Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
The last time we had a set of Lexar RAM in our hands, to say we were impressed with what they could achieve is a bit of an understatement. Even though the sticks were nothing special to look at in their naked form, Lexar opting to use Samsung ICs brought the Desktop RAM to a level we did not expect. At the same time, Lexar has set the bar relatively high for what we expect from them, with some wiggle room, but to be blunt, if you want to get into the mainstream portion of the DDR4 game, you better have all of your ducks in a row first.
This time, we have a much more familiar product, where the memory on offer comes with heat spreaders and that RGB lighting that has become a must-have with just about any component made for custom personal computers. Upping the game visually is a step in the right direction, yet at the same time, we do hope that Lexar keeps to a similar winning recipe that made us enjoy what we saw last. However, with the way the market is now and the shortages of just about everything computer-related, we strongly feel that what we saw previously might have been more of a fluke and not a hard-set rule for how Lexar comes to play.
While the Hades RGB from Lexar is a vast jump in visual appeal, under the hood is something we have found issues with in the past, and we hope that it does not plague Lexar as it did another major player in the RAM game. That being said, strap in and enjoy the ride, as we will show off what this RAM, named for the god of the underworld, can do now that there is RGB lighting to lead the way.
We did borrow the chart from the Hades RGB product page, but a few things are not mentioned in it. Not only can you get a set or a single stick of Hades RGB, but they also come in two speeds. The first option is a kit with a 2666MHz SPD profile, which is shipped with an XMP 2.0 profile delivering 3200 MHz of speed with 16-18-18-38 timings, using 1.35V. The second option is to opt for the 3600MHz kit with 18-22-22-42 timings, using the same 1.35V to power them. The type of IC is not mentioned, but we will get to that in a bit. The last thing to note is that if you opt for the 3600MHz, the SPD profile delivers 3200MHz of speed just by plugging them into the motherboard.
As to the specific kit we have in hand, it is a package containing a set of LD4BU016G-R3600UDLH, which comprises a pair of 16GB sticks making up our 32GB kit, with the highest speed available from the Lexar Hades RGB line at this time. This memory is, of course, DDR4 with 288 pins and is also the largest capacity kit on offer. We mentioned the SPD setting, which corresponds to the JEDEC setting, as 3200MHz is the lowest this RAM will run, and with XMP or DOCP active, we get the specified speed and timings we see on the box. Most of the thermal information will not be a concern to the average user, with the 45.6mm height in the module size description is something those with CPU air cooler may need to pay close attention to. Beyond that, we see that Lexar developed these kits for gaming and content creation, all while being backed by a limited lifetime warranty.
With the Lexar Desktop RAM fresh in our minds, we are eager to give this set of DDR4 the beans and see what, if anything, is left in the tank and see how well they perform as rated. We realize that not all RAM is created equal and that we should not expect more than what the XMP profile is set up for, but the reality is, that is hardly ever the final word with just about any kit of DDR4 on the market today. As much as Lexar has impressed us in our recent past, we hope the love continues as we deliver our take on the newest Lexar kits, the Hades RGB.
Packaging and Lexar Hades RGB
Even with matte black as the backdrop, this packaging is instantly attractive to the eye. At the top, we find the Lexar name with icons to the right on RGB Sync compatibility. In the center are a pair of illuminated Hades RGB with some artistic striping to add style. Across the bottom is where the product name is placed, and to the right, we see that this is a 32GB kit of RAM.
At the back, we see who the Hades RGB is intended for, and we then see that you can download Lexar RGB Sync, should other methods not offer what you need. Along with the support address for Lexar, we see a small set of specifications, legal information, and a sticker with the kit's part number on it, as well as the serial number.
We usually jump past the clamshell packaging inside the box, but Lexar sent the Hades RGB in an anti-static tray with an easy-to-remove clear cover. The RAM comes out of this packaging much more accessible than we typically find in standard clamshell packages and makes it, so you do not have to fingerprint the heat spreaders getting them out of this.
