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Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-2666 16GB Memory Review

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,088
Location
Montreal
With a fair number of X99 motherboard reviews under our belt, we felt that it was time to focus a little more on the memory side of this new platform. As you might already know, the enthusiast-oriented Intel Haswell-E processors make use of the new DDR4 memory standard, and with a quad-channel memory interface they require quite a bit of it. When you combine the need for four modules with the fact that DDR4 is still a very niche item, the end result is that most DDR4 memory kits are quite pricey at the moment.

The first DDR4 memory kit that we reviewed was a highly clocked G.Skill Ripjaws4 DDR4-3000 model, which although impressive by any measure was quite pricey at almost $400USD/$450CAD...and it has gotten even pricier as the weeks go by. What this means is that although this new memory format is unquestionably a critical part of this forward-looking platform, it also represents a significant part of the overall build cost of any LGA2011-3 system. With that in mind, today we are looking at a memory kit that is more reasonably priced, while not giving up much of the clock speed advantage that makes DDR4 special.


Since they are one of the heavyweights of the DIY PC market, it is no surprise to see Corsair come out aggressively supporting this new memory standard. How aggressive? Well as of this moment, the company's DDR4 line up consists of an incredible 38 models, ranging from 16GB to 64GB and DDR4-2400 all the way up to DDR4-3300. We will be reviewing the "mid-range" Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-2666 16GB model, otherwise known as the CMK16GX4M4A2666C15R. This 4x4GB kit features a DDR4-2666 clock speed with 15-17-17-35 timings at 1.20V. The R at the end of the model number stands for RED, which is the colour of the heatspreaders. Corsair also has a similar model with an all-black design. Now we used scare quotes around "mid-range" since this is still a $285USD/$345CAD item, however as you will see on the next page this memory kit has a secret party trick.


Click on image to enlarge

Most consumers never even get to see the packaging of the products they buy online before ordering them, but a little attention to the detail does go a long way towards creating a positive initial impression when they receive their product. As a result, let's see what Corsair have done with this new quad-channel DDR4 memory kit.

Unlike most other memory kits that come in a standard plastic clamshell with a cardboard insert, Corsair packages this model in a little branded box. It is a pretty compact affair since the modules feature fairly low profile heatspreaders. Inside there are two separate plastic trays that each hold two modules. They can be opened by hand - no knife required unlike with blister packs - which means that they are also resealable. There is also a little pamphlet on the inside listing warranty details.





Click on image to enlarge

Although these memory modules feature an updated look, they definitely share some design DNA with those found in the previous Vengeance LP DDR3 memory kits. Made of anodized aluminium, these are fairly low profile heatspreaders with a height of about 34mm/1.34". As mentioned in the intro, although this particular model comes with red heatspreaders, but there is a black version as well known as the CMK16GX4M4A2666C15.

Click on image to enlarge

In the introduction we mentioned that this memory kit had a secret party trick, and well here it is. Corsair have included an additional XMP 2.0 profile that pushes the modules up to DDR4-2800 while keeping the same 15-17-17 timings as the stock DDR4-2666 setting. There is voltage bump from 1.20V to 1.35V, but that's well within reasonable limits. This is pretty awesome addition since you are basically getting a DDR4-2800 kit for less than you would ordinarily have to pay.

Although we could not remove the heatspreaders without risking damaging this RAM, we do know without a shadow of a doubt that our single-sided modules were manufactured with Hynix MFR ICs, which are the best overclocking DDR4 memory chips on the market right now. That may change in the future, but if you can find a kit with the same version number (5.29), then you have a great chance of also having these excellent memory chips.
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,088
Location
Montreal
Test Setups & Methodology

Test Setups & Methodology


For this review, we are going to be testing a variety of different frequency and timing configurations while also attempting to keep the CPU and Uncore clocks are identical as possible across all of those configurations, unless otherwise noted. Aside from manually selecting frequencies, timings, and voltages every option in the BIOS was at its default setting.

