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Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-4000 8GB Review

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
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Generally speaking, we only review memory kits that are somehow special since so many kits are basically clones of one another when it comes to specs. It really takes something special for a memory kit to catch our attention, be it due to their speed, capacity, or some other unique attribute. Today, we have one such product, and we've been teasing you with it in our last few reviews since it is pretty cool.

How so? Well we entered 2015 with DDR4 memory kits that had just reached DDR4-3000 and we are closing out the year with an exclusive review of the first commercially available kit that is clocked at an incredible DDR4-4000 / PC4-32000. We will be reviewing the enthusiast-oriented Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-4000 8GB model, otherwise known as the CMK8GX4M2B4000C19R. This 2 x4 GB kit features a DDR4-4000 clock speed with 19-23-23-45 timings at 1.35V. The R at the end of the model number stands for red, which is the colour of the heatspreaders, and if that is not appealing to you there is a similar model available in black. As this is a very highly clocked enthusiast memory kit, this model comes bundled with the Corsair Vengeance Airflow Fan accessory that should help keep the modules cool under load, and the included replaceable accent covers will allow you to tailor them to your system's colour scheme.

Since DDR4 prices have come crashing down throughout all of 2015, this unique enthusiast model retails for 'just' $260 USD/$340 CAD, which is the same as the Vengeance LPX DDR4-2666 16GB kit that we reviewed back in January. To put that into further perspective, the Corsair Dominator Platinum DDR4-3400 16GB model that we reviewed back in April - which was the fastest DDR4 kit on the market at that time - retailed for $1000 USD.

So it's pretty clear that the DDR4 market is progressing at a lightning pace, but what does this mean to consumers? Can Skylake processors handle such high memory speeds? How about the motherboards? And what kind of performance can you expect from the fastest memory kit on the planet? The answers to those questions are what we are here to find out.

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
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Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Packaging & Memory Overview

Packaging & Memory Overview


Although most consumers will never even see the packaging of the products they buy online before ordering them, a little attention to detail does go a long way towards creating a positive initial impression when they receive their purchase. As a result, let's see what Corsair have done with this new industry-leading memory kit.

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At 6.5in x 5.5in x 3in, this is a pretty good-sized box for a memory kit. Since this model comes with the Vengeance Airflow Fan accessory - which is pretty heavily advertised on the packaging - we knew that it wouldn't just be a standard plastic clamshell with a cardboard insert. In the lower right-hand corner there is mention of "Quad Channel" support, and while that might be true in the sense that you could use two kits on an X99 motherboard, don't expect them to ever run anywhere near DDR4-4000 since the LGA2011-3 platform can't currently handle those speeds.

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When you open the packaging you are presented with a cardboard box that opens up via a large flap. Inside you will the two memory modules safely held in place and protected by their own separate plastic trays, the Airflow Fan accessory, a speed control cable that reduces fan speed from 3500RPM to 2500RPM, replacement blue and silver accent covers that allow users to tailor the Airflow Fan to match most popular colour schemes, installation brackets, and a user's guide detailing how to install the Airflow accessory.

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These modules feature the exact same design as the previous Vengeance LPX memory kits that we have reviewed. They also definitely share some design DNA with the previous Vengeance LP DDR3 memory kits, but with a slightly updated look. Made of anodized aluminium, these are fairly low profile heatspreaders with a height of about 34mm/1.34in. As mentioned in the intro, although this particular model comes with red heatspreaders, but there is a black version as well known as the CMK8GX4M2B4000C19.

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This memory kit comes in clocked at DDR4-4000 19-23-23-45 with a 2T command rate. It requires 1.35V - up from the 1.20V default - which is identical to other enthusiast-oriented memory kits, and it's impressively low given the very high frequency. This is all programmed into the single XMP 2.0 Profile, so enabling these settings is as simple as toggling the XMP option in your motherboard's BIOS. This XMP profile keeps the BCLK at 100Mhz so there is no accompanying CPU overclock, and while the Uncore was raised from the stock 4000Mhz to 4100Mhz, that seems to simply be the default for all ASUS Z170 motherboards that we've tested. When it comes to ancillary voltages, on our ASUS Maximus VIII Impact, the System Agent voltage was automatically raised from 1.05V to 1.328V, while the VCCIO voltage was increased from 0.95V to 1.28V. These are definitely high voltages, but they are necessary in order to coax a large swathe of Skylake K-series chips into being able to run at such a high memory frequency.