With the Hades RGB, things start with a black PCB, where matte black heat spreaders are used to cover the ICs, on which Lexar has been painted in white. The edges are angular with rounded corners, and at the top, a large portion of the heat spreaders are removed to allow the RGB diffuser to show on both sides.
The product sticker on the back of each stick shows us the density, rank, speed, timings, and voltage when the XMP 2.0 profile or DOCP is enabled. Beyond the sticker, what we could not see in the last image, is that the center portion of the heat spreaders is not just matte in color, but there is a tight vertical line pattern used, which can easily slip by those not paying close attention.
As you can see, no matter the angle, when far enough away, the delicate pattern used on the heat spreaders disappears into the black abyss. From this angle, we can also see that the diffuser at the top runs end to end in thin sections between the aluminum spreaders.
Many companies would have painted the company name on the diffuser, or at least we would see Hades or RGB here, but Lexar took a less obvious approach. On the left, you can see that the Lexar name is molded onto the diffuser, and the slight change in depth helps it shine when the RGB is on.
We had hoped that we would open up Thaiphoon Burner and get a simple answer to what is under the hood. While we can see the 3200AA speed grade of the kit, when it comes to the ICs, all we find is they are named as Lexar ICs with no part number programmed into the SPD profile. When this type of thing happens, we have only one solution.
Removing the heat spreaders is the definitive way to see the ICs unless they have been whitewashed, and in this instance, that is not the case. What we find are SpekTek ICs, which is sad. We only saw these used in some Mushkin RAM, and they stopped talking to us after we reviewed those kits. Let's hope Lexar did not fall into the same trap.
Once powered by our Hero Wi-Fi, we see a soft glow of color coming through the diffuser, which does a great job of blending the LEDs from the top view, but the individual LEDs can easily be seen at the sides. We also feel that the lighting is not all that bright compared to the rest of the market, as it took fewer lights on in the booth and some setting adjustments to make it appear this brilliant.
We find with the Maximus XII powering the Hades RGB that with the slots closer, you only see the LEDs on the side of one stick, not both. Style-wise, the matte black is a great look on either of the systems, matching with the theme to both systems, and with motherboard control of the lighting on either build, we had little need for the Lexar RGB Sync, but those with older motherboards will appreciate it.
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. Detailed specifications of the system can be found below.
After loading to Windows with the SPD profile and seeing the kit at 3200MHz 22-22-22-52 1T using 1.20V, we went back to enable DOCP and found this. The Hades RGB jumps into action, but now at 3600 MHz 18-22-22-42, but needing 1.35V at this time to do so.
Adjusting the VDIMM to 1.45V and the SOC to 1.18V, we reduced the timings to the lowest stable point, and with the Hades RGB, there was some flexibility. At 3600MHz, we did want these to go lower than DOCP offers, and we had some movement, to the tune of 16-20-20-42 1T, but still not great for the speed, in our opinion.
Being SpekTek ICs, we had little hope of getting more speed out of the Hades RGB, but boy, was we wrong. We were able to get this kit up to 3933MHz, stable, with 18-22-22-42 1T timings.
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! Detailed specifications of the system can be found below.
As we did on the AMD system, we first booted with the SPD information and saw the Hades running 3200MHz 22-22-22-52 2T with just 1.20V needed to do so, but back to the UEFI, we went to enable XMP 2.0. Doing so got us 3600MHz 18-22-22-42 2T using 1.35V
Again, there was flexibility with the ICs when it came to reducing timings, and we even bottomed out at the same 16-20-20-42, but this time 2T command rate. To do this, we needed 1.45V to the RAM, 1.31V to the IO, and 1.5V for SA.
We also tried for more speed but to no avail. We tried various UEFI versions, multiple ways of dividers, and BCLK adjustments, but no matter what we tried, there was no headroom in this regard with our Intel rig.
Chad's Intel DDR4 Dual-Channel Test System Specifications
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
The read performance in AIDA64 is good, but compared to other 3600MHz kits, these are the bottom of the group results with DOCP running things. Reducing the timings lets Lexar pass the Vengeance PRO SL but still falls behind the Predator and TEAM offerings. It is not until we run the Hades RGB at 3933MHz that it gets close to the T-Force XTREEM ARGB.
