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Corsair's XMS2 Dominator: The World's Fastest DDR2?

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September 22, 2006 11:15:34 AM

Corsair has applied its DHX heat sink technology to PC2-8888 1 GB modules, promising greater performance and reliability for the enthusiast. We put it to the test and see if their claims hold true.
September 22, 2006 2:09:08 PM

Commercial, nothing special in this review. I saw an increased performance for 2-3%, nothing more, just more cash.
September 22, 2006 2:32:11 PM

Ditto
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September 22, 2006 2:52:14 PM

Quote:
Commercial, nothing special in this review. I saw an increased performance for 2-3%, nothing more, just more cash.


Word.
September 22, 2006 2:52:22 PM

These won't even fit in most cases, as the motherboard ram slots are usually under the side of the HD/CD drive cage.

There's not enough space for the extra heatsink height + fan height. In my case, I couldn't fit just the ram in because of the extra heatsink height alone even if I didn't fit the fans.
September 22, 2006 3:20:28 PM

I agree it's not worth the money. But some people pay for looks, and to me it looks pretty cool. That's about it though...
September 22, 2006 3:24:16 PM

Looks cool, probably going to be very very expensive, cool to say your memory is running at 1.2Ghz I suppose.
September 22, 2006 3:53:08 PM

Quote:
Corsair's XMS2 Dominator: The World's Fastest DDR2?

Nice memory :^)
Forget the silly fan-thing (whose fans should be blowing up not down, right?) and be happy that speeds are getting higher and timings are becoming tighter.
I bet those sticks will do CAS3 at 800DDR, no problem LoL!
Nobody 'needs' the increased speed/bandwidth but we could all use CAS3 timings at something below 2.3V...
Corsair PC2-6400 CAS4 is great stuff, but too costly - however, these developments indicate this will be a more mainstream part in 2007.
The Dominators sure look kewl though, heheh (givin' me a chubb...)
Regards
September 22, 2006 5:32:49 PM

Quote:
Corsair has applied its DHX heat sink technology to PC2-8888 1 GB modules, promising greater performance and reliability for the enthusiast. We put it to the test and see if their claims hold true.


I would have liked to see these sticks compared to these mushkins, these Patriots, these OCZs and these GSkills. Why not show the competition?
September 22, 2006 6:06:24 PM

Quote:
Corsair has applied its DHX heat sink technology to PC2-8888 1 GB modules, promising greater performance and reliability for the enthusiast. We put it to the test and see if their claims hold true.


I would have liked to see these sticks compared to these mushkins, these Patriots, these OCZs and these GSkills. Why not show the competition?

Because quite honestly, Corsair is the king and all these others are just playing catch up. On the other hand, I would certainly agree that the extra performance isn't worth the extra cost. However, it doesn't change the fact that Corsair is the king.

hball
September 22, 2006 6:09:44 PM

Quote:
I would have liked to see these sticks compared to these mushkins, these Patriots, these OCZs and these GSkills. Why not show the competition?


Because quite honestly, Corsair is the king and all these others are just playing catch up. On the other hand, I would certainly agree that the extra performance isn't worth the extra cost. However, it doesn't change the fact that Corsair is the king.

So the way it works is that nobody gets to challenge the king?

I think not! Some hard-core OC'ers have done very well with some of the sticks I link.
September 22, 2006 6:52:16 PM

Quote:
Corsair's XMS2 Dominator: The World's Fastest DDR2?

Nice memory :^)
Forget the silly fan-thing (whose fans should be blowing up not down, right?) and be happy that speeds are getting higher and timings are becoming tighter.
I bet those sticks will do CAS3 at 800DDR, no problem LoL!
Nobody 'needs' the increased speed/bandwidth but we could all use CAS3 timings at something below 2.3V...
Corsair PC2-6400 CAS4 is great stuff, but too costly - however, these developments indicate this will be a more mainstream part in 2007.
The Dominators sure look kewl though, heheh (givin' me a chubb...)
Regards

I read somewhere on the Corsair website that they are actually 'electrically the same' as the 6400c3 product, whatever that means. The chips on the 6400c3 are already hand-selected, so presumably that means for the dominators they are just even more tightly hand-selected. Equally possible is that they just glued a heatsink on to some 6400c3s and that its just the active cooling that makes a difference.

