If you had an eye on the memory scene throughout the last couple of years, you might have noticed that the variety of products is not as wide as it used to be, say, a decade ago. The reason for this is rather simple: sales. As the enthusiast niche is on a constant decline, the only remaining crowds who might invest in expensive RAM are the gamers and the modders, neither of which are likely to dig deep into the specification figures. Hence, you have all manufacturers producing essentially the same product with slightly different pricing and badge.
Naturally, where there is a stall, there are people seeking for opportunities to move things in their direction. This time around, it was a Taiwanese memory maker called GeIL, who is trying to break the ice by introducing a new memory lineup which is nothing like we have seen before.
|Capacity||8GB (2 x 4GB)|
|Frequency||1500 MHz (DDR4-3000)|
On paper, it is hard to see the uniqueness of the Dragon series. The DDR4-3000 CL14 spec of the 8GB kit that we have in hand has been on Corsair's menu for a couple of months and GeIL's top DDR4-3333 CL16 speed bin has been in G.Skill's DDR4 arsenal since the very beginning.
Equally non-inspiring is the voltage rating of 1.35V. Even though there is no official document that mentions this particular value in any context, all memory manufacturers stick to it as if it was written on the first page of their Bible. And that's a pity. Given how well current generation of DDR4 scales with voltage, a rating of 1.5V, which is still perfectly safe, would enable the makers to push the specs even further and come up with the speeds and latencies that would clearly dominate over the outgoing DDR3.
There is also nothing new about the packaging. As has been the case with GeIL for a long time, the memory is served to a potential customer in a transparent plastic tray, that is wrapped in a paper box showcasing the main product features.
However, the differences begin once you get to whatever hides within.
Contrary to the all-black styling tendency that has been strong with component manufacturers as of late, GeIL's has followed a completely opposite path. The Dragon might not be the first memory series finished fully in white (that was done by GALAX about a year ago) but it is the first one that people in Europe and the USA can actually buy.
The modules might look out of place plugged in a your typical black-themed motherboard, but if you get a MSI Z170A Xpower Titanium coupled with one of those white-PCB GALAX graphics cards, you will end up with a setup that has a completely unique appearance.
To put a bigger stress on the unique PCB colour of the Dragon series, GeIL have elected not to equip the modules with unnecessary heatsinks. What they did give the modules, however, is a gold engraving of a dragon and a blue LED that shines on the side populated with the memory chips.
Having no heatsinks in the way does not make the memory chip detection any easier due to an additional layer of coating that GeIL have sprayed over the original labels. We can, however, make an educated guess that the chips in front of us are Hynix H5AN4G8NMFR. As suggested by the 4G bit of the part number, each of these memory chips can contain up to 4Gbit of 512MB of data, thus it takes eight such chips to assemble each 4GB module.
Each module carries a miniature SPD chip that is flashed with information on its manufacturer, internal part number and the production date. The SPD chip also contains several setting presets (called JEDEC presets) that guarantee compatibility no matter how weird of a platform you plan to use the kit in.
On top of the JEDEC profiles, there is an XMP (Xtreme Memory Profile) which contains the kit's formal specs. Note that most motherboards will set the memory to its highest JEDEC profile unless you go in the BIOS and manually load the XMP.
Doing so on our test platform has resulted in having the following timings and subtimings at DDR4-3000.