A-Data vs Crucial: Battle of the PC2-8500 - Test Setup and Testing

Article Index
A-Data vs Crucial: Battle of the PC2-8500
Closer Look: A-Data and Crucial
Test Setup and Testing

Test Setup:

We used our Athlon 64 setup because our Core 2 Duo system can't run memory as fast as the Athlon.  The MSI 975X Platinum motherboard has BIOS settings that allow for DDR2-1066 speeds, but when selected, the board will not POST.  This is a know issue with the motherboard and until we get a couple of new motherboards for testing memory we are a little limited.

 


Test Info & Overclocking:

With AMD systems the memory performance is directly related to the speed of the memory controller which is located on the CPU.  When you run DDR2-800 memory at 800MHz with a CPU speed of 2.0GHz (3800+ X2 Stock), you can expect a certain level of memory performance.  "Memory Performance" increases with increases to the CPU so if you run your memory at 800MHz at 3.0GHz (6000+ X2 Stock) you will score much higher on your memory performance benchmarks.  We have tried to eliminate this as much as possible and have tried to use multipliers on our K9N Platinum motherboard that allow us to keep the CPU at relatively the same speed while increasing memory speeds.  This is not always possible so the results are not based entirely on "memory performance", but also on CPU speed as well.

 

One way we can test the memory is to tighten the timings and see how fast it can run at some popular settings.  We used both 3-3-3-9 and 4-4-4-12 settings with a maximum voltage of 2.3v.  We didn't bother testing 5-5-5-15 timings as our motherboard was not capable of pushing the memory any farther than we could reach at 4-4-4-12. 

Max Clocks
Max Clocks

 

We managed to get the A-Data to run stable at 800MHz using 3-3-3-9 timings and a voltage of 2.3 volts.  We had our system clocked in at 10*280=2.8Ghz in this test.  Everything was 100% stable for benchmarking and Memtest.  The Crucial Ballistix Tracer managed to do a little better and reached a top speed of 867MHz DDR at 3-3-3-9 timings.  This was also done at 2.3v but with a CPU speed of 10*270=2.7GHz.

At 4-4-4-12, we squeezed an impressive 1028MHz DDR out of the A-Data modules by running the CPU at 9*285=2.56GHz.  The Crucial kit once again managed a slightly higher clock and topped our board out at 1080MHz DDR with a CPU speed of 10*260=2.6GHz.  Although the CPU speeds and multipliers don't match up, this is the only way we could increase the memory clock and keep our CPU stable.  As I mentioned before, we need a couple of new motherboards to really test out memory to the max.  In the future if we secure a pair of 680i SLI motherboards for our Core 2 setup, we'll revisit the memory performance and see how high we can take the PC2-8500 kits.

 

Performance:

Below are a couple of  graphs showing memory performance at the maximum settings listed above.  Notice that the A-Data kit shows faster DDR2-800 performance because of the CPU:Memory ratio and higher CPU speed.

 SiSoft Performance
SiSoft Performance
 Everest Performance
Everest Performance

 

The charts above really speak for themselves.  Both kits offer very good performance and with the recent drop in memory prices are pretty good value all around.  Both kits can handle tight timings at slower clock speeds and are very well matched to today's processors.  The Crucial kit edges out the kit from A-Data in clock speeds and therefore takes the performance lead in almost all cases as well.  The only exception is the 3-3-3-9 test where the CPU was faster on the A-Data test.

  It's the one!

Conclusion:

Both the kit from A-Data and the kit from Crucial offer excellent performance at a price that is somewhat affordable.  Both kits use Micron D9 chips although it appears that Micron has kept better and faster chips for themselves as their memory clocks higher at tighter timings.  Either way, you are getting Micron quality no matter what name is on the heat spreader.  Both kits are great, but you have to ask yourself this question: "Are LEDs on my memory and a bit better performance worth an extra $50?"  If so, you'll want to head down the Crucial road and pick up some Ballistix Tracer.  If you want to save some money and still get some great performing memory, you may want to consider the A-Data kit.  With a price of $230 or lower, this kit is certainly for the value conscious consumer who still demands great performance.

As far as rating goes, both kits score a top pick and compare side-by-side as you can see below.

Top Pick

BCCHardware.com Rating
 
A-Data PC2-8500
Crucial PC2-8500
Quality:
9/10
10/10
Performance:
9/10
10/10
Software Pack:
n/a
n/a
Stability:
10/10
10/10
Features:
9/10
10/10
Value:
9/10
8/10
Total Score:
9.2
9.6

 

I'd like to thank A-Data and Crucial for sending these kits our way for this review.  A-Data surprised me with a top-quality kit that offers great performance.  No surprise about Crucial - it just plain rocks!

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