Looking at the hardware industry over the last few years, it’s fair to say we’ve become a bit RGB obsessed. What really matters for a gaming PC isn’t fancy lights, however, it’s performance. Pure, unbridled speed. Today, we’re looking at a new memory kit from Patriot, one of the longest standing companies in the business, that aims to provide exactly that. This is our review of the Patriot Viper Steel DDR4-3866 Extreme Performance Memory kit
- Current Pricing: $174.99
- Capacity: 16GB (2 x 8GB)
- Base Frequency: PC4-17000 (2133MHz)
- Base Timings: 15-15-15-36
- Tested Frequency Profile 1: PC4-30900 (3866MHz)
- Tested Frequency Profile 2: PC4-29800 (3733MHz)
- Tested Timings: 18-22-22-40
- Tested Voltage for Profile 1: 1.35V
- Tested Voltage for Profile 2: 1.35V
- Format: NON-ECC Unbuffered DIMM
- Pin Out: 288-Pin
- Warranty: Limited Lifetime
The Viper Steel series gets back to basics. The series throws out power-hungry RGB strips and instead provides heavy duty but stylish aluminum heatsinks. They have a decent amount of heft compared to others we’ve tested and provide even coverage across the heat generating components for optimal heat dissipation. Patriot also claims to hand-test each of these DIMMs, so we’re getting specially binned modules for this line.
Given that this series sells itself on performance, it should come as no surprise that Patriot offers a full range of speeds. Budget conscious gamers can pick up an entry-level set beginning at 3000MHz and extending all the way to 4400MHz. A quick search of Newegg at the time of this writing shows that the value per dollar goes up the with increases in speed. Below 3866 MHz, these kits are priced higher than much of the competition. At 3866 MHz, they’re tied for the cheapest at that speed and latency, and at 4400MHz, they find themselves a full $50 cheaper than the next equivalent option.
Latencies are also quite good, which has a meaningful impact on performance. The kit we’re reviewing today features a CAS latency of 18-22-22-40. At 4400MHz, those latencies only increase to 19-19-19-39 at 1.45V. Neither of these are the best of the best, per se, but are certainly respectable (particularly that CAS19 latency!).
These DIMMs also utilize Samsung B-Die chips which are widely recognized for their compatibility, reliability, and good stability under intensive overclocks. Whether you’re running an AMD Ryzen build or a modern Intel system, you should find yourself in the clear on compatibility, though we would still recommend checking with your motherboard manufacturer before making any memory purchase. Patriot also notes that these chips were tested on an Intel i7 platform.
Finally, we have dual X.M.P. profiles that act in support of that capability. X.M.P., if you’re not familiar, is Intel’s method for verified overclocks with a single BIOS toggle, simplifying the process of achieving a particular kit’s advertised speed. Here we have the profiles for 3866MHz and 3733MHz to promote compatibility on a wider array of systems.
Test system: i7-7700k at 4.2GHz, MSI Z270 Gaming M7 Motherboard, GTX-1080Ti (SLI), 500GB Samsung 960 EVO, 12TB HDD Mass Storage, Corsair HX-1050 1050-watt PSU
In order to test our memory, we run through a series of benchmarks in order to tease out performance highlights and shortcomings. The tests include PCMark 8’s Conventional and Express tests, AIDA64, wPrime, and SuperPi. With the exception of AIDA64, these tests also account for the the CPU which is why we’re keeping a consistent scenario for testing. In each of the tests, DRAM performance is a key factor in the scores rendered. We also do in-game benchmark testing, though we’ll save that for discussion following the presented charts.
The results we’re sharing today represent different capacities, speeds, and latencies across the sample kits. The Patriot Viper Steel kit we’re testing today is the highest speed kit of the bunch.
Our first benchmark is AIDA64. AIDA64 is a good test for us because it provides direct read, write, and copy tests. The higher speed really benefited these chips across the board and that’s clearly evident here where they lead the pack of review kits.
PCMark 8 is a whole system assessment that runs your PC through a simulation of relatively low intensity tasks. As a result, it emphasizes memory speed over memory capacity (after a certain point). Like the last test, the Patriot Viper Steels still lead the way but due to the way the test is structured, but a slimmer margin.
SuperPi is a processing intensive task that challenges a system to calculate out a specific amount of digits of Pi. Here, we’re pushing 32 million digits so memory frequency has a larger impact. The stock frequency gives us an excellent lead in this test, providing better results than even I expected going in. This was nice to see.
Lastly, we have wPrime. This benchmark tasks your system with the production of square roots and is again based upon the whole system but largely dependent on system memory. Once again, our Steel kit roundly wins out in both tests and especially at 1024M.
As I’ve mentioned in past reviews, memory overclocking is new territory for me, so you should take my results as an introduction to what may be possible with your kit. Experienced memory overclockers may be able to achieve more. Even still, I was able to push these chips up to the 4GHz mark simply by altering the timings to 19-19-19-39 and boosting the voltage to 1.45V. Anything further and my test system would blue screen upon boot. Still, I was pleased that I could easily squeak another $20 of performance out of this set with so little time and effort.
Gaming Performance and Conclusions
When it comes to gaming performance, the impact of memory speed is a game of diminishing returns for the amount of money you’re spending. My main PC uses 3200MHz RAM. Swapping into this set did give me about a 5-7 FPS improvement, but it varies and is highly dependent on factors outside of your RAM. As such, it’s a matter of go big or go home if you’re already running overclocked RAM and are still looking for a noticeable boost. If you’re running non-overclocked RAM and jump to even 3200MHz, you’ll see a boost. It’s relative and overall less impactful than reinvesting in the next step up in GPU or moving from an HDD to an SSD, for example. As such, we recommend getting as fast as you can afford without skimping on other parts.
What Patriot has delivered here is impressive for the price. Because of the above, I wouldn’t jump from 3200MHz to this 3866MHz kit purely for gaming, but if you do find yourself in need of an upgrade, these advanced speeds and easy overclocking make for a solid choice - especially if you want to avoid the RGB craze.
- Wide variety of speeds for budget builders and enthusiasts
- Solid CAS latencies
- Overclocking headroom
- Good pricing at higher speeds
- Simple, non-RGB heat spreader
- Lower end pricing isn’t good
The product described in this review was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.