The Bottom Line
A year or so ago, we reached out to ZADAK when we saw the release of the SHEILD kits. At that time, we were told that ZADAK preferred for the reviewers to be in countries where the RAM was sold at that time. However, since then, times have changed, as ZADAK has seen the light of the popularity they have amassed by allowing reviewers on this side of the pond to get a look at what they are capable of. Even though we missed out on the opportunity to bring you the SHIELD memory, we are pleased that we got access to their latest series, so we can show you what ZADAK is all about.
When it comes to choices, the product page for this new memory shows us that kits start at 2666MHz, and following speeds are 3000, 3200, 3600, and 4133. Timings of the first three speeds are the same at 16-18-18-38, but the 2666MHz kit needs just 1.2V, while the other two need 1.35V. At 3600MHz timings increase to 17-19-19-39 at 1.35V, but the 4133MHz kit needs 1.40V and uses 19-21-21-42 for timings. Density starts with single 8 and 16GB sticks, and kits are sorted into 16, 32, and 64GB kits. Out of the group, we have the 16GB kit of 4133MHz DDR4, which like the rest of the ZADAK memory, is backed with a limited lifetime warranty.
If you have never seen any of the press releases for the new ZADAK SPARK RGB, you have to go and take a look. Styling on these sticks is some of the best we have seen, where every surface has been touched in a way to make it more visually appealing. With RGB everywhere on the planet now, it would not make any sense not to include that and also ensure full motherboard support to allow the memory and motherboard to sync together in their display. ZADAK is putting their best foot forward, and while many may not even have them on their radar after you see what our SPARK RGB kit delivers, the name ZADAK will definitely stick from here on out.
Packaging for the SPARK RGB kits is some of the best we have ever seen. A thick black box is used, which sports a hinged top for that reveal value. However, there is a textured plastic cover over the box that flattens the look of the ZADAK name, all of the fine detail in the artistry, and the view of the illuminated sticks. Once the cover is removed, and the box opened, you have to lift a dense foam layer to access the memory, which is sitting in a very thick layer of that same dense foam. There is just no way, short of the truck running over the box that all kits will arrive at the door in excellent condition.
Fresh out of the box, and all plastic peeled from the heat spreaders, we get a feel for the 50mm tall SPARK RGB sticks. We like the use of a black PCB, and the highly stylized designs on the black sides of the spreaders do look appealing as well. However, it is the Spartan helmet looking, brushed aluminum tops, surrounding the "jewel-shaped RGB-lit cutouts" that adds contrast as well as a boost in elegance when viewed from above. Within the brushed aluminum, centered on both sides, the ZADAK name is painted onto the aluminum.
After seeing this, we wish all RAM makers used a black sticker to paste on the side of the heat spreaders. ZADAK uses their stickers to show the serial number of the individual sticks, and the part number refers to the stick, not the kit. We also see the density listed, as well as speed and timings of the XMP 2.0 profile.
The top of the heat spreaders is, expectedly, another place for the RGB to shine. The aluminum is cut near where the halves meet, to offer more of the "jewel" shaped RGB LED areas. However, if you look at the ends of the top edge, you also see larger rectangular chunks of aluminum missing, which allows the corners of the RAM to help flood the area around this kit with more RGB lighting.
Rather than to try to remove the brushed aluminum trim, and then attempt to remove the heat spreader, we opted for software instead. The black PCB we liked the look of is an A0 8-layer design, with Samsung ICs soldered to it. In this instance, ZADAK shows they still have access to K4A8G085WB-BCPB B-die chips. We also see that the manufacturer is listed as Apacer, and it is due to the company affiliation with each other.
The obvious thing to do with any memory is to install it, and then enable the XMP profile, and this is what we have done in this screenshot. We had not a single stumble as the SPARK RGB booted right to 4133MHz, with the specified timings of 19-21-21-42 2T. While the VDIMM was set to 1.40V, for some reason out motherboard decided that a VCCSA of 1.40V is warranted, as well as 1.35V to the VCCIO.
When it came to lowering timings, we are impressed with the level we were able to obtain with full stability. To do this, we left the VCCIO and VCCSA alone and bumped the VDIMM to 1.50V. Doing so allowed us to run these SPARK RGB sticks at 4133MHz with 16-16-16 2T timings. Quite impressive.
Looking to obtain the maximum speed, we had to move to BCLK adjustments due to the lack of higher memory dividers/straps. Stepping up the BCLK ladder, we got to 107, while manually setting the PCI-e bus speed, but at 107.5 the board refused to post. Still, though, we were able to add some speed, resulting in the overall number of 4424MHz with the XMP timings.
