Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
We have already had a look at what the PNY XLR8 was capable of, and we're pleased with the results out of the box. However, it is not the best kit out there for those who want to get every last drop out of the ICs. The reasoning behind that statement was obvious when we attempted to overclock them, as the amount of room left was almost nil. However, at the same time, most users, whether opting for an AMD or Intel, will apply the DOCP or XMP profile and merrily go about their lives. We like a fair bit of wiggle room in our ICs, as we can never leave well enough alone!
With a look at the baseline kits behind us, the only other thing PNY has for us is an RGB variant, which surprisingly looks nothing like the PNY XLR8 we have already seen! For us, this is a good thing, as the vanilla XLR8 RAM looks a tad boring, almost something we would have expected to see in DDR3, long before the RGB craze and highly stylized heat spreaders became the norm. That being said, PNY has flipped the script in this second kit and is something that will appeal to the masses while having a T-Force vibe to them, albeit much lighter and not so aggressively "winged."
The kit in question is the PNY XLR8 RGB, at least that is what they are called on the packaging, but after a quick look at the product page, we found that their full name is PNY XLR8 Gaming EPIX-X RGB. The name does nothing to change what you are about to see in style or performance, but it is worth mentioning, as many retailers sell it by the longer name. For those of you looking for something affordable, stylish, and with the ability to play well with just about any system out there which supports DDR4, PNY has a solid offering that is worth a look!
In the chart we found on the PNY product page, IT starts by showing us that this is DDR4, and while you can obtain it in single 8GB sticks through a 32GB kit, we have the 16GB kit made of two 8GB sticks. Of course, with two sticks, that makes it dual-channel, and like the vanilla XLR8 RAM we had, this is also a 3200 MHz set with CAS 16 timings. XMP and DOCP profiles require 1.35V for the rated speed, although the chart shows all of the speeds the XLR8 RGB can be ran at if 3200 MHz, for some reason, will not work for you, say if you have an older generation Ryzen CPU, for instance. There is also a mention of OS compatibility, but it means the OS does not matter with it stating Windows 10 or older.
Specifically, with the kit we have in hand when either DOCP or XMP profile is enabled, this kit will run at 3200 MHz without issue for us. Simultaneously, the timings are CAS 16 based, but the full set of numbers is 16-18-18-38 with a 1T command rate for AMD and 2T command rate for Intel. Both systems will require 1.35V for functionality at the rated speed, but we do wish the timings were tighter, as these timings are more akin to a 3600 MHz kit rather than what this kit is rated for. With some deep digging into the ICs, we can see why the timings are what they are, as these sticks are based on ICs, which appear to not be good enough for KLevv, but PNY uses them anyways!
Pricing for this set of DDR4 is fair. Compared to other 3200 MHz CAS16 kits with the same density, we found only four RGB kits with a lower price tag. For those wondering, it is GeIL, Oloy, and XPG, which are slightly more affordable, but at the $72.99 listing price of the XLR8 RGB, we are still at the bottom end of the spectrum for current pricing for this type of DDR4! Considering there are kits in the $400 to $500 range with the same speed and timings, we feel that PNY has positioned itself well in the market and so far have given us no reason why we should look down upon what they are offering.
Packaging and PNY XLR8
The PNY XLR8 RGB comes in a box, which is matter black, with angled lines which match the styling offered on the heat spreaders. We can see the density, speed, CAS latency, and voltage for the kit in a red box at the top. In contrast, below the image of roughly two-thirds of the sticks, we can see icons for the various RGB Sync compatibility for different motherboard manufacturers.
The back of the packaging starts with specifications, which we have already covered, except for the mention of an installation guide, but to be honest, RAM is one of the easier parts to install. Along with a pair of windows to see the XLR8 naming through the packaging, we also see the mention of the lifetime warranty, and aside from the PNY contact information, the white sticker with the model number is the last bits of information that a customer may want to look at.
Fresh out of the box, the XLR8 RGB aesthetics are nice, with the angled lines that deliver a stepped-down look as you move from the center to either edge. The heat spreaders have a winged design that houses the light bar at the top, And along with the black PCBs used for looks, we also love that the PNY logo and the XLR8 name are painted onto the heat spreaders.
On the reverse, you can still see the full logo and name, but off to its left is the product sticker. On the stickers is the model number for the individual stick of memory, not for the kit, but we also see that this is an 8GB stick of 3200 MHz memory, the full set of timings, and the voltage needed to run properly. Beyond that is a warning not to remove the said sticker, or you will void the lifetime warranty.
At the top of the sticks are the light bars. These bars are lower in the center to go along with the heat spreader design, but they are also wider at the ends and in the middle, As PNY decided to thin out part of the bar on either side of the center. We also find that the XLR8 name is present on the top edge, which has also been painted on, and is visible when these sticks are installed.
