Intel Alder Lake DDR5 memory scaling analysis with G.Skill Trident Z5

One of the most harrowing elements of Intel’s introduction of the latest 12th generation Alder Lake desktop processor is its support for DDR5 and DDR4 memory. Motherboards are either one or the other, while we wait for DDR5 to dominate the market. While DDR4 memory isn’t new to us, DDR5 memory is, and as a result, we’ve been reporting DDR5 releases since last year. Now that DDR5 is here, even though it’s hard to get, from our Core i9-12900K review we know that DDR5 works better at basic settings compared to DDR4. To investigate the scalability of DDR5 on Lake Alder, we used G. Skill’s premium DDR5 memory kit, the Trident Z5 DDR5-6000. We test the G.Skill Trident Z5 kit from DDR5-4800 to DDR5-6400 on the CL36 and DDR5-4800 with the shortest possible timings to see if latency also plays a role in improving performance.

DDR5 memory: scaling, price, availability

In our review of launch day and analysis of the latest Intel Core i9-12900K, we tested many variables that could affect performance on the new platform. This includes variations in performance when using Windows 11 over Windows 10, performance with both DDR5 and DDR4 at official speeds, and the impact of the new Performance and Efficient hybrid cores.

With all the different variables in that review, the purpose this The article should assess and analyze the impact that DDR5 memory frequency has on performance. While in our previous articles on memory scaling, we usually kept to focusing only on the effects of frequency, but this time we wanted to see how lower latencies can also affect overall performance.

ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero motherboard with G.Skill Trident Z5 DDR5-6000 memory

Touching on the price and availability of DDR5 memory at the time of writing, TLDR is that it is currently difficult to find any in stock, and when in stock, it costs a lot. With a huge global shortage of chips that many have attributed to the coronavirus pandemic, the drought has raised prices on many components above IFRS. Interestingly, DDR5 itself does not cause a shortage, but lacks the power management controllers that DDR5 uses per module to get higher bandwidth. As a result, the increased cost can be compared to some kind of early user fee, where users who want the latest and greatest will have to pay through the nose to own it.

Another variable to consider with DDR5 memory is that the 32GB (2×16) G.Skill Ripjaw DDR5-5200 kit can be found at the MemoryC retailer for $ 390. In contrast, a premium and faster kit like the G.Skill Trident Z5 DDR5-6000 is priced at $ 508, an increase of about 30%. One of the things to consider is that the increase in price is not linear in relation to the increase in performance, and that applies to almost every component of memory, graphics cards, and even processors. The more premium the product, the more it costs.

Enabling XMP 3.0: This is technically overclocking

In March 2021, we reported that Intel had effectively discontinued its ‘Performance Tuning Protection Plan’. This was essentially an extended warranty for users who plan to overclock Intel processors, which can be purchased at an additional cost. One of the main advantages of this was that if users damaged silicon in some way with voltages higher than typical (CPU VCore and memory-related voltages), users could effectively restore Intel processors based on a similar replacement. Intel stated that very few people used the plan to continue it.

One of the variables to note when running Intel’s Xtreme Memory Profiles (XMP 3.0) on DDR5 memory is that Intel classifies this as overclocking. This means that when RMA runs on a faulty processor, it runs the CPU at the default settings, but allows, the XMP 3.0 memory profile on the DDR5-6000 CL36 is something that is considered overclocking. This could void the CPU warranty. All processor manufacturers adhere to the JEDEC specifications with their recommended memory settings for use with any processor, such as DDR4-3200 for 11th generation (Rocket Lake) and DDR5-4800 / DDR4-3200 for 12th generation (Alder Lake) processors .

When it comes to overclocking DDR5 memory to the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero, we did all our testing with Intel’s Memory Gear 1: 2. We tested a 1: 1 and 1: 4 ratio, but without much success. When XMP is enabled on the G.Skill kit, it automatically sets the ratio to 1: 2, with the memory controller running at half the speed of the memory kit.