Speaking of which, while most processors might be able to support DDR4-4000 with the right amount of voltage, most motherboards will not...at least not via XMP. While this memory kit worked perfectly on our Maximus VIII Impact - which is certified for DDR4-4000 - we did not have as much luck on our Maximus VIII Extreme, which ASUS have only tested up to DDR4-3866. Simply enabling XMP on the Extreme model resulted in a failure to boot, and even with our manual tweaking attempts we could not get the system to boot at DDR4-4000. Aside from the Maximus VIII Impact, we are only aware of three other motherboards that are certified for DDR4-4000 operation, and they are the ASUS Z170-PREMIUM, ASUS Z170I PRO GAMING, ASRock Z170 OC Formula. That's not a guarantee that they will work with this particular Corsair kit yet either, it just means that the manufacturers have tested those particular models at up to DDR4-4000.

Although we did not remove the heatspreaders since we did not want to risk damaging these precious modules, we can say with great certainty that they are manufactured with Samsung E-die ICs, specifically known as K4A4G085WE, which are the best overclocking DDR4 memory chips on the market right now when it comes to reaching the highest possible frequency. The ICs may change in the future, but if you can find a kit with the same version number (v4.24) as ours, then you have a great chance of also having these excellent memory chips.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
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Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Corsair Vengeance Airflow Fan (CMYAF) Accessory

Corsair Vengeance Airflow Fan (CMYAF) Accessory


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The much discussed Corsair Vengeance Airflow Fan (CMYAF) accessory is a very nice addition to this bundle, especially when you consider that it retails for about $27 USD / $40 CAD. The single 60mm fan operates at 3500RPM and can output 14.5CFM, while generating a maximum of 25 dBA. If you want to reduce the noise level a bit, Corsair includes a speed control cable that lowers the rotations per minutes to 2500. Those with an eye towards aesthetics who don't like the red aluminium cover will be glad to know that it is user-replaceable, and that there is a blue or silver cover included in the bundle.

At 1.35V or even 1.40V, these memory modules never ran hot or even worryingly warm in our open-air test bed, but the same might not be true in an enclosure case where a highly clocked CPU and stressed VRM components can radiate a lot of heat towards the RAM slots. With this in mind, this fan accessory is a novel way of improving the thermal environment on and around a very pricey memory kit.

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Here we have the fan accessory installed on an ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme motherboard, in order to give you an idea of how it looks on a full-size motherboard with a black and red colour scheme. We have also demonstrated how the brackets rest on the memory slot clips. It is a simple enough assembly and installation process, and once you set it up correctly and have everything tightened up it is relatively solid as well.

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Those of you with large CPU coolers might reasonably be concerned about possible clearance issues, but Corsair have thought of this as well. The top part of the unit can actually be adjusted and slid left or right across the brackets, thereby increasing the distance between the fan assembly and the heatsink. It's a easy and thoughtful design touch.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Messages
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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 as identical as possible across all of those configurations, unless otherwise noted. The components and software are the same across all five configurations, and aside from manually selecting the multipliers, frequencies, timings, and voltages in the manual overclock configuration, almost every option in the BIOS was at its default setting.

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Intel Core i7 LGA1151 DDR4 Test Setup​
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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 v1.1.3
  • 3DMark11 Professional Edition v1.0.132.0
  • 3DMark 2013 Professional Edition v1.5.915
  • AIDA64 Extreme Edition v5.50.3600
  • Cinebench R15 64-bit
  • FAHBench 1.2.0
  • Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward Benchmark
  • HEVC Decode Benchmark (Cobra) v1.61
  • LuxMark v3.0
  • PCMark 8
  • SuperPi Mod v1.9 WP
  • Sisoft Sandra 2015.SP3 20.28
  • Valve Particle Simulation Benchmark v1.0.0.0
  • WinRAR x64 5.30 beta 6
  • 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!
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Messages
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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. Though we suspect that many of the overclockers who buy this kit won't hesitate to use 1.45V or even 1.50V, we are sticking with 1.40V to stay inline with all our previous DDR4 reviews. This allows us to compare kits on a roughly equal footing, and allows us to put all our efforts on testing timings scalability instead.

