Corsair Vengeance Racing Red 16GB

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 Corsair Vengeance Racing Red 16GB

Not only is a new extreme/enthusiast Intel platform a boon for motherboard manufacturers, it’s also very good news for the memory manufacturers. It’s been a long time since the memory guys had any good news, so the fact that the X79 platform comes with a special quad-channel memory configuration is great. Isn’t it?

Corsair thinks so, and has released a new lineup of RAM modules set up for the platform. The latest range of quad-channel Vengeance kits are rated at 1,866MHz out of the box, with full XMP 1.3 compliance built in.

Like the G.Skill RipJawsZ kit, the XMP 1.3 makes for a slightly tighter integration of the use of memory profiling to make setting clockspeeds, latencies and voltages correctly for any supporting motherboard.

Memory matters

The difficulty for companies such as Corsair is that these days, memory actually makes little difference at the top end. The performance difference between a decent 1,600MHz kit and a pacier 1,866MHz bumper pack is small, especially at this thick end of the memory capacity wedge.

With 16GB of DDR3 jammed into your machine, whether it’s running at 1,600MHz or 1,866MHz, it’s going to be going like a greased weasel down a slide. The difference in gaming is negligible – for example, there was just one frame in it with our World in Conflict benchmark, which can easily be put down to simple testing variance.

More immediately obvious is the difference in actual memory bandwidth. The Corsair Vengeance Racing Red kit manages a whopping 42GB/s against the 1,600MHz G.Skill kit’s 38GB/s. Even at the lowest ebb, you’re still getting great numbers.

In overclocking terms, the Corsair kit was rock-solid at its rated frequency in our Sandy Bridge E tests, easily getting up to the same 4.8GHz overclock that the G.Skill kit managed. Neither kit will bat above its rated speeds though. As hard as we tried, we couldn’t push the Vengeance Racing Red modules up to the next point, 2,133MHz. But really that’s just willy-waving. Such speeds don’t give you a huge amount of extra real-world performance for your money.

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

Video encoding performance
X264 v4.0: FPS: Higher is better
Corsair Vengeance: 55
G.Skill RipJaws-Z: 55

Memory bandwidth
SiSoft Sandra: GB/S: Higher is better
Corsair Vengeance: 42
G.Skill RipJaws-Z: 38

Gaming performance
WiC: FPS: Higher is better
Corsair Vengeance: 112
G.Skill RipJaws-Z: 111

And therein lies the rub. This Corsair kit is on the market for around £133 at the time of writing, whereas the slightly slower G.Skill kit can be picked up for less than a ton. Is the extra performance really going to be worth the cash you’re stumping up for the extra clockspeed?

As a gamer, the answer will most likely be no. Realistically for us PC gaming folk, even the G.Skill kit is probably overkill, and speeding up those modules won’t give you much extra either.

For Photoshop obsessives and video manipulation junkies, £133 for 16GB of superfast DDR3 probably isn’t a bad deal. But that’s a bit of a niche market for such an enthusiast product. None of that can take away from the fact that these Corsair modules run perfectly at their rated specs, happily keeping the system ticking over during all the overclocking.

But as we’ve said, it’s a niche product. Most of us wont need the heights of this kit, though the same could easily be said of the whole Sandy Bridge E platform. So, in for a penny and all that…

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Review: Asus U36J

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Review: Asus U36J

Asus’ attempt at an ultraportable laptop might not have made the same splash in the technology world as Apple, Sony or Dell, but the U36J has a couple of good features that make it a likeable alternative, and the perfect accompaniment to the daily commute or a weekend away.

Outwardly, the U36J is an unassuming, black rectangle. In fact, the chassis is similar to that of the Sony VAIO C Series. We don’t mind the matt-black executive look, but it will put off anyone who likes a bit more colour sitting on their desk.

The 13.3-inch screen is bright and crisp, although the thick black bezel and ugly protruding hinges are slightly distracting.

Fortunately, Asus has become quite adept at giving their laptops great usability and the U36J is no exception. The isolation-style keyboard is superb, with plenty of space between keys, meaning we rarely hit the wrong keys when touch-typing. Because this is such a slim laptop, the keys are tucked in close to the chassis and there’s little travel when typing.

The touchpad has the same smooth plastic surface as the palmrests and works well. Asus has included a fingerprint scanner between the mouse buttons.

Staying power

Performance-wise, the U36J gave us some impressive results that make its low price tag even more appealing. The Intel Core i5 M460 CPU delivers 2.53GHz of speed bolstered by the 4GB of memory.