Problems within Windows 10: Priority and core scheduling

As we pointed out in our review of Intel Core i9-12900K processors, unexpected performance behaviors can occur in certain software environments. When the thread starts, the operating system (Windows 10) will assign the task to a specific kernel. As the P-Cores (performance) and E-Cores (efficiency) on the Alder Lake hybrid design are of different performance and efficiency, it is up to the planner to make sure the right task is on the right core. Intel’s predicted use case is that the software in focus gets priority, and everything else is moved to background tasks. However, on Windows 10 there is an additional caveat – any software set to below normal (or lower) priority will also be considered background and be set to E-core, even if it is in focus. Some high-performance software is set as below normal priority to make the system that uses it sensitive, so there is an ideological conflict between the two.

There are various solutions to this. Intel told us that users can either run a dual monitor or change the Windows Power Plan to High Performance. To investigate the issue during testing, all of our testing in this article was done with a Windows Power Plan set to High-Performance (as I do for motherboard reviews) and running tests with an active High Performance Power Plan.

In addition to this, I used a third-party programmer, Project Lasso software, to check for performance variations. I can say with certainty and confidence that there was about 0.5% margin of variation between using a High Performance Power Plan and setting affinities and priorities on high using Project Lasso software.

It should also be noted that users using Windows 11 should not have any of these problems. When set up correctly, we didn’t see any difference between Windows 10 and Windows 11 in our original Core i9-12900K review, so to keep things in line with our previous testing for now, we stick to Windows 10 with the fix applied.

Test bed, setup and hardware

As this article focuses on how well DDR5 memory measures, we used a premium Z690 motherboard, an ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero and a premium ASUS ROG Ryujin II 360mm AIO CPU cooler. In terms of settings, we left the Intel Core i9-12900K at the default firmware variables, with the only changes being made regarding memory settings.

DDR5 Memory Scaling Test Setup (Alder Lake)
Processor Intel Core i9-12900K, 125 W, 589 USD
8 + 8 cores, 24 threads 3.2 GHz (5.2 GHz P-Core Turbo)
Motherboard ASUS ROG Z690 Hero (BIOS 0803)
Cooling ASUS ROG Ryujin II 360 360 mm AIO
Charging Corsair HX850 80Plus Platinum 850 W
Memory G.Skill Trident Z5 2 x 16 GB
DDR5-6000 CL 36-36-36-76 (XMP)
Video card MSI GTX 1080 (1178/1279 Boost)
Hard drive Crucial MX300 1TB
The case Open Benchtable BC1.1 (Silver)
Operating system Windows 10 Pro 64-bit: Build 21H2

For the operating system, we used the most available and latest version of Windows 10 64-bit (21H2) with all current updates at the time of testing. (For those wondering about our choice of GPU, it’s true that all of our editors are in different locations around the world and don’t have a single set of resources. This is Gavin’s regular GPU testing until we get a replacement; this current climate is small probable – Ian)

DDR5 memory frequencies / delays tested
Memory Frequency / Timing Memory IC
G.Skill Trident Z5 (2 x 16 GB) DDR5-4800 CL 32-32-32-72
DDR5-4800 CL 36-36-36-76
DDR5-5000 CL 36-36-36-76
DDR5-5200 CL 36-36-36-76
DDR5-5400 CL 36-36-36-76
DDR5-5600 CL 36-36-36-76
DDR5-5800 CL 36-36-36-76
DDR5-6000 CL 36-36-36-76
DDR5-6200 CL 36-36-36-76
DDR5-6400 CL 36-36-36-76

Above are all the frequencies and latencies we tested in this article. For scaling, we chose the G.Skill Trident Z5 memory kit because it had the best overclocking ability of all the DDR5 kits we got at launch. Outside the box, it was rated the highest in frequency, and we pushed it even higher. G.Skill Trident Z5 memory has been tested from DDR5-4800 CL36 to and including DDR5-6400 CL36, but also a special case of DDR5-4800 CL32 for lower CAS latencies. Details of our overclocking feats are reviewed later.

Read on for more information on G. Skill’s Trident Z5 DDR5-6000, as well as our DDR5 memory scalability analysis on Intel’s Alder Lake. In this article we cover the following:

  • 1. Review and set the test (this page)
  • 2. A closer look at G.Skill Trident Z5 DDR5-6000 CL36
  • 3. Processor performance
  • 4. Game performance
  • 5. Conclusion

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Naveen Kumar

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