Intel Core i7 LGA2011-v3 Haswell-E Test Setup​

For all of the benchmarks, appropriate lengths are taken to ensure an equal comparison through methodical setup, installation, and testing. The following outlines our testing methodology:

A) Windows is installed using a full format.

B) Chipset drivers and accessory hardware drivers (audio, network, GPU) are installed.

C)To ensure consistent results, a few tweaks are applied to Windows 7 and the NVIDIA control panel:
  • UAC – Disabled
  • Indexing – Disabled
  • Superfetch – Disabled
  • System Protection/Restore – Disabled
  • Problem & Error Reporting – Disabled
  • Remote Desktop/Assistance - Disabled
  • Windows Security Center Alerts – Disabled
  • Windows Defender – Disabled
  • Screensaver – Disabled
  • Power Plan – High Performance
  • V-Sync – Off

D) All available Windows updates are then installed.

E) All programs are installed and then updated, followed by a defragment.

F) Benchmarks are each run three to eight times, and unless otherwise stated, the results are then averaged.

Here is a full list of the applications that we utilized in our benchmarking suite:
  • 3DMark Vantage Professional Edition v1.1.0
  • 3DMark11 Professional Edition v1.0.132.0
  • 3DMark 2013 Professional Edition v1.2.362
  • AIDA64 Extreme Edition v3.00.2536 Beta
  • Cinebench R11.529 64-bit
  • SuperPi Mod v1.9 WP
  • MaxxMEM² - PreView v2.01
  • Sisoft Sandra 2014.SP3 20.28
  • Valve Particle Simulation Benchmark v1.0.0.0
  • wPRIME version v2.10
  • X3: Terran Conflict Demo v1.0

That is about all you need to know methodology wise, so let's get to the good stuff!
 
Last edited:

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,088
Location
Montreal
Overclocking Results

Overclocking Results


For our memory overclocking tests we are usually interested in two main elements: how well the memory scales with additional voltage and how versatile it is at overclocking with different timings. However, we quickly found out that this memory kit doesn't really benefit from going above 1.40V and in fact sometimes worsened overclockability depending on timings. So we decided to simply increase the voltage from the manufacturer specified 1.35V to 1.40V, and put all our efforts on timings scalability instead.

In order to make sure that there weren't any possible CPU-related bottlenecks, the CPU Cache Voltage was set to 1.30V and the CPU System Agent Voltage set to 1.25V. We focused on four basic timing configurations (12-12-12 / 13-13-13 / 14-14-14 / 15-15-15) all with a 1T command rate for optimal performance.

With the pleasantries out of the way, let's get to the fun stuff.


Much to our surprise, we managed to achieve better overclocking results with this memory kit than the G.Skill Ripjaws4 DDR4-3000, almost across the board too!

Starting off with the loosest 15-15-15 timings, this memory kit showed a good amount of extra headroom when compared to its DDR4-2666/2800 15-17-17 default. Not only were we almost able to hit well above DDR4-3100, but we were able to do so with the aggressive 1T command rate, which is much more strenuous than the 2T timing that Corsair rates this kit for. As you will see at the very bottom of this page, if you do elect to go the 2T route this kit gets even more impressive, but at the potential expense of overall system performance if you can't make up the deficit with a lot of extra memory clock speed.

When tightening the timings to 14-14-14 there was very significant drop in frequency potential - almost 70Mhz than we achieve on the G.Skill kit - but almost no drop at all when tightening things further to 13-13-13. This suggests to us that this kit should be capable of some interesting speeds at less 'conventional' timings like 13-14-14. Impressively, when we set the timings to 12-12-12 this memory kit's overclock was almost 120Mhz higher than what we managed on the G.Skill at identical timings and voltage. Clearly, our Vengeance LPX sample proved to very versatile indeed.


Click on image to enlarge

These screenshots are just to prove that we did indeed achieve the overclocks listed, and that they were stable enough to pass a series of mainstream benchmarking and stress testing applications. If you are doing super critical work, then maybe a little Prime95 stress testing should be done as well, but for gaming and day-to-day tasks our testing is more than sufficient.

