OCZ Gold XTC PC2-8800 DDR2 2gb Kit Page: 1
Introduction

Ask any overclocker what the top 3 memory manufacturers are and no doubt OCZ will be in their rundown. OCZ have been manufacturing memory for the overclocking scene for just over 6 years now and have gained a reputation for producing some of the fastest, most reliable memory on the market.

Just the other day I found myself browsing their website, looking at their latest DDR2 line-up, and to my surprise they didn't have anything higher than PC2-8000. I thought to myself "surely OCZ aren't letting it slip - other memory manufacturers are up to PC2-8500 now". However, 2 days later a package from OCZ arrived at the doors of Overclock3D containing some rather sexy looking gold memory. A quick look at the OCZ sticker confirmed that this was indeed PC2-8800, once again showing that the boffins at OCZ had been working hard to break the current speed records and regain their position at the top.

OCZ Gold has always been considered their more mid-range memory, often not overclocking as well as their Platinum or Titanium ranges. With this in mind, let's see what these little bars of gold are capable of...


Packaging

When it comes to packaging memory, manufacturers like the heatspreaders to do the talking. OCZ are no different, choosing a tried and tested method that puts their modules on full display.

OCZ Gold PC2-8800 XTC Packaging OCZ Gold PC2-8800 XTC Packaging

The modules are protected by a hard plastic blister pack style packaging, with a printed card insert at the back sporting the OCZ logo and some basic information about the modules. Printed on the reverse of the card is some excerpts from previous OCZ memory reviews along with information about OCZ's lifetime warranty and technical support details.



OCZ Gold XTC PC2-8800 DDR2 2gb Kit Page: 2
Specifications

The following information has been shamelessly copied directly from OCZ's website:

"The new OCZ PC2-8800 Gold Edition is optimized for the AM2 and Conroe-based platform and offers computer enthusiasts and gamers unparalleled performance and the piece of mind they are guaranteed to produce the world’s fastest memory speeds within their personal desktop or gaming system. The DDR2-1100 Gold Edition is the ultimate memory solution for contemporary graphic-intensive PC games and provides unsurpassed reliability and performance to unleash every graphic possibility.

As part of the award winning OCZ Gold series, the PC2-8800 edition is built with leading edge technology designed and qualified with special selection of premium components to maximize performance when playing even the most demanding games. At a heart-pounding DDR2-1100, these modules turn out 5-6-6 timings with flawless performance and stability."



OCZ Gold PC2-8800 XTC Specs

• 1100MHz DDR2
• CL 5-6-6-15 (CAS-TRCD-TRP-TRAS)
• Unbuffered
• Gold Layered XTC Heatspreader
• Lifetime Warranty 2.2-2.4 Volts
• 240 Pin DIMM

"OCZ EVP (Extended Voltage Protection) is a feature that allows performance enthusiasts to use a VDIMM of 2.4V ± 5% without invalidating their OCZ Lifetime Warranty."

To summarise the specifications above, the OCZ Gold PC2-8800 XTC is able to run at speeds of DDR2-1100 whilst maintaining timings of 5-6-6-15. Of course, this is OCZ we are talking about here, so with a little tweaking and a bit of extra voltage we should be able to see speeds in excess of this - especially on our new Conroe based test bed.

One thing to note about these modules is their need for a motherboard capable of providing its DDR slots with a minimum of 2.2v. Without this voltage, the OCZ Gold sticks may not work to their full potential. Luckily our Asus P5B board goes a fair bit higher, so we should see some nice overclocking results.



OCZ Gold XTC PC2-8800 DDR2 2gb Kit Page: 3
Appearance

I have to admit that when OCZ first announced a change to their heatspreader design I wasn't a great fan of the meshed looks. However, seeing modules that sport OCZ's new XTC design in the flesh, I think my opinion is about to change...


OCZ Gold PC2-8800 XTC Front OCZ Gold PC2-8800 XTC Back

OCZ Gold PC2-8800 XTC OCZ Gold XTC PC2-8800 XTC Z

For those of us with a keen eye, you will have noticed that the mesh is actually platinum in colour with only the surround and the "Z" logo being finished in gold. The XTC design puts these modules in a league of their own - no other memory I have ever seen or reviewed comes close to OCZ's extreme styling.

As for cooling abilities, the meshed design of the XTC heatspreaders provide the memory IC's with increased ventilation thus cooling the memory modules more efficiently than traditional heatspreader designs.

OCZ Gold PC2-8800 XTC Top OCZ Gold PC2-8800 XTC Side

The OCZ Gold PC2-8800 modules are double sided and make use of D9GMH IC's. Searching around the Internet didn't turn up many results for these chips, so I guess we'll just have to see how they perform 1st hand!



