HP Envy 14 Spectre

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 HP Envy 14 Spectre

Overview

The HP Envy 14 Spectre is the latest and best-named Ultrabook to hit the shelves, and with the combined draw of HP’s premium Envy range, and Dr Dre’s urban cool Beats brand, it’s going to be very hard to ignore.

We’re well into the Ultrabook race by now and we’ve already been impressed by the Asus Zenbook UX31, Acer Aspire S3 and most recently by the Dell XPS 13, perhaps the toughest rival that the HP Envy 14 Spectre faces in the battle for our hard-earned pennies.

And HP’s newest baby is taking an interesting approach to the competition by being less concerned with a size zero frame. The HP Envy 14 Spectre is 20mm thin, and weighs 1.8kg – hefty for an Ultrabook.

But the slight bulk enables it to throw around some extra connectivity and features that other Ultrabooks, perhaps save the Toshiba Satellite Z830, can’t match.

Hands on: hp envy 14 spectre review

Of course, before we start dreamily idolising this shiny new offering, there are a couple of points that need to be looked at. Firstly, the fact that the HP is built around an Intel Core i5-2467M processor, rather than the Core i7 CPUs on offer inside the likes of the Dell and Acer mean that for all its bulk, the Spectre lacks power.

You might also be forgiven for thinking that this lower-spec processor will have a pleasing effect on the price of the computer. Not so.

The HP Envy 14 Spectre costs a sphincter-tightening £1,100 in the UK, and $1,400 in the US. That’s a clear £200 more expensive than the Dell, and in these hardened times; a penny saved is a penny earned… or something.

But before you click away in disgust, there are a number of excellent features that the HP Envy 14 Spectre has to offer, and we have to say that it’s one of the best-looking Ultrabooks we’ve yet seen. Clearly a lot of time and effort has gone into its design and development.

Specifications

HP envy 14 spectre review

Shunning the aluminium silver outer design favoured by other Ultrabooks such as the Dell XPS 13 or the Acer Aspire S3, the HP Envy 14 Spectre boasts a black Gorilla Glass lid with a slick, glossy finish. Adding the final touch is the bright HP logo nestled in the corner.

Although it looks great, the inevitable downside is that the surface of the lid will quickly attract dust and smudgy fingerprints – more so than any other Ultrabook we’ve seen.

A backlit, isolation-style keyboard lurks underneath, and is one of the most comfortable we’ve used on an Ultrabook. The greater depth of the chassis gives a better travel to the keys, and the result is comfy typing all day long.

HP envy 14 spectre review

A neat trick is the ability of the keyboard to sense your proximity, and dim itself when you move away from the laptop, saving power.

Of course, any discussion of the Spectre’s features starts and ends with the Beats audio. The speakers do a decent job of producing a rich, full sound – but slap a pair of Beats headphones on and you’re ready to experience the best sound we’ve heard from an Ultrabook since the Bang & Olufsen-packing Asus Zenbook UX31.

Anyone who has used any of HP’s other laptops, including the Envy and Pavilion ranges, will be at home with the extra choice Beats gives you.

You can open up a control panel to tweak all aspects of the Envy 14 Spectre’s audio performance. There are also several bonus modes to take advantage of, such as noise and echo cancellation.

HP envy 14 spectre review

The HP Envy 14 Spectre also features a small Beats-branded clickwheel on the chassis that enables you to quickly alter the volume of the speakers.

Arguably, the HP Envy 14 Spectre’s 14-inch screen should get as much praise as the Beats audio. The 1600 x 900 pixel resolution is a step up from other Ultrabooks such as the Lenovo IdeaPad U300S, and we marvelled at the crystal clear high-definition visuals.

Not only that, but the HP Envy 14 Spectre has a tiny bezel, allowing the 14-inch screen to sit nicely inside a 13.3-inch chassis.

Performance

HP envy 14 spectre review

TechRadar Labs

TechRadar labs

Cinebench 10: 7, 336
3D Mark ’06: 3, 377
Battery Eater ’05: 206 minutes

Ultrabooks are all members of the Sandy Bridge family, and the HP Envy 14 Spectre is built around an Intel Core i5-2467M CPU operating at 1.60GHz and 4GB RAM.

