By: Jonathan Kwan
December 5, 2009
It's actually a lot of fun to own a Lenovo Thinkpad. Besides the impeccable build quality, unsurpassed reliability, a keyboard feel that's not repeated in any other brands, and not to mention its incredible battery life -- there's always those questions from friends and strangers alike that command a level of hilarity. "What Pentium do you have?" is actually a question that I've been asked many times in the past year or so, referring to my T400. "Pentium II", I would reply jokingly, poking fun at those who completely missed my Centrino 2 vPro sticker on the left palm rest, and my screen showing an operating system interface no other than the one of Windows Vista (Or Windows 7 later on). But I don't blame them. Thinkpads have retained the same basic design since the 1990s; but it is the progressive refinement, subtle beauty, pride, and tradition that brings the brand loyalists together. Plus, I am a big fan of building the ultimate 'sleeper' device in places where I can be seen with them, whether it be cars or computers. Additionally, I can assure you Macbook Pros are stolen quite a bit around here at the university. Thinkpads? Less of a chance, to say the least! To be honest, there aren't a lot of components that are upgradeable in a laptop. But of those parts that can be upgraded, RAM is probably by far the most popular, thanks to its ease of implementation and important role in computer performance. Currently, the largest amount of RAM you can possibly fit in a typical laptop is 2x4GB, for an 8GB total. That's a truckload of memory -- unfortunately it could cost upwards of $700 USD retail for DDR3 SODIMMs. That said, there's one company that has it affordable. G.SKILL's F3-8500CL7D-8GBSQ 2x4GB costs a hair under $400 for DDR3 with 7-7-7-20 timings at press time, and while we are at it, G.SKILL is a reputable, quality manufacturer to performance enthusiasts. So whether you are looking to enlarge your e-peen today (Raises hand), or requires a big boost in system memory on your laptop (That too), we have this review here for you today!
Our review unit of the G.SKILL F3-8500CL7D-8GBSQ 2x4GB PC3-8500 SODIMM dual channel memory kit (Whew, that's a mouthful!) came in a small FedEx Priority Pak envelope from G.SKILL's offices in Taipei, Taiwan. Using FedEx International Priority, everything arrived in excellent condition for us to review. I've always been intrigued by modern day logistics on how they can get the product from one side of the world to another, passing through multiple sorting facilities while making its trip through several different countries, crossing border customs, and still get into our doorstep all in less than 2 days. And that's only because the package was received after cutoff time on the first day!
Shipped along with our F3-8500CL7D-8GBSQ is their F3-17600CL7D-4GBPIS 4GB DDR3 desktop memory kit. We'll be looking at the notebook memory today, and the desktop set as shown in the box in the photo above will be reviewed in just a few weeks.
Our review unit of G.SKILL's F3-8500CL7D-8GBSQ 2x4GB notebook memory kit arrived in retail packaging -- quite a surprise to me -- since from my experience laptop RAM usually arrives in generic OEM form. G.SKILL, on the other hand, has this particular product in a nice fire-themed box that packages the two 4GB modules together. Displayed prominently at the front of the box is G.SKILL's logo, along with a bold slogan stating "Where speed is!" across the front. Opening the flap at the top reveals the two modules neatly slotted inside, each having their own individual packaging inside a clear plastic box.
Before we move on, let's take a look at the specifications of the G.SKILL F3-8500CL7D-8GBSQ DDR3 SODIMM memory, as obtained from the manufacturer's website:
Type: Notebook Memory
CAS Latency: 7-7-7-20
Capacity: 2GB (2GBx1) / 4GB (2GBx2) / 4GB (4GBx1) / 8GB (4GBx2)
Speed: DDR3-1066 (PC3-8500)
Voltage: 1.5 V
PCB: 6 Layers
Error Checking: Non-ECC
Type: 204-pin SODIMM
CPU-Z Memory tab screenshot with the G.SKILL F3-8500CL7D-8GBSQ 2x4GB memory kit installed in our test system. As the specifications indicate, the PC3-8500 RAM runs at 533MHz at 7-7-7-20 timings. Our system had no problems detecting the memory, and booting up, right out of the box.