High-end DDR is no longer the only show in town, but even with DDR2 making waves, dual-channel PC3200 or higher is still the weapon of choice for the majority of gamers. Inside this market is a segment of enthusiast buyers, who demand the very best from each and every system component. This area is also split, with many buyers wanting the absolute lowest memory timings money can buy, while the other end needing the best in overclocking memory, in order to hit the very highest in CPU speeds. Both sides will be well served by this review, as we have two of the very best dual channel DDR kits, each tailored specifically for the above-mentioned markets.
OCZ is one of the top name brands when it comes to high-end memory, and the company is very popular with enthusiast buyers. OCZ is usually at the forefront of memory technology and the company continually develops newer and faster DDR and DDR2 revisions. OCZ offers a wide range of memory products, including their popular Gold, Platinum and EL (Enhanced Latency) brand names, which each offer a wide variety of memory speeds, types, densities, and formats. The OCZ PC3200 EL Platinum Rev 2 and PC3700 Gold Rev 3 dual channel DDR kits featured in this review provide a nice cross-section of the OCZ product offerings, and will help us decide which duties each is best suited for.
OCZ's latest revision of their PC3200 EL Platinum DDR is one of the best dual-channel kits we've ever reviewed. The EL term stands for "Enhanced Latency" and the stated 2-2-2-5 memory timings are extremely low for PC3200. Better still, in our testing on nForce3 Ultra, i875P, and K8T800 Pro motherboards, each initialized the memory at these timings using just the SPD setting. This is unprecedented, since even our reference Corsair PC3200LL (2-2-2-5) memory needs a bit of manual tweaking on certain platforms. These timings are rated at a memory voltage of 2.75V, but at stock 400 MHz speeds, the OCZ PC3200 EL was also able to reach the 2-2-2-5 level using our standard 2.6V reference setting.
The OCZ PC3200 EL Rev 2 dual channel kit includes dual 512-MB PC3200 EL modules with a mirrored platinum copper heat spreader on each. The modules include an OCZ sticker with the model number, product name and memory timings on it. This is a small touch, but we have seen high-end memory that leaves off this information. This kit also supports Extended Voltage Protection, and OCZ rates this memory at up to 2.9V operating voltage without invalidating the OCZ lifetime warranty. These modules also feature ULN2 (Ultra Low Noise), which uses PCB techniques to reduce the amount of electrical noise. Our only disappointment was the lack of a cool "Enhanced by OCZ" case sticker that was included in past dual-channel kits, but this is a small consideration.
In our basic reference testing, we found the OCZ PC3200 EL Platinum Rev 2 kit to be an exceptional performer and may well be the fastest DDR (at 400 MHz) we've ever seen. It immediately fired up at 2-2-2-5 memory timings using K8T800 Pro, nForce3 Ultra and i875P reference motherboards and worked as advertised in all three. The overclocking was equally impressive, with the OCZ PC3200 EL Platinum Rev 2 kit allowing 436 MHz DDR speeds, and not blinking an eye at 2-3-2-7 timings. Initially, we were able to stick to the 2-2-2-5 timings, but at around the 215-220 MHz range we needed to move them up. DDR voltage was also not an issue at that point, and we could drop down to a 2.6V setting if needed.
Maintaining CL2 at higher than 400 MHz speeds is a nice result for any PC3200 memory, and rest assured that OCZ passed our "Enhanced Latency" tests with flying colors. This OCZ PC3200 EL Platinum Rev 2 DDR is really not promoted as the top choice for overclocking, but on the AMD side, we managed to hit in the 440-450 MHz range (2.75-2.8V), on average, but going much over the 436 MHz mark resulted in CL2.5 timings, thus defeating the purpose of the higher clock speeds. We were able to really jack up the clock rate on the Intel system, and at CL3 managed to hit 500 MHz. This is great memory for those looking at nominal CPU overclocks, but who still want to maintain low memory timings. If you need radical overclocks, especially on the AMD side, we'd recommend higher-speed, lower-latency DDR like OCZ PC3700 Gold.