It’s not the fastest or highest-spec chip we’ve seen in an Ultrabook, and rivals will triumph on raw power. This is reflected in the Cinebench scores we recorded, in which the Spectre posted less than rivals including the Acer Aspire S3.

But general day-to-day use is unaffected, and the HP Envy 14 Spectre kept up with our multitasking needs. In part a justification for the higher price tag is that both Adobe’s Premier Elements and Photoshop Elements editing suites come preinstalled, and ran perfectly when we tried a spot of on-the-fly photo editing.

Unfortunately, though, we had a lot of problems with the trackpad. It was responsive enough when moving the cursor, but the integrated mouse buttons were a pain to use. We appreciate the nicer look of integrated buttons, but the irritation of repeated clicks to select and execute slightly tarnishes the overall experience.

HP envy 14 spectre review

Although the HP Envy 14 Spectre can cope with the demanding graphical performance of video editing, or running several intensive websites at once, don’t buy this expecting a gaming platform.

The integrated GPU is powerful enough, thanks to the Sandy Bridge heritage, but it won’t be boasting the latest Assassin’s Creed title.

We don’t know what the thought process was behind naming this laptop the Spectre, but it could be to do with the almost silent way in which it goes about its business, thanks to the SSD drive and its lack of moving parts.

The Spectre remained cool to the touch during operation and, like other Ultrabooks, is available with either a 256GB or 128GB SSD internal hard drive.

According to HP, the Envy 14 Spectre will offer you a reasonable nine hours of battery life. We ran our high-stress benchmarking tests and recorded an impressive score of 206 minutes.

Avoid our brute force attack on the battery and you should have no trouble getting through a day without the company of the AC adaptor. Just keep the volume down.

Verdict

HP envy 14 spectre review

We see the HP Envy 14 Spectre as being the ‘cool kid’ of the Ultrabook class, with its Beats audio branding, high resolution 14-inch screen and Gorilla Glass casing. It’s a highly usable laptop, with only the integrated click buttons on the touchpad giving us grief.

We liked

At first, we had worries about the slightly chunkier casing, but this was tempered by the joy we felt when we spotted the HDMI port and Ethernet port that HP has included on the chassis. We’ve lamented the lack of connectivity on other Ultrabooks, and having the option for a wired internet connection and the use of an external monitor is music to our ears.

On the subject of music, this is undoubtedly the Ultrabook for media enthusiasts. The screen is gloriously crisp and the extra audio technology on board gives you options to tweak and alter the sound to get your albums sounding the way you want. Invest in a decent pair of headphones or an amplifier and you can make this your sole media machine.

We disliked

Ultrabooks are meant to be light, airy and portable computers. By any other laptop standards, the HP Envy 14 Spectre is a classy ultra-portable. But, when you put it up against the other Ultrabooks, it’s inescapably bulky.

It just comes in under the weight limit set out in Intel’s specifications for Ultrabooks, and business users might be more swayed by the svelt curves of the Dell XPS 13 or the functionality of the Toshiba Satellite Z830.

We also got increasingly frustrated with the integrated click buttons on the touchpad. We know the overall effect is a nicer aesthetic, but unfortunately the usability suffers as a result. Often we would just rely on the double-tap to select files and launch programs instead.

Final verdict

We’re deep into the second round of Ultrabook releases by now, and we feel the HP Envy 14 Spectre sits alongside the Dell XPS 13 at the top of the heap. But these are two different machines with different focuses.

The HP Envy 14 Spectre is the most media-centred Ultrabook, with a larger 14-inch screen, 1600 x 900 pixel resolution and Beats audio technology. But it won’t win over fans looking for performance and portability, due to the lower spec processor and bulky Gorilla Glass chassis.

If you can overcome the steep asking price then the HP Envy 14 Spectre is a well-built and stylish way to transport and enjoy your music, movies and do a spot of image editing.

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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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Intel Core i7 3930K

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 Intel Core i7 3930K

Overview

The Intel Core i7 3930K is the cheaper alternative to the top-end Sandy Bridge E processor. But then many second hand cars are cheaper than the top-end Sandy Bridge E processor.

At nearly £500 it’s still an expensive CPU, but currently it’s the only LGA 2011 processor worth a look.

