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Crucial DDR4-2133 32GB Memory Kit Review

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
Although less known nowadays, generic-looking Crucial modules ruled the enthusiast memory market from the late 1990s until the early 2000s. These innocuous green memory sticks not only often overclocked better than anything else on the market, but they were usually much cheaper than competing offerings that were pre-binned, had fancy black PCBs, and even fancier heatspreaders. One of the reasons for this streak of success is the fact that Crucial is basically the retail arm of Micron, one of the oldest and most respected semiconductor manufacturers around, and thus usually have first or even sole access to Micron ICs.

Crucial currently has an impressive twenty-eight DDR4 offerings, but unusually - and perhaps brilliantly - they are one of the few companies offering not only quad-channel but dual-channel DDR4 memory kits as well. While that might seem weird, it is an affordable way of buying into the LGA2011-3 platform without having to spend a ton of money of a full quad-channel kit. Yes, performance will obviously be degraded but not nearly as much as you might expect. We might have to test this out in the future, but for now our interest is still in the company's full-blown quad-channel memory kits.

The memory kit that we are reviewing today doesn't seem special at face value - other than the fact that it's large at 32GB and DDR4 based - but we will definitely find out whether it has some of that old school Crucial magic. The Crucial CT4K8G4DFD8213 is a quad-channel 32GB DDR4 memory kit that features four 8GB modules clocked at DDR4-2133 with 15-15-15-36 timings at a low 1.20V. This is essentially identical to the formal JEDEC DDR4 specifications. It might not be as exciting as the G.Skill DDR4-3000 model that we previously reviewed, but it promises to be highly compatible and it is the most affordable 32GB DDR4 memory kit on the market at around $420USD/$450CAD. Also, you do get a lifetime warranty, which is something that Crucial pioneered in the memory market.

So is this model an enthusiast Diamond in the Rough, or just a solid kit better suited for workstations? Let's find out!

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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
Packaging & Memory Overview

Packaging & Memory Overview


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 Crucial have done with this new quad-channel DDR4 memory kit.

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Crucial have packaged the CT4K8G4DFD8213 in what appears to be a standard plastic clamshell with a cardboard informational insert, but there are actually two removable trays that each hold two modules. Thankfully, as is becoming increasingly common, the plastic packaging does not require a knife or scissors to open, so it can be pulled apart by hand and is thus also re-sealable.


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With their familiar green PCB , lack of heatspreader, one Crucial sticker and one Micron sticker, these modules look absolutely identical to those that Crucial have been selling for over a decade. And that's not a criticism at all, since there's nothing wrong with consistency when it works. As per JEDEC specifications, these memory modules are 31.25mm/1.23in tall, so quite low profile and thus they should avoid any clearance issues with the fan(s) or fan clips of particularly wide CPU coolers.

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As discussed in the intro, this memory comes in clocked at a reference DDR4-2133 15-15-15-36 with the lowest possible of 1.20V. This model obviously doesn't have any XMP (Extreme Memory Profile) options, but it does have a bunch of JEDEC-approved profiles which are designed to ensure the greatest possible compatibility with all present and future X99 motherboards.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Messages
1,086
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​
Crucial_DDR4_2133_32GB_14.jpg

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!
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
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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. So far we have capped memory voltage at 1.40V during in our DDR4 overclocking endeavours, which is almost 20% over the stock 1.20V. However, since this is more of a mass market product than an enthusiast-class one, and it doesn't come with any heatspreaders, we decided to lower that limit a bit to 1.35V. Thanks to this static voltage, we were able to put all our efforts into determining 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.

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As you can see, considering the base DDR4-2133 clock speed this memory kit proved to have quite a bit of overclocking headroom. Now this is our first 32GB DDR4 memory kit, so we have nothing else truly comparable to compare it to, but this is a solid result. DDR4-2400 with tight 12-12-12 timings and over DDR4-2666 at standard 15-15-15 timings are two noteworthy plateaus that signify to us that this is much more than your average OEM memory kit. When you consider that most 32GB DDR4-2666 memory kits retail for well over $600, that should definitely puts this $420USD/$450CAD model's results in a sharp focus. We look forward to testing out Crucial's Ballistix Elite memory kits, which their enthusiast-oriented factory overclocked memory kits, with pre-binned ICs and really cool looking heatspreaders.

By the way, all these overclocks were achieved with an aggressive 1T command rate. As you will see at the very bottom of this page, if you do elect to go the 2T route this model does stretch its legs even more, but at the potential expense of overall system performance if you can't make up the deficit with enough extra memory clock speed.

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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 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.

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By switching the command rate to 2T, and keeping the timings at an identical 15-15-15-35, we were able to go from DDR4-2680 to DDR4-2756. It's not a huge difference, but does it actually translate to improved system performance? Well check out the following two pages to see our benchmarking results with seven different timing configurations, including one with a high 4240Mhz Uncore to demonstrate how important is it for you to match high memory speeds with an appropriately overclocked Uncore frequency.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Messages
1,086
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.

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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 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.

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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.

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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
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.


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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.


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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: 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.


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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.


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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
Conclusion

Conclusion


Since this Crucial CT4K8G4DFD8213 model is the cheapest 32GB DDR4 memory kit on the market right now we didn't necessarily have the highest of expectations, especially considering the low stock DDR4-2133 clock speed which is the starting point for DDR4 according to JEDEC specifications. However, we ended up pleasantly surprised.

For starters, stock performance was better than expected, at least when compared to smaller but higher clocked memory kits. This is a large 32GB model so there is more interleaving possible, which is to say that the data is spread out across more memory ICs. While the memory controller waits for some of the chips to complete their access cycle, data access can begin on the other ICs, and they can all transfer data in parallel without any further delay, thus improving memory transfer performance.

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Overclocking-wise, we were quite happy with the additional performance that we were able to unlock. Any concerns over overclocking headroom proved to be unfounded, since we were able to push this model up to DDR4-2759 15-15-15-2T at a very reasonable 1.35V. We were also able to hit DDR4-2400 at much tighter 12-12-12-1T timings, which proves that these Micron D9RGQ ICs are quite versatile. Also, for the more adventurous out there, based on what we've seen if you're willing to push memory voltage even higher - say 1.45V or even 1.50V - DDR4-3000 15-15-15 is an achievable feat, though as usual caveat overclockor (sic) applies.

Perhaps most importantly though, if maximizing performance is your main objective, you need to place some focus on the Uncore. From DDR4-2666 upwards, unless you start equally overclocking the Uncore there is very little benefit to further increasing the memory speed. As you can see in our benchmarks, the very top result represents our highest 15-15-15-2T configuration with a 40% Uncore overclock, and the memory bandwidth and latency improvements are enormous. If you don't touch the Uncore, the numbers start stagnating pretty heavily.

In conclusion, this Crucial memory kit might not be pretty, but it is affordable - in relative terms when compared to other 32GB DDR4 kits - and it does not disappoint when it comes to stock performance or overclocking capabilities. Last but not least given the DDR4 compatibility issues we've had on some motherboards, this memory kit's validation on and compatibility with every X99 motherboard is going to be unmatched.

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