A-Data XPG Plus 1866+

28th Sep 2010 | 11:30

A-Data XPG Plus 1866+

Does an elaborate cooling system mean better performance?

TechRadar rating:

3.5 stars

Looks sexy and hits high clocks, but similar performance can be had for a lot less cash

Like:

Exceptional cooling; Great overclocking headroom

Dislike:

Patch performance at higher clocks; Very, very expensive

A-Data XPG Plus 1866+: Overview

How much is cooling a factor for high performance memory? Expert opinion, you might say, is divided. Still, we're sure about one thing. If anything is holding back the A-Data XPG Plus 1866+ triple-channel memory kit, it ain't cooling.

We know this because the XPG Plus has perhaps the most elaborate heat dissipation arrangement we've seen on any memory stick. Each DIMM is clamped by a pair of anodised alloy plates from which springs a pair of heat pipes that in turn feed into an array of cooling fins. It's quite a sight, and has the added advantage of being passive.

Notably, however, there are no fans. That should make for an interesting comparison with Corsair's optionally fan-cooled Dominator GT kit. On the upside, fans tend to provide more effective cooling. On the downside, they also tend to collect dusty, become whiney and generally suffer mechanical failure.

Beyond peace of mind, the real benefits of the A-Data XPG Plus's complex cooling solution are hard to quantify. We can at least confirm the heat pipes and cooling fins do an effective job of keeping temperatures under control. Even at high clocks and under full load, the DIMMs themselves are only slightly warm to the touch.

Lower temperatures are always a good thing when it comes to component longevity, of course. Whether they really help memory performance, on the other hand, is open to debate.

Still, there's no doubting this is one of the quickest triple-channel DDR3 kits around. With a maximum overclock of 2,133MHz, it's certainly got some chops in terms of raw frequency.

At that speed, however, measured bandwidth is actually beginning to fall off. That just goes to show chasing higher clocks isn't always a great idea when it comes to memory performance.

If you're looking for an explanation, memory timings are often problematical at really high frequncies. But whatever the truth, the A-Data's table-topping overclock does not translate into world-beating performance in real world applications.

Moreover, this kit does its best work at 1,866MHz. At that frequency, it cracks the 30GBps barrier, posts some handy gaming frame rates and delivers low latency. In other words, it does the works. The only slight snag is that the same can be said of Corsair's much cheaper XMS3 triple-channel kit. In fact, it does all that and more without fancy cooling paraphernalia or a premium price tag.

A-Data XPG Plus 1866+: Benchmarks

ram benchmarks

Click here to see a larger view of benchmarks

A-Data XPG Plus 1866+: Verdict

We liked

Technology for the sake of it is a favourite theme on TechRadar. So despite doubts regarding the efficacy of high end cooling in the context of memory performance, we salute A-Data for giving this triple-channel DDR3 kit some funky-looking pipes and fins. Of more practical use, perhaps, is the enormous overclocking headroom. Overclockers looking for maximum flexibility could do a lot worse.

We disliked

While we are all about the funky tech, we do still like it to deliver some tangible gains if it's going to cost a lot of money. While the A-Data XPG Plus's cooling is a nice feature, we're far from convinced it justifies the massive price premium.

Given the slight performance issues at really high clocks, there's probably better value to be had elsewhere.

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