The Intel Core i7 3960X, that top-end Sandy Bridge E, is a positively preposterous processor. For in excess of £800, you get a chip that’s not substantially quicker than Intel’s own Core i7 980X of two years ago.

Not at stock clocks, at least. Admittedly, the Core i7 3960X does overclock very nicely indeed and in doing so opens up a gap from ye olde 980X.

But we’ve reviewed the 3960X elsewhere and deemed it disappointing, moderately sinister (it’s prima facie evidence of Intel carpet bagging in response to AMD’s failure to bring out a really quick chip) and largely irrelevant to human existence.

This then is the Intel Core i7 3930K and it’s not the same chip. Not precisely, anyway.

Benchmarks

You can see below just how small a gap, in performance terms, there is between the i7 3960X and the i7 3930K.

It’s also interesting just how close the latest traditional Sandy Bridge chip, the Intel Core i7 2700K, is in general performance terms too, especially in gaming and single-threaded speeds.

3D rendering performance

Intel core i7 3930k

Intel core i7 3930k

Video encoding performance

Intel core i7 3930k

CPU gaming performance

Intel core i7 3930k

Verdict

Yes, this Core i7 3930K is based on the same, quite colossal 2.27 billion transistor chip, known as Sandy Bridge E. So, it shares most of the same specifications as the Core i7 3960X. That starts with six cores in Intel’s latest Sandy Bridge-generation idiom.

Next up we have a new memory controller no fewer than four (yes four, count ’em) channels.

Intel core i7 3930k

Intel’s previous high end processors sported a triple channel memory controller. Even that looked like overkill for a desktop processor. Four channels is getting silly and merely serves to underline the real reason the new Core i7 exists.

It’s a thinly disguised server chip.

Whatever the merits of the quad channel controller, it forces the use of a new socket, the monumental LGA 2011. If nothing else, you are getting a satisfyingly massive chip for your money.

What’s more, thanks to the ‘K’ on the end of Intel Core i7 3930K, this lower priced alternative to the Intel Core i7 3960X gets the full unlocked treatment and also benefits from the newly introduced CPU strap, the better to make overclocking a bit more flexible.

At this stage, you may be wondering what on earth the difference actually is.

The answer is twofold. Firstly it’s clocked infinitesimally lower – 3.2GHz instead of 3.6GHz, along with a commensurate climb down in the maximum Turbo speed to 3.8GHz. The other bit is less L3 cache memory to the tune of 3MB. The 3930K makes do with 12MB.

Frankly, both of these compromises in the name of cost savings fall into the ‘who cares?’ category.

In terms of desktop computing, neither is going to make a blind bit of difference to experience your PC delivers. That’s reflected in benchmarks that are barely any slower. Even better, the 3930K overclocks very nearly as well as the 3960X. Again the gap is just 100MHz, 4.8GHz on airs plays 4.9GHz.

So, here’s the best bit. The 3930K costs over £300 less.

OK, £500 is still a big ask. But the difference in price alone is enough to buy a half decent desktop PC or a cheap laptop.

The point, then, is that this cheaper Sandy Bridge E gives you everything the top chip delivers for a lot less money.

There’s absolutely no reason to spend. We’re not completely convinced even this truly means the Intel Core i7 3930K is good value for money, but it’s still a very fast processor and the chip we’d buy if we had a big budget.

We liked:

The fact that you’re getting almost the same sort of performance out of this £500 Sandy Bridge E as the £850 Core i7 3960X makes it a more intriguing prospect.

The other boon of the Core i7 3930K is that it’s got the same huge amount of overclocking headroom sitting in that CPU package. You can reach extraordinary speeds out of this architecture.

We disliked:

As it’s still based on the same architecture as the Core i7 3960X it’s also got the same flaws, namely that it’s actually an eight-core CPU with a couple of cores turned off.

And despite the fact it’s over £300 cheaper than the top end chip, the Core i7 3930K is still an incredibly pricey processor.

Final word:

Much better value than the 3960X. The obvious choice if you’re thinking of the LGA 2011 platform.

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Asus Zenbook UX21

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 Asus Zenbook UX21

Overview 


The Asus Zenbook UX21 is the first 11-inch ultrabook to hit the shelves, joining the likes of the Acer Aspire S3 and its bigger brother, the Asus Zenbook UX31.

