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G.Skill Trident Z DDR4-3600 16GB Low Latency Kit Review

SKYMTL

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While the Skylake LGA1151 platform has proven to be exceptionally capable when it comes memory speed - as we illustrated in our Corsair DDR4-4000 review - the fact of the matter is that to achieve memory speeds over DDR4-3733 requires an above average motherboard and the willingness to significantly overvolt your processor's memory controller. Another issue is that those ultra-fast factory tested kits tend to only come in 8GB capacities, which is a little small for a high performance day-to-day system.

With this in mind, we went looking for a 16GB memory kit that wouldn't need special skills to run and that would still appeal to enthusiast users. We still wanted a kit with an aggressive performance profile, so what we lost in frequency we wanted to make up with low timings. Needless to say, since you're reading this review, we found exactly what we were looking for.

The model that we are reviewing today - the G.Skill F4-3600C16D-16GTZ - is a 16GB (2x8GB) memory kit clocked at DDR4-3600 and featuring tight 16-16-16 timings. While these timings might not seem tight to those accustomed to DDR3, they are when you consider the high memory speed. By comparison, all other 16GB kits with equal timings range from DDR4-2400 to DDR4-3200. There is no other currently available product that comes even close to this G.Skill model. Furthermore, with a retail price of about $160 USD / $220 CAD, this memory kit is not inexpensive, but it doesn't carry much of a price premium over other large kits with identical speeds but worse timings. To top it all off, as with all G.Skill memory kits, this model is covered by the company's long-running lifetime warranty policy.

So in this review we are going to see how this kit performs at a wide range of frequencies, and we will also be overclocking with an emphasis on further tightening the timings. If any of that sounds interesting, keep reading!

 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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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 G.Skill have done with this new industry-leading memory kit.



Click on image to enlarge

Foregoing the needlessly large box or more common plastic clamshell packaging, G.Skill ships this model in a compact yet highly stylized package. The box itself is sealed with a security sticker, so you will know if it has been previously opened. Inside is a single plastic tray that holds the two modules. It can be opened by hand - no knife required unlike with blister packs - which means that they are resealable. There is also a little case sticker included, but no instruction or warranty booklet, which is fine by us.



Click on image to enlarge

These Trident Z modules features one of the most striking heatspreader designs that we have seen on any memory kit. Featuring thick slabs of aluminium, one black side, one dark grey side, red accents on both sides and on top, and attractive multi-layer fins, these are good looking modules that will match up perfectly with the ocean of red & black motherboards on the market.


Click on image to enlarge

Each module features a sticker with the model number, essential specs, serial number, data of production, and a security sticker proving that is a genuine G.Skill product. Even the PCB comes stamped with the module's size and speed, further ensuring that the memory you are receiving is legitimate. Speaking of the PCB, these modules are manufactured with a 10 layer design, which is not only a sign of quality but also ensures better conductive heat transfer.


Click on image to enlarge

One of the only downsides of the attractive heatspreaders are their height which measure 44mm/1.73in tall. That is not super tall, but you can still definitely expect clearance issues when using certain motherboard and heatsink combinations, like the ASUS B150 PRO Gaming Aura motherboard and Prolimatech Mega Shadow heatsink.


Click on image to enlarge

As noted in the introduction, this memory kit comes in clocked at DDR4-3600 16-16-16-36 with a 2T command rate. It requires 1.35V - up from the 1.20V default - which is identical to other enthusiast-oriented memory kits. This is all programmed into one of the XMP 2.0 profiles, 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 at the moment.

This kit has a party trick in the form of a second XMP 2.0 profile with less aggressive specifications, namely DDR4-2666 13-12-12-32-2T at 1.20V. CPU-Z did not seem to be able to correctly list this second XMP profile, but it worked fine in our testing.

Although we did not remove the heatspreaders, we can say with certainty that this memory kit is manufactured with the brand new Samsung B-die ICs, specifically known as K4A8G085WB, which are the best overclocking DDR4 memory chips for large memory kits. Case in point, these particular modules are actually single-sided, so we wouldn't be surprised to see a 32GB (2x16GB) model sometime in the future.
 
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SKYMTL

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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 are identical as possible across all of those configurations. The components and software are the same across all eight configurations, and aside from manually selecting the multipliers, frequencies, timings, and voltages in the manual overclock configurations, every option in the BIOS was at its default setting.

Intel Core i7 LGA1151 DDR4 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 v1.1.3
  • 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
  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • HEVC Decode Benchmark (Cobra) v1.61
  • LuxMark v3.0
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
  • 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!
 

SKYMTL

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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 1.275V and the CPU System Agent Voltage set to 1.35V. Since our ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme does not handle memory speeds above DDR4-3733 very well when using 8GB modules, we decided to focus on tightening the timings instead of just attempting to hit the highest possible frequency. We focused on four basic timing configurations (14-15-15 / 15-16-16 / 16-17-17 / 17-18-18) with a 1T command rate in order to maximize performance.

