How quickly things change in the Memory world. Considering that beneath the many heatspreader designs we generally find the same chips, and now 8GB is pretty standard we're not seeing any large changes in capacity, you'd be forgiven for thinking that one kit is identical to another.
To a certain extent this is true. Even power-hungry users will struggle to differentiate between a 2133MHz kit at CAS9 and one at CAS10. The average man-on-the-street will have a hard time telling between a 1600MHz kit and a 2133MHz one in normal usage. Once you pass a certain threshold, usually 4GB capacity, the rest of the gains are mainly to be found in benchmarks.
That doesn't mean that we're not all eagerly anticipating the potential gains from the latest Z77 chipsets, with their native ability to run 2400MHz+ kits. After all, with pricing so competitive, why wouldn't you go for the fastest kit you can get?
Enter G.Skill, with their Trident X 2400MHz CAS10 8GB kit. We're big fans of G.Skill here at OC3D. Along with Kingston, Corsair and Crucial they're one of the big four memory suppliers, giving high performing sets at good price points. Does the Trident X continue this theme, or is the gap between 2133MHz and 2400MHz too small to justify the upgrade?
There are a few models of the Trident X in the G.Skill range. Today's test setup is the second fastest, the 2400MHz model. Of course if there is a faster one the thought occurs that these are the chips that can't run at the 2600MHz speed of the range-topper.
|Multi-Channel Kit||Dual Channel kit|
|Tested Speed||DDR3-2400 MHz (PC3-19200)|
|Tested Latency||10-12-12-31 2N|
|SPD Speed||1600 MHz|
|Height||54 mm / 2.13 inch|
Intel XMP (Extreme Memory Profile) Ready
New name, new heatspreader. Although RAM tends to stay cool, the Trident X has a pretty beefy amount of aluminium to help things remain frosty.
Compared to the Ripjaws X the Trident is pretty beefy. In fact it's only beaten for height by the massive T1 cooler on the Kingston. Thankfully G.Skill have come up with a genius idea, in that the larger fins at the top are removable with just a couple of little screws.
8GB G.Skill Trident 2400 @ 10-12-12-31
Gigabyte Z77 G1.Sniper 3
Intel Core i7-3770K @ 4GHz
Cougar CM1000 PSU
Corsair F80 SSD
Thermalright Silver Arrow
Windows 7 x64
Sure enough, as we feared in our intro, these are the chips that are incapable of running at 2600MHz. No amount of tweaking or prodding, even slackening timings to ridiculous levels, would get the Trident X to run faster than its rated 2400MHz speed. We could lower the timings from CAS10 to CAS9, but this would only pass half of our benchmark tests, so the default speeds will be the ones we're running at.
As the new test setup has moved from Spinpoint F1's to SSDs, a couple of the PC Mark Memory tests are no longer comparable, so until we've tested a range on the current system the graph is slightly smaller. However, despite having a hyperthreaded CPU behind it, and the faster speed, the Trident X is only in second place behind the G.Skill Ripjaws X. It's close, but in PC Mark at least the extra bandwidth doesn't give a performance boost.
Things are still as close in the AIDA64 Memory Benchmarks. The Trident X just takes the overall prize, but the Ripjaws X are breathing down their neck.
Memory latency is always measured in such a barely imaginable tiny amount of time that we've never felt it relates too heavily to performance. However, the Trident X 2400 MHz still is a whopping 3ns faster than anything else we've tested, despite being CAS10.
The extra speed available still isn't showing up in our testing. We'd have hoped that the move from 2133MHz to 2400MHz, coupled to the faster CPU, would give a big benefit, but the G.Skill Trident X ends up tied for third place in the Sandra bandwidth test.
Taking the CPU cache speed into account with our next benchmark, we can see how much extra performance is available with the i7-3770K compared to the i5-2500K.
Our final two tests both are skewed by the hyperthreading available on the i7-3770K. But as the results are pretty static we're including them as a nice comparison between the Sandy Bridge option and the Ivy Bridge chipset.
Even allowing for the extra CPU performance, the wPrime95 result is impressive. We know from our Sniper 3 test that a bigger overclock would really drop this score down as the extra oomph in the Trident X comes in to play.
In our introduction we mentioned how difficult it is to tell the difference between high-speed memory kits in everything but benchmark tests.
Having performed those tests, it's pretty clear that there isn't much of a difference in benchmarks either. Considering how much better our Z77 test bench is when compared to the P67 arrangement, it's even more surprising that there really isn't a swathe of higher scores.
Although the CPU clock speeds were the same, the i7-3770K is a hyper-threaded CPU, whereas our old i5-2500K was a pure Quad-Core. Despite this, and the 267MHz speed increase available from the Trident X, there really isn't anything between this 2400MHz Trident X kit and, for example, the 2133MHz G.Skill Ripjaws X. The only two graphs that showed a large performance gain were both ones that also took full advantage of the hyper-threading available, rather than relying solely upon memory speed.
The new heatspreader design is both aesthetically pleasing, and has a nice little trick up its sleeve. We're so often warning about the ability to fit a monster RAM kit under your twin-tower CPU cooler of choice, and G.Skill have neatly side-stepped this problem by allowing you to unscrew the red section of the heatspreader to lower the profile. You aren't even giving up any cooling ability by doing this, as we tested both with and without the top section and had no discernible effect upon temperatures.
Overclocking was an exercise in frustration. Because G.Skill provide a 2600MHz version of the Trident X it makes business sense to use the fastest chips in that, but that has the trickle down affect of meaning our 2400MHz sample has chips which couldn't do that speed, so you can't overclock. We managed to tighten the timings a little, but in truth you're paying for a RAM kit which will do exactly what it says it will, and if you're super lucky you might find one that overclocks, just don't bank upon it.
So it's only average in performance, it doesn't overclock particularly well, and it's around £30 more expensive than a 2133MHz kit. In the harsh world of bang per buck, it doesn't really cut it. You're better off sticking with Ripjaws X, or paying the extra for the full-fat Trident X 2600MHz. Still the cool design and decent level of performance is enough to warrant our Bronze award.
Thanks to G.Skill for supplying the 8GB Trident X 2400MHz for review, you can discuss your thoughts in the OC3D forums.