Memory Performance on Core 2 Duo

In our previous article we compared the performance of DDR versus DDR2 on the ASRock 775Dual-VSTA motherboard and found there was very little difference between DDR-400 and DDR2-533. Overall system performance remained very close with either memory at their optimized settings on this particular board. Our initial results continued to prove out that running your memory at the highest possible speed at the lowest possible latencies does make a performance difference in applications such as gaming. However, in applications like media encoding or general desktop programs the differences are hardly significant. The single biggest impact you can usually make in improving game performance is upgrading your GPU, and for applications like media encoding and mathematical programming a CPU upgrade would be more beneficial than faster memory. Of course, a memory upgrade to 2GB is starting to show differences in the latest games and other applications where 1GB used to be the sweet spot. If you are purchasing memory at this time, we highly suggest standardizing on 2x1024MB of RAM.

Our article today will continue our investigation into how well DDR and DDR2 will perform with Intel's new Core 2 Duo. Instead of just comparing memory on the ASRock 775Dual-VSTA we will include results from the Intel 945P, Intel P965, Intel 975X, and Intel i865 chipsets. We will use the same benchmark test suite in our first article, and although it's not as extensive as our normal benchmark suite it does provide enough information to come to a clear performance conclusion. We are not comparing various memory suppliers against each other nor are we comparing 2x512MB versus 2x1024MB configurations, yet. We are simply investigating the memory performance of our E6300 Core 2 Duo processor on different chipsets to determine if the ASRock implementation of the VIA PT880 Pro is capable of competing with the best from Intel.

As a recap from our first article, we are seeing 2GB of RAM becoming the standard memory configuration for new purchases with DDR2 being considered primarily due to the recent AMD AM2 and Intel Core 2 Duo platform releases. However, there is still a large majority of computer users who have 1GB of RAM or less. More importantly, due to AMD's great success with the Athlon 64 processor series for the past three years there is an abundance of DDR memory and to a certain degree AGP cards still in use. So, when faced with a limited budget but a desire to have the latest and greatest technology, one usually has to cut corners or live with a previous generation component for a little longer before doing a complete platform upgrade. This might include using your DDR or previous generation DDR2 memory along with your video card solution a little longer than expected.

With this in mind, sometimes the best option is to mix and match components that are still useful with the latest technology. The move from a socket 754, early socket 939, or P4 LGA775 system to the new Core 2 Duo platform can be an expensive undertaking. In order to reduce the overall cost of a platform change several motherboard manufacturers offer combination boards that allow users to mix and match capabilities between memory and GPU interfaces. ASRock has built a reputation on offering these types of solutions. In the case of the ASRock 775Dual-VSTA, this board allows you to move to the new Core 2 Duo platform at a minimum cost. Besides offering very good performance for a great price this board also allows you to utilize your DDR memory or AGP graphics card.

Our next article later this week will look at the performance of our EVGA 7600GS PCI-E card against its sibling 7600GS AGP card on this board with comparative AGP performance on the Intel i865 chipset. We will finish our investigative series with a full comparison of this board against its AM2 counterpart, AM2V890-VSTA, armed with an AMD 3800+ X2 along with results from other ASRock value boards featuring the Intel i865 and 945P chipsets. Let's see if the performance of DDR2 improves on other chipsets with our standard configuration components.

Memory Specifications
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  • Questar - Monday, August 14, 2006 - link

    Buy the cheapest memory you can find and spend the money you save somewhere else. Reply
  • deathwalker - Monday, August 14, 2006 - link

    This does seem to validate from a cost vs. performance basis this motherboard..however I remain a tad sqeemish about making a platform jump from AMD to Intel using this board. Having said that though, if you are on a tight budget and you have to migrate parts I suppose giving this board a shot isn't a bad idea. Reply
  • Gary Key - Monday, August 14, 2006 - link

    quote:

    This does seem to validate from a cost vs. performance basis this motherboard..however I remain a tad sqeemish about making a platform jump from AMD to Intel using this board. Having said that though, if you are on a tight budget and you have to migrate parts I suppose giving this board a shot isn't a bad idea.


    We will be reviewing some value/budget AMD AM2 combo motherboards in the future so the idea of incrementally upgrading to the newer platform from early S754/939 still holds true to a certain degree.
    Reply
  • blppt - Monday, August 14, 2006 - link

    On page 6...

    "Although AGP is basically dead and the most powerful card available is based on the 7800GS chipset, we can see that it is still a very competitive solution in the mid-range market as is low latency DDR memory with the right chipset."

    What about the limited edition Gainward 7876 BLISS, which is supposedly actually based on the 7900GT? Thats considerably more powerful than a regular 7800GS.

    http://www.gainward.net/products/product.php?produ...">BLISS

    Last I checked, overlockers uk still had them in stock. Although at ~$445 american, you'd wonder if its worth it, or just upgrade to an X2 and PCI-E mobo instead.
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Monday, August 14, 2006 - link

    I have an inquiry into Gainward about the actual core used on this card. They still advertise it as a 7800GS based unit. Yes, it is very expensive when you can upgrade your CPU, motherboard, and memory for about the same price. Reply
  • blppt - Monday, August 14, 2006 - link

    Yeah, they advertise it like that, but its a 24 pipe card clocked at 450/1250, which seems to be somewhere between a 7800GT and a 7900GT. Reply
  • poohbear - Monday, August 14, 2006 - link

    "Who knew that AGP 8x and DDR would still be this competitive after a myriad of chipset, memory, CPU, and GPU enhancements over the last three years?"

    i thought it was pretty settled that the move from agp 8x was introduced for 1.) marketing reasons so ppl actually buy new chipsets we dont need and 2.) so nvidia could make some extra cash off their SLI gig. the bandwidth agp 8x provided was never saturated. great article nonetheless showing that value boards are still a nice option (i own the Asrock Dualsata2, great mobo btw after they fixed the 274htt cap).


    on a sidenote i love the part "deux" in the title, we're so international @ anandtech aint we.;) or maybe u're just canadian, hafta include some french in everything.:p
    Reply
  • bob661 - Monday, August 14, 2006 - link

    quote:

    nvidia could make some extra cash off their SLI gig.
    I guess ATI doesn't count, huh? Also, would AGP provide the bandwidth necessary for SLI and Xfire setups? People keep making these sweeping "we don't need PCIe" statements without knowing or stating all of the factors involved.
    Reply
  • Kiijibari - Tuesday, August 15, 2006 - link

    quote:

    Also, would AGP provide the bandwidth necessary for SLI and Xfire setups?
    Have you red the last AGP 3.0 Specification ? If not look here at p. 115 / 5.2.3:

    http://members.datafast.net.au/dft0802/specs/agp30...">http://members.datafast.net.au/dft0802/specs/agp30...

    In Short: Multiple video cards are possible with AGP 3.0 :)

    cheers

    Kiijibari
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Monday, August 14, 2006 - link

    I added my sarcastic comment notation at the end of the statement. ;-) While PCI Express is certainly a welcome technology and will be viable for a long time (in computer terms), it was introduced too early and abruptly in my opinion. Except for SLI/CrossFire type setups, there was no real "engineering" requirement for it on the desktop until recently. Yes, there is a French/Canadian influence in the household. :) Reply

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