For AMD Ryzen processors, compatible motherboards will be required, but what about memory? In the market just appeared DIMM kits, optimized for new processors. G.Skill Flare X set with the declared frequency of operation up to 3200 MHz entered our test laboratory. We will conduct tests of new memory slots, and also evaluate the performance of Ryzen processors with different memory frequencies and delays.
The G.Skill Flare X, unlike the Trident Z or Ripjaws, is focused on AMD Ryzen processors. Of course, the Trident or Ripjaws will work well on the X370 motherboard, but G.Skill Flare X line is specially optimized for the new AMD platform. Since dual-lath strips on AMD systems do not reach very high frequencies, memory manufacturers prefer peer-to-peer kits with optimization under Ryzen. We got a new G.Skill Flare X set with a claimed frequency of 3.200 MHz with CL14 delays, and it requires a voltage of only 1.35 V for operation at such a high frequency. The kit consists of two 8-GB slats, that is, the total capacity is 16 GB. Given the high frequency, we have one of the most expensive memory kits for AMD Ryzen processors. High frequency is achieved through the use of Samsung B-Die chips, which are well known for other high-frequency modules.
We tested the new G.Skill slats on the motherboard ASUS Crosshair VI Hero, equipped with the X370 chipset. We also selected a processor that could work without problems at high clock speeds. Some Ryzen CPUs in our test lab were not able to make stable money at 3.200 MHz. According to G. Skill, the probability of successful operation of Ryzen 7 processors with memory at high frequencies is higher than that of the “younger” Ryzen 5. As a result, we stopped at Ryzen 5 1600X, which worked stably at the stated frequency. We will use it for our tests.
We had to work on the BIOS settings of the motherboard ASUS: the memory frequency could be raised to 3.200 MHz, but there was no possibility to change the delay. With the new unofficial BIOS version 9943, the necessary settings are available. Users on the Hardwareluxx forum have already collected a collection of different BIOS for Crosshair VI Hero. For example, the BIOS 9945 works correctly with Hynix 2x16GB and 4x8GB Samsung B-Chip chips. The latter combination is very interesting, because through interbanks of banks you can use two peers for each channel of two, but the possible clock frequency will be lower. Although the performance should be higher, despite the low clock speeds. However, before the official version of the BIOS will be some time yet. Despite the delay of CL13, the system still worked with CL14.
In our review, we will not only test the capabilities of G.Skill memory modules, but also find which clock frequencies and delays are best for Ryzen processors. On the second page of the review, we will conduct tests of the bars with different frequencies and delays, after which we will estimate the difference. We tested the system only with peer-to-peer modules. With dual-circuit modules, you can get higher performance at low frequencies, but overclocking the bars is more difficult.
But let me first consider the G.Skill memory modules. Programming SPD, we showed in the screenshots of CPU-Z. Here G.Skill did not make mistakes, ASUS motherboard recognized modules without any problems. Available profiles help to disperse the bars above official Ryzen specifications. The maximum frequency of 3.200 MHz is correctly determined by G.Skill with delays of 14-14-14-34, also the voltage is 1.35 V. All other clock frequencies are attainable by 1.2 V.
To assess the impact of frequencies and delays on Ryzen’s performance, we selected five tests. They have different characteristics; In our experience with DIMM tests on Intel platforms, benchmarks respond differently to changes in frequencies and timings.
Memory bandwidth in the Sisoft Sandra test, for example, responds better to clock frequencies than to delays.
Cinebench is a CPU test that should show the effect of the memory subsystem on intensive computations.
7-Zip is an archiver that responds well to both delays and memory frequency.
The game Far Cry Primal in 1920×1080 resolution, too, must respond to both parameters.
Ghost Recon 4K (low level of detail) almost does not respond due to high resolution
First we will estimate the effect of the memory frequency, which we increased from 2.400 MHz to 2.666 MHz, and then tested the levels of 2.999 MHz and 3.200 MHz. Operation at the next stage of 3.466 MHz was already unstable, despite the increase in the memory voltage to 1.5 V and the CPU and SOC voltages by +0.1 V. In all tests, we kept the delays unchanged at 14-14-14-34. Test performance with different delays, we will be at 2.666 MHz.
