OCZ DDR2 PC2-4200 Value Pro is designed to offer mainstream (read average) users excellent performance, reliability, and quality at a lower price point. Now, being hardware junkies and overclocking gurus the 1st thing you'll think is "how far can I push it? Can I save some cash, tweak it and stretch the all mighty dollar even further?" Well hopefully we'll be able to answer some of those questions in the next few pages.
The first thing many of you will notice is the timings, not the greatest but remember this is "Value" RAM, we'll look into some better timings later on in the testing procedure. Another thing to note, especially if you are familiar with OCZ's performance memory, the value series does not have EVP (Extended voltage protection) so in a nutshell, if you bump up the voltage and fry it, your on your own.
Packaging is your standard plastic clamshell with some features and specs on the back of the card. Personally I like the plain Jane packaging, spend the money on development not on making the box look pretty.
The RAM itself has copper heat spreaders with the embossed OCZ logo, as well as a sticker letting you know what type of RAM it is and the timings.
The RAM I'll be comparing this to is Kingston Hyper X PC5400. I know, doesn't seem like a fair comparison but I'll be slowing the Kingston down to be on par with the OCZ. Don't worry, I'll also be overclocking the OCZ and see how far we cant take it.
Test setup consists of Intel P4 3.4 (LGA 775), Foxconn NF4SLI7AA-8EKRS2 motherboard, 2 x WD 74GB Raptors, 1 60GB Maxtor HDD, ASUS dual layer DVDRW, Lite-ON DVDROM, HIS X800XL, Cooler Master 550W PSU.
I'll be using Sisoft Sandra's memory benchmark to test each type of RAM at different speeds, FSB speeds tested according to BIOS were 533, 560, 600 and 675. I did not do a lot of heavy tweaking, at default timings no voltage adjustments were required for either brand of RAM.
Before I started benchmarking I wanted to see if I could do something about the 4-4-4-8 timings, after a few minutes of poking around in the BIOS I got it down to 3-3-3-6 at 1.9V At default speed of 533MHz the OCZ was rock solid stable at those timings, granted not a huge improvement, but an improvement none the less, and with minimal increase to the voltage. However, overclocking was limited with the tighter timings, so for the overclocking tests I went back to default timings, and in the case of the last test at 667MHz the timings were 4-4-4-10 in the case of OCZ and 4-4-4-12 for the Kingston.
At 533, the default rated speed for the OCZ things are pretty much dead even, the OCZ has a slight lead in Int which could be due to the tighter timings.
At higher speeds we start to see the payoff for the tighter timing, OCZ increases the lead even further. I expected the Kingston to come out on top due to it being underclocked and having more headroom, but the results say just the opposite.
At 600 the OCZ still has a sizable lead over the Kingston and shows no signs of slowing down, at this point I decided to run memtest for an hour just to check on stability and was glad to see no errors after an hour of memtest. The heatspreaders were definitely warming up at this speed due to the constant pounding from memtest, so some type of active cooling might be a good idea.
At a FSB setting of 675 we hit 667MHz on the RAM, taking this OCZ PC2 4200 up to PC 5400 speeds. Timings on the OCZ were at 4-4-4-10 compared to the Kingston's 4-4-4-12 and a default voltage of 1.8V. I again ran memtest at this point to check the stability of this overclock and after 1 hour received two error, I checked the temps on the heatspreaders and they were VERY hot to the touch so I rigged an 80mm fan over the RAM and ran memtest again for just over an hour. With the addition of the fan memtest ran error free. I decided to stop at this point, this RAM had already impressed me and anything more would just be overkill.
Just to do a little further testing I fired up my current favorite game Battlefield 2. Any of you familiar with BF2 know how much of a memory hog it is. I figured this would be a good real world test to see how well the RAM handled this huge overclock. I played through 6 rounds of BF2 with no problems, I didn't remove the rigged cooling set up I had in place but I'm pretty sure without the additional cooling I would have run into a few errors.
Conclusion: What can I say, this is some serious RAM, you can find it online for less than $100 for a 1GB kit. With some mild tweaking you got from some decent priced PC 4200 value RAM to some REALLY decent priced PC5400. Every once in a while a product comes along that gives you WAY more bang for the buck than you expect, like the ti series NVIDIA cards, the JIUHB XP 1700 and the ABIT NF7-s motherboard. You mention any of those products to an enthusiast and it brings a smile to their faces.
Some creative tweaking of the voltage, timings etc., paired up with the serious overclockability of this RAM make it an incredible deal.
Pros: Cost, amazing overclockability, stability, can tighten timings slightly
Cons: Default timing is slower than what we are seeing on other (more costly) RAM
Final Thoughts: In most cases I wouldn't recommend "budget" or "value" hardware of any kind, to anyone. The saying you get what you pay for is more true with hardware than just about anything. In the case of this RAM I would recommend it to anyone looking to upgrade on the cheap. 1GB of dual channel RAM for about $100 bucks may seem like it's to good to be true, but in this case it's not.