The Bottom Line
- + Price
- + Performance
- + RGB lighting
- + Style
- - Size might be an issue
Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
XPG has always kept us busy with their various solution in DDR4, and now with DDR5, they are continuing the trend. They were the first to send us any of our DDR5 samples, and they were also kind enough to work through three motherboard failures along the way. While we have already looked at a kit from them in the Lancer series, they are not as fast at the kit today. On top of that, the aesthetic game has been changed, to something more fitting of where heat spreaders and RGB lighting should be, rather than a dumbed-down design and style, with a thin strip of light from the top.
The Caster series is what followed and is the reason we have you here reading this currently. Styling has been improved in multiple aspects. While the angular shapes used are nothing new, XPG brings a mix of metals in what have to be the thickest sticks we have ever seen. Beyond that, lighting is delivered between two zones. The top of these kits have the typical diffuser tops, but XPG also takes the lighting down the sides as it accents the new design and does it well. We also get a speed increase this time, but it does come with the need to bump the voltages to run its XMP 3.0 profile without instability.
XPG typically does fair in our tests; sometimes, in the DDR4 game, they could run with sticks much faster than themselves. Still, we have always considered XPG as one of those go-to companies, where they will have something to fit your needs without the hassles associated with other manufacturers. They just work. We hope for more of that today as we bring forth the Caster RGB DDR5-6400 32GB kit they have sent over, and see just how well they stack up in our charts, hopefully not costing anything near the last set of DDR5-6400 we tested.
The Caster RGB series is exclusive to DDR5, but if the lighting is not your thing, there is a Caster line without RGB. Visually, a mix of colors is going on, from the black PCB to the white diffuser, down to the polished gray metal inserts mixed in with the tungsten gray lower portion of the heat spreaders. Additionally, while the shiny inserts are brushed in their appearance, the bulk of the spreader is textured in gray and ribbed for added visual interest. Not only that, but the diffuser runs around the shiny, triangular inserts, increasing the light delivery and making these Caster RGB stand apart from the masses of RGB options out there.
With the AX5U6400C4016G-DCCARGY in our hands, we know that they are 6400 MT/s sticks with timings of 40-40-40-76 2T. Unlike some others, XPG needs 1.45VDD/VDDQ to run this XMP 3.0 profile, but SPD will boot this kit at 4800 40-40-40-76 2T with just 1.1V. The thermal range is shown to be from 0Â°C at the low-end and can run with stability at up to 85Â°C. Dimensionally, these sticks fall within the typical length of 133.35mm and are 43mm tall, but the width is thick. At 8.4mm per stick, XPG eats up some space between the socket and the slots. In most situations, this is fine, but for us, it was a slight issue; but more on that later. Lastly, should something come up after purchasing these XPG Caster RGB sticks, do not worry, as they are backed with a limited lifetime warranty.
The last kit of 6400 MT/s sticks we tested required $359.99 to get them, and that was on sale from the $429.99 MSRP, which is an insane amount of money to pay for a 32GB kit. However, although similarly equipped, XPG has lowered that bar to a more acceptable level. While the cost of DDR5 is higher than it should be right now in general, we are pleased that to get the performance and visual appeal you are about to see, it costs $299.99 at this time, at its regular price. Even though we are only talking about sixty bucks between them, It raises questions. Are the TEAM sticks better? Does XPG know they cannot hang with TEAM? All of that and more will be answered; you just have to stick around to find out.
Packaging and XPG Caster RGB
The packaging is eye-grabbing, as the backdrop is red, glossy, and iridescent simultaneously. At the top of the front panel, we see four sync systems known to work with the Caster RGB kits, which gives its name at the bottom. In the center is a view of a stick inside it with the RGB lighting in full effect. At the bottom-right, we can see this is a 32GB kit of 6400 MHz sticks, rated at PC5-51200.
The rest of the packaging uses the same backdrop, and on the back, to the left, we find the XPG name, that these are desktop U-DIMM modules, and the company information at the bottom. On the right are the product's name, windows to view the product stickers, a QR code to see the product page, and a sticker in the center that offers the part number, latency, and voltage.
To combat static and give the box some resilience, the RAM comes in a plastic box form fitted to their shape. The plastic ensures that dust is kept at bay, and to keep the shiny brushed inserts looking their best, XPC covers those with plastic so oils and dust will not detract from its style.
