DDR4 on Z170 reviews

DDR4 has been around for quite a while now, finding a home in countless X99 motherboards. But with new Z170 options, the need for powerful yet affordable DDR4 is much greater.

Fortunately, prices have been steadily dropping and it’s possible to get 8GB of reasonably-fast DDR4 for as little as $100.

The latest RAM on the market is optimised for use in Z170 motherboards, but that doesn’t mean older DDR4 won’t work. The newer kits tend to be cheaper, but if you already own DDR4 then it should be good to go.

For some motherboard/RAM combinations you might need to enter the RAM timings manually. Otherwise, make sure you enable the XMP profile and update to the latest BIOS for the best compatibility.

Thanks to the better memory controller on Intel’s Skylake CPUs, you can also expect to be able to run DDR4 at much higher frequencies than on older systems.

When comparing RAM, both the frequency and CAS latency needs to be taken into account. The performance increase from a bump in MHz can be negated by a higher latency, as well as give different advantages for varying memory use.

For uses such as gaming, the sweet spot is between 2666MHz and 3000MHz, with latencies as low as possible. Anything faster and the tiny bit of extra performance is arguably not worth the extra cost unless you have a specific use for all that memory bandwidth.

With current prices, dropping down to lower-frequency DDR4 reduces performance but actually saves very little money.




XPG Z1_01_GD_300dpiBreaking from the usual tradition of black, black and more black, the ADATA XPG DDR4 modules stand out.

Aimed at gamers, the dual channel RAM is rated from 2133 MHz all the way up to 3333 MHz. Each speed has a range of timings available, and comes in 8GB or 16GB kits.

The slower DDR4 is sheathed in red, rather than cold, but still adds a little bling to a new Z170 system. In our test bench is the dual channel 16GB 3000 MHz DDR4, with timings of 16-16-16-36 at 1.35v.

Performance is excellent across our benchmark suite and is a solid choice for gamers.

For larger capacities, you need to upgrade to a quad channel kit, available with the same timings and frequencies, but up to a 32GB capacity. Going all out is hard on the wallet though, and a 2800 MHz (the fastest currently available) 32GB kit costs around $700.

If you want a more budget friendly DDR4 option, ADATA also has an upcoming Premier DDR4 lineup.

Verdict: A safe bet with middle of the road performance and price.

Price: $240

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Apacer Commando

Commando DDR4_2_HIUnlike the normal (and sometimes boring) DDR4 heat spreaders, the Apacer Commando lives up to its name with an assault rifle shaped “tactical” outline and highlights.

No doubt it doesn’t cool any better than options, it does stand out.

More important perhaps is that the Commando on hand runs at 2800 MHz, though is also available in 2400, 2666, 3000, 3200 MHz modules.

You can also get it in in 8GB (as tested) or 16GB dual channel kits, though at the time of writing it was not yet available for sale.

The Commando has ok but not top notch 17-17-17-36 timings at 1.35v, and supports Intel XMP 2.0 standards. If you want faster timings or larger capacities, you need to move across to the Apacer Commando quad channel kits.

The RRP of $169 is a little above the competition, so keep an eye out for the retailers offering the best prices.

Verdict: A little pricey for the performance, but keep an eye out for price drops.

Price: $169
From: Apacer

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Corsair Vengeance LPX

VENG_LPX_DDR4_K_HERO@300Hidden under a chunky black heat spreader, the Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 hums along at 2666 MHz with 16-18-18-35 timings at 1.2v.

Our test RAM consists of a dual channel 8GB (2x 4GB) kit, though the Vengeance is also available in a huge number of other options.

At the tested frequency the Corsair RAM is one of the cheaper options available and still offers compelling performance with a little headroom for overclocking. You can also get the DDR4 in up to 3200 MHz, with 16-18-18-36 timings at 1.35v.

Even better the price premium is about $10, though the performance difference is likewise quite small.

For around double the price you can get a dual channel 16GB (2x 8GB) kit instead, with the same frequency and timings. Another option is the quad channel kits (4x 16GB), though these don’t offer as good a price per GB.

For larger 32GB quad channel Vengeance kits, expect to pay near $4000 for 2400MHz, or $600 for 2800MHz.

Verdict: Affordable, yet with enough performance to make it a worthy choice.

Price: $110
From: Corsair

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Crucial Ballistix Elite

crucial-ballistix-elite-ddr4Not that we recommend manhandling your RAM too much, but the Ballistix Elite has a chunky, high quality feel. In particular, the heat spreader is thick and screwed rather than pressed onto the RAM.

Hidden underneath is 16GB (2x 8GB) of 2666 MHz RAM with 16-17-17-36 timings. You can also get the Crucial RAM in 8GB (2x 4GB) options, but the value is not as good.

For the same price as the dual channel, you can grab a quad channel 2666MHz 16GB (4x 4GB) kit, or shell out an extra $220 to upgrade to 32GB (4x 8GB).

Unlike some of the competition with endless options, the Crucial DDR4 is only available running at 2666 MHz. On the plus side, there is headroom there to gain some extra speed through overclocking.

All in all, considering the slightly slower frequency, the Elite gave some of the best performance of the RAM tested. Of course it does also command a slight price premium over some of the lesser competition, but it’s worth the cost.

Verdict: Strong performance and features for a very slight price premium.

