The Bottom Line
- + Completely chromed exterior
- + Low voltage
- + Overclocking flexibility
- + Pleasing RGB display
- - Comparatively high cost
- - Lackluster performance
Should you buy it?AvoidConsiderShortlistBuy
Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
If you buy a product based on looks, we have a sleek and stylish kit for you to ponder. With only a single kit previously reviewed from Netac, we hope that what we saw then was not indicative of their entire line of RAM, as we were not all that impressed when we looked at the Shadow II DDR5. While we were harsh on almost all levels with that set of memory, Netac offers another set with an entirely different aesthetic appeal. While we always prefer performance over appearances, this is one of those kits that might change things, but we will surely tell you the whole story in this review.
Like our previous sample, Netac sent us the bottom of the barrel part in the lineup. Even though they offer denser kits and faster sets, we still deal with entry-level products here. There is no hate from us on that front, as we have seen Crucial do similar, and we have seen a set from Sabrent that still holds the record for the most flexible kits we have tested in DDR5 to date; there is hope. However, if the past product within the same family of RAM indicates what we are about to see, we feel like a dark cloud is hanging over Netac that needs to be addressed.
Netac is good at appearance, and we commended them for it with their Shadow II DDR5, but at the end of it all, that was the only selling point. Not only did the score reflect this, but we were also sure to advise that potential buyers passed on them in favor of just about any other set of 4800 MT/s DDR5 on the market. Even though we expect a repeat of what we saw then, we hope that something has changed with these new, much sexier-looking Shadow RGB DDR5 kits.
While our minds tell us, it is most likely akin to taking Cinderella from cleaning the house to going to the ball, with no changes to what is behind the impressive-looking attire. Either way, we are about to deliver the whole story and let you decide whether or not these latest sticks from Netac are the perfect fit for your new build.
If you decide to go out and look for these kits of Netac Shadow RGB DDR5, the ones we are covering today come with the part number NTSRD5P48DP-32S. Within this specific set of Netac DDR5, you get amazing-looking aluminum heat spreaders that are chromed. However, Netac refers to the coloring as silver, but either way, they are certainly an attractive addition to any system. Aside from appearances, the density of what we have in hand has doubled, giving us 32GB of DDR5 this time rather than 16GB, potentially boosting performance over what we saw the last time.
Sadly, we are still dealing with 4800 MT/s speed, and the timings at 40-40-40-76 2T are not all that impressive either. We also know that the Netac kits are Micron based, which have proven not to be the best of the bunch when it comes to performance at stock levels or flexibility when it comes to overclocking. However, for the power-conscious, these kits use just 1.10V to operate, which may be another selling point to some. Each stick is bigger this time, as the heat spreader design is wider, taller, and thicker than the Shadow II. Not only that, but the weight has also increased, partly due to the addition of RGB lighting and a chromed diffuser, reminding us of the T-Force XTREEM DDR4 we saw back in 2020.
While the Netac Shadow RGB is backed with a lifetime warranty, you are asked to pay a hefty sum for what we will show you. Allow us to explain. Similar kits start at $98.99. although they are naked kits, at the same time, you can get a set with heat spreaders beginning at around $115. Sadly, we can even get into RGB kits for similar money at that $115 mark, but Netac expects double that. That's right. To obtain the DDR5 Netac has sent over, looking to Amazon to get them, we see that the Netac Store listing is set at $261.99. Seriously?
These are some stellar-looking sticks, but if previous performance is anything to base our judgment on, this is essential lipstick on a very expensive pig. While we hold our final decision until the end of the review, if the looks and a deep pocket are not your reasons to buy a new set of DDR5 at its lowest possible speed, these Netac Shadow RGB kits are likely not your Huckleberry.
Packaging and Netac Shadow RGB
The packaging is almost as attractive as the RAM inside. They use an illuminated corridor with the colors atop matching the RGB display on the memory centered on the front. At the top, we find the Netac name and what compatible sync systems can be used to control them, while at the bottom is the Shadow RGB name and a mention of the lifetime warranty.