The extra $150 bucks or so for a matched pair of 2gb dominators over a matched pair of 6400c3s seems too much to me, given the hardly measureable OC improvement it means to apps/games. It just seems like a nerd-tax.
September 22, 2006 7:10:04 PM

Quote:
I read somewhere on the Corsair website that they are actually 'electrically the same' as the 6400c3 product. The chips on the 6400c3 are already hand-selected, so presumably that means for the dominators they are just even more tightly hand-selected.


That's right, the individual chips get binned for premium product. Then, after the sticks are assembled, they get burned in, then go on a rig and their performance is checked. Some manufacturers do extensive testing and their product quality is a result.

Quote:
More probable is that its just the heatsink + active cooling that makes a difference.


It can't hurt...

Quote:
The extra $150 bucks or so for a matched pair of 2gb dominators over a matched pair of 6400c3s seems too much to me, given the hardly measureable OC improvement it means to apps/games.


One of the reasons I asked for more comparisons is that the benchmarks didn't show a whole lot of advantage. I'd think that the value of tigher timings and/or higher bandwidth will vary depending on the CPU, mobo and their setup. I look forward to controlled comparisons of the new high end DDR2 on a variety of systems, especially after the next round or two of mobo and bios tweaks. I don't think that the memory makers are gutting their customers on expensive RAM - instead I think it's not trivial to find premium chips that will deliver.
September 22, 2006 8:03:55 PM

Quote:
I'd think that the value of tigher timings and/or higher bandwidth will vary

Yes - but typically there is not much benefit to excessive bandwidth (especially if it comes at the cost of latency).
However, tighter timings will always have an immediate, tangible effect.
The CAS latency and speed in MHz for a given chip are inversely proportional, so CAS3 at 533MHz = CAS4 at 800MHz = CAS5 at 1066MHz or whatever... no surprise to you people, but news to some folks.
I am running my OCZ memory @533MHz @CAS3 at very low voltage, which pleases me greatly.
Surely this is much more important than having some huge bandwidth @CAS5...
Note: ABit BIOS for P965 mobo (AB9) shipped ver/ 1.2 and worked great with my Conroe and OCZ, posted right up no problem when built ~1 month ago.
Default = 1.8V memory (worked okay for me @ 533DDR).
Since then, ver/ 1.3 and 1.4 BIOS releases have increased Default voltage to 2.0V!
So clearly some folks were having issues. Hey, many mobos won't even give you as much as 2.0V, LoL, so that's a good thing.
Intel users are going nuts trying to get 800DDR or higher speeds - why?
Clearly, having tighter timings at a lower (synchronous) speed is more attractive,
L8R
September 22, 2006 8:21:58 PM

Quote:
Yes - but typically there is not much benefit to excessive bandwidth (especially if it comes at the cost of latency).
However, tighter timings will always have an immediate, tangible effect.


The recent Tom's article that addressed tight timings vs. high clock was not definitive, at times agreeing with your position, at times disagreeing. I've seen similar commentary elsewhere. No doubt, many hard core overclockers have found success by searching out a low latency solution. On one of my boxes, I get better performance for imaging and video apps by going the medium timings/high bandwidth route. I've only spent maybe 500 hours on that overclock thus far so maybe I'm not optimized.
September 22, 2006 8:25:53 PM

Quote:
Corsair's XMS2 Dominator: The World's Fastest DDR2?

Nice memory :^)
Forget the silly fan-thing (whose fans should be blowing up not down, right?) and be happy that speeds are getting higher and timings are becoming tighter.
I bet those sticks will do CAS3 at 800DDR, no problem LoL!


We designed the fans so that they would push airflow across the fins of the heatsink. Drawing in cooler air and blowing it over the modules proved most effective in our testing.

The Dominator design was done in order to drive technology forward. It's not a price/performance ratio part, just like a Ferrari isn't. Our goal was to make the world's fastest memory and we did that, at a price. It's extremely difficult to make.

The ICs used are the same ICs we've used on the 6400C3 modules, Micron rev D. There's no secret to this, as every manufacturer with high-end memory is using these ICs. The difference is these are screened at the IC level extensively, then built onto modules and screened at the module level as well. Then we add heatsinks and screen them once again. We have, without a doubt, the most extensive and effective screening process in the industry, as shown by our rock-solid stability and the fact that we make the world's fastest DDR2 modules.

For some of you guys who say "this is nothing you couldn't do yourself", you're right.

