We wanted to focus on low voltage memory modules (1.5V and below) for this roundup and while there were some rare high-speed DDR3 modules (like Kingston's LoVo series that could do DDR3 1866MHz on 1.35V), it was relatively easier to find DDR3 1600MHz memory modules. Given that we're still likely to be using DDR3 memory for upcoming platforms from both AMD and Intel, we are quite confident that DDR3 1600MHz will be the mainstream 'speed' for the next year at least.
There are however not that many low voltage memory modules out there just yet. We managed to get four dual-channel kits. They come with slightly different latencies and with pretty distinctive and unique cooling too. Here are the specifications for the four modules.
|G.SKILL ECO DDR3 1600MHz Dual-Channel Memory Kit||F3-12800CL7D-4GBECO||7-8-7-24||1.35V|
|Kingmax Hercules DDR3 1600MHz Dual-Channel Kit||FLGE85F-B8KJ7A FEIS||7-7-7-20||1.5V|
|Kingston HyperX DDR3 Low Voltage Performance Memory Kit||KHX1600C9D3LK2/4GX||9-9-9-27||1.35V|
|OCZ DDR3 PC3-12800 Reaper Ultra Low Voltage CL7 Dual Channel Kit||OCZ3RPR1600ULV4GK||7-8-8-24||1.5V|
G.SKILL's ECO DDR3 1600MHz Dual-Channel Memory Kit is one of the two memory kits here that are rated at 1.35V. G.SKILL has six models in this ECO series, with speeds from DDR3 1333MHz to 1600MHz. This review kit has the lowest latencies among G.SKILL's offerings at 7-8-7-24.
The next memory kit from Kingmax belongs to its Hercules series. It has very competitive 7-7-7-20 latencies, but we bet that all you'll notice is the lack of the conventional heat spreader on the memory module. Instead, Kingmax's proprietary Nano Thermal Dissipation Technology is used, which as far as we can tell, is the thin, blue silicon compound stuck over each memory chip. According to Kingmax, the nano-sized silicon compound fills up any miniscule pockets of space on the surface of the chip thereby increasing the thermal conductivity. The improvements are positive enough that Kingmax doesn't require conventional heat spreaders and compounds any more.
With Kingmax using this cooling compound on even its high speed products (2200MHz and 2400MHz), it's probably fair to say that it should have no issues with a low voltage (1.5V) 1600MHz part. But we'll find out for ourselves later. On a side note, Kingmax engineers have mentioned that these modules can operate at 1.35V with no issues but they've currently stuck to 1.5V until further testing can be done to qualify them at 1.35V officially. So that's something you can try personally to further improve the operating efficiency of these memory modules.
One of Kingston's newer series, its HyperX LoVo brand is targeted at enthusiasts who want the best of both worlds - lower voltages and enthusiast class performance. While Kingston has a more aggressive 1866MHz model that can do 1600MHz at 1.25V (KHX1866C9D3LK2/4GX), the one we got for review today is the slower version that's rated at 1.35V. It's certainly low enough and Kingston has kept with its standard heat spreader design, with the only difference being the choice of a green color scheme. At 9-9-9-27, it does have the highest latencies among the four memory modules in our roundup.
There are many models from OCZ in its Reaper HPC series, all of which are using the company's distinctive heat-pipe cooling design. With a wide range of latencies, frequencies and voltages, it can take a while to identify the ultra low voltage model featured here. Although it's rated at CL7, we found that on our test system, it was only able to run stable at CL8 (8-8-8-24).