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


As mentioned above, we knew that we had a frequency ceiling of about DDR4-3733 with this motherboard, since it isn't great at oveclocking large 8GB modules...which is an issue with many Z170 motherboards at the moment. Therefore, since we knew what the upper limit was we switched our focus to progressively tightening the timings in order to find the maximum frequencies at the lowest latency levels. That is when this kit really impressed us. The CAS 14 and 15 results are actually better than what we achieved with the smaller ultra-exclusive Corsair Vengeance DDR4-4000 kit, and with tighter secondary timings too.

If this memory kit had not been bottlenecked by our motherboard, we are very confident that it would have been able to hit at least DDR4-4000 with the same 19-23-23 timings as the Corsair kit, if not even tighter timings. We can make this assertion because G.Skill actually has a 16GB DDR4-4000 memory kit for sale - the F4-4000C19D-16GTZ - that isn't even found on their website but is currently in-stock at Newegg. Simply put, these new Samsung B-die ICs are simply better than their E-die predecessors in every possible way.



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 approach is more than sufficient.

Check out the next few pages to see our benchmarking results. We kept CPU frequencies as close to 4.40Ghz as possible and increased the Cache/Uncore frequencies to around 4.10Ghz to try an eliminate any memory bandwidth bottlenecks. We were able to keep all four configurations within these guidelines, with only a 10Mhz variation in CPU frequency.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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System Benchmarks

System Benchmarks


In the System and Gaming Benchmarks sections, we reveal the results from a number of benchmarks run with this G.Skill F4-3600C16D-16GTZ memory kit, on an ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme motherboard, and with our Core i7-6700K processor overclocked to 4.40Ghz and with a 4.10Ghz Cache/Uncore. We tested 8 frequency/timings combinations ranging from a default DDR4-2133 to both XMP profiles to XMP with 1T enabled, and four overclocked configurations. This will illustrate how much performance can be achieved with this memory kit in stock and tweaked forms.


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 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.



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.





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.




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.




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.




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.



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.


 

SKYMTL

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Messages
13,421
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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.




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.




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: 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.




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.




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.





Grand Theft Auto V


DirectX Version: DirectX 11
Resolution: 1920x1080
FXAA: On
MSAA: X4
NVIDIA TXAA: Off
Anisotropic Filtering: X16
All advanced graphics settings off.

In GTA V, we utilize the handy in-game benchmarking tool. We do three full runs of the benchmark and average the results of pass 3 since they are the least erratic.





Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor


Resolution: 1920x1080
Graphical Quality: Custom
Mesh/Shadow/Texture Filtering/Vegetation Range: Ultra
Lighting/Texture Quality/Ambient Occlusion: High
Depth of Field/Order Independent Transparency/Tesselation: Enabled

With its high resolution textures and several other visual tweaks, Shadow of Mordor’s open world is also one of the most detailed around. This means it puts massive load on graphics cards and should help point towards which GPUs will excel at next generation titles. We do three full runs of the benchmark and average the results.


 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,421
Location
Montreal
Conclusion

Conclusion


From a technical perspective, this G.Skill F4-3600C16D-16GTZ memory kit is clearly an achievement. There are higher clocked kits with much looser timings and tighter timed kits with much lower clock speeds, but none are as well balanced. With DDR4-3600 speeds and 16-16-16 timings, this model stands alone as the most aggressive 16GB DDR4 memory kit on the market right now.

These impressive specs are all thanks to the new Samsung B-die memory chips, which aren't yet widely used but will inevitably become the de facto enthusiast-class IC for large 16GB to 32GB memory kits. When you combine that hot new silicon, with a custom 10 layer PCB, and a killer heatspreader design you end up with a very appealing memory kit with a not unreasonable $160 USD / $220 CAD price tag.


The big question is what are you getting for that money when it comes to performance gains? If you are an average joe, not much. If you're using a discrete graphics card, the gaming frame rate difference between DDR4-2133 and the XMP or even overclocked configurations is generally minimal to non-existent. Simply put, there are no games that need the 30GB/s+ of memory bandwidth that even our lowliest default memory speed configuration could muster. The same is true in most other applications as well, but in our most bandwidth-limited workloads like WinRAR extraction and LuxMark 3D rendering, there was actually a large performance improvement which only got bigger when we further tightened the timings or increased the memory frequency.

This is a great memory kit, the specs alone establish that fact, even though it is not going to benefit everyone equally. It can provide worthwhile performance gains in bandwidth intensive applications, and it has a fair bit of additional frequency and timings headroom available for those who want to run it even faster. As is the case with most high-end memory kits, it is a fun piece of hardware for hobbyist to play around with but it don't expect it to revolutionize your system's overall performance.

 

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