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SyncMax 533Express DDR2 Memory SyncMax 533Express DDR2 Memory: We take a look at some DDR2 from a new player on the market. Is their product good enough to take on the big boys?
Date: June 7, 2006
Manufacturer:
Written By:


    With the release of the AMD Athlon AM2 series, DDR2 memory has really taken over from DDR memory.  Both of the major CPU manufacturers are moving or have moved to a DDR2 only support for their CPU's.

    There are many different brands of memory out there, the big names like Crucial, Corsair, Kingston, OCZ, and Mushkin, and many other smaller names.  One of these is Concord Idea Corp, a Canadian company that 'designs, manufactures and distributes PC Memory', your standard memory manufacturer for the last 19 years.

    There are many different speeds of DDR2 memory from the PC2-4200 to current high-end PC2-8000.  Latency has also become a valuable selling point as the JEDEC standards for DDR2 only require 4-4-4 or 5-5-5 timings on the memory.  So lets see what (SyncMax) has sent us.

SyncMax 533Express DDR2 Memory

    Concord Idea was nice enough to send us their dual channel kit of the 533Express RAM.  The name of the memory is pretty evident to the actual rated speed of the memory, in this case 533MHz or PC2-4200.  What does this RAM look like?

    Packaging for the memory is nothing special.  The two sticks are in the same physical package, which some companies haven't done.  The overall design follows the less is more philosophy, with the RAM being put on display with a small booklet acting as the front cover.

    One interesting design point is in the absence of something, heatspreaders.  This is a rarity for a more performance oriented memory.  However our tests previously haven't shown too much requirement for a heatspreader, though faster RAM has made the chips run hotter.  The actual memory chips are branded by SyncMax, and are a 64Mb*8 chip configuration any other information is not really listed on the memory itself.  However the memory does have timings of 3-3-3-8 at 533MHz and 4-4-4-10 at 667MHz at 1.9v.  These are pretty standard timings for most of the higher end of the DDR2 RAM world, as the PC2-5300 timings are just average.  How though does this RAM overclock?  Lets take a quick look.

Overclocking

    Overclocking DDR2 RAM can have quite a few variables, especially when you factor in the ability to adjust the timings as well as the actual clock speed that the RAM is running at, all without overclocking your CPU.  Results as always will vary but how did this memory do when we gave it 2.2v to play with?

    The results are pretty good considering the ratings of this RAM, you can either look at it as a 200MHz increase with the same timings, or a 70MHz increase while tightening the timings of the RAM.  Compared to our other test subject, the Crucial Ballistix PC2-5300 1GB kit, it gives you a 40MHz faster memory clock.  A rather impressive overclock comparatively, but it still can't quite reach 800MHz at any point.  However as a note the motherboard used for this testing seems to have issues with trying to set DDR2 memory anywhere near the 800MHz mark.

Test System

CPU: Intel Pentium D 820
CPU Clock Speed: 2.8GHz and 3.12GHz
Motherboard: Asus P5LD2-Deluxe BIOS 0603
Memory: SyncMax 533Express Crucial Ballistix PC2-5300 (2*512MB)
Memory Timings: 3-3-3-12-1 3-3-3-12-1 5-5-5-15-1
Memory Speed: 667MHz (QDR)
Hard Drives:

40GB Maxtor 34098H4; 4*250GB WD SATA HD (RAID5)

Video Card: Gigabyte GV-RX18L256V-B (ATi x1800XL)
Operating System: Windows XP Pro SP2 Direct X 9c
Drivers: Catalyst 6.4
Cooler: Zalman CNPS7700-AlCu (Full Speed)
Other Fans: 92mm Fan 80mm Fan
Case: Generic Case
Power Supply: Ultra X-Finity 500w (Titanium)
Software: Sciencemark 2.0 Release: 21032005 XMpeg 5.03
UT 2004 3369 (Self made demo) DivX 5.21
7-Zip 4.42 (05-14-2006) TMPGEnc 2.59.47.155

    All testing was run at 1600*1200 @ 32bpp and run a minimum of three different runs.  The Unreal Tournament test was run at 1024*768 with the lowest detail settings, and no sound card present in the system.  The reason for using DivX 5.21 still is the newer versions do not encode properly.  The 7-Zip test was two different tests, first was the benchmark mode, in which we made use of the 64MB dictionary size as well as the multithread option.  The other 7-Zip test was a actual compression test, in which we used the 7z format, ultra compression, LZMA compression method, 64MB dictionary, and also multi-threaded.  Sciencemark 2 was our synthetic memory bandwidth test for which we used the Membench test.  XMpeg and TMPGEnc used the test settings that I have used previously.  So lets get on with our test results.

Synthetic Tests

    First lets get a look at the 'synthetic' tests we used, first is the memory bandwidth test from Sciencemark, which will show the largest difference between the RAM we tested.

  Crucial PC2-5300 SyncMax 533Express
Timings: 5-5-5-15 3-3-3-12 3-3-3-12 3-3-3-12
Memory Clock Speed (MHz): 667 667 667 744

Results (MB/s):

4486.21 4505.95 4501.94 4906.80

    What do these results show?  In the way of bandwidth timings don't make much difference, but latency is reduced.  The additional 70MHz in memory speed show up in the form of a 400MB/s increase in bandwidth or about a 9% increase in bandwidth for a 11% difference in clock speed.  Does our other synthetic test show the same results?

    7-Zip is an opensource compression program that has the ability to work in a multi-threaded mode, which makes sense for most of today's dualcore CPU's, but does it stress RAM as well, as our test takes about 700MB of system memory during the test.

