Review: Viper Gaming Viper Steel 32GB PC4-3300 DDR4 SODIMM RAM

 

Viper Gaming Viper Steel 32GB PC4-3300 DDR4 SODIMM RAM Performance

 

Benchmarking and Performance

As I mentioned earlier, I am using a 2018 Dell G7 7588 15” Gaming Laptop. Since the RAM I am testing today is a single stack, I ran benchmarks using a single 8GB stick of the stock Dell (SK Hynix) DDR4 RAM. While I knew that an 8GB single channel setup would perform poorly in benchmarks, I felt it was only fair to test single-channel performance against single-channel performance. The two images posted above show the G7’s hardware setup for both the single and dual-channel configurations with the factory RAM.

I also ran the benchmarks based on the factory 16GB Dual-channel configuration as I wanted to see if the performance of the Viper Gaming Viper Steel SODIMM RAM was high enough to at least match the performance of the stock dual-channel setup and to report any performance losses that might occur despite the capacity increase.

All timings were left at stock settings, and no voltages or other BIOS settings were modified for any of the following testings. It is important to note that I am only highlighting a few of the benchmarks I ran as I felt they were the most relevant to the everyday gaming laptop user. I still felt it was worth it to include the results of the benchmarks I didn’t go inept on as that data is still relevant to some readers.

Dell shipped the 2018 G7 Models with 16GB or 32GB of SK Hynix DDR4-266 1330MHz RAM set at  19-19-19-43 timings. As far as laptop ram goes, these modules are pretty nice, but their timings are a bit slow. Nonetheless, I can report that in its stock configuration the laptop still handles most modern games fairly well thanks to its NVIDIA GTX 1060 GPU.

Highlighted Benchmarks

Aida64 Memory Bandwidth Benchmark – Memory bandwidth benchmarks (Memory Read, Memory Write, Memory Copy) measure the maximum achievable memory data transfer bandwidth. The code behind these benchmark methods are written in Assembly and they are extremely optimized for every popular AMD, Intel, and VIA processor achievable core variants by utilizing the appropriate x86/x64, x87, MMX, MMX+, 3DNow!, SSE, SSE2, SSE4.1, AVX, AVX2, and AVX-512 instruction set extension.

MaxxMem2 Memory Bandwidth Benchmark – MaxxMEM2 is a benchmark designed to help you measure your memory’s performance. It uses current technologies like SSE, MMX, scheduled threading, and further techniques, including an accurate time measurement that provide reliable consistent results. All this will precisely reflect the performance of your system. Every little change done on the benched system will take place on the received results.

3DMark Skydiver DirectX 11Gaming Laptop Benchmark – Sky Diver includes a Demo, two Graphics tests, a Physics test, and a Combined test. The Graphics tests measure GPU performance, the Physics test measures CPU performance, and the Combined test stresses both GPU and CPU. The Demo does not affect the score. Graphics Test 1 focuses on tessellation and uses a forward lighting method. Graphics Test 2 focuses on pixel processing and uses compute shader-based deferred tiled lighting.

The Physics test introduces a new approach that extends the performance range for which the test is relevant. The test runs through four levels of work starting with the lightest and continuing to the heaviest unless the frame rate drops below a minimum threshold. The Combined test contains both graphics workloads and physics simulations to stress the CPU and GPU. The test uses a compute shader-based deferred tiled lighting method.

8GB Dell Single Channel Factory RAM

Up first I removed the 2’nd stick of factory DELL ram from the laptop, and began running benchmarks. Before I got started, I ran HWINFO64 to get a snapshot of the G7’s hardware with a single-channel 8GB RAM configuration.

 

Up first is a run of MaxxMem2. Despite being factory RAM, I was fairly impressed with this result. An average of 15.65GB/s is about half of what I would expect to see out of a gaming laptop running a CoffeeLake “H” variant i7 processor and a performance dual-channel memory setup, but for a single-channel setup, 15.65 is not that bad honestly.