It expands the lineup of the new breed of super light and thin laptops, which has been nurtured by Intel. The ultrabook market is quickly expanding, with the Lenovo IdeaPad U300 and Toshiba Portege Z830 expected at the end of November.

The Asus Zenbook UX21 brings the exceptional power of the Intel Ultrabook to the small form laptop market, making it a different proposition to any existing netbook.

There’s Sandy Bridge power for starters, and power to match any full form laptop, but Asus has condensed all this technology into the smallest of chassis.

Asus zenbook ux21 review

Of course, comparisons will be immediately drawn with the Apple MacBook Air, which is one of the best ultra-portable laptops money can buy, and these two 11-inch portables are very closely matched.

The Asus Zenbook UX21 matches the Apple MacBook Air in every respect. It’s just as well-built, made out of a single piece of aluminium, just as light and oozes the same head-turning style and class that makes people cast admiring glances while you work in public.

It has the same Intel Core i5 low voltage 1.6GHz processor, and a 128GB solid state hard drive, which keeps the system really responsive and fast.

While they’ve slashed the size of this waif- Ultrabook, and retaining some top class tech, Asus has created the best netbook ever made.

Specifications

Asus zenbook ux21 review

Despite being only 11 inches in size, this netbook-sized ultrabook doesn’t scrimp on power. Under the Asus Zenbook UX21’s hood there’s a low-voltage Sandy Bridge Intel Core i5 2467M processor, clocked at 1.6GHz.

Despite only having a clock speed of 1.6GHz, the low voltage Core i5 still packs plenty of power, and there are four cores to make mincemeat out of most tasks.

The Asus Zenbook UX21 has a few more tricks up its sleeve. It has 4GB of RAM, (the MacBook Air has just 2GB) and a 128GB SSD card that aids performance. And at £849, it’s a whopping £150 cheaper.

Asus zenbook ux21 review

The Asus Zenbook UX21 is a Windows machine, so there’s no sleek OS X 10.7 Lion, should you have a preference, and there’s no superfast Thunderbolt port, but one of the two USB ports is the brand new USB 3.0 standard.

This whole package weighs just 1.2kg and measures just 9mm at its thickest point, making it frighteningly portable yet strong.

It’s clear from the outset that the Asus Zenbook UX21 has the right to rival the Apple MacBook Air, and the build quality is superb.

Asus zenbook ux21 review

The aluminium body offers no flex, the lid rises smoothly from the body, the keys are tactile, comfortably spaced and easy to type on despite being on a netbook-sized portable laptop, and it’s comfortable to type on, although the reduced size did lead to more mistakes than a standard-sized laptop.

If you spend most of your day bashing out long documents, then you would probably want to opt for the Asus Zenbook UX21’s larger 13-inch cousin, the UX31, or the excellent Acer Aspire S3, which is available for £699 for the Intel Core i5 model.

The screen looks fantastic for such a small laptop, and it’s ideal for watching movies while you’re on the move. Colours were vibrant, the picture sharp, and this makes the Asus Zenbook UX21 a great media machine for regular business travellers who need a functional machine when they reach their destination.

Asus zenbook ux21 review

One bugbear we had is with the Asus Zenbook UX21’s trackpad. For an 11.6-inch laptop, it’s well sized and smooth, but it’s extremely sensitive. This led to some chaotic moments, where clicks were registered accidentally, so things were dragged accidentally.

This is one area where the MacBook Air prevails, and its multi-touch track pad is smart enough to work out what you’re trying to do, and is seamlessly integrated with every part of the operating system.

Asus zenbook ux21 review

We were impressed to find a handy protective sleeve in the package, because the brushed metal will scratch easily, but it will do little to help protect against crushes or bangs, so it’s worth upgrading to something more durable.

Performance

Asus zenbook ux21 review

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

Cinebench 10: 7297
3D Mark ’06: 4096
Battery Eater: 189mins

The Asus Zenbook UX21’s Intel Core i5 2467M processor scored well in our lab tests, notching up 7297 in Cinebench, making it easily as fast as chips found on most mid-range laptops. It’s fully capable of multitasking standard tasks such as web browsing, streaming online video, picture editing and playing HD video.