The first thing we do when booting the kit is to verify the IC manufacturer with the help of Thaiphoon Burner, but in the general sense, it leaves us with no information about the actual IC maker or the model. However, the part number leads back to being a KLevv IC, which means they are Hynix based.
We peeled one of the heat spreaders to see if we could tell anything from them, and even though they are labeled PNY 1GX8S5JF6L/8, the AFC at the end of that model number also alludes to these being SK Hynix ICs.
Even with Aura Sync in control on our AMD system, the RAM does its own thing when it comes to RGB lighting. While they do not match what can be seen in this image, as far as the cover over the rear I/O, they are close to what we saw on the chipset cooler but still not in sync. However, they look good with how the colors blend and progress behind the milky white light bar.
On the new Intel system, the XLR8 RGB syncs much better with the motherboard, but one thing to note is that the darker you are in the RGB range, the brighter the actual LEDs are. Head on, this is much less noticeable, but from the side, as we see it here, they are plainly obvious.
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 Corsair, ASUS, and GIGABYTE for supporting this venture. For detailed specifications of the system, those can be found below.
Enabling the DOCP profile in our AMD UEFI, the XLR8 RGB come to life near 3200 MHz with 16-18-18-38 1T timings. VDIMM is set to 1.35V, and our motherboard decided that 1.080V is enough on the SOC to make it happen.
Pushing the VDIMM to 1.45 and adjusting the SOC to 1.18125V only allowed us to tinker slightly with the timings. Any lower on the CAS of the secondary's would immediately be greeted with a BSOD, so we ended up with the XLR8 RGB running with 14-18-18-38 1T timings.
Additional speed was not in the cards for the XLR8 RGB. Even attempting something as mundane at 3266 MHz showed itself unstable, giving us "not exact in round" errors in Super Pi.
Chad's AMD DDR4 Dual-Channel Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS Crosshair VIII HERO Wi-Fi - Buy from Amazon
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 3900X - Buy from Amazon
- Cooler: Corsair H150i PRO - Buy from Amazon
- Video Card: GIGABYTE GeForce RTX 2060 SUPER Gaming OC 8GB - Buy from Amazon
- Storage: Corsair Force MP500 480GB NVMe - Buy from Amazon
- Case: Thermaltake Core P5 TG - Buy from Amazon
- Power Supply: Corsair RM750x 750-watt - Buy from Amazon
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64-bit - Buy from Amazon
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 Corsair, ASUS, and GIGABYTE for supporting us here too! For detailed specifications of the system, those can be found below.
Again, by getting into the UEFI and enabling the XMP profile, the XLR8 RGB comes to life as it should. 3200 MHz with 16-18-18-38 2T timings with the VDIMM at 1.35V. On our new system, the VCCIOO is set to 1.312V by ASUS, and the VCCSA is set to 1.152V.
Upping the VDIMM to 1.45V and adding 0.10V to the VCCSA, the best timings we could get were 14-18-18-38 2T, as any adjustments to the tRCD or the tRP results in a BSOD or no post situation.
As we found on the AMD system, any additional speed set to these sticks resulted in some issues, whether it be a boot loop or early testing errors.
Chad's Intel DDR4 Dual-Channel Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG Maximus XII Apex - Buy from Amazon
- CPU: Intel Core i7 10700K - Buy from Amazon
- Cooler: Corsair iCUE H150i Elite Capellix - Buy from Amazon
- Video Card: GIGABYTE GeForce RTX 2060 SUPER Gaming OC 8GB - Buy from Amazon
- Storage: Intel SSDPEK1W120GA
- Case: Thermaltake Core P3 - Buy from Amazon
- Power Supply: Corsair RM750 - Buy from Amazon
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64-bit - Buy from Amazon
Read performance in AIDA64 is very close to that of the TOUGHRAM RGB, with the XLR8 RGB chiming in at 48405 MB/s, which is a fair result. Reducing the timings gave us an advantage to the tune of 356 MB/s more bandwidth.
Write performance is similar to what we just saw, with the XLR8 RGB falling just behind the Thermaltake kit again, with a result of 46812 MB/s. Lowering the CAS to 14 gave us a 260 MB/s boost over the DOCP profile.
When it comes to the copy performance, the XLR8 RGB surpasses the TOUGHRAM RGB this time, with a 49186 MB/s score. However, reducing the CAS latency results in a loss of performance to the tune of 210 MB/s.
While latency is not amazing, we are a bit shocked to see it near the chart's top. 79.1ns is what we got out of the box with DOCP enabled, and it was slightly better at 77.8ns running them at CAS14.
Super Pi results do not bode well for the PNY XLR8 RGB, as we see it is near the bottom of the list, similar to what our 2400 MHz kit can produce. We did gain some time back with the lower timings, but it is not enough to move this kit up the chart.
