Introduction, Packaging and Modules
I've had the Flare kit from G.Skill for what feels like forever now. It has been sitting on the top of the to-do pile, but delays with getting an AMD X6 processor and a motherboard capable of achieving the rated speeds meant that the kit kept getting pushed back further and further.
Everything has finally come together and it's time to see what the new Flare series is capable of. PC3-16000, or 2000MHz DDR, might not sound all that impressive in a time which we see kits exceeding 2500MHz DDR. What's different about the kit we're looking at today is the fact that it's designed for AMD systems as opposed to Intel. We've been told that it's a lot harder to get faster kits up and running on AMD systems, but it seems that the new X6 processors have brought new possibilities.
Before we get into the performance side of things, we'll first cover the package and take a closer look at the modules themselves. Once that's done, we'll have a closer look at the specifications and also cover how overclocking went with the kit. Finally, we'll get into the performance itself and then wrap everything up. So without delay, let's take a look at what G.Skill is offering.
The package itself doesn't have much going for it. We don't mind this all that much as long as all of the important information is present. Along with the modules themselves, a fan is also included that is used to help keep the modules nice and cool.
The actual modules aren't anything too fancy. The heatsink design, while slightly different in design to what we've seen in the past, isn't anything too outrageous. We've got the Flare logo on both sides, the G.Skill logo on one side and a sticker giving us the module information on the other side.
The kit as a whole looks and feels good and we like the black and red design. It's a pity that the green PCB looks a little out of place against the rest of the color scheme, though.
G.Skill promises 2000MHz DDR on only a few boards; all of them from ASUS. With our ASRock 890FX Deluxe3 we initially had trouble achieving over 1500MHz DDR. After updating the BIOS we got over 1600MHz DDR, but we were still a far cry from the 2000MHz DDR we needed.
We asked G.Skill what the best board was for this RAM and they said the ASUS M4A89TD PRO was the best pick. With a quick email, we were set up to receive that board. Once the ASUS board was up and running, we managed to get 2000MHz DDR 7-9-7-24-2T straight away.
You can see the validation here.
We had been told that 1T should be easy to achieve without changing any of the settings, so that's exactly what we did. Changing to 1T brought with it no issues at all and running our benchmarks was done with ease.
Next we went on to overclocking. While normally we would just stick to the default timings, we thought we would leave the kit at 1T while still using the same 7-9-7-24 setup.
You can see the validation here.
What we ended up with was 2127MHz DDR which is very impressive; not just for the kit but for an AMD system as well. We might've been able to squeeze a few more MHz out of the kit if we went back to 2T, but we thought we would stick to 1T.
Important Editor Note: Our maximum overclocking result is the best result we managed in our limited time of testing the memory. Due to time constraints we weren't able to tweak the motherboard to the absolute maximum and find the highest possible FSB, as this could take days to find properly. We do however spend at least a few hours overclocking every motherboard to try and find the highest possible overclock in that time frame. You may or may not be able to overclock higher if you spend more time tweaking, or as new BIOS updates are released. "Burn-in" time might also come into play if you believe in that.
Test System Setup and wPrime
We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: AMD, ASUS, Sapphire, Kingston, Noctua and Corsair.
Since this is our first AMD rig in a long time, we don't have any other kits on the same system to compare this one against. Instead, we've included some results from our P55 and X58 testbeds using Intel processors. We know that memory performance on the Intel platform is better, but let's see how they compare anyway. We also want to see what kind of performance increase we get as we climb up in speed.
Let's get started!
Important Note: When modules are overclocked we adjust the BCLK which not only lets us fine tune the MHz out of a module, but in turn increases the overall CPU clock speed. While we always make the effort to include the BCLK and CPU Speed in our graphs, please just make sure that you make note of these when looking at the results. In some tests that don't purely test the memory speed the extra MHz on offer from the CPU can increase the result. Of course, it's worth noting that having faster memory gives you the ability to run your CPU at a higher speed.
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.62
Developer Homepage: http://www.wprime.net/
Product Homepage: http://www.wprime.net/
wPrime uses a recursive call of Newton's method for estimating functions, with f(x)=x2-k, where k is the number we're sqrting, until Sgn(f(x)/f'(x)) does not equal that of the previous iteration, starting with an estimation of k/2. It then uses an iterative calling of the estimation method a set amount of times to increase the accuracy of the results. It then confirms that n(k)2=k to ensure the calculation was correct. It repeats this for all numbers from 1 to the requested maximum.
We're a long way away from our Intel setups, but you can see that as we increase the speed of our CPU there is a nice little performance improvement.