OCZ Gold XTC PC2-8800 DDR2 2gb Kit Page: 4
Test Setup

Processor: Intel Core2Duo X6800 "Conroe"
Motherboard: Asus P5B Deluxe (unmodded)
Graphics Card: XFX 7900GT Extreme
Hard Disks: 2x Hitachi Deskstar 80gb SATA-II 8mb Cache (RAID0)
Power Supply: PCP&C Silencer 850w
Operating System: Windows XP SP2


Settings

When benchmarking the OCZ PC2-8800 I wanted to be sure to cover all angles. Some people like to run their memory at low latencies, some like to run their memory at high frequencies, whilst others prefer a mixture of both settings. Below is some information regarding the testing procedures and their results:


Stock Settings (5-6-6-16 / 550mhz)

CPUZ CPUZ

Quite often when testing memory modules from other manufacturers we find that they take a lot of tweaking in order to run stable at stock settings. However, with the OCZ Gold PC2-8800 we simply popped it in our test machine, set the BIOS memory options to SPD and was able to enjoy the full speed of DDR2-1100 without any issues.


Lowest Timings at Stock Frequency (5-5-4-10 / 550mhz)

CPUZ CPUZ

With a little tweaking and a bit of extra voltage I managed to push the modules down to 5-5-4-10, a reasonably respectable latency setting which should give this modules a bit of a boost over stock settings in the benchmarks over the next pages. The modules did manage to clock down to 5-4-4-10, but unfortunately this was not stable and most probably needed a bit of extra voltage.


Highest Frequency at Stock Timings (5-6-6-15 / 580mhz)

CPUZ CPUZ

Without sacrificing the memory latency, I set out to find the maximum frequency that these modules could run at. After a bit of tweaking and some extra voltage, I managed to obtain DDR2-1160. Not bad at all for modules aimed at the mid-range market.


Lowest Timings Overall (4-4-4-10 / 475mhz)

CPUZ CPUZ

Dropping the multi on the X6800 down to 8 enabled me to push the FSB on the Asus P5B motherboard to its limits. Using 1:1 ratio for the memory, I was able to hit 475fsb. As this is a fair bit below the rated speed of 550mhz for these modules, I proceeded to tighten the timings.

Managing a pretty amazing 4-4-4-10 at DDR950 is certainly nothing to be sniffed at, and makes these modules ideal for users who are not able to fully utilise the high frequencies of this ram.



OCZ Gold XTC PC2-8800 DDR2 2gb Kit Page: 5
Everest & SuperPI Results

Below we can see that just by reducing the latency of the OCZ Gold PC2-8800 down to 5-5-4-10 we managed to obtain a health decrease in memory latency and a good increase in memory bandwidth in the Everest benchmarks. With timings set to 4-4-4-10 at DDR-950 the SuperPI score showed substantial improvements over the rest of the configurations.

The modules also produced admirable results when clocked at DDR2-1160, scoring over 8gb/s in the Everest memory read benches.

Everest Read Everest Write

Everest Latency SuperPI 1m



OCZ Gold XTC PC2-8800 DDR2 2gb Kit Page: 6
Sandra, 3DMark & CS:Source Results

Certain benchmarks tend to excel with different system configurations. From the results below we an see that Sisoft records the highest memory bandwidth results when the memory timings were at their lowest of 4-4-4-10 (DDR2-950), however Counter-Strike Source (Based on the HL2 engine) produce an increase of over 10fps when the memory frequency is clocked at its highest speed of DDR2-1160.

This just goes to show that there is no "one good" setting, and users should tweak their systems to best suit the applications/games that they plan on running.

Sisoft Bandwidth Sisoft Sandra Latency

3Dmark05 Score Counter-Strike:Source FPS



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Conclusion

The OCZ Gold PC2-8800 XTC modules have proven to be very capable indeed. Managing speeds of up to DDR2-1160 on stock timings is certainly a great achievement for memory aimed more at the mid-range market. Most of us are unlikely to ever need this kind of bandwidth, and for these people it's always good to know that the modules are able to run at tight timings of 4-4-4-10 and still keep up the pace at DDR2-950.

Not only do the modules perform great, but they have got the looks to match. The XTC heatspreaders not only give the modules an extreme look, but also assist in the cooling of the IC's especially when airflow is directed their way.

A quick search of Froogle shows limited availability of these modules at present with prices around the £300 mark. This is very good value considering lower-end 2gb kits from other manufacturers are currently retailing for £350+.


Pro's
+ Great looking & effective heatspreaders.
+ Competitive pricing.
+ Backed by OCZ's lifetime warranty.
+ Reasonable overclocking potential for mid-range modules.

Con's
- Didn't quite manage 5-4-4-10 timings at DDR2-1100.


Editors Choice

Thanks to OCZ for providing these modules for review.

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