The physics scores in 3DMark Fire Strike are fair when using the DOCP profile, as this 3200 MHz kit falls into third place. However, opting for CAS14 to run this test shows to be the wrong way to go with the last-place finish in the chart.
PCMark 10 is also a tough test for the XLR8 RGB, as it is only able to best the Panther Rage at 2400 MHz. While opting for the lowered timings helped, it only added 51 points to the overall score and did not improve.
Compressing files in 7-Zip, the PNY XLR8 RGB can pass the Panther Rage and the Vengeance LPX but is still five seconds slower than the comparable TOUGHRAM RGB. Typically, by reducing timings, scores improve in 7-ZIP, but we see a loss of nearly two seconds opting to run them at CAS14.
Cinebench R15 put the smackdown to the XLR8 RGB, leaving it with the chart's worst scores. No matter if we ran the DOCP profile or opted to run with lowered timings, the results are still poor in this bench!
Transcoding shines a bright light on the XLR8 RGB, with a third-place finish overall, while using the DOCP profile. However, when we ran this test at CAS14, the kit dropped right to the chart's bottom.
Using the XMP profile to obtain a read performance result, we find the 45514 MB/s result to be next to last. Opting to run them at CAS 14 gave us a 330 MB/s boost in the results and a third-place finish.
Ahead of the TOUGHRAM RGB this time in write performance, with a result of 46875 MB/s, we cannot complain. However, this time, opting for CAS14, we took a loss in performance to the tune of 565 MB/s worse in the score.
Copy performance is poor, any way you look at it. Under the XMP profile control, we see a second to last finish with 40600 MB/s. Lowering the CAS to 14 boosts performance 398 MB/s, but it is still not enough to move up the chart.
XMP latency is mediocre at 50.9ns, right smack in the middle of the chart. We typically gain a larger advantage, opting to run them at CAS14 reduced latency by only a single nanosecond. Nothing to write home about.
Super Pi again hammers the XLR8 RGB and leaves the XMP run at next to last, and even opting to run them with reduced timings only gave us a half of a second advantage in doing so.
Fire Strike physics scores are a bit shocking. We never expected the XLR8 RGB to take top honors, but the XMP run tops the chart with a score of 25160. Running them at 14-18-18-38 lost a few points, twelve in fact, but is within a margin of error to say both ways of running these sticks tied for first.
The PCMark 10 results for the XMP profile are also quite good, with a fourth-place finish overall. Sadly, lowering the timings gave us no advantage and ended up next to last in this chart.
Compressing files on our Intel system with the XMP profile enabled do not bode well for the XLR8 RGB kit. We did get an advantage running them at CAS14, which leaves the XLR8 RGB in the middle of the pack for that run.
We expected more from the XLR8 RGB in Cinebench, something closer to the TOUGHRAM, but it was not in the cards. Comparing the XMP results to the overclocked results, we see just a 0.06 point advantage to running them at CAS14.
Nearly four seconds behind the TOUGHRAM in Handbrake, the XMP profile results are less than impressive. Setting CAS14 does improve things a touch, but still not enough to surpass the Thermaltake kit.
To be blunt, we cannot complain about any aspect of the XLR8 RGB regarding initial reactions and feelings about what we get. The packaging is nice, the kit looks amazing, and the combination of matte black heat spreaders on the black PCB is a great look that we can appreciate. We also like the diffusion in the RGB light bar, and the smooth shift of RGB lighting is some of the better lighting available. From an angle, the LEDs are visible, but that is lost when looking at them straight on. We cannot even complain much about the use of Hynix IC's, as many kits use them, and we have had good luck with them in the past.
However, we noticed one glaring thing, and this one simple thing is why the performance was not up to par in many of the tests, and likely why we would not advise that the masses run out and grab these. Much like when we looked at the Mushkin kits that used Micron rejected ICs under the name SpekTek, PNY's decision to use KLevv's rejected Hynix ICs did not bode well for them at all. As shown by the TOUGHRAM results, which is what you get when you look for good ICs and then build around them. However, PNY's decision to save some money by using something that "works" was not the best-laid plan. In the end, this single decision is enough to limit performance, so much so that in many of our charts, they could barely beat the Panther Rage, which is only 2400 MHz in speed.
In the end, the PNY XLR8 Gaming EPIC-X RGB kits look the part and are affordable by any measure, but they do not back up these features with the performance we could even call average for the speed and timings offered in them. These PNY sticks are not a complete failure by any means, and overclocking is not a guarantee. Still, the lack of wiggle room and mediocre results across the board leave us with the feeling that even at $72.99, it is highly likely your money could be spent more wisely than opting for the PNY XLR8 RGB, no matter how good they look!
The Bottom Line
The XLR8 RGB look the part, and are affordable. However, when it came to testing, these PNY sticks and rebadged, rejected ICs proved not to be enough to impress.