If you had a few hundred thousand ICs from Micron and a $100,000 tester, you could screen the ICs yourself. You could pay a few thousand dollars to have somebody custom design you a PCB for the memory, then a few more thousand dollars to buy a bunch of them. Then if you had some soldering equipment designed for RAM you could build up some modules, and if you had a few of the world's fastest DDR2 motherboards (right now, the M2N32-SLI from Asus is pretty nice) you could test them at that level, provided you had a good memory test. Then you could go to a machine shop and have them craft you a couple of heatsinks for them. You put those on there, and screen them again, and after all that, your 100,000 ICs have turned into maybe 10 modules that will do 8888 at C4 @ 2.4V. So you take the rest of your ICs and make 6400C3s, 6400C4s, 8500C5s, etc. And those 10 modules cost more than they might be worth to some people, just like that Ferrari costs more than it would be worth to some people.

But then again, some people want the fastest in the world and are willing to pay for it.

We still make great value parts. The 5400C4s are good overclockers, the 6400 parts are great as well.
September 22, 2006 8:32:12 PM

Quote:

One of the reasons I asked for more comparisons is that the benchmarks didn't show a whole lot of advantage. I'd think that the value of tigher timings and/or higher bandwidth will vary depending on the CPU, mobo and their setup. I look forward to controlled comparisons of the new high end DDR2 on a variety of systems, especially after the next round or two of mobo and bios tweaks. I don't think that the memory makers are gutting their customers on expensive RAM - instead I think it's not trivial to find premium chips that will deliver.


One of the things I like enough about Corsair memory to be a purchasing factor is the inclusion of EPP. It basically tells the motherboard how hard it can be overclocked so if you have an nVidia chipset you can leave it to the motherboard's proprietary overclocking system to get it right.
September 22, 2006 8:41:07 PM

Corsair, epp, sli certified, best looking, the fastest...but not by a large margin.
I wanna see these "sisoft sandra" against the new OCZ and the current Mushkin i have heard so many great things about.

Most likely I buy these when they aren't $150 over the other comparable modules.

Corsair Rocks!
September 22, 2006 8:47:43 PM

Quote:

One of the reasons I asked for more comparisons is that the benchmarks didn't show a whole lot of advantage. I'd think that the value of tigher timings and/or higher bandwidth will vary depending on the CPU, mobo and their setup. I look forward to controlled comparisons of the new high end DDR2 on a variety of systems, especially after the next round or two of mobo and bios tweaks. I don't think that the memory makers are gutting their customers on expensive RAM - instead I think it's not trivial to find premium chips that will deliver.


One of the things I like enough about Corsair memory to be a purchasing factor is the inclusion of EPP. It basically tells the motherboard how hard it can be overclocked so if you have an nVidia chipset you can leave it to the motherboard's proprietary overclocking system to get it right.

That's fine for you. I overclock the old fashioned way: I EARN it. Actually, I've piddled with the automated scheme enough to know I'd rather do it myself. Alas, you have a solution you're happy with, and I have mine. I wonder how what percentage of hard core overclockers use the mobo's system to do their OC??? I've never seen one of the owners of a large OC machine on XS being done on auto. Ahh, what do they know? Wusy, why doesn't your C2D OC manual tout the advantages of automated overclocking?
September 22, 2006 9:41:04 PM

Quote:

That's fine for you. I overclock the old fashioned way: I EARN it. Actually, I've piddled with the automated scheme enough to know I'd rather do it myself. Alas, you have a solution you're happy with, and I have mine. I wonder how what percentage of hard core overclockers use the mobo's system to do their OC??? I've never seen one of the owners of a large OC machine on XS being done on auto. Ahh, what do they know? Wusy, why doesn't your C2D OC manual tout the advantages of automated overclocking?


I agree that manual tweaking is the best way to go, but the automated system gives you a good starting point.

You can iterate through many 'tweak/stability test/re-tweak cycles before you get to your absolute best configuration. Depending on your carefulness, each 'stability test' phase may take at least a couple of hours before you're happy its really stable. Starting from the automated best OC point rather than 'not-overclocked' point could save you a lot of time.
September 22, 2006 9:58:27 PM

Hi Redbeard,
Thanks for posting, we love to hear Knowledge.
Quote:
Forget the silly fan-thing (whose fans should be blowing up not down, right?)

