Just over two months ago we were given the opportunity to review a rather special PC2-6400 DDR2 kit from a relatively unknown company called CellShock. With a massive overclock of 50% and an an excellent price point, the kit not only won the hearts of many OC3D forum members, but also managed to walk away with a whopping 97% final score and our highly regarded "Best In Class" award. Since then, CellShock have been working hard to expand their product line-up and today we've been given the opportunity once again to take a look at one of their latest products.
However, for the benefit of those who haven't heard of CellShock in the past, let's get acquainted with the company using some snippets from their website:
Since 1979 MSC Vertriebs GmbH has made a name for itself as one of the leading high-tech distributors of electronic components in Europe.
Producing user memories in all variations and specifications for industry has always been one of MSC's core competencies. And now, with the new CellShock series, we are applying the knowledge gained to DRAM memory systems for PC fans. We use special techniques for chip selection and printed circuit boards with enhanced layouts including exhaustive quality testing. We also have contracts with a variety of reputable manufacturers of memory chips and electronic components that enable us to access a wide assortment of applications for optimizing our products.
CellShock memory kits are very much aimed at the overclocker, and their website certainly makes no effort to hide this fact:
...the test programs we use were developed by overclockers for overclockers. We give that extra performance and compatibility - not because of some advertising slogans, but because we have a genuine passion for high-end PC components. We want to make a believer out of our customers not only with our products, but also fast service and expert technical support.
More information about the company and their products can be found here.
Also found on the CellShock site is information on their manufacturing process, and more interestingly, the specs of the DDR2-1150 kit we are going to be looking at today.
We select our memory chips according to our own internally developed techniques to allow later specification and assignment. We build 8-layer boards for DDR2 modules (6-layer boards for DDR1) according to our own enhanced layout. They are equipped with the galvanic hard-gold contacts that are used in industry. Our printed circuit boards are checked for impedance making reflections or interference in signals virtually impossible. Our modules are also equipped with heat-dissipating heat spreaders available in 2 variations depending upon model specifications.
The CellShock PC2-9200 modules are based on an 8-layer PCB that ensures maximum stability, and as we can see from above, also make use of overclocker friendly Micron D9 (D9GKX) memory IC's. Their stock timings are 5-5-5-18, which is fairly average for a kit of this speed, and the Cellshock warranty guarantees them for 5 years when used with voltages up to 2.4v.
As with most other high-performance kits, it's always best to check for compatibility with your motherboard, as some budget or non-overclocker boards are unable to provide the 2.3-2.4v required to run the memory at its stated speeds without experiencing instability.
Unlike the original CellShock PC2-6400 kit, the PC2-9200 is packaged inside a black cardboard box with a window. This is a welcome change to the boring and over-used plastic blister pack packaging used on almost all other memory and certainly adds a level of 'class' to the modules.
Each of the DIMM's are individually seated inside a plastic case that has been moulded to the exact contours of the modules. This offers premium protection against courier inflicted damage and shows CellShock's dedication to ensuring that the modules reach you in tip-top condition. Also included in the pack is a Cellshock manual and case badge.
Being a fan of the colour red, one of the first things I said when taking these modules out of their packaging was "wow!". CellShock have used the very same high quality aluminium heatspreaders found on their previous PC2-6400 kit but this time have annodised the aluminium red. Due to the slightly coarse surface of the modules, the finish sparkles in the light giving them an almost metallic appearance.
Even more impressive than the high quality red heatspreaders is the fact that CellShock have opted to use thermal paste on the memory IC's. This offers much better heat transfer properties than the thermal pads used by almost all other manufacturers and credit has to be given to CellShock for going the extra mile.
Maybe I'm asking too much here, but if CellShock really wanted to complete the look, it would have been awesome to have the memory modules constructed on a red PCB. However, once the modules are installed on a motherboard the PCB is hidden so it probably would have been more trouble than it's worth!
CellShock PC2-9200 (DDR2-1150) 2GB Kit Page: 3 Test Setup
To ensure that all reviews on Overclock3D are fair, consistent and unbiased, a standard set of hardware and software is used whenever possible during the comparative testing of two or more products. The configuration and software used in this review can be seen below:
OCZ FlexXLC PC2-9200
Kingston HyperX PC2-9600*
Intel Core2Duo E4300
Asus P5K Deluxe
XpertVision ATI X1950Pro PCI-E 512mb (Stock)
Hitachi Deskstar 80GB 7K80 SATA2 7200RPM 8mb
Stock Intel Aluminium Cooler
Microsoft Windows XP (SP2) 32bit - Latest Patches
* The timings and frequency (mhz) of the Kingston HyperX PC2-9600 kit have been adjusted to match that of the CellShock PC2-9200 kit in order to produce more comparable results.