Bandwidth for the SPARK RGB with the XMP profile shows what we expected for Read, but the Copy and Write speeds are a bit lacking. Lowering the timings shows vast improvements over the XMP run, and adding just 291MHz to the overall speed shows the best all-around gains to be had on this kit.
SuperPi runs keep the pack quite tight, but if you are looking to crunch big numbers, there are slower kits with better results. Once timings were dropped, we see only the Patriot Viper Extreme with a better result. Attaining maximum speed was not able to best the lower timings, but still a respectable fifth place overall.
Again, 7-Zip keeps the scores tight but flushes out the sticks that are not up to the task. The SPARK RGB XMP run does tend to get abused by many of the other scores listed here, even with slower kits. However, for those looking for the most out of a kit, dropping the timings was a massive success for this bench, and an overall increase in speed won the round. Still, though, for the XMP profile run, we did expect better.
ZADAK, while tough to get on this side of the pond, show that they are a contender in an already saturated market, where plenty of options already exist. With the odds stacked against them, ZADAK did everything possible to deliver excitement from the moment they got here, and that feeling has not left. Opening the top-shelf packaging, where our sticks were caressed on their way to our door inside of a box that not only looks good but is vastly overprotective of its contents.
Peeling the plastic off of the heat spreaders is something a lot will like to do, and then looking at all the effort that went into the design and how the elements are featured; ZADAK hit all of those nails directly on the head. Use of B-die IC is something all DDR4 users will appreciate, and once powered as you see them below, the light show is one of maybe four or five kits where we can say we would use them in a daily driver. Keep in mind too, what you see is the ZADAK default scroll of color from top to bottom on the sticks, but for those with compatible motherboards, you have many options to play with, and the potential to sync the entire system to a similar mode of RGB LED illumination.
After watching the LED show and appreciating all of the glow that dropped onto the motherboard and cooler, even a bit of a flood onto the top plate of our GPU, it was time to run the gauntlet. In this aspect, we are left a bit, well, underwhelmed. While we had a ton of fun overclocking the memory, and when it came to lowering the timings, straight 16 timings for 4133MHz on air is not something a lot of kits will do out of the box.
Along with all of the love we showed for the features and styling, performance in AIDA64 was fair, with no complaints, but when it came to crunching big numbers and compressing video, ZADAK and the SPARK RGB fall short of where they should be, based on speed and timings. We even thought this might be a fluke, and took out an older kit of memory to see if it would perform the same as when we tested it and found results to be within margin of error, so the lack of performance was not a BIOS change or an OS update, it just is what it is.
While the SPARK RGB are some of the slickest looking RAM sticks on the planet, as always, the cost is a huge concern. As we look at Newegg for reference, the pricing range for a 16GB set of 4133MHz memory starts at $171.99 for some TridentZ sticks without RGB. The first set with RGB illumination comes in at $239.99, and the price can get up to $329 if you want a fan with your memory, but you still do not get RGB LEDs. Even though ZADAK needs a way into the US market so we can all give them a try, we do have to say that the MSRP of $259.99 is fair.
For those of you on the other side of the ponds, we would say you should try a kit, as they are feature-packed, fun to tinker with and look damn good on any motherboard. However, if like us, you are in the US, unless you have an overseas friend willing to send a kit your way, you will have to wait and see if they make it to our shores. We are glad we got to test them and see what ZADAK is all about. With what we saw, the SPARK RGB DDR4 will keep the average guy grinning, and leaves a lot of meat on the bone for those who like to push boundaries.
Chad's DDR4 Dual-Channel Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASRock X299 OCF
- CPU: Intel Core i7 7740X - Buy from Amazon
- Cooler: LEPA NEOllusion - Buy from Amazon
- Video Card: ZOTAC GeForce GTX 970 AMP. Extreme Core
- Storage: Samsung XP941 256GB
- Case: Thermaltake Core P3 - Buy from Amazon
- Power Supply: Corsair RM750 - Buy from Amazon
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64-bit - Buy from Amazon
- Software: CPU-Z 1.78.3 x64, Super Pi Mod 1.5XS, 7-Zip 16.04, AIDA64 Engineer 5.92.4300
The Bottom Line
They are pricey and performance could be a bit better, but on the whole, the ZADAK SPARK RGB is what we like to see in memory. Sleek artistic heat spreaders, a dash of brushed aluminum, sprinkle in some RGB LEDs seen from all angles, and give a user a ton of headroom to play with.
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