Of course that's just wrong - up is not even up anymore, when a tower case is righted, LoL. Sorry 'bout that, I was just saying we probably won't require it. But it's a good thing.
Who said they could make memory chips like Corsair themselves? Hah! Good luck, LoL. No way.
Redbeard, does my OCZ use those good chips too? It is in my sig and they call it Revision2 edition...?
I still suspect benchmarks that measure strictly memory bandwidth might not get you much more than the Sandra Crown, but certain situations can benefit it's true.
Heck, now they can make the CPU FSBs much faster without any memory bottlenecks whatsoever (no problem at all, LoL)
So, who's the big competition Redbeard? It's OCZ right?
I've been buying Corsair for years, never a problem.
My old Corsair (TwinX DDR) would come up 2-2-2-5, didn't matter what speed, it always came up automatically. It is now old but still running flawlessly for its new owner...
I would have Corsair now but they were out of stock... heheh.
I can tell you that my OCZ heatshields are kinda warped and pulling away from the chips. They looked real pretty, new in the package. Hmmm...
Regards
September 22, 2006 11:11:42 PM

I think its a step in the right direction, but i will stick to heatspreaders.
September 23, 2006 12:00:45 AM

Quote:
The smarter bunch who doesn't want to get ripped off by you guys goes out and hunt for the correct modules w/ Micron D9GKX with the right binning to reach 550Mhz 4-4-4-12 @2.45V.
That's what every AM2 overclockers should be doing.

Quite frankly, I know more about your gimmick company than you do.


How do you find modules with the right binning? I've never seen that information in any specs...
September 23, 2006 2:38:04 AM

Quote:
As said, you have to hunt for them.



Errr.. still... I don't know any places that let you take your PC in and go through all their ram and benchmark it all...
September 23, 2006 5:35:57 AM

Quote:
Corsair has applied its DHX heat sink technology to PC2-8888 1 GB modules, promising greater performance and reliability for the enthusiast. We put it to the test and see if their claims hold true.
In Canada, this stuff is absurdly priced. Better to jump to a higher model CPU. If you already have the top model, then spend the extra on a Phase-change set-up. :wink:

$799.99 CAD
http://www.pccanada.com/viewitem.asp?id=5133

$740.72 CAD
http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=20540&vpn=TW...

And these 2 online-stores are 2 of the cheapest in Canada. 8O
September 23, 2006 1:48:49 PM

Hi guys,
Just to mention, things are wacky right now in Canada - RAM prices are on the rampage and I'm not sure what will happen!
I live ~10 minutes from PCCanada and I'm not in there every day, but almost. The owner is a friend, and when I asked what's up, he shrugged.
"Core2 is coming down" he offered helpfully.
In July I bought 2GB Corsair TwinX PC2-6400 (C5) for $279 CDN. Now they want almost $400 bucks for the same thing! It's nuts.
My own memory is now over $400 - I paid $100 bucks less, in August.
Anyway I told Frank the owner, it won't fly - people will begin to mail-order from USA if local prices are too shocking.
But: are prices not on the increase in the States too?
I was joking earlier this summer, about the new AM2 and Conroe, saying "DDR2 vendors everywhere will be thrilled" but I must say I never expected this to happen... heheh.
It's Vista + Core2 + AM2 and it's all just peaking right now. Hopefully things will calm down before Christmas...
Damn memory costs as much as mobo + CPU, LoL
L8R
September 23, 2006 2:30:21 PM

Look at those price! :? Really fast but not that big of real results during gaming. Only for the rich ones. Still DDR2 533 are still the best for price, performance and overclocking. That's just me, but if I have the money I sure hell would get two of this monster. :D 
September 23, 2006 3:23:59 PM

Quote:
As said, you have to hunt for them.


Errr.. still... I don't know any places that let you take your PC in and go through all their ram and benchmark it all...

There are numerous approaches. Start by reading success stories to find out what you want in the first place. They have already been binned into the product that has a good rep so you start from a good point. Then go buy a couple of sticks and give them a try. If you can't get them to run right, go buy another pair, see if they do better than the first, then sell the pair you like the least. Rinse, repeat. You may find a stellar pair, you may not.

Approach #2: Talk to people and find someone that already has an outstanding pair of sticks, then try to buy them from him/her. You better hope you can trust the person you're buying from.