This kind of spec is great for general performance, but the integrated GPU means no heavy gaming on this laptop. But you should be able to run some older titles and do light photo editing.

tech labs

TechRadar Labs

Battery Eater ’05: 226 minutes
Cinebench: 8611
3DMark 2006: 3516

In terms of software, the U36J comes pre-loaded with around 15 native Asus applications. Although there is no optical drive, there are three USB ports, one of which is the faster USB 3.0 connection. Both an HDMI and VGA port mean you can attach a second monitor or HDTV to the U36J and an Ethernet port means you don’t have to settle for the 802.11n Wi-Fi connection. There is also an SD/MS Card slot for expanding the memory.

Two of the biggest positives we drew from the U36J though are the battery life and the price. During our intensive tests, the Asus recorded a strong score of 226 minutes, but we think that with sensible everyday usage you should easily be able to get over four hours out of this laptop and probably more if you use the included battery management software.

We’d expect to pay around £800–£900 for this type of machine, seeing as the Sony C Series and MacBook Air are both nudging a thousand pounds. Instead, you can get it for only £700.

Overall then, while this is certainly not the best ultraportable you can buy, it is the best value for money. So if your cash is tight this month, we’d recommend giving the U36J the once over at your local computer store before buying something pricier.

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Review: PC Specialist Vortex M59 OC

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Review: PC Specialist Vortex M59 OC

So PC Specialist, what have we here with the Vortex M59 OC?

An overclocked Core i5 2500K? Why, a system with a CPU specification like that puts you in some pretty illustrious company: there’s Chillblast’s Fusion Rocket for starters.

Chillblast’s overclocked 2500K runs at 4.5 GHz, which is 300MHz slower than this rig, but then it’s also £150 cheaper. There’s also our new favourite Core i5 system, the AT-FX Polaris. Inside that rig lies a 2500K overclocked to 4.8 GHz, matching PC Specialist’s rig. It costs nearly £300 more, but there are several luxurious higher specified components inside to justify that.

The Vortex M59 OC fits neatly in between the two at £899. It’s certainly a smart price point, but how does it compare to these two 2500K-equipped rivals? Would you be better off going for the cheaper or higher specified option, or does this rig offer a happy middle ground?

Well, let’s look at the specs beyond that CPU. First, it’s air cooled by a Titan Fenrir Evo. Approaching the £1,000 point, you might expect to see a water cooling unit, but PC Specialist has managed a big CPU overclock on air cooling, and that’s fine by us; it is a good cooling unit after all. We’ve no grumbles so far.

Next, let’s look at the memory. The Vortex has 4GB of Kingston HyperX 1,600MHz DDR3 RAM occupies this rig, and it performed very well in our memory bandwidth test, posting 20.76 GB/s, which is as quick as we’ve seen from a 4GB kit. That’ll help any CPU-intensive tasks, such as video encoding, as well as loading times.

Chillblast’s Fusion Rocket’s 4GB kit doesn’t have the throughput that these HyperX modules have, whereas up there in the Polaris’s lofty heights, there’s 8GB on offer. It still doesn’t beat the Vortex’s RAM in sheer GB/s, but having double the capacity is useful too. The RAM, like the CPU and cooler, do demonstrate a happy middle ground – so far so good.

This is a gaming rig, and gaming performance is all about graphics cards. Choosing the right card in a densely populated market is important to a system’s overall value, and those crucial frames per second in your favourite games.

PC Specialist’s solution: Nvidia’s GTX 570. In a world of rigs powered by HD 6950s and GTX 580s, the GTX 570 is a rarity. They were quite expensive on launch, just shy of £300 for a Fermi card with largely the same layout as the GTX 480 but without that insatiable thirst for electricity. Just one stream processor away from the GTX 580, the 480 CUDA cores are still capable of high resolution, high frame rates, but a reduced 1.2GB of memory leaves it trailing way behind the GTX 580’s impressive pace.

TechRadar Labs

Tech labs

DX11 tessellation performance
Heaven 2.5 Frames per second: Higher is better
Vortex M59 OC: 28
Fusion Rocket: 21.7

DX10 gaming performance
Just Cause 2 Frames per second: Higher is better
Vortex M59 OC: 60
Fusion Rocket: 40

CPU rendering performance
Cinebench R11.5 Index: Higher is better
Vortex M59 OC: 7.33
Fusion Rocket: 7.80

The price has been slashed since the GTX 570’s release, making it a very appealing – you guessed it – middle ground between the 560 Ti and the full-blown 580. Sitting in this rig, it provides enough grunt to keep frame rates over 40fps at 1080p.

Our only reservation with the Vortex is the lack of an extra that the very best systems have. There’s no SSD, the mobo is mid-range… not big problems, nor a rip-off at all, but the market is that tight.

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Review: Patriot Gamer 2 AMD Black Edition

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Review: Patriot Gamer 2 AMD Black Edition


Memory maestro Patriot has launched the Patriot Gamer 2 AMD Black Edition DDR3 4GB RAM kit specifically aimed at the AMD crowd. With the launch of AMD’s new Accelerated Processing Unit (APU), Llano, RAM is a vital performance component again.

