OCZ Enhanced Bandwidth PC3500 Platinum 1GB (2x512MB)

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Product: OCZ DDR PC-3500 Enhanced Bandwidth Dual Channel (1GB Kit)

Introduction:
 
As CPU's and Graphics cards get faster, more stress is put on the computers subsystem. Memory Bandwidth is suddenly a much larger deal that it was back in the days of the P3 and Athlon "Thunderbird". Today, latency and bandwidth are things to be sought after like crown jewels, and without them, a rather smokin' gaming rig or server is reduced to a mid-range system. In this review we're going to take a look at the OCZ PC3500 Enhanced Bandwidth kit on a nForce 2 system, and see how it compares to some of their PC3200 Rev.2. Stick around and see if it's worth your hard earned green.
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To be honest, I ordered this stuff from Ramstore.ca for my personal rig as I'd just snagged a Barton Mobility 2500+, and unfortunately my current OCZ PC3200 Rev.2 CAS 2 memory could not overclock above stock speed by more than 7MHz. At 210 (420DDR) it caused memtest errors, and system instability. We'll see if this can take the Barton M higher.


Specs & Info:
 
This memory comes with very shiny heat spreader, and although it doesn't reflect the quality of the finish in the pictures, it appears to be a flawless chrome finish. Very classy stuff indeed.

Here are the memory specifications according to OCZ:

  • 434MHz DDR
  • CL 2.5-3-2-8 (CAS-TRCD-TRP-TRAS) 1T
  • Available in 512MB (2x256MB) and 1GB (2x512MB) Dual Channel Optimized Kits
  • Unbuffered
  • Mirrored Platinum Copper Heatspreader
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • 2.8 Volts
  • 184 Pin DIMM
  • 1GB Dual Channel Kit PN- OCZ4331024EBDCPE-K

 

It's interesting to note that although this is labeled "Enhanced Bandwidth" it is actually CAS 2.5 memory. Most high-end memory is CAS 2, but at this PC3500 spec, OCZ has elected to raise the latency to CAS 2.5. So where does the bandwidth come from? It comes from the 1T wait state of these modules. Most other ram has a wait state of 2T, and these modules effectively cut that time in half by running at a 1T state. You'll have to stick around and see if it makes enough difference.
 
Now that we've seen the actual memory modules, and what they claim to be able to do, let's take a look at the test setup and and testing information.

 

Test Setup:

 

  • ABIT NF7S Rev.2 (BIOS 24, 4-22-2004)
  • 2x512MB OCZ PC3200 2-2-3-7
  • 120GB Western Digital JB 7200rpm IDE 0 - Master
  • 2 - WD1200JD SATA drives in RAID 0
  • Plextor Premium 52x32x52x IDE 1 - Slave
  • Audigy 2 ZS
  • Belkin 54GWireless Ethernet
  • nForce 3.13 drivers
  • AMD XP Mobility 2500+ (Barton)
  • 2x512MB OCZ PC3500 EB Platinum 2.5-3-2-8
  • 40GB Maxtor Diamond Max Plus 7200rpm IDE 0 - Slave
  • Plextor PX-712A DVD±RW IDE 1 - Master
  • Sapphire Atlantis 9800 Pro
  • GVC Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000)
  • Windows XP SP1 with all available updates
  • Catalyst 4.6 Drivers

For the following benchmarks I kept my video card at stock speeds, and ran the memory synchronously with the CPU. All tests were repeated several times and averages were calculated. All results were posted whether they were a win, lose, or draw situation. This is the real deal, and shows what you can expect with a similar setup. Overclocking was limited due to having an onboard SATA RAID 0 setup. With the stock ABIT BIOS' many people are reporting SATA RAID corruption at speeds over 225MHz FSB. I didn't want to corrupt my drives so I stayed well below this "breaking point."

Head on over to the next page and check out the performance of this Platinum memory.


Performance Tests :
 
The first benchmark we'll take a look at is the ever popular SiSoft Sandra 2004. I've tried to keep the CPU speed around the same MHz rating. In order to run the PC3500 synchronously, I've had to run it slightly slower than 2GHz (217*9=1.95GHz). I've also ran it slightly overclocked at 222MHz, in order to keep the CPU speed at roughly 2GHz (222*9=2GHz). As you can see, the EB Platinum memory keeps up with the PC3200 CAS 2 RAM at 200MHz, and obviously pulls away from it at higher clock rates. I'll admit I was quite impressed to see CAS 2.5 RAM keep up with the CAS 2 RAM at this speed. We see that CAS latency is obviously not everything.
 