We can now take in everything XPG has done with the Caster RGB kits in the open air. Starting with a black PCB, XPG covers that with a ribbed section painted tungsten gray, and is black is DDR5 at the left. Between in and the brushed area sporting the XPG name is part of the RGB diffuser, which also covers the top of these sticks entirely.
The opposite sides of the sticks are identical to what we just saw, down to one detail. On this side of the stick, we find the product sticker. The part number starts things off, followed by the speed, density, timings, and voltage. The last things are the serial number and the notation, not to remove the stickers, or your warranty is voided.
More like the view, you will see when they are installed, appreciation of the styling sets in. The ribbed sides look attractive, but you can also see the triangular section picking up a reflection of the white in our booth. It gets even better once on the motherboard.
The tops of this kit do not have any metal from the heat spreaders showing. All you see are the diffusers for the RGB lighting, which are flat at the top, and have XPG painted on one end. It may not be as apparent, but the Caster RGB is thicker than just about any other kit we have tested. It helps close the gaps between the DIMM slots, but our two-slot motherboard, they can and do conflict with the CPU cooler keep-out zone.
Under the hood, we find a set of SK Hynix ICs used with the Caster RGB. Specifically, these are H5CG48MEB0X014, identical to what TEAM used in the kit we looked at last, so we have some hope for overclocking out of the Caster RGB.
Even with very little information on PMICs, we could see that Richtek makes this 0D=9A Q49 unlocked version to take power from the board and handle its delivery to the RAM. Also worth mentioning, while the eight ICs get a thermal pad, the PMIC is not covered with it.
Installed on our APEX, the lighting is the first thing we notice when things fire up. We love the angled design and the lighting on the sides, but if you look closely, you can also see the shiny portion of the heat spreaders reflecting bits of the motherboard. You may also notice that the gap between them is non-existent, and that is due to the proximity of the RAM and CPU cooler, where the left stick is being pushed to the right.
Test System Details
To obtain the AMD CPU-Z screenshots, you will see directly following this image, and this is the system we used to do it, as well as in attaining the results seen in the following pages. Thanks go out to be quiet, ASUS, and NVIDIA, for supporting this venture. Detailed specifications of the system can be found below.
A quick trip into the UEFI to enable the XMP 3.0 profile is the first thing we did, and it resulted in the 6400 MHz at 40-40-40-76 2T we see in CPU-Z. Going back into the UEFI, we checked the voltages to see that VDD and VDDQ are set to 1.40V, the System Agent to 1.233V, and the IMC is pushed to 1.20V.
In our attempts to reduce the timings, we increased the VDD and VDDQ to 1.50V and pushed the Tx to the same level. System Agent is set to 1.25V, as is the IMC. We end up with the XPG Caster RGB, now able to run 6400 MHz, but now with 34-37-37-76 2T timings.
Keeping all of the voltages the same as we use to lower the timings, we reset the timings back to what XMP sets them at and attempt to get all the speed out of them left in the tank. While not the quickest we have seen DDR5 run, it is nice that there is still another 267 MHz left to play with, raising the overall speed now to 6667 MHz.
Chad's AMD DDR5 Dual-Channel Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS Maximus Z690 APEX - Buy from Amazon
- CPU: Intel Core i9 12900K - Buy from Amazon
- Cooler: be quiet! PURE LOOP 360mm - Buy from Amazon
- Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Founders Edition - Buy from Amazon
- Storage: Phison B47R Fortis 1600 2TB M.2
- Case: Thermaltake Core P3 TG - Buy from Amazon
- Power Supply: be quiet! DARK POWER PRO 12 1200W - Buy from Amazon
- OS: Microsoft Windows 11 Home - Buy from Amazon
Single CPU scores in CPU-Z favor this XPG kit, with the XMP results topping the chart. While Crucial is poking its nose in there, overall speed dropped our score. At CAS34, they get the best results, all of which are better than the TEAM, even if by the slightest margins.
AIDA64 read performance is good from these Caster RGB sticks, but the TEAM kit is slightly better than the XPG XMP results. At 99022 MB/s, the XPG is no slouch. We obtained a boost of 1074 MB/s at CAS34, but at 6667 MHz, that boost increases to 2908 MB/s over XMP.
