at 9-9-9-24-2T and our testing showed that whilst this isn't a blazing kit, it's speedy enough for most uses.
The most important element is that the kit today, in SR2 guise, only takes 1.25v to obtain the timings and speed. That's flipping amazing stuff and kudos to G.Skill for getting the voltage so low but not dropping the speed to 1333MHz.
So all in all it's a great looking kit, big on capacity, low on voltage and excellent value for money. As long as you don't expect it to be the basis of an absolute lunatic system you could do a hell of a lot worse.Performance is pretty good considering we're running at 1600MHz CAS9 but the 1.25v and 8GB capacity nicely balance it all out.
We're happy to award the G.Skill Sniper SR2 our OC3D Silver Award.
Thanks to G.Skill for providing the Sniper SR2 for review. Discuss in our Forums.