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G.Skill Sniper Series PC3-12800 8GB Kit Review

G.Skill takes aim at the competition with the new Sniper Series. While only 1600MHz DDR, the timings offer quite the surprise.
By Shawn Baker from May 9, 2011 @ 4:18 CDT
TweakTown Rating: 95%Manufacturer: G.Skill


*Pweh Pweh* - That's the sound I would make if I was trying to recreate the noise of a gun. I didn't want to go with the conventional *bang bang*. Why the gun noises? Well, today we're checking out a kit from G.Skill which is part of the new Sniper Series.

Expanding on much loved series like the Ripjaws and Ripjaws-X, today we greet the Sniper Series. Do we welcome it with open arms, though? Well, yes, after a slight bit of hesitation.


I love a new series of anything; video card, motherboard or RAM to name just a few; but when I saw that G.Skill was shooting over a PC-12800 or 1600MHz DDR kit of the new Sniper Series, I thought, *sigh*, a kit aimed at a cheap price point with relaxed timings. When I received the kit and actually checked what exactly we had on our hands, though, the excitement began to take over.

While out of the box the G.Skill Sniper Series kit we're looking at today comes with only a 1600MHz DDR clock, it does carry with it a 7-8-7-24-1T @ 1.6v setup. These are some tight timings which are made only better by the fact 1.6v is required and not the typical 1.65v.


Being a new series also means we've got a new heatsink design. The Sniper Series carries with it a heatsink that resembles, well, a sniper rifle. It's not a bad looking heatsink and the crosshair like bits on each end add a nice touch. What really looks great, though, is the black on black setup.

As we mentioned above, the kit while carrying only a 1600MHz DDR clock does carry a CL7 setup. We knew that achieving these speeds wouldn't be an issue because the ultra-high end Ripjaws-X 2133MHz kit we tested earlier in the year carried a CL7 setup and as we expected no issue was had. You can see our CPU-Z validation here. Up and running in Windows, it was time to check out the performance we could get.

Under AIDA64 we ended up with Read / Write numbers of 18,901 MB/s / 17,505 MB/s, Copy speed of 21,132 MB/s and latency of 44.9ns. Looking at SiSoftware Sandra, our memory bandwidth numbers are 21,160 MB/s for Integer and 21,150 MB/s for Float.

Looking at the numbers, performance was exactly as we would expect with the kit performing better than other 1600MHz DDR kits that carry more relaxed timings. With that all running good it was time to see what else we could do with the memory. We moved it to 1.65v and went to 107.5 BCLK. I wasn't 100% satisfied we would achieve 1720MHz DDR with CL7 timings and to no surprise we couldn't get the PC to post.


From this point we started to work our BCLK down and we ended up on 104. With the 1:6 memory dividers this meant our memory came in at 1664MHz DDR. It's not a big overclock from stock speeds, but it was a given considering the aggressive nature of the timings. You can see our CPU-Z validation here. Again up and running in Windows, it was time to see what kind of performance we could achieve.

Under AIDA64 we ended up with Read / Write numbers of 19,488 MB/s / 18,243 MB/s, Copy speed of 21,578 MB/s and latency of 43.4ns. Looking at SiSoftware Sandra, our memory bandwidth numbers are 22,000 MB/s for Integer and 22,000 MB/s for Float.

Considering we're not dealing with a massive overclock, we haven't got a massive gain over the default speeds. With that working, though, we went back into the BIOS to push our CPU multiplier up.


At 48 x 104 we ended up just 8MHz away from 5GHz on our 2600k. So we went back to the BIOS and pushed our BCLK to 104.2. That bought us in at just over 5GHz and the RAM went up just slightly to 1667 MHz DDR.

Under AIDA64 we ended up with Read / Write numbers of 21,144 MB/s / 24,310 MB/s, Copy speed of 26,219 MB/s and latency of 39.7ns. Compared to when the CPU was just at 3.4GHz, this is a nice boost in performance. Of course, we also get all the other benefits that a 5GHz core clock brings like faster everything else.

Talking to G.Skill about the kit, they said that we should be able to achieve 1866MHz or 2133MHz DDR if we wanted to loosen the timings up a bit. Normally we don't tend to move outside of just the default timings, as you could spend weeks testing at every different latency.

On a bit of a high, though, after hitting 5GHz for the first time on my 2600k I took the time to relax the timings a bit. I moved to 8-11-8-24 @ 1.65v @ 1866MHz DDR and couldn't get the PC to boot. Before not worrying about it, though, I moved to 2133MHz DDR and relaxed the timings again to 9-11-9-28-2T and the machine fired up. Since we got into Windows with no real dramas, I decided to go back to the BIOS and try for 1T.

We again booted up and got into Windows. I didn't want to sacrifice the CPU speed for the memory clock, though, so back into the BIOS we went to set the CPU multiplier to 50. This means we'd achieve a 5GHz clock. When we got into Windows we hadn't achieved it due to the BCLK coming in at around 99.7. So back to the BIOS and setting our BCLK at 101, we could post, but would BSOD into Windows. Shaving just .5 off, though, we ended up back in Windows.

You can see below that our final clock was 5026MHz and because of the slight BCLK bump our memory came in just above 2133MHz DDR to 2145MHz DDR.


Looking at the numbers we achieved, we managed to get some serious performance out of the kit. Under AIDA64 we ended up with Read / Write numbers of 24,840 MB/s / 25,542 MB/s, Copy speed of 29,863 MB/s and latency of 36.1ns.

Content with what the Sniper Series kit was achieving, it was time to shut everything down and say good night to the kit. G.Skill has done a good job with the Sniper series kit we're looking at today and it's all made probably a little better by the fact that my initial impressions were that I'd be dealing with a CL9 1600MHz DDR kit and not a CL7 one.


Having such low latency means a few things; clock for clock the G.Skill kit is going to be faster than other kits that carry more relaxed timings. Secondly, the fact they are so tight means we can loosen them if we want and achieve some strong MHz If the kit we looked at today came with a CL9 setup we wouldn't loosen them up to something like CL11 to achieve 2133MHz. Because it's a CL7 one, though, we can loosen it up to CL9 and get some amazing performance while at the same time offering timings that are competitive against other 2133MHz DDR kits.

For $149.99 US you're going to pay more than a lot of other PC3-12800 kits; at the same time you're going to get a kit that's going to perform better at its rated speed due to those low timings. On top of that, as we mentioned, you have the ability to relax the timings and achieve speeds in excess of 2000MHz DDR.



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