Approach number 3: I'm not even going to tell you this one because it's illegal.
September 25, 2006 4:38:52 AM

What about DDR3? Is it coming out any time soon?
September 25, 2006 7:14:53 AM

Corsair definitely knows their way around heat dissipation, but I think this may be pushing it...for the RAM PCB's, that is. Current memory arch. sure can't go much further right now, and I can't see any real-world need for any of this until new DDR3 has been proven overclockable.
September 25, 2006 1:51:37 PM

Quote:
Corsair definitely knows their way around heat dissipation, but I think this may be pushing it... and I can't see any real-world need for any of this

Yes exactly.
Buddy Redbeard has pointed out that this is something of a technology exercise, pioneering into the future and providing the Ferrari experience, costing leading-edge dollars.
But 2.4V!?
This is my concern - as you know, the standard is 1.8V and many mobos will not supply more.
~2.0V is therefore a high-performance overvolt setting.
Many OCZ specify 2.1-2.2V for top performance settings, and my memory maintains lifetime warranty at 2.3V...
But 2.4V is nuts.
If they have better screening for faster parts, better binning and selection, they should have fast memory at 1.8V!
That is, after all, the official objective - right?
2.4V LoL, good luck getting that to POST...
So I agree - it is much less than useful in the real world,
Regards
September 26, 2006 3:06:06 PM

Quote:
Corsair definitely knows their way around heat dissipation, but I think this may be pushing it...I can't see any real-world need for any of this....


For as much work as went into the article, we find that the memory does help over-all system speed, some, but that's it. The fans and fan noise are noted, but are they needed? We don't know! Arrrg!

Yes, I think we do know. If the memory actually uses so much power that it needs cooling fans, where normal memory doesn't even need a heat sink, mainboards would not and could not supply the power needed for the memory, as it would be way beyond the power budget. I'm pretty sure the fans just add to the "coolness factor," and the amount of noise generated.

Since Tom's is into testing CPU power usage, why not report on memory power consumption and dissipation also???
September 30, 2006 4:27:59 PM

This news is over a month old and still you can't actually buy any anywhere.
October 1, 2006 1:36:01 AM

Quote:
where exactly do you get your info that they don't need fans or heatsinks cause "normal" memory doesn't.

exactly what memory are you comparing this to. value select or something. if you can find me memory that is the same speed and uses the same voltage that doesn't need extra cooling i would be surprised.

perhaps they will exist but i will belive it when i see it.


Agreed - assuming you want the RAM to last a while, I think you'd need extra cooling, in part because not every buyer is gonna have a case with excellent airflow.
November 15, 2006 5:51:55 AM

1) latency timings have little to no effect on intel systems, tests have been done. It does have performance effects on amd systems.

2)given that latency timings dont effect intel systems in performance gain. many other ram alternatives(most cheaper) can overclock to 1.18-1.2ghz frequency at higher timings. This allows you to achieve the same performance on intel systems without shelling out the dough. Ill list some here.

keep in mind all these rams are clocked to a maximum of 2.45V on the asus p5b deluxe board, which in my opinion is the best board for overclocking intel systems right now. The bios for this mobo supports many different ram dividers, meaning u can set the ram to run at 533, 667, 800, 889, and 1066 native default frequences.(note other boards can clock beyond 2.45V)

now onto the rams:( all ram listed here are 2x1gb kits)
1) G. Skill F2-8500PHU2-2GBHZ - 1.18GHz at 6-6-6-18
2)OCZ pc2-8000 EL Dual CH Platinum Extreme Ed. - 1.2GHz at 6-6-6-18
3)OCZ pc2-8000 DualCHTitanium Alpha VX2 - 1.18GHz at 6-6-6-18
4)A-Data Vitesta DDR2-1000+ - 1.18GHz at 5-5-5-15

p.s. the p5b deluxe mobo works with the corsair 8500 dominator series.
the twin 2X XMS2 (PC2-8500) C5D Dominator can overclock to 1.16GHz at 6-6-6-18 latency timing at 2.45V.

p.s#2 with respect to AMD boards, id recommend the G. Skill F2-8500PHU2-2GBHZ with asus crosshair mobo. Since AMD is sensitive to latency timings, this ram can overclock to 1.12GHz at its default 4-4-4-5 latency timing at 2.45V. If you dont know how incredible this is, just go give it a try.
November 17, 2006 2:41:06 AM

Quote:
1) latency timings have little to no effect on intel systems, tests have been done. It does have performance effects on amd systems.

2)given that latency timings dont effect intel systems in performance gain. many other ram alternatives(most cheaper) can overclock to 1.18-1.2ghz frequency at higher timings. This allows you to achieve the same performance on intel systems without shelling out the dough. Ill list some here.


Can others confirm the comments here?
!