With all three kits set to 5-5-5-18 timings and a voltage of 2.35v, I set out to find their maximum stable overclock. After a little tweaking and several hours of ORTHOS and 32m SuperPI stability testing, the following results were acheived:
No doubt it was going to be pretty hard for the CellShock PC2-9200 to beat the monsterous 660mhz overclock obtained by the OCZ FlexXLC in a recent review. However, the CellShock still managed to give the higher stock-clocked PC2-9600 Kingston modules a run for their money, beating them by a reasonable 10mhz to sit comfortably in the middle of the leaderboard with a top overclock of 620mhz (DDR-1240).
Reducing the speed of the CellShock to DDR2-800 allowed the memory timings to be tightened all the way down to a very impressive 3-3-3-6. This brings the CellShock PC2-9200 kit directly in line with the other kits tested from Kingston and OCZ.
CellShock PC2-9200 (DDR2-1150) 2GB Kit Page: 4 Application Test Results
Sisoft Sandra is a synthetic benchmark utility capable of reporting and benchmarking a wide range of system components. For the CellShock PC2-9200 memory we run both the Memory Bandwidth and Memory Latency benchmarks 3 times to ensure accuracy of results.
Everest is in many ways similar to Sisoft Sandra. Focusing mainly on Software and Hardware information reporting, Everest also comes with a benchmark utility suitable for testing the read, write and latency performance of the memory subsystem.
SuperPI is the benchmark of choice for many overclockers. It's lightweight to download and can give a quick indication on how good a system is at number crunching.
In almost all of the application benchmarks, the CellShock PC2-9200 scored near identical results to the OCZ FlexXLC kit. One area that the CellShock seemed to set itself apart from both the Kingston and OCZ kits was in memory latency, with the CellShock performing ~2ns lower in both Sisoft Sandra and Everest. Overall a very good result.
CellShock PC2-9200 (DDR2-1150) 2GB Kit Page: 5 Gaming Test Results
3DMark is a popular synthetic gaming benchmark used by many gamers and overclockers to gauge the performance of their PC's. All 3DMark runs were performed 3 times with averages being calculated from each of the results.
F.E.A.R. is a game based on the Lithtech Jupiter EX engine. It has volumetric lighting, soft shadows, parallax mapping and particle effects.Included in the game is a benchmark facility that taxes the entire PC system. This benchmark was run 3 times to ensure uniformity of results.
Quake 4 is a game built on the Doom 3 engine. Benchmarking was performed using Quake4Bench and a custom timedemo recording along with 4xAA, 8xAF settings at a resolution of 1280x1024.
Counter-Strike:Source is a popular multi-player FPS based on the extremely scaleable Source engine. The game takes advantage of many DirectX 9.0c features, but is fairly undemanding on the GPU and tends to thrive on systems with fast CPU's and Memory.
Once again the Cellshock PC2-9200 modules managed to nab the top spot, closely followed by the OCZ and Kingston kits. The largest difference was observed in 3DMark05, with the CellShock taking an 18 point lead.
CellShock PC2-9200 (DDR2-1150) 2GB Kit Page: 6
CellShock have done it once again. The PC2-9200 modules build on the success of the recently reviewed PC2-6400 kit by guaranteeing a stock speed of 1150mhz along with a new sexy red finish to the heatspreaders. In addition to this, the modules sported a decent a 18% overclock up to 1240mhz and the ability to remain stable at extremely tight timings of 3-3-3-6 when running at DDR2-800.
Priced at just under £160, the CellShock PC2-9200 kit is cheaper than a lot of the competition. With this in mind, and the excellent build quality of the kit, I have no reservations in awarding the CellShock PC2-9200 both 'Editors Choice' and 'Value for Money' awards.
The Good • Overclocks all the way up to 620mhz (DDR2-1240). • Able to tighten timings down to 3-3-3-6 at DDR2-800. • High quality, sexy red heatspreaders. • Thermal paste (not pads) used to transfer heat to heatspreaders. • Excellent pricing for such a good kit.
The Mediocre • Only a 5yr warranty, where most manufacturers provide lifetime.
The Bad • Not a sausage.
Thanks to CellShock for making this review possible. Discuss this review in our forums.