In order to make sure that there weren't any possible CPU-related bottlenecks, the CPU VCCIO was set to 1.30V and the CPU System Agent Voltage set to 1.35V. We focused on six basic timing configurations (14-16-16 / 15-17-17 / 16-18-18 / 17-19-19 / 18-21-21 / 19-23-23) with a 2T command rate in order to maximize memory controller's frequency headroom.

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

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Since these Vengeance LPX modules already have loose timings of 19-23-23 we decided not to loosen them any further, but instead used those defaults as the baseline in order to see how much additional frequency headroom this kit had. Once we knew what the upper limit was, it was just a matter of progressively tightening the timings to find the max frequencies at the other levels.

As you can see, with a slight voltage bump from 1.35V to 1.40V, our sample revealed itself to have ton of additional headroom, blowing right past the DDR4-4100 mark and nearing an incredible DDR4-4200. When you consider that DDR4 was designed with a JEDEC specified limit of DDR4-4266, the fact that we are almost there this early in this new standards lifespan is pretty crazy. As you will see in the following pages, despite the loose timings, DDR4-4160 19-23-23 generates a ton of memory bandwidth over a dual-channel memory interface...over 52GB/s to be exact.

If we compare these results to those of our previous best kit - the Corsair Dominator Platinum DDR4-3400 - the difference is impressive. At 16-18-18-2T, the loosest timings that we tested with, the best that the Dominator kit could muster was DDR4-3452, but this Vengeance model blows way past that to hit DDR4-3790. When you consider that the Dominator kit was assembled using the top 0.5% of all Hynix MFR ICs that Corsair had binned, it just goes to show you how much better these newer Samsung E-die ICs are at achieving very high frequencies.

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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 approach is more than sufficient.

Check out the next few pages to see our benchmarking results. We kept CPU frequencies as close to 4.5Ghz as possible and increased the Cache/Uncore frequencies to around 4.20-4.25Ghz to try an eliminate any memory bandwidth bottlenecks. It's not perfect since there is only so much you can do with a finite number of frequencies and multipliers but what you will be seeing in the charts are the approximate performance differences caused by the different memory settings.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
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Messages
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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 i7-6700K and ASUS Maximus VIII Impact at default clocks but with the memory kit's XMP profile applied, as well as using our own manual overclocks. We tested 6 additional frequency/timings combinations, while trying to keep the CPU frequency as close to 4.5Ghz as possible and the Uncore/Cache near 4.2Ghz. This will illustrate how much performance can be achieved with memory kit in stock and overclocked form.


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.

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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.

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Cinebench R15


Cinebench R15 64-bit
Test1: CPU Image Render
Comparison: Generated Score


The latest benchmark from MAXON, Cinebench R15 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.

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WinRAR x64


WinRAR x64 5.30 beta 6
Test: Built-in benchmark, processing 1000MB of data.
Comparison: Time to Finish

One of the most popular file archival and compression utilities, WinRAR's built-in benchmark is a great way of measuring a processor's compression and decompression performance. Since it is a memory bandwidth intensive workload it is also useful in evaluating the efficiency of a system's memory subsystem.


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FAHBench


FAHBench 1.2.0
Test: OpenCL on CPU
Comparison: Generated Score

FAHBench is the official [email protected] benchmark that measures the compute performance of CPUs and GPUs. It can test both OpenCL and CUDA code, using either single or double precision, and implicit or explicit modeling. The single precision implicit model most closely relates to current folding performance.


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HEVC Decode Benchmark v1.61


HEVC Decode Benchmark (Cobra) v1.61
Test: Frame rates at various resolution, focusing on the top quality 25Mbps bitrate results.
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

The HEVC Decode Benchmark measures a system's HEVC video decoding performance at various bitrates and resolutions. HEVC, also known as H.265, is the successor to the H.264/MPEG-4 AVC (Advanced Video Coding) standard and it is very computationally intensive if not hardware accelerated. This decode test is done entirely on the CPU.


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LuxMark v3.0


Test: OpenCL CPU Mode benchmark of the LuxBall HDR scene.
Comparison: Generated Score

LuxMark is a OpenCL benchmarking tool that utilizes the LuxRender 3D rendering engine. Since it OpenCL based, this benchmark can be used to test OpenCL rendering performance on both CPUs and GPUs, and it can put a significant load on the system due to its highly parallelized code.