When you consider the waif-like form of the Asus Zenbook UX21, it’s incredible that it can compete with bulky portable laptops.

In terms of graphics performance, the numbers that denote the quality of games, video rendering and programs such as Photoshop show that the Asus Zenbook UX21 doesn’t stack up so well.

Asus zenbook ux21 review

There’s no dedicated graphics card here, so the processor handles the 3D effects instead. There’s enough power to watch video and make simple edits to video, but hardcore graphics programs and even mid-range games would test the system beyond its limits.

Battery life is also good, and we achieved 189 minutes using our lab software, which involves simulating document writing while looping HD video in the background. In real terms, you can watch a full HD movie before reaching for the charger, or expect around five hours of web surfing and writing before your laptop dies.

If you’re away from the mains all day, then you might not consider five hours to be enough, but you’d have to look to the Sony Z Series to get anywhere near the same power and portability as the Asus Zenbook UX21, and that would mean a huge jump in weight and price. The Sony Z Series and its external power pack cost in excess of £2,600.

Asus zenbook ux21 review

One of the most noticeable attributes of the Asus Zenbook UX21 is the speed in which it resumes from sleep. Using innovations from Intel, the Zenbook resumes instantly, without the hangs and loading periods that have historically plagued Windows machines. This is the most tangible benefit, and brings the fight to the host of tablets on the market.

The screen itself is excellent, and it’s one of the best panels we’ve seen in a small form notebook. With the resolution equivalent to that of a larger 15-inch laptop, you can enjoy text documents and web pages properly, not like on a netbook, where the lower number of pixels means that web pages look zoomed it, meaning you have to scroll every few lines.

If you’re a regular traveller, and you like watching movies, then the Asus Zenbook UX21 is perfect, and has enough power to play back high-definition video. The extra two inches over a tablet makes all the difference too, and this means it’s a fantastic machine for those who mix work and play while on the move.

Verdict

Asus zenbook ux21 review

At over £100 cheaper than the Apple MacBook Air, with 2GB more RAM and an almost identical chassis, the Asus Zenbook UX21 is a fantastic buy for anyone looking for an ultra-portable laptop.

Some will argue that £850 is too much for a laptop that is too small to be an effective primary machine, and will need to be used in conjunction with something more powerful.

We liked

The form and size of this petite portable laptop is mind-blowing, especially when you consider the Sandy Bridge processor that’s inside.

You can play HD video and enjoy most tasks short of gaming and HD editing without coming across any issues, which genuinely offers an alternative to tablets such as the Asus Eee Pad Transformer.

The extras that Asus has packed into the box are also worth a special mention, and getting a thin protective sleeve and carry case for the extremely small charger add an extra bit of detail to this excellent all-round package.

We disliked

The problem we have with the Asus Zenbook UX21 is that few people would want to use this little laptop as their primary machine, due to the uncomfortable size and lack of connectivity options.

At £850, it seems like a very expensive addition to someone’s portable armoury, and less versatile than its big brother, the Asus Zenbook UX31.

The trackpad also is also crossed off the Christmas card list, and while you do get used to it eventually, it seems designed to infuriate users who are starting out with this wonderful portable PC.

Final verdict

As a piece of modern laptop engineering, the Asus Zenbook UX21 is sublime. Only Apple has previously been able to make something this sleek, light, powerful and desirable, and for those who want to stick with Windows, this moment could not have come soon enough.

Any major faults are not with the Asus Zenbook UX21 itself, but with the merits of an 11.6-inch machine.

If you need something for long trips away, £850 seems steep when excellent 13-inch ultrabooks are available that could arguably be used as a primary machine. The Acer Aspire S3 Intel Core i5 version retails for just £699.

Up against a host of great tablets, including Asus’ own Eee Pad Transformer Prime, it’s hard to justify the outlay.

Despite this, the stunning power and portable body make this a great buy. As netbooks continue their rapid decline, this ultrabook could replace them, and with it show the world that laptops are here to stay.

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Review: Patriot Gamer 2 AMD Black Edition

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Review: Patriot Gamer 2 AMD Black Edition

Overview

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.

Benchmarks

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

Verdict

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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