The release of the X299 platform and the superior integrated memory controller of Skylake-E CPUs has really opened up the market for high speed quad channel memory. Geil are well known for their lines of memory products and have unveiled their new EVO X series of high speed memory designed for the X299 platform. Here for review we have a very tasty 4x8Gb kit rated at DDR4-3466 with stock timings of 16-18-18-38 @ 1.35v. This is a RGB kit able to sync with the motherboard manufacturers RGB control software. Lets see if it performs as good as it looks.
Though the specs below list Intel Z270 and X299, these sticks should run on AMD platforms as well, even if they can’t quite run at their rated speed yet. AMD are working on BIOS code and we are yet to get a true indicator of the memory capabilities of AMD’s new Threadripper X399 platform.
Unboxing and Overview
The Geil EVO X memory ships in a simple box, with the modules contained within individual plastic packages.
The EVO X kit ships with an installation guide and two different sets of cables. One is for connecting the modules to a motherboard, and the others connect to a fan header for direct control from the memory itself.
These cables connect the RAM to the onboard RGB header found on many modern motherboards. The male ones on the left of the picture connect to the RAM itself, whilst the female connector on the right connects to the motherboard. This allows the motherboard vendors’ RGB control software to synchronize the RGB lighting colors and effect for both the RAM and the motherboard.
There’s another option to control the RGB should your motherboard not have the required header. Geil include another cable that connects to a fan header. The top of the modules functions as a switch that offers four breathing modes, red, green, blue and RGB cycling.
The sticks themselves look really nice. the black color means they will blend in to any modern system as well as avoiding any RGB color clashes.
In this picture you can see the slider along the top of the module that can control the RGB lighting if you are not connecting them to a motherboards’ RGB header.
The colors are bright and vibrant. You’ll be able to find any color you like to blend in with the theme of your build. We used ASRock’s Aura RGB software to control the colors, which worked without issue. We also tested Asus’ Aura Sync which also worked well, and matched the colors well to those produced on the motherboard itself.
Test Setup and Benchmarks
For our benchmarking testing we used the Intel X299 platform with a 7800K processor. Our motherboard of choice was the ASRock X299 Taichi. We think there is still some tuning to be done on this platform with higher speed memory kits. We know that manufacturers were a bit rushed, and while compatibility is acceptable for the most part, there is still some performance on the table to be had we think.
Also, this is a brand new kit. Geil tell us it is not yet listed for sale in Singapore or the US, so its possible Geil are still working with the motherboard manufacturers to ensure best performance and support of the kit on the various QVL listings.
For our comparative testing, we used the same Geil kit and downclocked it to DDR4-2133, 2666, 3000 and finally its default XMP setting of DDR4-3466.
We start with SuperPi 32m. While its an old benchmark, it is quite memory intensive and reacts well to bandwidth improvements. We can see the difference higher speed memory makes here.
Cinebench relies more on CPU performance, but still, the faster memory makes a difference, though with a bit of diminishing return at higher clock it seems.
3D Mark doesn’t seem to respond that well to the higher speed memory, though some gains are there.
POV Ray is all about CPU and memory makes no difference.
Pretty much the same with x264 encoding in this case, though slower memory is clearly bottlenecking the performance.
File compression applications react well to bandwidth improvements
Here’s something that surprised us a little. Even with maximum settings at 1080p, using a GTX 1080ti presents us with a memory performance bottleneck. Higher speed memory gets a nice improvement in FPS. Noteworthy if you have a high refresh rate screen.
4K puts the load back onto the graphics card though, and the results are the same across all speeds.
These benchmarks do show some performance benefits. High speed memory doesn’t provide massive performance gains in general usage, but these days if you’ve just splashed out a couple of grand on a shiny new X299 system, why bottleneck it with slow 2133Mhz ram? Drop the extra dollars on some fast RAM and let your system perform at its best.
We didn’t spend a whole lot of time overclocking the Geil EVO X kit. We think there is still some performance to come, especially if you push the kit hard. Motherboard vendors are still working hard on their BIOS, with compatibility and reliability being the key targets for now. Performance is coming, but with the release of the platform being bumped up by months, we have to give them time to iron out all the kinks. This is part of the reason we are are only just seeing, or yet to see, the highest end X299 models such as the Rampage VI, OC Formula and Xpower models.
As we see here, DDR4-3840 is still very nice for a 4x8Gb kit, and something like this would have been very difficult on X99. We think DDR4-4000 is within reach, but even bumping voltage significantly and loosening timings, we couldn’t get the Taichi to POST, telling us the board is the limiting factor, and not the RAM.
The Geil EVO X kit performed flawlessly across our testing in combination with the ASRock X299 Taichi. It seems like DDR4 will be with us for some years yet, so investing in a good high speed and high density 4x8Gb kit is likely to survive a generation or two of upgrades. We think there’s still some performance and OC headroom to be found as the X299 platform and BIOS’ mature and for those that overclock, we’re sure this kit will run at 3600Mhz and higher with just a small voltage bump.
The design looks great. The RGB integration with both Asus and ASRock’s software performed without an issue. The colors are well matched and are vibrant and bright. Of course pricing is TBD, and we’d expect this kit to be at the upper end of pricing for kits of this speed and capacity, but that’s the way it is for a top spec RGB kit. We’d expect something around $550 SGD which is about what an equivalent G.Skill RGB kit sells for. That sort of pricing will rule it out for many users, but if you like to to bling up your system, and have a custom water loop and want RAM that will suit your theme with performance and capacity to match, then there are few choices and the EVO X should be on your shortlist.
In days past we’d have said that tall heat spreader designs are unnecessary, even with older high voltage DDR3 kits, let alone DDR4. These days though, a high end system is more likely to be using a AiO watercooler or custom loop than an air heatsink, so this is less of a problem. If you are using a air cooler, please pay attention to the dimensions and make sure it will not interfere with tall RAM.
In 2017, we would agree that very high speed memory makes only a small noticeable difference outside of benchmarking, but if you’ve got a high end system to match with it, then a kit like the Geil EVO X 3466 will let it shine to its fullest and with its RGB lighting, look great doing it. Some applications can really benefit from the extra bandwidth on tap.
Wonderful looks with lovely RGB colors
Easy integration with MB vendors RGB control software
High end performance
Very good OC headroom with more to come
Likely to be pricey for a 4x8Gb kit