First Look: Team T-Force Night Hawk DDR4 & Cardea m.2 SSD
Editor’s Note: The items featured in this article were provided to us by Team Group for review purposes.
As the season for new PC processors starts winding down, it’s a great time to take stock of the hardware components that make a difference — especially those that can alleviate potential bottlenecks. In late October, we received a package from the Team Group, a manufacturer that focuses on memory and storage products. They provided us with a set of T-Force Night Hawk RGB memory clocked at 3200MHz, along with a Cardea m.2 solid state drive. (If that drive looks a little familiar, it’s because we used it during our testing and review of Coffee Lake.)
We wasted no time putting the memory and drive to good use. So without further ado, here are our initial impressions of the Night Hawk RGB memory and Cardea m.2 SSD.
Unboxing both items was pretty straight forward — Team Group’s packaging consists of basic cardboard and protective plastic. Here’s how the Night Hawk memory and Cardea SSD look inside and outside of their respective boxes:
Since we just wrapped up our review of Intel’s Coffee Lake platform and the i7-8700K was the last processor in our test bench, we used it to put the Night Hawk RGB memory and Cardea m.2 SSD through their paces.
As usual, I’ve included provided a list of any items in the test bench that weren’t purchased by XDA or myself:
- Corsair CX-750M 80 Plus Gold Power Supply
- OCZ 512GB RD400 m.2 NVMe drive (Used as primary partition)
- MSI NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Founder’s Edition
- Lian Li PITSTOP PC-T60
- VisionTek 120GB 2.5″ SSD x2 (provided by VisionTek)
- Cooler Master MasterLiquid Pro 240
- GIGABYTE Z370 AORUS Ultra Gaming (provided by GIGABYTE)
- Intel Core i7-8700K (provided by Intel)
Night Hawk Memory Installation & Impressions
I had no issues installing the Night Hawk DDR4 memory in the Gigabyte Z370 AORUS Ultra Gaming motherboard. However, I wasn’t able to coordinate the board’s lighting with Team Group’s RGB Fusion solution. There also didn’t appear to be connections that’d allow me to pair the RGB headers to the motherboard, but that wasn’t terribly surprising — the Night Hawk memory was designed to work with ASUS Aura Sync, a wireless RGB solution.
Inside the BIOS, we enabled XMP and proceeded to Windows, after which we installed a Team Group beta tool (Blitz) that allowed us to adjust and control the Night Hawk memory’s RGB settings. We were able to program the colors right after the installation finished, and noted that the memory maintained its configuration even after a warm reboot into Ubuntu (likely because the settings were never lost). After a cold boot of our test bench, though, the settings were forgotten, and the memory defaulted to its original multi-color scheme until we launched the tool again.
As far as performance is concerned, our motherboard easily picked up Nigh Hawk’s XMP settings and used them at the specified timings. We pretty much expected that in our Intel build, but we’re looking forward to see how the memory behaves with AMD Ryzen processors.
Cardea m.2 SSD Installation & Impressions
In our review of Coffee Lake, which used the T-Force m.2 SSD, we were largely concerned about the drive’s benchmarking performance. We found it comparable to OCZ’s RD400 in metrics likely to have an impact on processor performance, but what are the actual performance differences?
I’m still looking for a good SSD benchmark tool on Linux, so I went with a tool I’m familiar with on Windows: AS SSD.
All in all, the numbers are quite good, and reflective of the m.2 market in general. Most NVMe drives still see the biggest gains on the read side.
More On The Way
After I completed my first look at these items and restored the RD400 back to a working state, it was time to send off the Night Hawk memory and Cardea SSD to TK, a member of our video team (XDA TV). He’ll be including them in an upcoming system build (our first full system build), and we’ll be doing additional testing and benchmarking once the build is complete. In addition, we’ll be publishing videos related to this system build over the next few weeks, so subscribe to our YouTube channel to get an alert when they go live.
We’ll also embed the videos in this article once they’re available!