Since the launch of Intel’s Sandy Bridge architecture, there has been a whole raft of memory modules launched claiming to be the ideal support for the new chipset. Indeed, Kingston’s HyperX Plug n Play claimed the same thing, but with, it has to said, a lot more justification than most.

Well now it’s the turn of the thorn in Intel’s side, AMD, to get some memory attention. It’s been a long time coming.

OK, compared to some of the blazingly fast modules that have been launched to support the Sandy Bridge platform, Patriot’s Gamer 2 AMD Black Edition 4GB (2 x 2GB) PC3-12800 kit may seem, well, a bit conservative to say the least. At just 1600MHz, it’s a little slow.

But even so, it does make a nice change to see a company giving some component love to AMD. Even if – marketing spiel aside – the memory will work in any modern motherboard, be it made by AMD or Intel.


Patriot gamer 2 amd black edition

We tested all the Patriot Gamer 2 AMD Black Edition memory in an Asus F1A75-V Pro motherboard using an AMD A6-3650 APU.

Once we finished testing at stock speeds, we gave it a tweak but just using its stock 1.65V voltage setting. A quick adjustment to the bus speed got us to the next step up – 1866MHz. While the system booted up Windows perfectly and ran SiSoft Sandra’s memory bandwidth benchmark without a problem, when we tried to run World in Conflict there were all sorts of issues with the game freezing.

Eventually we got it to boot and run both benchmarks without any problems at 1840MHz, which is still a pretty impressive boost over the stock speeds, especially without having to tinker with any voltages.

Patriot g2 amd black ed benches


Patriot gamer 2 amd black edition

It’s been a long time coming but the Patriot Gamer 2 AMD Black Edition and others suggest we should now see AMD platforms getting some dedicated love from memory manufacturers.

That’s mainly thanks to the new Llano platform, with its strong memory performance, and AMD’s 990FX chipset and Bulldozer combo. It’s been a very long time since AMD had a strong enough offering to entice manufacturers into putting its badge on their products.

Hopefully these new platforms will see the end of one of AMD’s annoying platform traits when it comes to overclocking – they used to be quite fussy when it came to memory running at high speeds. So the prospect of getting ultra-fast memory kits designed for AMD platforms is an interesting one.

We liked

You wouldn’t class Patriot’s Gamer 2 AMD Black Edition RAM as a world-beater, especially at its stock 1600MHz speed. That said, it has bags of potential – as we found out during testing.

Thanks to its fairly relaxed 9-9-9-24 latency settings it does overclock very nicely, even at the 1.65V stock voltage. Even though it will reach the next step up from 1600MHz – 1866MHz – we couldn’t get it to run stably while playing the game World in Conflict.

We also liked the fact that the modules are low profile. You may be wondering why that’s of any importance. Well, wait until you get a large third-party CPU cooler, which usually make the first memory slot redundant. Normally it’s impossible to get a stick of memory into the slot because of these coolers, but with the Gamer 2 AMD Black Edition module you stand a fighting chance of actually using the slot.

We disliked

There’s not much to dislike about the Patriot’s Gamer 2 AMD Black Edition. It does what it says on the tin and shows some good overclocking potential. Its stock speed out of the box is a little conservative, however.

Final verdict

It may not be the fastest memory out of the box but it does show plenty of potential for the current Llano platform and the upcoming Bulldozer technology.

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Samsung Produces 8GB DDR3 Memory Modules for Laptops

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Samsung has announced that it is mass producing 8GB DDR3 memory modules for laptops and mobile workstations.

According to Samsung, the 8GB high density 40-nanometer module operates at 1333MHz and uses 1.5 volts of power, providing “about a 67 percent savings in power consumption over 1.8V DDR2″. Also, 8GB DDR3 memory consumes 53 percent less power than two 4GB DDR3 modules.

The fist laptop with Samsung’s new memory is the Dell Precision M6500 mobile workstation which features up to four 8GB SoDIMM modules for a total of 32GB RAM.

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Super Talent Announces Overclocked 4GB Laptop RAM at 1600MHz

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Super Talent has announced it is currently manufacturing the world’s first over-clocked 4GB laptop memory modules running at 1600MHz.

The new SO-DIMM modules are designed for use in gaming notebooks and mobile workstations.

“While several manufactures are shipping DDR3 SO-DIMMs, used in laptops and notebooks, supporting clock speeds of 1333 MHz, Super Talent’s has moved beyond this limitation and produced a DDR3 SO-DIMM capable of over-clocking to an incredible 1600 MHz,” the press release says.

According to the company, the new 4GB DDR3 SO-DIMM was tested conducted in the HP Envy 17-1011NR 17″ laptop.

There’s no word on pricing and availability.

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