AIDA64 averaged out at 18.91MB/s across its read, write, and copy bandwidth, scoring slightly higher than the previous MaxxMem2 benchmark. This is a bit expected though as AIDA uses a slightly more robust and optimized algorithm to perform its tests than MaxxMem2, specific optimizations on a processor-specific level, which generally equate to slightly higher scores. The big takeaway here is that AIDA64 is reporting a copy speed almost double that of the MaxxMem2 copy speed score. This is where the aforementioned processor-specific optimization comes into play.

The factory Dell 8GB single-channel memory configuration 3DMark’s Skydiver Gaming Laptop/DirectX 11 Benchmark scored a fairly impressive 26,029 points and an average of 82.08 frames per second across both tests that are run during this benchmark.

Across the board, the scores in the 8GB single-channel memory configuration were low as expected, but not as low as I originally thought they would be. Note that we did not highlight every benchmark we ran in an effort to keep this review reader-friendly. I felt it was still important to include the full data set though for those who might want more information.

 

16GB Dell Dual Channel Factory RAM

Moving on to the factory 16GB dual-channel memory configuration.

At 25.8GB/s, the factory 16GB dual-channel memory setup was quite a bit faster than the 8GB single-channel setup. However, this is still about 10GB/s slower than I would expect from a high-performance dual-channel memory configuration.

Once again AIDA64 is reporting a higher overall bandwidth than MaxxMem2 with an average throughput of 35.00GB/s. This number is much more in line with what I would expect from high-performance laptop memory and is likely closer to the real peak performance level of this factory RAM.

 

As expected, the factory Dell 16GB dual-channel memory configuration scored higher than the previous 8GB single-channel configuration in 3DMark’s Skydiver Gaming Laptop/DirectX 11 Benchmark. The average frames per second rose to over a 102FPS average across both tests that is run during this benchmark.  This is likely because the mobile NVIDIA Geforce GTX 1060 gets half of its RAM from the system ram, meaning 3GB of the system RAM is reserved for GPU use, which in dual-channel mode is likely split between the two RAM modules, thus speeding up this benchmark.

Scores were up across the board with the factory 16GB dual-channel memory configuration. 

 

32GB Viper Steel Performance Memory

Moving on to the Viper Gaming Viper Steel 32GB DDR4 SODIMM single-channel RAM module. Since we’re moving back to a single-channel configuration I expect some of the benchmark results to be lower than the dual-channel configuration, however, I do expect the higher-performance Viper Steel ram to perform somewhat better than the factory 8GB single-channel configuration did. 

As expected, the 32GB Viper Steel Single-Channel SODIMM module performed better than the factory 8GB single-channel configuration did. At 18.87, the Viper Steel RAM was over 3GB/s faster. That may not sound like much, but consider that 3GB/s is 1/6 of the total bandwidth.

Once again AIDA64 reports higher bandwidth across all three benchmarks for an average overall bandwidth of 20.14GB/s. This is roughly 2GB/s faster than the factory 8GB single-channel configuration but is over 15GB/s slower than the factory 16GB dual-channel configuration.

Finally, 3DMark’s Skydiver benchmark reported a score slightly lower than the dual-channel configuration. This is once again the result of the mobile GTX 1060s shared ram configuration. A dual-channel RAM configuration can share the burden of a shared load. On a single-channel memory configuration that shares system RAM with the GPU, this burden is much more taxing on overall system performance, resulting in an overall lower performance score in any of 3DMark’s benchmarks.

When comparing single-channel performance to single-channel performance the results don’t lie. While there are a couple of outliers, for the most part, performance numbers between the factory RAM in an 8GB single-channel configuration, and the 32GB single-channel Viper Gaming Viper Steel RAM are not that far apart. In fact, during normal, non-system-taxing usage, no difference was noticed between the two configurations. 

 

Testing across multiple benchmarks is key to seeing the bigger picture, especially when determining if performance gains, or losses, are worth the increase in memory capacity. For a gaming laptop that shares system ram with the GPU, the difference between single-channel and dual-channel configurations is much less significant than I had originally expected. However, in terms of combined read/write/copy performance, dual-channel configurations definitely hold the advantage.

When looking at the overall picture, the results are pretty clear. Unless an upgrade in memory capacity is absolutely necessary, and no dual-channel kit is available, sheer performance will suffer when moving from a dual-channel kit to a single-channel kit, even if the capacity is larger, and the RAMs overall speed is faster.

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