Benchmarks - Everest Ultimate Edition
Version and / or Patch Used: Ultimate Edition
Developer Homepage: http://www.lavalys.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.lavalys.com/products/overview.php?pid=3&ps=UE&lang=en
Buy It Here
EVEREST Ultimate Edition is an industry leading system diagnostics and benchmarking solution for enthusiasts PC users, based on the award-winning EVEREST Technology. During system optimizations and tweaking it provides essential system and overclock information, advanced hardware monitoring and diagnostics capabilities to check the effects of the applied settings. CPU, FPU and memory benchmarks are available to measure the actual system performance and compare it to previous states or other systems. Furthermore, complete software, operating system and security information makes EVEREST Ultimate Edition a comprehensive system diagnostics tool that offers a total of 100 pages of information about your PC.
Moving from 2T to 1T brings a little boost, but the best gains are seen when we move over 2100MHz DDR.
Benchmarks - SiSoft Sandra
Version and / or Patch Used: Professional Home
Developer Homepage: http://www.sisoftware.co.uk
Product Homepage: http://sisoftware.jaggedonline.com/index.php?location=home&a=TTA&lang=en
Buy It Here
SiSoft Sandra (System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is a synthetic Windows benchmark that features different tests used to evaluate different PC subsystems.
Here we see that 1T and 2T show barely any difference; moving to over 2100MHz DDR again brings the best performance.
Benchmarks - Sciencemark
ScienceMark 2.0 is a mathematical program designed to stress the memory subsystems of both desktop/workstation and server environments to determine the read/write latency as well as the overall memory bandwidth available between the CPU and the memory controller.
Since ScienceMark mostly concentrates on the CPU, this benchmark is favoring the Intel systems. Looking at the Flare kit by itself, we see performance does become better as speed is increased.
Benchmarks - Far Cry 2
Far Cry 2
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.03
Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long
Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com
Product Homepage: http://www.farcry2.com
Buy It Here
The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.
When push comes to shove in gaming performance, it's interesting to see that the AMD system is able to put out similar, and sometimes better, numbers when compared to some of the other setups here.
Total Performance Rating (TPR)
Total Performance Rating
The TPR graph is a combination of all our benchmarks in which we test our memory modules with.
The TPR number is a combination of:-
wPrime Benchmark, Everest Ultimate, SiSoft Sandra, Sciencemark 2.0 and Far Cry 2.
Due to the nature of some benchmarks where scores having a lower is better result, we've had to change the way we do the numbers when compared to our video card ones. Far Cry 2, SiSoft Sandra and Everest Ultimate numbers are all combined. In Sciencemark 2.0 and wPrime Benchmark where a lower number is better, we have a base number of 300. The score we get from the kit is then removed off that number. There's a total of 600 base points.
For example; if the wPrime Benchmark score is 193.266 and 6.297 for 1024M and 32M respectively, the number that is added to the graphs is 400. That number is obtained by using the following equation: 600 - 193.266 - 6.297 = 400.437. It's then rounded down to 400 in this case. In the event that the RAM was slower in wPrime, the total would be lower which represents our TPR graphs exactly how we want.
In comparison to the Intel platforms, the Flare kit doesn't shine as brightly because of the way the AMDs handle memory.
Total Value Rating (TVR) and Final Thoughts
Total Value Rating
The TVR graph is the TPR score divided by the price of the memory kit. The price of the memory kit is based on the list price of the model on Newegg.com. In the event the kit isn't listed, it will be based on the U.S. $ MSRP given to us by the manufacturer.
In the event we can't source a price from either, the product will not receive a TVR rating. As with our TPR graph, the amount of memory kits on the list will grow over time and the price of the model won't change from what it was when first reviewed. For this reason, the U.S. $ price that the kit is based off will be included next to the name of the model.
In the event you want to find the TVR rating yourself based on the current price, all you have to do is simply divide the TPR number by the list price.
TVR numbers are rounded to the nearest whole number; 100.3 will be 100; 100.8 will be 101 and 100.5 will be rounded down to 100.
While the Flares may look quite slow compared to Intel when looking at raw performance, the kit still carries some excellent value thanks to its low price tag.
The Flare Series CL7 PC3-16000 kit we're looking at today is a great kit. While it might not look impressive when compared to some other kits running on Intel based platforms, the bottom line is that AMD and Intel aren't on the same level when it comes to memory performance.
The Flare series from G.Skill is designed for AMD based systems and the kit we've looked at today fits very well in that category. You wouldn't buy this kit for an Intel based system because it's not what the Flares are designed for. Instead, you would look at something like the PI series from G.Skill.
Good quality and good speeds on the platform the kit is designed for means this is a good kit. If you're serious about your X6 platform, then I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this kit to you.
The biggest problem for the Flare series is that AMD continues to be fussy when it comes to high speed memory. Outside of the boards that G.Skill recommends, we can't promise that you'll achieve the same speeds.
If you're looking to build an X6 gaming machine with one of the listed ASUS boards, this is going to be a great kit of memory to accompany it. One of the best features is that you're not really paying a premium for the kit. At $179.99 over at Newegg, this kit is well priced considering the speed and timings.
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