As you can see, the bandwidth of the Ryzen memory scales well with increasing clock speeds. We received an increase from 29.89 GB / s to 38.62 GB / s, which is noticeable in terms of performance. Even in the Cinebench test, we got a 2% gain, although this CPU benchmark usually reacts little to changes in the memory subsystem. In the game Far Cry Primal, the minimum fps value increased from 65 to 71 fps, which is 8.5%. As for the average frame rate, the advantage here was 2 fps. But if the game rests on the video card, like the same Ghost Recon, then even high-speed memory will not help it. The results are mixed, the performance was always about 26 fps (minimum fps) or 40.5 fps (average fps).
Let’s pass to the analysis of timings:
As we expected, in the SiSoft Sandra test the difference is insignificant. The memory bandwidth slightly increased from 32.0 to 32.71 GB / s. In the Cinebench test, the impact was even less, the performance was virtually unchanged. In the 7-Zip test, we got a performance gain of 1.3%. In the game Far Cry Primal, the minimum fps slightly increased, although not as much as in the case of increasing frequencies. Reducing delays from CL18 to CL14 resulted in an increase in minimum fps by 3%. In Ghost Recon, we got a minimum frame rate of 26.5 fps and an average frame rate of 40.5 fps, without much change.
G.Skill Flare X set coped with the standard tests, but we wanted to squeeze more of it out. Although the Ryzen CPU’s built-in memory controller is at the forefront here, many samples can not work even on the claimed 3.200 MHz.
ASUS in the current standard BIOS version allows you to set clock speeds only for this level, so to overclock it is necessary to use the beta version of the BIOS or to increase the base frequency. Interestingly, through the memory multiplier we got a lower frequency than overclocking the base frequency: in the latter case we achieved 3.550 MHz, but when overclocking through the multiplier it was not possible to achieve stable operation even at 3.466 MHz. But the base frequency had to be raised to 110.9 MHz, as a result, the PCI Express bus has already switched to PCIe 2.0 mode, for daily operation such settings will be even slower, not faster.
In any case, we got an impressive throughput of 43.08 GB / s. Delays in this could be kept at a fairly low level 14-14-14-34, the system went through all our tests without problems. But we had to set the voltage of the modules to a very high level of 1.5 V. Perhaps it makes sense to find a frequency that will be stable at 1.35 V. It will depend on both the memory and the sample CPU.
Let’s start with Ryzen: if you have the opportunity to set memory at the highest possible clock speeds, then the performance gain will be higher than from the decrease of delays. However, here everything depends on the Ryzen sample, depending on the capabilities of the CPU, you can achieve stable operation at 3.200, 3.466 or even 3.600 MHz. As for lower frequencies, it makes sense to optimize delays. But Ryzen here shows the same behavior as Intel processors with an integrated memory controller: the delays are already quite low, so overclocking the memory frequency is better for performance.
G.Skill Flare X 3200 MHz slots proved to be excellent: they fit well to the capabilities of the Ryzen CPU memory controller, including the internal structure of the modules. At high stated frequencies, which we were able to even surpass in practice, the memory modules will provide a noticeable performance gain on most Ryzen systems thanks to the Samsung B-Die chips. Also SPD is programmed very sensibly. The quality of the kit does not cause censures, beautiful heat distributors will fit into a typical game system. As usual, G.Skill gives a lifetime warranty on the memory slots. But the price “bites”. For a set of DDR4 2x 8 GB, you will have to pay more than 180 euros. The high price is associated with validation, since not every chip will work at high clock speeds. Therefore, to pay extra for high-speed memory kit makes sense in those cases when you optimize the performance of all components. In many situations, it’s better to invest in a faster CPU or a powerful graphics card.