Back in September 2006 I was lucky enough to review Kingston's HyperX PC2-8500 1gb kit. With the ability to overclock all the way up to DDR2-1150 and run tight timings, the kit was given a well deserved 'Editors Choice' award.
Since then the demand for high-speed DDR2 has increased dramatically, with many people looking for 2gb kits guaranteed to run at DDR2-1200+. Today I'll be looking at Kingston's top-of-the-range HyperX PC2-9600 kit to see if it can satisfy our need for speed.
Here's a little about Kingston and their history..
Kingston Technology Company, Inc. is the world’s independent memory leader.
Founded in 1987 with a single product offering, Kingston® now offers more than 2,000 memory products that support nearly every device that uses memory, from computers, servers and printers to MP3 players, digital cameras and cell phones. In 2005, the company's sales exceeded $3.0 billion.
With global headquarters in Fountain Valley, California, Kingston employs almost 2,900 people worldwide. Regarded as one of the “Best Companies to Work for in America” by Fortune magazine, Kingston’s tenets of respect, loyalty, flexibility and integrity create an exemplary corporate culture. Kingston believes that investing in its people is essential, and each employee is a vital part of Kingston’s success.
It's Here - HyperX DDR2 memory, the next-generation evolution of DDR memory technology. Like all Kingston HyperX products, HyperX DDR2 modules were specifically engineered and designed to meet the rigorous requirements of PC enthusiasts. HyperX DDR2 offers faster speeds, lower latencies, higher data bandwidths and lower power consumption. HyperX is available in single and dual channel memory kits.
Kingston's KHX9600D2K2/2G is a kit of two 128M x 64-bit 1GB (1024MB) DDR2-1200 CL5 SDRAM (Synchronous DRAM) memory modules, based on sixteen 64M x 8-bit DDR2 FBGA components per module. Total kit capacity is 2GB (2048MB). Each module pair has been tested to run at DDR2-1200MHz at a latency timing of 5-5-5-15 at 2.3 - 2.35V. The SPD is programmed to JEDEC standard latency 800Mhz timing of 5-5-5-15 at 1.8V. Each 240-pin DIMM uses gold contact fingers and requires +1.8V. The electrical and mechanical specifications are as follows:
• Power supply : Vdd: 1.8V ± 0.1V, Vddq: 1.8V ± 0.1V • Double-data-rate architecture; two data transfers per clock cycle • Bidirectional data strobe(DQS) • Differential clock inputs(CK and CK) • DLL aligns DQ and DQS transition with CK transition • Programmable Read latency 5 (clock) • Burst Length: 4, 8 (Interleave/nibble sequential) • Programmable Burst type (sequential & interleave) • Timing Reference: 5-5-5-15 at 1.8V / 5-5-5-15 at 2.3 - 2.35V • Edge aligned data output, center aligned data input Auto & Self refresh, 7.8us refresh interval (8K/64ms refresh) • Serial presence detect with EEPROM • High Performance Heat Spreader • PCB : Height 1.180” (30.00mm), single sided component
As you may be able to see from the images above, the KHX9600D2K2/2G kit is based on D9GKX IC's from Micron. No doubt these IC's have been cherry picked by Kingston to run at a guaranteed DDR2-1200 with only 2.3v. Overclocking the modules may prove fruitless as it's fairly unheard of for D9 to go much higher than 600mhz (DDR2-1200) with only 2.3v-2.35v, and unfortunately your Kingston warranty will be voided if you decide to put any more voltage through them.
No longer are memory modules just green PCB's with black IC's mounted on them. It seems that manufacturers spend almost as much time making the modules look good as they do ensuring they perform equally as well. For this reason, the most popular method of packaging memory kits is in clear blister-packets so that the modules appearance can do the talking when on retailers shelves.
The Kingston HyperX PC2-9600 follows the trend, packaging their memory in a moulded plastic box with clear plastic front. It's good to see that Kingston have gone to the trouble of manufacturing the packaging out of anti-static plastic - a safety feature neglected by many other memory manufacturers.
Kingston have been using the the same heatspreaders for all of their HyperX range for several years now. Therefore it's no surprise to see the PC2-9600 modules sporting the very same blue aluminum clip-on design that we first became acquainted with when taking a look at the HyperX PC2-8500 kit.
