G.Skill Ares F3-1600C8Q-16GAB 4x4GB Review (Page 2 of 10)

Page 2 - A Closer Look, Installation, Test System

The G.Skill Ares F3-1600C8Q-16GAB 4x4GB takes on a completely new heatsink design compared to other memory product lines from the company. The blue aluminum heatspreaders cover a slick black printed circuit board; carrying a low height profile for maximum compatibility. Aluminum is lightweight, and serves as a decent heat conductor, while lack of teeth at the top compared to the Ripjaws will ensure that the Ares will fit neatly under any aftermarket heatsink. Generally speaking, it is only negligibly taller than modules with no heatspreaders at all. This is especially useful for systems equipped with side mounted CPU heatsink fans adjacent to the memory slots, so the G.Skill Ares can piggy-back off the generated airflow without interfering with anything. Whether you like to call it marketing gimmick or whatnot, it is almost impossible nowadays to find performance memory without any form of a heatspreader attached, haha. They do undeniably serve a purpose in dissipating heat, but for most memory modules, unless run at a voltage significantly over designed voltages -- which you won't, special thanks to integrated memory controllers on Intel processors -- this feature is certainly not a requirement. But I will admit they look pretty cool in any windowed chassis.

The heatspreader design of the G.Skill Ares modules is symmetrical, which is fairly logical because memory ICs reside on both sides of the PCB. Besides functional purposes, it also improves the look. A mid-sized label is applied over the center of both sides of the heatspreader; with G.Skill's logo near the western edge, and 'Ares' branding on the eastern edge, both printed in white. A distinct stylized pattern is embossed into the surface of the blue heatspreaders, as shown in our image above. Meanwhile, a specification label covers over the branding label on one side of each module. It lists the kit name (G.Skill Ares F3-1600C8Q-16GAB 4x4GB), frequency, latencies, bandwidth, voltage, and the module's memory capacity. The serial number underneath the bar consists of a long string of numeric characters; the last digit is consecutive to the value listed on the other module to indicate that they come from the same box. Our particular unit is manufactured in February 2012.

As you can see more clearly in our photo above, the G.Skill Ares has a very nice black PCB. Meanwhile, its heatspreader on top is composed of two separate pieces, which are interlinked by the two clips at the top near the edges. The heatspreader is held to the module itself by a strip of thermally conductive adhesive, and each half part of the heatsink is aligned by a reciprocating teeth. The adhesive force between the two heatspreader and memory ICs are not particularly strong, so the user can easily take them off with bare hands without risking any damage to their memory modules.

From our above photo, it should also be clearer on how the heatspreaders are designed. The Ares heatspreaders are completely flat at the top for a low profile design, and meets its corresponding clip from the other half piece at the top for a complete symmetrical design. Since the custom shaped heatspreaders are made out of very thin aluminum, it does not hold a lot of heat, therefore dissipates heat energy relatively quickly into the surrounding environment. Despite using very thin aluminum, the heatspreader does not extend significantly beyond the area of the PCB, so there is nothing to be bent accidentally. In the end, if you are going to be pushing your system to the limits with high memory voltages, the heatspreaders may be beneficial to improve system stability and overclocking potential (But you probably won't, thanks to Intel as aforementioned). On the other hand, since you will probably never need to remove them due to its low profile design, the fact that the RAM will function just fine without the heatspreaders is certainly not anything of our concern at this point.

A closer look at the memory chips on the G.Skill Ares F3-1600C8Q-16GAB 4x4GB quad channel memory kit. The photo above should be quite clear -- it says "H5TQ2G83CFR" on each IC. These are Hynix manufactured chips, with eight 256MB chips on each side for a total of 4GB on each DIMM. As mentioned on the previous page, these RAM modules run at a frequency of DDR3-1600 with 8-8-8-24 latencies at 2T command rate. They operate at a stock voltage of 1.5V, which is a bit lower than the Core i3/i5/i7 maximum safe limit of 1.65V. Here is a table of specifications for the ICs, as obtained from Hynix's website:

- VDD=VDDQ=1.5V +/- 0.075V
- Fully differential clock inputs (CK, /CK) operation
- Differential Data Strobe (DQS, /DQS)
- On chip DLL align DQ, DQS and /DQS transition with CK transition
- DM masks write data-in at the both rising and falling edges of the data strobe
- All addresses and control inputs except data, data strobes and data masks latched on the rising edges of the clock
- Programmable CAS latency 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 supported
- Programmable additive latency 0, CL-1, and CL-2 supported
- Programmable CAS Write latency (CWL) = 5, 6, 7, 8
- Programmable burst length 4/8 with both nibble sequential and interleave mode
- BL switch on the fly
- 8banks
- Average Refresh Cycle(Tcase of 0 oC~ 95 oC)
- - 7.8 µs at 0oC ~ 85 oC
- - 3.9 µs at 85oC ~ 95 oC
- Auto Self Refresh supported
- JEDEC standard 78ball FBGA(x4/x8)
- Driver strength selected by EMRS
- Dynamic On Die Termination supported
- Asynchronous RESET pin supported
- ZQ calibration supported
- TDQS (Termination Data Strobe) supported (x8 only)
- Write Levelization supported
- 8 bit pre-fetch
- This product in compliance with the RoHS directive.

Our test configuration as follows. Unfortunately, we don't have an X79 based system for testing true quad channel performance, so we will be testing the G.Skill Ares RAM in a Sandy Bridge dual channel setup:

CPU: Intel Core i5-2405S
CPU Cooling: Thermaltake Frio (Noctua NF-F12 PWM)
Motherboard: ASUS P8P67 PRO
Graphics: Gigabyte Radeon HD 6870 1GB SOC
Chassis: Lian Li PC-Z60 (Noctua NF-P12 PWM)
Storage OCZ Vertex 2 160GB 25nm; Western Digital Scorpio Blue 500GB
Power: Cooler Master Silent Pro Hybrid 1050W
Sound: Auzentech X-Fi Bravura
Optical Drive: LiteOn iHAS224-06 24X DVD Writer
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Professional SP1 x64

Compared Hardware:
- G.Skill Ares F3-1600C8Q-16GAB 4x4GB @ DDR3-1600 8-8-8-24
- G.Skill Ripjaws F3-12800CL7D-8GBRH 2x4GB @ DDR3-1600 7-8-7-24
- G.Skill Ripjaws-X F3-14900CL9D-8GBXL 2x4GB @ DDR3-1866 9-10-9-28
- G.Skill Ripjaws-X F3-17000CL9D-8GBXLD 2x4GB @ DDR3-2133 9-11-9-28
- G.Skill Sniper F3-12800CL9D-8GBSR2 2x4GB @ DDR3-1600 9-9-9-24
- Kingston HyperX KHX1600C9D3X2K2/8GX 2x4GB @ DDR3-1600 9-9-9-27
- Patriot Viper Xtreme Division 2 PC3-15000 2x4GB @ DDR3-1866 9-11-9-27

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. A Closer Look, Installation, Test System
3. Benchmark: AIDA64 CPU
4. Benchmark: AIDA64 FPU
5. Benchmark: AIDA64 Memory
6. Benchmark: PCMark 7
7. Benchmark: 3DMark 11
8. Benchmark: PassMark PerformanceTest 7.0
9. Benchmark: SuperPI 1M, Cinebench R11.5
10. Overclocking and Conclusion