Since all of these overclocks were done with the 1T command rate, we decided to see what this Corsair kit was capable of at 2T, which is what this particular model is rated for anyways. As you will see below, it is very impressive.


DDR4-3183 15-15-15-35-2T is mightily impressive, and once again surpasses the overclock we achieved with the G.Skill Ripjaws4 DDR4-3000 kit. There's not a huge difference (~15Mhz), but keep in mind that this Corsair kit is quite a bit cheaper and is originally rated for both looser timings and lower frequency. So does any of this actually translate to worthwhile day-to-day performance improvement? Well check out the following two pages to see our benchmarking results with seven different timing configurations, including the two XMP 2.0 profiles.
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,088
Location
Montreal
System Benchmarks

System Benchmarks


In the System and Gaming Benchmarks sections, we reveal the results from a number of benchmarks run with the Core i7-5960X and ASUS X99 Deluxe at default clocks, with the G.Skill memory kit's XMP profile applied, and using own our manual overclocks. This will illustrate how much performance can be achieved at various DDR4 memory speeds and timings. For a thorough comparison of the Core i7-5960X versus a number of different CPUs have a look at our Intel Haswell-E Core i7-5960X Review.


SuperPi Mod v1.9 WP


When running the SuperPI 32MB benchmark, we are calculating Pi to 32 million digits and timing the process. Obviously more CPU power helps in this intense calculation, but the memory sub-system also plays an important role, as does the operating system. We are running one instance of SuperPi Mod v1.9 WP. This is therefore a single-thread workload.



wPRIME 2.10


wPrime is a leading multithreaded benchmark for x86 processors that tests your processor performance by calculating square roots with a recursive call of Newton's method for estimating functions, with f(x)=x2-k, where k is the number we're sqrting, until Sgn(f(x)/f'(x)) does not equal that of the previous iteration, starting with an estimation of k/2. It then uses an iterative calling of the estimation method a set amount of times to increase the accuracy of the results. It then confirms that n(k)2=k to ensure the calculation was correct. It repeats this for all numbers from 1 to the requested maximum. This is a highly multi-threaded workload.



Cinebench R11.5


Cinebench R11.5 64-bit
Test1: CPU Image Render
Comparison: Generated Score


The latest benchmark from MAXON, Cinebench R11.5 makes use of all your system's processing power to render a photorealistic 3D scene using various different algorithms to stress all available processor cores. The test scene contains approximately 2,000 objects containing more than 300,000 total polygons and uses sharp and blurred reflections, area lights and shadows, procedural shaders, antialiasing, and much more. This particular benchmarking can measure systems with up to 64 processor threads. The result is given in points (pts). The higher the number, the faster your processor.





AIDA64 Extreme Edition

AIDA64 uses a suite of benchmarks to determine general performance and has quickly become one of the de facto standards among end users for component comparisons. While it may include a great many tests, we used the AIDA64 Cache & Memory Benchmark in order to tests the raw memory performance, combining copy, read, write and latency tests into one global score. This memory benchmark is a classic way to measure bandwidth of a memory subsystem.

 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,088
Location
Montreal
Gaming Benchmarks

Gaming Benchmarks



Futuremark 3DMark (2013)


3DMark v1.1.0
Graphic Settings: Fire Strike Preset
Rendered Resolution: 1920x1680
Test: Specific Physics Score and Full Run 3DMarks
Comparison: Generated Score


3DMark is the brand new cross-platform benchmark from the gurus over at Futuremark. Designed to test a full range of hardware from smartphones to high-end PCs, it includes three tests for DirectX 9, DirectX 10 and DirectX 11 hardware, and allows users to compare 3DMark scores with other Windows, Android and iOS devices. Most important to us is the new Fire Strike preset, a DirectX 11 showcase that tests tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Like every new 3DMark version, this test is extremely GPU-bound, but it does contain a heavy physics test that can show off the potential of modern multi-core processors.