The next of these synthetic tests is AIDA32. This benchmark runs read and write tests independently and gives you the breakdown in MB/sec. At 400MHz DDR, the CAS 2 performance memory reads slightly faster than the PC3500 EB Platinum. However, it is by a margin of 12MB/sec, and at this same speed the EB Platinum writes 14MB/sec faster than the PC3200. It's really pretty much a draw. At faster speeds we can see the bandwidth really take off, and at 444MHz DDR, we are approaching 3.4GB/sec bandwidth on the read test! Not shabby at all.
Although PiFast is more CPU related, it still maintains some level of memory bandwidth requirements. At 200MHz FSB, the EB Platinum proves to be slightly faster than the PC3200. At 222MHz FSB, it is again faster, but the results vary no more than 1% from first to last. . . obviously memory bandwidth is not the major issue here.

 

Although there is much controversy around the validity of 3DMark 2003, I have included it in this review and believe it to be a valid reference point. The only thing changing in this system is the memory. No drivers, optimizations, Operating System, or other hardware was changed throughout the testing. This shows how memory affects the performance of the benchmark on the same system. Individual results will vary, but here is the way it breaks down on our bench.

At PC3200 speeds, the CAS 2 memory takes a slight lead in both 3DMark 01 and 03. At 217MHz FSB (DDR3500), the EB Platinum pulls ahead by a few points. This is done with a slightly lower CPU speed. It shows that bandwidth is indeed important in 3DMarks tests.

 
The last benchmark to post is of a custom timedemo of Unreal Tournament 2004. This was ran at 1024x768, with all details turned to "High" and "On". AA was set at 2x, and AF was 8x. We can see that CAS latency is somewhat of a factor as the PC3200 @ 2-2-3-7 resulted in a faster score than the EB Platinum at the same speed, and even at 217FSB. However, running the EB Platinum at 222MHz, and a CPU speed of 2GHz resulted in a relatively noticeable jump in performance. To be honest, you probably wouldn't notice the difference in a game, but the timedemo does show more than a 5% increase in FPS.
 
Conclusion:
 

This memory performed as advertised. It is definitely a boost from the previous RAM I had installed. Other sites are reporting DDR500 speeds out of this RAM on Intel setups, and it seems to be a great overclocker. I've ran this memory up to 240MHz, (480DDR) but it was not synchronous, so I didn't post the results. They suffer due to the asynchronous setting, and although they are better than the Stock 433DDR results, they don't show true bandwidth as the CPU is running slower than the memory.

The lowdown? This memory is fairly pricey, but does offer better performance that PC3200. It's classy, solid, and can take you well beyond PC3500 if you have the right hardware. You could snag this RAM and comfortably kick the booty out of other DDR500 ram out there, but in an nForce 2 setup, you'll need a good board, a smokin' chip and some good cooling to take you that far. I couldn't make it, but I don't blame the ram at all.

Pros:

  • Excellent Quality.
  • Sweet looking RAM.
  • Very good performance at PC3200 and PC3500.

Cons:

  • CAS 2.5
  • Price ~ $470 CDN.

 

I purchased this RAM for myself because my current PC3200 couldn't overclock very well at all. I didn't want to go with another brand of PC3200, because it's still PC3200. I snagged this to be able to run my Barton Mobility faster, and also to future proof my next CPU/Mobo upgrade. I'm confident I can run the snot out of an Intel or Athlon 64 system with this RAM. If you've got some good overclocking PC3200, it isn't worth the upgrade, but if you still have some PC2700, and want an upgrade to last you a while, I'd recommend the PC3500 EB Platinum. I'm quite satisfied with the RAM, and know it will follow me to my next upgrade.

BensCustomCases.com Rating
Quality:
10/10
Performance:
9/10
Software Pack:
n/a
Stability:
10/10
Value:
8/10
Total Score 9.25

 

If you have any questions or comments regarding the OCZ PC3500 EB Platinum RAM or this review, please head on over and post them in the forum here.