We received an interesting set of notebook memory in the mail recently. Kingston claims these HyperX Plug n Play modules will run at DDR3-1866 speed right out the box, so we decided to take them for a quick test drive…
Kingston recently sent us a pair of HyperX notebook memory modules rated for a whopping DDR3-1866. What's more, Kingston says these "Plug n Play" memory modules should automatically run at DDR3-1866 when installed in a compatible platform. How is this possible, you ask.
At the start of this year, JEDEC updated the DDR3 specification to officially support DDR3-1866 and DDR3-2133 speeds. This raises the speed ceiling for SPD profiles (Serial Presence Detect), which are used by a system to automatically determine and select the maximum speed supported by both the memory modules and the platform.
As enthusiasts would know, when using modules rated above JEDEC's official speeds, memory speed and timings have to be set manually to fully exploit the module's capabilities. Alternatively, XMP (Extreme Memory Profile) can also be used if both the motherboard and memory support it. But changing memory settings is usually impossible on notebooks, which renders the updated JEDEC specification of greater significance there than on the desktop.
This is where Kingston's HyperX Plug n Play DDR3-1866 SODIMM comes in to take advantage of the new speed ceiling.
Kingston sells the HyperX Plug n Play SODIMM modules in 4GB and 8GB kits. DDR3-1866 as well as slower DDR3-1600 parts are available. In the table below you'll see that the slower parts are actually rated for tighter timings at DDR3-1600.
|Part Number||Capacity||Rated Timings|
|KHX1866C11S3P1K2/8G||8GB (2 x 4GB)|| DDR3-1866 CL11-11-11 @1.5V|
DDR3-1600 CL10-10-10 @1.5V
DDR3-1333 CL8-8-8 @1.5V
|KHX1866C11S3P1K2/4G||4GB (2 x 2GB)|
|KHX1600C9S3P1K2/8G||8GB (2 x 4GB)|| DDR3-1600 CL9-9-9 @1.5V|
DDR3-1333 CL8-8-8 @1.5V
DDR3-1066 CL6-6-6 @1.5V
|KHX1600C9S3P1K2/4G||4GB (2 x 2GB)|
Click on a part number to view its datasheet.
We received the DDR3-1866 8GB kit. In typical HyperX fashion, Kingston has decided to prettify the modules with heatspreaders. Being very thin, they shouldn't cause any compatibility issues unlike the notoriously oversized heatspreaders found on some HyperX desktop modules.
We first installed these modules in a ASUS N82JV, which uses a previous-generation (Arrandale) Intel Core i7-620M processor and a Intel HM55 chipset. Disappointingly, the notebook decided to run the HyperX modules at the same DDR3-1333 speed as the default modules, albeit at much tigher timings.
Next stop was a Fujitsu Lifebook NH751 using the latest mobile Sandy Bridge platform. At this point we were feeling somewhat pessimistic since both Intel and Fujitsu list support for only DDR3-1333. To our surprise, the modules worked exactly as advertised.
There's even a DDR3-2133 SPD profile, but the timings for that are so loose there's really no point.
Let's find out how much of a performance advantage these modules will give us over standard DDR3-1333 modules of the same capacity.
The Fujitsu Lifebook NH751 has the following specifications:
|Processor||Intel Core i7-2630QM|
|Memory|| Samsung DDR3-1333|
2 x 4GB (9-9-9-24)
|Kingston HyperX Plug n Play DDR3-1866 2 x 4GB (11-11-11-32)|
|Graphics||Intel HD Graphics 3000 / Nvidia GeForce GT 525M 1GB (Optimus)|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit|
The performance increase so far is marginal, which is hardly surprising since we've encountered the same results on desktop Sandy Bridge.
Likewise, gaming performance shows hardly any gains when using the faster DDR3-1866 modules. We had been hoping for a bigger increase when using Intel HD Graphics since it shares system memory.
Kingston's HyperX Plug n Play notebook modules don't provide any noticeable performance advantages in return for their considerable asking price. There are far more cost-effective ways to improve your notebook's performance, such as replacing that slow 5400rpm drive with a speedy solid state drive.
Furthermore, these modules only worked for us on a recent Sandy Bridge notebook, and even then we can't guarantee that they work on all Sandy Bridge notebooks since Intel doesn't appear to support such high memory speeds officially. If Kingston were to provide a notebook compatibility list (a tall order, we know) or even a CPU/chipset compatibility list, we would at least feel somewhat safer when spending this much on memory.
Kingston HyperX Plug n Play DDR3-1866 SODIMM
|Plug and play in compatible notebooks||Minimal performance gains|
|Twice the price of the cheapest memory|
|Not be compatible with some notebooks, especially older ones|
Retail Price: US$148*
*Price based on an average of online stores. We were unable to find this item on sale in Singapore.