If there is one thing we're all very aware of it is the need to look after our planet. However as overclockers we all know that the faster we make our hardware go, and the more volts we give to make that happen, the more we take our toll on the planet. That is before we take into consideration the effect it has on our electricity bill. Anyone who has run a high-end overclocked system or a folding rig will attest to how quickly you need to start selling kidneys to pay the piper.
Wouldn't it be great if we could get some high performing memory that doesn't require enough power to light the Blackpool Illuminations? G.Skill think they have the answer.
Memory can be a tricky beast. We've all had experience of motherboards that can be very tricky about which memory they accept so it's great to see the G.Skill compatible with so many boards. The official compatibility list is :
|ASUS||Maximus III Extreme|
Maximus III Formula
Maximus III Gene
|EVGA||P55 Classified 200|
P55 FTW 200
As you can see that's an impressive list covering almost every P55 motherboard around.
If there is one thing that's exceptional about these modules it is the timings available considering the voltage used. The ECO ships with four profiles by default, and even the full-fat one still has some exceptionally low latency.
|Clock Speed||Timings (CL RCD RP RAS)|
In anyones book those are so excellent timings considering we're running at 1.35v. To get DDR3-1600 at 7-8-7-24 is very impressive and should give us some nice results.
Before we pop off to see how well it does fair, let's get a look at the DIMMs themselves.
The G.Skill comes in the standard RAM package of a blister pack but thankfully G.Skill haven't gone the route of welding the sides together. That aside the information insert part of the package is exceptionally minimalist. And for once not in the good way. A little more about the benfits and speed capabilities wouldn't hurt at all.
The DIMMs themselves are exceptionally pretty finished in a lovely gun-metal aluminium coating with a fantastic embossed G.Skill logo. The opposite end has a tribal design that, if you were told it was tribal might seem gaudy, but actually looks lovely.
It's very tactile too with a nice grooved pattern. If you like a rig that looks as good as it goes, or maybe even value the aesthetics higher, these definitely will fit the bill.
Finally thanks to the low volt nature of the sticks meaning very little heat, the spreaders are able to be both thin and of a standard height. Anyone who has had to install an oversize cooler will appreciate this.
So let's get a look at our test setup and some results.
Test Setup And Synthetics
To make sure that we get the best performance possible out of the G.Skill DDR3 we ran with our i7 overclocked to 3.5GHz on the excellent MSI P55-GD85 motherboard. As we're testing memory performance rather than absolute system performance, especially on a medium GPU, we're running at 1680x1050 today.
CPU : Core i7 870 @ 3.5GHz
Cooler : Thermalright MX-120 with MX-3 Thermal Paste
Motherboard : MSI P55-GD85
GFX : ASUS GTX275
RAM : G.Skill ECO 1.35v 2 x 2GB @ 1600MHz CL7
RAM : Corsair Dominator 2 x 2GB @ 1600MHz CL8
As this memory is meant to be a low voltage ecologically friendly part we aren't running in an overclocked state for our testing. The speed and timings at 1.35v are sufficient that any overclock would require serious voltage and that is against the ethos of G.Skill ECO. To see how this lower voltage variant performance against a more standard 1.65v kit we're running against the Corsair Dominator.
PC Mark Vantage 64
For our PC Mark test we used the in-built Memory benchmark suite of tests which test the memory in various ways. As you can see despite the ECO nature of the G.Skill it's not short of throughput ability, managing to just edge out the Corsair in all our tests.
The Sandra test is purely about bandwidth and we saw a aggregate of 19.3GB/s. Not shabby at all and again just pipping the Corsair Dominator.
Everest Ultimate Edition
Everest also tests the memory but using a different method to Sandra, and so helps us get a more fulsome view of the capabilities of the G.Skill ECO. We have a nicely linear result with the Write test being the slowest as it always is, Copy in the middle and the Read being the fastest.
The main thing that shocked us was how much faster it is than the Corsair. Of course the CL7 vs CL8 will be a factor, but it's quite a comprehensive beating.
Super Pi XS 1.5
Finally Super Pi mainly is testing the horsepower of the CPU, but naturally as the Pi results need to be stored it does get affected by the write ability of the RAM. Once again the G.Skill ECO is making a mockery of it's "ECO" tag, besting the Corsair.
3D Benchmarks anyone?
3D and Gaming Benchmarks
When testing memory in 3D applications we're less likely to see enormous improvements compared to other upgrades. However, it's important to check every likely use and so for this reason we obviously like to stress any way we can.
Both CineBench R10 and POV-Ray are very CPU dependant and are more likely to highlight any problems with the ECO RAM, than they are to emphasise its good points. Our results showed that the G.Skill is absolutely around where we'd hope for it to be. Again we have to take into consideration that this is marketed as a ECO model, and so this level of performance is still very impressive, but the comprehensive pasting it put upon the Dominator is greatly lessened.
3D Mark Vantage
Similarly to the rendering test we saw neither good nor bad news from the G.Skill ECO with the P Score right on the money in both CPU and Performance tests, and within error tolerance of the Corsair.
Modern Warfare 2 showed a little extra headroom at the maximum end of the scale, but otherwise both RAM kits are comparable.
Dirt 2, perhaps by virtue of its extra performance requirement, gives quite an edge to the G.Skill over the Dominator. We almost need a big sticker reminding us this is 1.35v and not a "performance" kit.
Finally Crysis Warhead gave us a frame or two which, when the general performance of the game is so woeful, is always useful to have.
Time to wrap up.
This was a very surprising result. As anyone who has tried a "green" HDD will attest, when you try and reduce power consumption you usually also compromise performance. G.Skill have managed to produce a product that runs at exceptional timings and speed, and yet still only uses 1.35v.
The DIMMs themselves are very attractive to look at in a near titanium colour. The logo and G.Skill brand are also, unlike nearly every other RAM we've tested, a separate piece of metal and not a generic sticker. The quality of the cut out and finish on these really has to be seen to be believed. Photos definitely don't do it justice and it is a very classy looking piece of kit. Of special note is that the low power draw means a standard height heat-spreader can be used. A boon to any of us with over-sized CPU coolers.
Performance results are unquestionably excellent and almost make a mockery of higher priced, higher voltage RAM. 4GB for around £100, that does CL7 at 1600MHz whilst only consuming 1.35v is unprecedented. Running against the Corsair Dominator, which is no slouch, shows the G.Skill to be easily able to stretch it's legs despite the greatly reduced power consumption.
We entered into our test hoping that the normal G.Skill quality should give us reasonable performance, and yet we left our testing as impressed as we've been by 2000MHz kits costing at least twice as much.
For this reason we heartily recommend the G.Skill ECO 1.35v 4GB kit and have no hesitation is giving it our performance award for being fast and yet ecologically sound.
Thanks to G.Skill for providing the ECO for today's review. Discuss in our forums.