Price: $235
From: Crucial

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Geil Super Luce

20155221114303057Amongst the endless sea of black RAM heat spreaders is the occasional flash of colour, but Geil take it a step further with built in lighting available in white red or blue.

Running across the top of the DDR4 is translucent plastic that’s backlit by LEDs. A glow or flash would be cool, but Geil took it even further again by coupling the lights up to a temperature sensor that pulses faster the hotter the DDR4 gets.

The RAM itself runs at 3000 MHz, with 16-16-16-36 timings at 1.35v. It’s a dual channel 8GB (2x 4GB) kit, though it’s also available as 16GB (2x 8GB) for around double the price.

Those who want quad channel don’t have a lot of choice, with only pricey $300 16GB (4x 4GB) 3000 MHz or $369 3400 MHz kits available.

As tested at 8GB, the Geil DDR4 is actually the cheapest 3000 MHz kit available in our roundup, despite the fact it offers decent timings and great overall performance.

Verdict: A good buy even if you don’t need temperature controlled lighting.

Price: $120
From: Geil

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

G.Skill Ripjaws V Series

in1009134502@2xThe Ripjaws V series attempts to walk the line between affordability and performance, yet also gives peace of mind with a lifetime warranty.

We got hands on with the mid-range option, clocking it at 3000 MHz. The kit consists of two 4GB dims, though at this speed it’s also available at up to 64GB.

The DDR4 has nice tight 15-15-15-35 timings running at 1.35v, and gives excellent performance for the price.

Our test sample is topped by a red aluminium heat spreader, but if you don’t like the colour, you can even get it in black, red, silver or gray.

The RAM is quite low profile, so won’t impact large CPU coolers.

As tested the Ripjaws V series is quite affordable considering the performance. 16GB will set you back an extra $100 or so, while the 32GB kit is available for $440.

If you want the super high end 3600 MHz RAM, be prepared to shell out $1300. In contrast, the slowest 2133 MHz kit is just $80.

Verdict: Plenty of bang without having to spend too much.

Price: $135
From: G.Skill

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Kingston HyperX Fury

HyperX FURY DDR4_HyperX_FURY_DDR4_DIMM_1_hr_26_01_2015 12_58Clad in slimline black, the Kingston HyperX Fury DDR4 series is available in kits from 8GB all the way up to 64GB. We tested the 8GB 16GB kit, which has a fairly affordable price of $15 a GB.

The Fury DDR4 is available in 2133 MHz, 2400MHz and 2666MHz speed, with the latter of the three in our test bench.

The Kingston RAM sports excellent 15-17-17-35 timing and even better, these are at the minimum 1.2v.

The sleek low profile asymmetrical black heat spreaders won’t be an issue for CPU cooler installations.

No surprises here – the HyperX Fury performs very well, and manages some of the better scores in amongst the RAM tested. Of course it is slightly more expensive than some of the competition too.

The Fury DDR4 starts at around $125 for 8GB, and ranges up to $450 if you want 64GB – though no 64GB is yet available. Dropping back to 2400 and 2133 MHz in the 16GB kit will cost $200 and $175 respectively.

Verdict: Top notch performance without blowing out the budget.

Price: $210
From: Kingston

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Kingston HyperX Predator

HyperX_Predator_DIMM_1_B_hrUnlike the newer Z170 focused DDR4 offerings, the HyperX Predator was launched for use with X99 boards.

It’s no slouch though, with a 3000 MHz frequency and great 15-16-16-39 timings. You can also get slower 2133MHz Predator RAM, or all the usual steps in between. Capacities range from 16GB up to a massive 64GB.

Performance is quite good (especially for gaming), though the RAM does like behind the newer Fury DDR4 in some benchmarks.

The Predator does have a sizeable heat spreader, though it’s not likely to be a problem for the vast majority of cooler motherboard combinations.

You can pick up the slower 2133MHz Predator DDR4 for around $290, but there isn’t much point going for the 2800 or 2666 MHz options, as they only save a few dollars at best over the faster RAM.

The Predator has a relatively high cost per GB, but if you can get some for a good price, it’s a capable performer. The Predator RAM is also backed by lifetime warranty like the Fury.

Verdict: Keep an eye out for bargains, otherwise opt for the newer Fury.

Price: $350
From: Kingston

Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Silicon Power DDR4

SPPR_DDR4-2133 UDIMM_ProductA high end gaming PC with the fastest possible RAM is great and all, but sometimes it’s necessary to build a more down to earth machine, or drop some new RAM in an old motherboard after upgrading.

The Silicon Power DDR4 isn’t flashy – just plain memory chips on a standard green PCB.

Currently in Australia it is available as an 8GB (2x 4GB) or 16GB (2x 8GB) dual channel kit, running at 2133 MHz.

In our test bench are the two 4GB modules, which have nice tight 15-15-15-36 timings at 1.2v. While slower than the competition, the Silicon Power DDR4 is also a lot cheaper and offers great bang for buck.

It is possible to push the RAM faster, but you need to loosen the timings and not that much is really gained.

On the plus side, the Silicon Power DDR4 is backed by a lifetime warranty. The company also produces quad channel kits, of 16 and 32GB, but these are not yet for sale locally.

Verdict: Not the fastest DDR4 available, but certainly the cheapest.

Price: $85
From: Silicon Power

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

  • Sajid Khan