Under the control of DOCP, the results for the write performance are much better. We cannot ask for more ahead of the XTREEM RGB this time and within close range of the Vengeance PRO SL. Reducing timings improved bandwidth and pressed ever closer to the Apollo RGB but could not surpass it, at least, until we added that extra speed and topped the chart.
There is no way to sugarcoat this test, and that is to say that the copy performance is lackluster with the use of DOCP. It took lowering the timings to even compete with the likes of the Vengeance PRO SL and Apollo RGB, and even with another 333MHz of speed, the EXTREEM ARGB just hammered the Hades RGB.
Latency out of the box is good, fourth-place overall at 70.9ns. We were able to get a bit less latency with a reduction in timings but took a heavy penalty for increasing the speed. Even so, at taking fourth-place, it is behind all other 3600MHz kit latencies in the chart.
With only the Vengeance PRO SL doing better in this metric, the Hades RGB took second place in the 3DMark Physics scores. Any overclocking lessened the performance to a similar degree for both options, but Lexar should be proud of this.
Sorry to be this blunt, but PCMark 10 just handed Lexar their asses here. With the worst score of all kits as the baseline, we hoped that overclocking might brighten the room a bit. However, we find that reducing timings was the best way to improve the score, but it is still far behind all other 3600MHz kits in our chart.
7-zip results are a mixed bag as well. Landing near the middle is where the DOCP use lands, but again, it lands last in the land of 3600 MHz kits. Getting this kit to CAS16 improved things enough to pass the Vengeance PRO SL, where added speed just twisted the knife a bit.
Like PCMark 10, Cinebench R15 was rough on the Hades RGB with their second to last finish using DOCP. Lowering the timings edged out overall speed when overclocking, but none of it puts it in contention with the other similar offerings in this chart.
The Hades RGB land, in Handbrake, not too far behind the Apollo RGB and just behind the Vengeance PRO SL. TO be blunt, this is a fantastic result, and using DOCP is the best way to attack transcoding with the Hades RGB. Otherwise, you pay a five to nine-second penalty.
The use of XMP 2.0 puts the Hades RGB in sixth-place overall for read performance in AIDA64. Last of the 3600MHz kits, and by 1300+ MB/s behind the contenders to boot. Opting for CAS16 put us between the Apollo RGB and the Vengeance PRO SL but needs another 2300-ish MB/s to compete with the higher-ranked 3600MHz options.
Last of the 3600MHz kits again in AIDA64 write performance, but with a much smaller gap this time. Only 222 MB/s slower than the Vengeance Pro SL this time, but quite a bit behind the likes of the Apollo RGB and XTREEM ARGB. Reduced timings left us with a 3 MB/s deficit from the XMP 2.0 profile usage, where we fully expected an improvement.
Continuing with the same trend, we again find the Hades RGB in the middle of the road overall with the XMP results, some 2000 MB/s behind the next 3600MHz kit in the chart. Lowering the timings, we did increase the bandwidth near 1300MB/s, but even that result falls short of all of its direct competition.
Unlike the reasonably decent latency we saw with the AMD system, on the Intel rig, the Hades RGB falls nearer the bottom of the list than it does the top, with a baseline of 58.1ns. Even though we could get the latency down to 50.7ns, it is still behind the trio of competitors.
Fire Strike physics scores are pretty poor for Lexar and their Hades RGB. Enabling XMP puts them fifth from the bottom of the chart, mingling with 2400MHz and 3200MHz kits. We increased the score by opting for lower timings, now passing the XTREME ARGB but still behind the others.
Oddly, PCMark 10 favors this RAM on our Intel system. With only the Apollo RGB performing better out of the box, Lexar can stand tall in this metric, and once we tinkered with the kit, we were able to take top honors with the Hades RGB, which is entirely unexpected.