Write performance is top-notch from this set of XPG Caster RGB. Taking top honors of all XMP runs at 87049 MB/s, it passes by the TEAM kit. Opting to run them at CAS34 gets us 1495 MB/s more throughput, but the advantage goes to overall speed with a 4929 MB/s jump beyond the XMP results.
TEAM sneaks past this XPG kit comparing XMP to XMP, but the Caster RGB does fairly well at that point. We gained 1885 MB/s using CAS34 instead of CAS40 and an amazing 7136 MB/s over how this kit runs out of the box.
If latency means faster, it is odd that TEAM can surpass XPG in some tests, as their latency is 63ns. At 60.3ns latency for the XMP profile, it does show why it does well, but it is not set in stone that it will. Lowering the timings got us the exact same latency; however, it did reduce slightly to 59.7ns at 6667 MHz.
Crunching numbers in Super Pi, we find that the XMP run lands at six minutes, three seconds, and 0.528 left in change. More speed added almost a second to that time, whereas we saw a nearly ten-second drop into the five-minute and fifty-two-second range using CAS34.
3DMark and the Physics test offers some odd results from time to time, but we play along with what we are given. While XMP provides the best results of any kit, our CAS34 run is not far behind it. Even though we expected more from the boost in speed, those results land in the range of some DDR5-5200 options.
Regarding PCMark 10 results, we can see that this bench does not prefer what XPG did. The XMP results near the bottom are disheartening; even with a speed boost, results do not get much better. Opting for CAS34 adds more love, but XPG sits behind TEAM and Kingston.
Compressing files is something many of us do on a day-to-day basis, and if it is part of your job, you may want to consider the XPG Caster RGB. All three ways we can run this kit top the chart, even slightly with the XMP results. More speed got us back another five seconds of our life, and the CAS34 run nets us seven seconds over the XMP results.
To get the most "cb's" possible, we turn to Cinebench R23. XPG's XMP run delivered the best from this RAM but is behind two slower kits, landing XPG in third. Lowering the timings is close to the XMP run, but more speed drops the score by a hefty chunk, landing next to last place.
Transcoding is also something we do, and those who deal with videos and production can understand that you can lose quite a bit of time here with the wrong kit. XPG tops the chart at XMP levels, near ten seconds ahead of TEAM, and it only gets faster by adding speed. We managed the best results using CAS34, gaining another five seconds back.
While our access to kits this fast has been limited to this point, comparing the TEAM to XPG in a head-to-head battle, the Caster RGB from XPG wins out overall, and for a few reasons. XPG managed to thwart the TEAM kit in more of the results than when it didn't, which is the main thing when it comes to purchasing RAM; people want performance that is worth the investment. While the TEAM kit is attractive, it is not on the level of this Caster RGB.
XPG makes thicker heat spreaders, the design isn't mostly painted on, and the amount of illumination coming from these XPG sticks is almost three times the area of the Delta RGB. We also love that going at each other as they do and being so close to each other as they were in our tests, spending less to obtain that level of performance is always an advantage, which goes to XPG.
There is a bit of room left in this Caster RGB set of sticks to allow users to tinker with them, but since XPG sells a 7000 MT/s kit, we did not expect ours to get there, at least not easily. However, any gains in overclocking are just icing on the cake, and we enjoyed messing around and gaining performance that is not there when utilizing XMP. However, all is not glorious in the land of the Caster RGB.
We have to mention the 8.4mm thickness of each stick and how it eats up valuable space for some. Even though we are a fringe case, where the RAM and CPU cooler conflict with one another, one DIMM per channel boards are becoming more popular and could be a concern for some. Even with the added pressure, we still used the XPG Cater RGB without much fuss, but it looks odd.
The overwhelming reason to opt for the XPG Caster RGB, especially this 6400 MT/s kit, comes down to the cost. You may favor the styling of what TEAM kicked out, but in the end, it is on sale for an excessive amount, and the MSRP is nearly a deal killer. However, for less than $300, you can run neck-and-neck with that kit, and in our opinion, with more style to boot.
At $299.99 all of the time, until DDR5 pricing shifts as a whole, we can find little reason to send you to TEAM when XPG is offering the much better package deal. If you want speed, style, and affordability, the Caster RGB 6400 MHz 32GB kit may be right up your alley.