Some people may describe the modules as rather plain looking compared to some of the more elaborate designs on the market at the moment. However, there's something that really draws me to this heatspreader design and I can't quite put my finger on it.
Due to the use of both double-sided thermal tape and clips the memory IC's make very good contact with the heatspreaders, which should help disperse the heat produced when running these modules at higher voltages.
Kingston HyperX PC2-9600 DDR2 2GB Kit Page: 3 Test Setup
Processor: Intel Core2Duo E6700 "Conroe" Motherboard: Asus Commando P965 (unmodded) Graphics Card: Sapphire ATI X1950Pro 256mb Hard Disks: 2x Hitachi Deskstar 80gb SATA-II 8mb Cache (RAID0) Power Supply: Enermax Infiniti 720w Operating System: Windows XP SP2
The first test involved ensuring that the memory could run stable at stock speeds. This may seem a bit of a strange test, but unfortunately some modules we've tested here at OC3D in the past have fallen over at this first hurdle. I'm pleased to say that the Kingston HyperX PC2-9600 passed the stock testing with flying colours, managing to run at 5-5-5-15 / DDR2-1200 with the rated 2.3v.
DDR2-1200 / 5-5-5-15 / 2.3v
Attempting to overclock the modules past DDR2-1200 proved fairly fruitless, with a maximum clock of DDR2-1210 being obtained with voltage set to 2.35v. Increasing the voltage further possibly could have helped slightly, but it certainly felt that the modules were very close to their maximum operational speed.
DDR2-833 / 3-3-3-6 / 2.35
It is well known that gamers prefer to run their memory at low latencies (rather than high frequencies) as this is an easily tweakable setting and provides decent benefits in most games. Dropping the modules down to DDR2-833 enabled us to tighten the timings to an amazing 3-3-3-6 with only 2.35v. This is simply awesome for this kind of memory and something we've never encountered in our DDR2 testing here at OC3D.
For the benchmark phase of our review, the Kingston HyperX PC2-9600 2Gb kit was subjected to several popular benchmarks in order to illustrate outright performance. All benchmarks were run three times and an average taken to guarantee uniformity of the results.
In both the bandwidth and latency results Everest and Sisoft Sandra testing suites showed the highest results with the memory running at DDR2-1200. Despite this, the lower latency DDR2-833 (3-3-3-6) results certainly were not far behind.
SuperPI certainly shows that it can make use of the extra bandwidth with the modules running at DDR2-1200, performing a whole 10 seconds faster in the 1M benchmark, and marginally faster in the 16M run.
Despite the fairly large differences between the Sandra and Everest bandwidth benchmarks, the results obtained from both 3DMark05 and 06 proved to be almost identical. This could possibly be a sign that the Core2Duo platform is not bottlenecked by memory bandwidth, and can performs just as well with a low latency DDR2-800 kit as it does with high latency DDR2-1200 in real-world applications and games.
The same goes for both Counter-Strike:Source and F.E.A.R benchmarks, with both games showing a very slight FPS increase when running at DDR2-833 / 3-3-3-6.
With the ability to run at DDR2-1200 straight out of the box, the Kingston HyperX PC2-9600 takes the guess work out of buying a high performance 2GB DDR2 kit for your FSB-hungry PC. Unfortunately the modules couldn't deliver us any extra goods when trying to overclock them past the 600mhz mark, but we soon forgot about this when we successfully managed to tighten the timings down to 3-3-3-6 while running at DDR2-833 - something no other DDR2 modules we've tested here at OC3D have ever managed.
Unfortunately this premium kit does come at a premium price of around £280 (05/04/07) which also makes it by far the most expensive 2gb kit we've ever tested. Is it worth the money? Well...if you're looking for a 100% guarantee on hitting DDR2-1200 then maybe, otherwise I'd suggest looking at some of Kingston's lower-end HyperX kits, as they have proven to overclock extremely well in the past.
Pros • Guaranteed to run at DDR2-1200 (PC2-9600). • Capable of amazingly low 3-3-3-6 timings at DDR2-833. • Based on overclocker friendly D9 IC's.
Cons • Our kit wouldn't clock much past DDR2-1200 (but who needs more!) • Limited availability in the UK. • Painfully expensive.
Thanks to Kingston for providing this product for review. Discuss this review in our forums .