The back of the packaging is much simpler. At the top, in many languages, Netac tells us these are DDR5 desktop memory modules, with a product sticker just below. Company information and iconography are below, with a code to the right that delivers you to their Facebook page.
With the external packaging out of the way, we can see that this kit is shipped inside of form-fitting plastic surrounding the product, ensuring the chrome and painted surfaces are delivered in perfect condition. There is also an insert with instructions for the memory, but let's be honest, if you don't know how to install a set of RAM, maybe you shouldn't be buying them in the first place.
The Netac Shadow RGB is a stunning-looking kit of RAM. All that chrome, the multiple angles, the cutout near the center, and the painted logo make for an attractive option in the land of DDR5. At the top, you can see a difference in the coloration of the diffuser, but it also gets a chrome coating rather than the basic white diffusers we find nearly everywhere else.
You will find an identical heat spreader on the back of either stick, but this time there is a sticker applied. We see the name, type, speed, density, and color on it. Below that, we see the part number of the kit, then the part number for each stick, and one more line down, we get to the speed, timings, and voltage. Below the bar code is the serial number, should you need it for RMA purposes.
Without any external sources reflecting against the heat spreaders, we can appreciate the design and appeal of such a kit. We commend Netac for being one of a select few to take this approach to memory styling. The horse head logo is visible in the corner, and at this angle, we can better appreciate the chrome application on the diffuser.
We also like that the diffuser is not a straight bar across the top, as Netack mimics the angles of the spreader in the diffuser shape. We also love that there is no logo or name on them, which can either block the look of the RGB lighting under them or get lost with the brightness of the RGB display.
Netac is the only manufacturer we have run across using anti-tamper stickers on the heat spreaders. While we like the look of the holographic stickers with the Netac name on them, it detracts from the overall look, and if you know us, we will soon void the warranty that these stickers help to protect.
Under the spreaders, we found thermal pads for the ICs, and another for the PMIC, although that stuck to the chip and not the spreader when we removed it. The black PCB has eight Micron IZA45D8BMJ ICs, which are not horrible when it comes to overclocking, but at stock, performance is not all that good.
Once we removed the thermal pad from the PMIC, we found this Richtek 0D-8C chip, which is unlocked and allows users to push the voltages up to 1.50V, going from what we saw in the downloadable literature on the product page.
Once installed on the APEX, the chromed heat spreaders reflect anything around it, as you can see from the way the motherboard components show from this angle. We still have to power them up for the full effect, but it is hard to find fault with this aesthetic choice even as they sit now.
The cromes effect on the diffuser dulls the brightness, but again, it is tough to find fault with what Netac did in this regard. The RGB illumination is easily seen, and we even like how the light plays with the angles and creates white accents on the various angled portions of the shape.
Test System Details
To obtain the Intel 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.
After installing the Shadow RGB, we cleared the CMOS, booted the system, enabled the defaults, and rebooted. After all that, we find ourselves looking at the SPD profile that Netac applies. With our set of the Shadow RGB, the speed and timings are as follows. The kit runs at 4800MHz out of the box, with the timings set to 40-40-40-76 2T. To achieve this, the VDIMM is set to 1.10V, whereas the System Agent uses 0.785V, and the Memory Controller is set to 1.119V
Reducing the timings stopped with what you see in the image above. Using an added tenth of a volt across the range, we got this kit down to 34-36-36-76 2T. For clarity, the VDIMM, VDDq, and the Tx were set to 1.20V. We did push the System agent to 1.0V, but the Memory Controller voltage was set to 1.2125V.
Resetting the timings back to what we had initially, we got the Shadow RGB up to 5600 MHz using the same voltages listed with the previous image. There is one oddity we found, however. No matter what we did, the motherboard decided that the tRAS should be at 89 once we added any amount of speed to this kit.
Chad's Intel 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
As we start the series of tests, we cannot be upset with the results shown with CPU-Z and the single thread benchmark. They are slightly better than where the Sabrent kit landed, but adding speed was a waste of time. We got a slight boost with reduced timings, but less than one point covers all three results.