Any way you want to look at things with compressing data, the XMP results for these Hades RGB is poor at best, with a seven-second gap between the Hades and the Vengeance PRO SL. Speaking of the Vengeance PRO SL, we nearly matched their performance using 16-20-20-42 2T timings.
Overall, not the worst, but by no means any direct competition to similarly specified kits. Using XMP, the Hades RGB keeps company with the likes of the Panther Rage 2400MHz kit, which says quite a bit on its own. Only with us reducing the timings can we hang with the Apollo RGB and the Vengeance PRO SL, but it still falls quite short of the XTREEM ARGB in its class.
The handbrake results are no picnic either when we find the Hades RGB only surpassing the much slower Panther Rage, their own Desktop Memory, or the T-Create. None of which is something to write home about. Even overclocking the kit did not leave us in a place to get excited about, as it too falls behind all of the other 3600MHz kit results.
At a glance, the Hades RGB appears to come off like any other set of RGB enhanced DDR4. The heat spreaders are stylish yet understated, and with the matte black color to go with, they will match nearly any build. The diffuser bar is significant, and while it lets light out over more area, the intensity of the RGB LEDs could have been increased, in our humble opinion. In a dark room, all is well, but Lexar did not push the amount of lighting as many others have.
Speaking of lighting, we like that Lexar takes the time to make Lexar RGB Sync for those with systems before including RGB and ARGB Sync methods. It is simple, intuitive, and delivers many modes and options to get the lighting just right for your needs. We even liked the fine-line detailing on the side of the heat spreaders, but it comes off almost like an Easter egg for those with terrific sight or those who pick up on it while closely inspecting the sticks. Otherwise, it goes mostly unnoticed.
So far, aesthetically, and going by the specifications surrounding this Hades RGB 32GB kit of RAM, we have little to complain about. Coming from the recent foray with the Lexar Desktop Memory, we had high hopes and were ready to see what they could provide with, say, something based on that RAM, but now with heat spreaders and RGB lighting, but it seems they had to take another path. When we looked in Thaiphoon Burner, we were confused as to why Lexar would withhold information. When they said it was Lexar for the manufacturer, they could have quickly put in the correct information.
Typically, this is done when the IC maker is the final product maker, but as far as we know, Lexar does not make ICs. So the only thing left to do was to check under the hood. When we initially popped off the heat spreader, the "S" in a diamond shape was familiar, but it took our aging brain about seven or eight seconds, and our palm reached our forehead, and the name SpekTek popped into our heads. After a quick shiver from the chill running down our backs, we thought back to the Mushkin DDR4 that pretty much flopped, and maybe once or twice, showed some promise in our charts. Sound familiar?
While we could drone on about the poor choice of ICs to fill the order, we were able to do some overclocking, more so on our AMD system than with the Intel build, but there was flexibility nonetheless. Overall, that would be a plus when looking at a set of DDR4, but when there is as much flexibility as we saw, and other similar kits are whooping you the entire way through the testing process, it is hard, near impossible to say you need something like this in your life. As good as they look, the performance, outside of a few select scores, was lackluster and in line with what we know of those using these ICs.
As much as we like the looks, and the tricks with the side pattern and the way the Lexar name is molded into the diffuser are pretty trick additions to something that can be otherwise pretty boring to look at, but beyond aesthetics, we do not think the Hades RGB has what it takes. To get 32GB of 3600MHz DDR4, over two sticks, prices start at around $130. At $150 to $155, you can get RGB lighting as well, but the Hades RGB is currently listed on Amazon, ahead of their release, with a price of, get this, a whopping $216.99!
For what? Yes, they are pretty, but they were the worst-performing of the 3600MHz kits we have tested. Unless you are utterly oblivious to the market and its options, we can see very few saying, screw it, I will overpay for what would be considered mediocre performance, at best. Sorry Lexar, maybe next time, but for now, we cannot recommend such a kit and have any integrity in what we do.
The Bottom Line
Lexar was close to winning us over, but the choice of ICs let us down. The Hades RGB is a stepping stone for Lexar to demand a bigger share of the pie, but we feel that this is not the kit that does it for them.