OCZ are world renowned for producing some of the highest quality memory sticks available on the market. Its been an interesting year as they have diversified into other sectors, having released a wonderful range of "Powerstream" power supplies. We reviewed the 420w model a while ago over here and it came away with flying colours in every department.
Today im looking at a wonderfully innovative product from OCZ which will prove very popular amongst the overclocking community, the OCZ DDR Booster Diagnostic device, which incorporates Powerclean Technology™ and Digital LED Readout. This device allows users to supply a cleaner power feed to their memory modules, which will result in more stable memory. Additionally the end user is now able to view memory module voltage with the digital LEDs on the DDR booster, allowing simple and inexpensive troubleshooting of their particular modules. The DDR booster allows VDIMM adjustments up to 3.9V and is compatible with a wide variety of DDR1 motherboards (see chart below).
Please be aware the table above is correct at time of press, to get updated motherboard support please follow this link to the OCZ website
It has to be said, a great deal of care should be taken when using this product as pumping 3.4V+ through many modules will prove fatal.
The design of the product is up to the usual standard of OCZ with several mini heatsinks helping to keep the product running cooler. During testing this product tends to run very hot, even after a few seconds of use the sinks were hot to the touch.
In the images above I've taken a few close ups of the back of the device, the overall PCB layout is very clean.
Installation is straight-forward, supplied with the DDR booster is a special adaptor power lead with colour coded 4 pin connectors (above), this connects to the large ATX12V-20 pin connector feeding into your motherboard. Using "standard" 4 pin connectors directly into the OCZ DDR Booster such as those used to power hard drive and video cards can cause serious damage.
As you can see above - simply connecting the two colour coded connectors with the supplied OCZ adaptor into the OCZ DDR booster is simple.
The voltage booster at first boot "settles" relatively slowly so before making any changes a little patience is required. To adjust the voltages you alter the little "screw" as you can see in the image below (under P1) waiting for a couple of seconds for the alteration to take place.
I tried the device in several motherboards. Due to the intensity of the heat generated by the OCZ DDR booster (even at low voltage) along with overclocked ram, I decided to put a 92mm fan on a Zalman swinging arm directed over the ram slots, this ensures a decent air flow to cool hot running memory and the booster all running in such close proximity. You can pick up a Zalman arm bracket in the Uk at overclockers.co.uk and if you plan on hardcore overclocking I strongly recommend you part with the £6 cost and strap on a high quality low noise fan such as the 50cfm/31 db YS-Tech FD9325
Abit NF7S Rev 2 (volt modded), accepted the OCZ booster without issue and system stability was improved across the board at higher FSBs, I had several sticks of OCZ 3500 Platinum which I cranked to 3.4Volts at 250fsb 5-2-2-2. wonderful results.
Abit IC7 MAX3 (with VTT mod) , the results were very impressive with some OCZ 4400 memory - not only was I able to get the memory to 600mhz at 3.3volts on a vapochilled P4 EE system but again overall system stability was rock solid, without the booster system stability was flaky at these insane speeds. The Abit IC7 MAX3 can have issues with memory voltage above 2.8 volts, follow this link to the bleeding edge support forums if you wish to perform the VTT mod
Asus A8V - this board since its been released has had some issues with DDR voltage and the board I have tested frequently wont post with any RAM setting other than AUTO in the bios. I had some success with Corsair XL memory but overall system stability was still poor. Ram had to be used in slots 2 and 4 with the booster in slot 3. With the booster overall system performance was improved and I was able to push the ram to 3+ volts with wonderful results.
Generally clearance shouldn't be too much of an issue as long as you have around 1/2" beyond the dimm slot, but be aware its quite a tight fit if your ram modules have heatspreaders. Some boards might require a little modding to accommodate the booster in certain slots.
Its also worth mentioning that OCZ are also selling high quality power leads with HDD copper shielding which eliminate "snowing" and "water wave" effects sometimes experienced with plugging into high end VGA cards and hard drives.
Above: OCZ's new "enhanced VGA & HDD power leads"
Overall, the OCZ DDR Booster is a truly excellent product and will ensure that not only will overclockers be able to push their hardware that bit further but even the general enthusiast can now ensure that system stability isnt being compromised by poor memory voltage feeds. Highly recommended.
At time of press OCZ have stated the product should be retailing in the $50 zone.
If you have any questions on this product or indeed any OCZ product, Andy and Tony are frequently seen helping OCZ users on our forums as well as their offical support forum BLEEDING EDGE