Read performance out of the box is about what we would expect, and it can outpace the Sabrent, but only slightly. Dropping the timings was beneficial, to the tune of 1150 MB/s. Adding more speed boosted things much more, with a difference of 12,774 MB/s, which is good, but the more affordable Vulcans were able to outpace them.
At the bottom of the write performance chart is where you will find the Netac kit. Running them with CAS34 settings, we gained another 716 MB/s, and even with more speed, the 10,005 MB/s boost is appreciated, but again the Vulcans are better at that speed.
Copy performance is not good either, as Netac landed in last place again. We got another 856 MB/s over stock with lowered timings, and while the best gains were had at 5600 MHz with a 10,578 MB/s increase, again, TEAM sits above them in the chart.
Latency almost matches the Sabrent kit, and while things improve with some tinkering, the results are pretty poor compared to others in our chart.
Netac and Sabrent run head to head in Super Pi, which is what should happen. However, reducing the timings killed the time to complete. However, we did get six and a half seconds back with more speed, and for once, the Netac outpaced the TEAM kit.
The physics portion of 3DMark Fire Strike results in Netac at the bottom of the chart for another round. We did gain some headway by overclocking this kit, but we expected better numbers from those runs.
The pattern continues with the Netac Shadow RGB, finding itself at the bottom of the PCMark 10 scores. We did get a decent boost in the scores fiddling with things, but all but the Sabrent kit did better.
We have yet another chart where Netac comes in last place. Even as we gained another sixteen seconds back by taking the timings to lower settings and twenty-nine seconds by adding more speed, tall results are at the bottom, below every other kit in the chart.
Finally, we found one metric in which Netac can be proud of its results. Out of the box, the kit lands in the middle of all others tested. Overclocking was no real benefit in this test as we lost points by dropping the timings and scored the same as the out-of-the-box score with 600 MHz more added.
As icing on the cake, in our last chart where we use Handbrake, we again find Netac in last place. Overclocking the kit did improve the time needed to complete the test, but they could only surpass the default run of the Sabrent Rocket kit.
Even though things started well with the packaging and styling of the Shadow RGB from Netac, we had that burning feeling that they would end up as we found them in our charts. We had hoped that the added density compared to the set of Shadow II DDR5 we got would benefit the scores, but boy, were we wrong. To be blunt, looks alone are not enough to sell RAM in our minds, and right now, with what Netac sent us, that is all we can appreciate about the Shadow RGB.
While we know that some of you out there will go for a kit with this sort of appearance, and we can understand why, at least you know what you are getting, and hopefully, you won't be too disappointed with what you find once the system is running and being tested.
On the most basic level, maybe we are being a tad harsh, but all things considered, and the fact that almost any other kit available can outpace these Shadow RGB sticks, as much as we went on about commending them for the styling choices, it pales in the greater scheme when in nine out of ten metrics, the Netac kit failed to impress.
There was a time or two where they ran with the Sabrent Rocket, but most of the time, they didn't, and with all things considered, Netac pretty much shot themselves in the foot, sending us this set of their best-looking RAM. We wish they had sent us a faster kit, but we honestly feel that even there, similar kits would have handed them their bums again.
In our minds, the biggest nail in the coffin comes down to the cost. Had Netac offered these kits at something closer to the $130 to $150 mark, there is a possibility we could have let a few points slide. With reality popping back in and knowing that the Shadow RGB cost is $261.99, we are left with our hands tied. In no world is this a deal, nor do you get what you pay for.
In the current market, you can dig a little deeper and get something like the Trident Z5 RGB at 7200MHz, or Dominator Platinum RGB 6600MHZ. You can even get T-Force Delta RGB at 7200MMHz for this money.
While we do not like having to be the ones that flat our fail a product, looks are not enough for Netac to find a place in today's market with this kit. For all these reasons, unless you have to have them on looks alone without considering cost, we advise you to look elsewhere for your next set of DDR5.