Corsair Dominator TWIN2X4096-9136C5DF
Corsair’s Dominator memory is the state-of-the-art product line offered by the memory specialist. Launched in 2008, it has been extended from 2 GB kits to 4 GB kits and from DDR2 to DDR3 memory. You’ll recognize it by a great mixture of low latencies, high clock speeds and Corsair’s proprietary Dual Heat Exchange (DHX) cooling technology, which dissipates heat through the inside of the memory module as well as through the outside.
We looked at various types of Dominator memory, and found all of them to offer great performance, while often still having some overclocking margin despite their high stock speeds. However, Dominator comes at a price : they are among the best, but also the most expensive memory options at around $400. That said, the PC2-8500 kit, which reaches only 1066 speeds, is much more affordable at less than $200.
We received a TWIN2X4096-9136C5DF kit for review, which represents the top-of-the-line DDR2 memory kit. It consists of two 2 GB modules, both supporting the Enhanced Performance Profile that is used by Nvidia nForce 600 chipsets and higher models to automatically set the fastest possible settings. The SPD-ROM is programmed for JEDEC default CL5-5-5-18 timings.
PC2-9136 specifications equal DDR2-1142 speeds, which represents a 571 MHz base clock speed. Corsair specified CL5-5-5-15 timings at this maximum clock speed, and requires a 2.1 V memory voltage. An EPP-capable chipset is able to automatically set these parameters, while you will have to make settings manually on Intel or AMD chipsets.
All Dominator DIMMs include the Dominator Airflow, a memory cooling device based on three 40 mm fans. The Dominator Airflow can be snapped onto almost all memory sockets, so it can also be used with non-Corsair hardware. We found the Dominator Airflow to be a nice addition to ensure stable memory operation at high clock speeds, but we consider it not a real advantage to reaching those faster memory speeds. These are typically limited by the memory ICs and the cooling solution, which is very solid in the case of the Dominator memory.
We wanted to see how far the new 2 GB DIMMs could go, given that this 4 GB memory kit is already rated as PC2-9136. We looked at the maximum clock speed using the specified CL5-5-5-15 timings at the default 2.1 V voltage ; the fastest stable speed was DDR2-1142 or 571 MHz base clock speed. Our next step was a voltage increase to 2.3 V, which we applied for all of the memory products to check maximum overclocking, since we consider this the maximum value that should be reliable over time. DDR2-1200 speed was possible here, but we found it to be not entirely stable. Further voltage increase helped to make the setting reliable, but this wasn’t what we wanted to do. Our goal was secure overclocking at the specified timings and voltage, so we reached a maximum of DDR2-1176 speed, which represented only a small overclock.