Futuremark 3DMark 11


3DMark 11 v1.0.5
Graphic Settings: Performance Preset
Resolution: 1280x720
Test: Specific Physics Score and Full Run 3DMarks
Comparison: Generated Score


3DMark 11 is Futuremark's very latest benchmark, designed to tests all of the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. At the moment, it is lot more GPU-bound than past versions are now, but it does contain a terrific physics test which really taxes modern multi-core processors.




Futuremark 3DMark Vantage


3DMark Vantage v1.1.2
Graphic Settings: Performance Preset
Resolution: 1280x1024

Test: Specific CPU Score and Full Run 3DMarks
Comparison: Generated Score

3DMark Vantage is the follow-up to the highly successful 3DMark06. It uses DirectX 10 exclusively so if you are running Windows XP, you can forget about this benchmark. Along with being a very capable graphics card testing application, it also has very heavily multi-threaded CPU tests, such Physics Simulation and Artificial Intelligence (AI), which makes it a good all-around gaming benchmark.




Valve Particle Simulation Benchmark


Valve Particle Simulation Benchmark
Resolution: 1680x1050
Anti-Aliasing: 4X
Anisotropic Filtering: 8X
Graphic Settings: High
Comparison: Particle Performance Metric

Originally intended to demonstrate new processing effects added to Half Life 2: Episode 2 and future projects, the particle benchmark condenses what can be found throughout HL2:EP2 and combines it all into one small but deadly package. This test does not symbolize the performance scale for just Episode Two exclusively, but also for many other games and applications that utilize multi-core processing and particle effects. As you will see the benchmark does not score in FPS but rather in its own "Particle Performance Metric", which is useful for direct CPU comparisons.




X3: Terran Conflict


X3: Terran Conflict 1.2.0.0
Resolution: 1680x1050
Texture & Shader Quality: High
Antialiasing 4X
Anisotropic Mode: 8X
Glow Enabled

Game Benchmark
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

X3: Terran Conflict (X3TC) is the culmination of the X-series of space trading and combat simulator computer games from German developer Egosoft. With its vast space worlds, intricately detailed ships, and excellent multi-threaded game engine, it remains a great test of modern CPU performance.


 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,088
Location
Montreal
Conclusion

Conclusion


There really is a lot to love about this memory kit. This becomes even more obvious when we compare and contrast it to the pricier G.Skill Ripjaws4 DDR4-3000 memory kit that we reviewed earlier. While they both look similar due to their low profile red heatspreaders, it's what's underneath those heatspreaders that make or break DDR4 kits. Thankfully, they both features Hynix MFR ICs, which are the best of the best right now. This was proven by our overclocking results, where this Corsair kit achieved our highest results so far, both at the top-end and the low-end with tight 12-12-12- timings. We also have to highlight the fact that Corsair have secretly added a second XMP 2.0 profile offering a higher DDR4-2800 memory option, which is an undeniable bonus for those who don't feel comfortable doing any manual overclocking.


As you may have noticed by looking at the benchmarks, there isn't a whole lot of performance improvements past about DDR4-2750, no matter the timings. This is something that we have noticed on all DDR4 kits. Based on the AIDA64 results it now seems pretty clear to us that past about DDR4-2750 memory bandwidth is bottlenecked by the default uncore frequency, hence why the read bandwidth seems to stall at around the 62GB/s mark. If we had overclocked the uncore to say 4200Mhz, we would have seen read numbers closer to 72GB/s at DDR4-3100 15-15-15-1T. What this means is that buying a capable memory kit is all fine and dandy, and you can even overclock it a bunch, but keep in mind that you should do the same to your CPU's uncore if you want to achieve the best possible performance gains.

Overall though, we can definitely recommend this Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-2666 16GB memory kit if you're in the market for an enthusiast-oriented RAM. It eclipsed our previous champ when it came to overclocking, it is attractively priced given its capabilities, and it's been validated by Corsair to run at higher than its rated clock speed. That's a winner in our book.

 

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