There are no shortage of RAM kits in the marketplace. From a broad selection of speed ratings, to assist in overclocking, to the total amount of RAM you want. There are even RAM kits certified to work perfectly with either an NVIDIA SLI or ATI CrossFire setup. Though multi-card video card configurations can make overclocking difficult, so can a mis-match between the RAM and chipset. So why not produce RAM kits that are certified to work with, and be able to be overclocked on, certain chipsets and CPUs? OCZ seemed to have been wondering the same thing with this AMD Black Edition Ready 4GB DDR3 Kit.
Back in Black
The OCZ DDR3 PC3-12800 AMD Black Edition Ready 4GB Dual Channel Kit is a RAM kit that is certified to work with AMD's Black Edition multiplier-unlocked CPUs. This means that when paired with such a processor they are guaranteed to meet the specified speed ratings found on the package. In many cases they'll even exceed what's specified by a wide margin. Overclocking isn't the only advantage to this kit, though it's the basis to the other benefits.
Since the OCZ RAM kit is certified to work with AMD Black Edition CPUs, it's also designed specifically to work with AMD's OverDrive software program. Not only that, but they also communicate with the BIOS to increase the frequency and performance of the memory controller. Both AMD and OCZ seem to be positioning this RAM kit as another component to allow you to take full advantage of their Dragon platform.
Features and Specifications
Now all this built in compatibility also allows you to take full advantage of the RAM at its rated speeds and specifications. With that in mind, we should probably list the specifications.
- 1600MHz DDR3
- CL 8-8-8-24 (CAS-TRCD-TRP-TRAS)
- 1.65 Volts
- Available in 4GB D/C kits
- Black Edition Ready XTC
- Lifetime Warranty
- 240 Pin DIMM
More specs can be found on the product home page. As for pricing, the CL8 kit we have for review is currently listed at Newegg for $129.99 USD. That is a little steep for a 4GB kit in the grand scheme of things.
Dual channel kits in the 4GB range are going for less then $80 these days. However those are usually value products whose sole purpose is to get 4GB of RAM into your machine. The OCZ kit carries an extra price premium due to it's additional features. Will they be worth the money? We'll just have to move forward and find out.
Installation and Testing
Installing RAM is probably the easiest upgrade you can perform on your computer. You largest concern with modern systems is getting the sticks of RAM into the right slots to support the dual or triple channel configuration of your motherboard. Otherwise, you just plug in the sticks and go. For testing we used our standard AMD test rig, with one notable change which I'll get to in a moment.
- AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition CPU
- Asus M4A79T Deluxe AM3 790FX Motherboard
- Kingston HyperX 4GB DDR3-1600 Dual Channel Memory Kit
- ASUS EAH5850/G/2DIS/1GD5 Radeon HD 5850 Video Card
- Kingston SSDnow V-Series 128GB Solid State Hard Drive
- HighSpeed PC Top Deck Tech Station
- Ultra Products X4 1050W Modular ATX Power Supply
As for testing the RAM itself, we've pretty well stuck to benchmarks that are only relevant to RAM speed and performance. Gaming, though important, relies too much on video card performance these days to be able to be used reliably. We're basically sticking with number crunchers like SiSoftware's SANDRA package, Everest Pro, and Cinebench R10. We'll get to those results shortly, but first...