  Crucial PC2-5300 SyncMax 533Express
Timings: 5-5-5-15 3-3-3-12 3-3-3-12 3-3-3-12
Memory Clock Speed (MHz): 667 667 667 744

Results (MIPS) Compress:

2433 2495 2505 2735

Results (MIPS) Decompress:

1227 1230 1230 1369

Results (KB/s) Compress:

1397 1433 1439 1571

Results (KB/s) Decompress:

12167 12232 12200 13573

    This results table contains a bit more information than the last set of results.  All the numbers follow the higher is better format.  Most of the difference occur in the compression section, as that is where the most memory is used (700MB compared to <100MB).  Changing the timings gives a 3% improvement in the number of instructions that are able to be done.  The two different memory sticks show no real difference here, as the difference is less than 0.5%.  Overclocking the SyncMax memory gives it a nice boost, though note the CPU is also overclocked here.  The difference is also 9%, just like that of the Sciencemark test.  Decompressing seems a more CPU bound environment as the difference is 11%, which is how much the CPU is overclocked.  But these are synthetic tests, what do real applications show in the way of a performance difference between these two sticks of RAM?

Application/Game Tests

    Lets continue our look at 7-Zip with a real compression test, that of three folders (and many subfolders) with a mixture of file sizes totaling 684MB.  Lets see how long the four different memory test setups take to compress.

  Crucial PC2-5300 SyncMax 533Express
Timings: 5-5-5-15 3-3-3-12 3-3-3-12 3-3-3-12
Memory Clock Speed (MHz): 667 667 667 744

Results (Minutes:Seconds):

9:54.78 9:31.37 9:32.22 8:54.57

    Here the results are easier to understand.  The total difference between the four setups is one minute, from ten minutes to nine.  Changing the timings gives a 4% boost, lowering the compression time by 23 seconds.  The two different sticks of memory show less than one second of difference, nothing at all.  Overclocked the compression speeds up by 7%, which while not as much as the synthetic test is still pretty good as this test seems pretty memory limited.  However we don't just compress data, so lets take a look at Unreal Tournament 2004 to see the differences when playing games.

  Crucial PC2-5300 SyncMax 533Express
Timings: 5-5-5-15 3-3-3-12 3-3-3-12 3-3-3-12
Memory Clock Speed (MHz): 667 667 667 744

Results (FPS):

112.457 114.021 115.452 126.410

    Moving to tighter timings doesn't do anything for this game, as the 1.3% increase is within the margin of error.  So too is the difference between the two different companies memory sticks.  Overclocking the memory and CPU gives the only real increase of 9.5%, or slightly lower than the overclock the CPU made.  So while this game is slightly memory dependent, as most games are, the best way to see the very minor difference is by turning down all the quality options as well as the resolution which most of those who are worried about the differences don't want to do.  Will any difference show up in our encoding tests?

    First lets look at converting a video to a MPEG-2 video file, using TMPGEnc.  This program is multi-threaded, which may use slightly more in the way of memory bandwidth to the two cores but lets see if that is noticable?

  Crucial PC2-5300 SyncMax 533Express
Timings: 5-5-5-15 3-3-3-12 3-3-3-12 3-3-3-12
Memory Clock Speed (MHz): 667 667 667 744

Real Time Taken (M:S):

6:22 6:23 6:22 6:15

CPU Time Taken (M:S):

7:35 7:32 7:34 6:49

Real Time FPS:

22.40 22.34 22.40 22.81

    Total difference between all four test setups 1.7%, or within the margin of error.  So this test doesn't really show any difference between timings and an increase in memory clock speed, as the system was less efficient when the system was overclocked.  Lets move on to converting from MPEG-2 to a DivX AVI file.

  Crucial PC2-5300 SyncMax 533Express
Timings: 5-5-5-15 3-3-3-12 3-3-3-12 3-3-3-12
Memory Clock Speed (MHz): 667 667 667 744

Time Taken (M:S):

2:26.44 2:22.90 2:23.94 2:08.72

FPS:

58.42 59.87 59.43 65.95

    This test seems to be a bit more memory friendly.  Changing the timings gives a 2.4% increase in the rendering speed of the memory.  Changing memory without any other differences offers no difference much like the compression test did.  Increasing the clock speed of both CPU and memory offers a 11% increase, much of which can be attributed to the CPU though the increased bandwidth does help somewhat.

Conclusion

    So we've taken a look at these two sticks of PC2-4200 memory, what can we say about it?

    First packaging, it was fairly basic with a clear plastic case that held both sticks of memory as well as a little booklet to let you know what kind of memory you have.  The interesting thing about the actual sticks of memory is that they had no heatsinks(spreaders) on them at all, a rarity among 'enthusiast' memory.  However this didn't seem to hinder its overclocking potential as it easily reached 744MHz at the timings it was rated at for 533MHz operation, with only a 0.3v boost in voltage.

    Performance was average, it wasn't faster than the Crucial memory, but wasn't slower than it.  This is good as both were running at the same timings.  The difference between JEDEC standard SPD timings and the performance of the tighter timings was noticeable in some tests, with at most a 4% increase, but nonexistent in others.  The performance of the memory when overclocked was very nice, with a few differences in the 9-10% range.

    Lastly we will talk about the price of this memory, which seems to be in the $100 range right now, though I'm not sure if it is Canadian or US dollars, though there isn't much difference at this point.  The price is within the range of most PC2-5300 memory, of which there are some pretty good overclockers.  So while this memory does well and can provide low timings when overclocked, it doesn't stand out from the large crowd its in.  A good dual-channel kit, and something to definitely consider for those who will pick up an AMD AM2 chip.

If you have any comments, be sure to hit us up in our forums.

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