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PCMark 8


PCMark 8 is the latest iteration of Futuremark’s system benchmark franchise. It generates an overall score based upon system performance with all components being stressed in one way or another. The result is posted as a generalized score. In this case, we tested with both the standard Conventional benchmark and the Accelerated benchmark, which automatically chooses the optimal device on which to perform OpenCL acceleration.

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AIDA64 Memory Benchmark

AIDA64 Extreme Edition is a diagnostic and benchmarking software suite for home users that provides a wide range of features to assist in overclocking, hardware error diagnosis, stress testing, and sensor monitoring. It has unique capabilities to assess the performance of the processor, system memory, and disk drives.

The benchmarks used in this review are the memory bandwidth and latency benchmarks. Memory bandwidth benchmarks (Memory Read, Memory Write, Memory Copy) measure the maximum achievable memory data transfer bandwidth. The code behind these benchmark methods are written in Assembly and they are extremely optimized for every popular AMD, Intel and VIA processor core variants by utilizing the appropriate x86/x64, x87, MMX, MMX+, 3DNow!, SSE, SSE2, SSE4.1, AVX, and AVX2 instruction set extension.
The Memory Latency benchmark measures the typical delay when the CPU reads data from system memory. Memory latency time means the penalty measured from the issuing of the read command until the data arrives to the integer registers of the CPU.


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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Joined
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Messages
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Gaming Benchmarks

Gaming Benchmarks



Futuremark 3DMark (2013)


3DMark v1.1.0
Graphic Settings: Fire Strike Preset
Rendered Resolution: 1920x1080
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.


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Futuremark 3DMark 11


3DMark 11 v1.0.5
Graphic Settings: Extreme Preset
Resolution: 1920x1080
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.


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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.


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Valve Particle Simulation Benchmark


Valve Particle Simulation Benchmark
Resolution: 1920x1080
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.


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X3: Terran Conflict


X3: Terran Conflict 1.2.0.0
Resolution: 1920x1080
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.


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Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward Benchmark


Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward
Resolution: 1920x1080
Texture & Shader Quality: Maximum IQ
DirectX 11
Fullscreen

Game Benchmark
Comparison: Generated Score

Square Enix released this benchmarking tool to rate how your system will perform in Heavensward, the expansion to Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. This official benchmark software uses actual maps and playable characters to benchmark gaming performance and assign a score to your PC.


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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Messages
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Conclusion

Conclusion


Despite the fact that it won't revolutionize your gameplay or set your Excel spreadsheets on fire, playing around with a really fast memory kit is still quite fun for hardware enthusiasts who enjoy benchmarking as a hobby. This Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-4000 8GB model really allowed us to test the boundaries of the Skylake-S LGA1151 platform and that's something that we always like doing.

This was the first commercially available DDR4-4000 memory kit on the market, so congratulations to Corsair for that achievement. Corsair have since released a DDR4-4133 kit with identical timings and only a slight voltage bump to 1.4V, but it does carry a $60 USD / $100 CAD price premium. Given the impressive overclocking results that we saw at default timings, we think that the DDR4-4000 that we have reviewed today represents a sweet spot for enthusiasts wanting highly binned Samsung E-die ICs.

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Performance comparisons at DDR4-4000 versus lower clock speeds with tighter timings go back and forth depending on the workload, but this kit can certainly make popular benchmarking programs scream in the right hands. Whereas we would pick a larger and lower clocked model for a day-to-day system, we really don't mind that this is a smaller 8GB kit since the target market for this product is likely to be someone with a secondary test system to play with. A 16GB DDR4-4000 kit would be painfully expensive and unnecessary for someone who just wants to experiment and benchmark at very high memory speeds.

By the way, that 'someone' better be quite knowledgeable about tweaking because as we mentioned in the review, don't think you can install these modules in a run-of-the-mill Z170 motherboard, enable XMP, and be off to the races. There are very few motherboards on the market that can handle such high memory speeds out of the box, and you will need a processor with a strong memory controller as well.

This is a memory kit that was designed to run really fast and, if our sample is any indication, it has a lot of additional headroom available for those who want to run it even faster. It is a fun piece of hardware to play around with if you are fortunate enough to have the funds to do so and a test system that can handle the high memory frequencies. It is an easy product to recommend for those hobbiest who fall into that use case.

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