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Corsair Dominator 2x1GB DDR3 PC3-14400 Review

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3oh6

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<center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/corsair_logo-1.png" alt="Corsair Logo">


<b>Corsair Dominator 2x1GB PC3-14400 Review</b></center>



<b>Price:</b> $499.99 CND <a href="http://hardwarecanucks.pricecanada.com/detail.php?product_id=498992&sku=TWIN3X20481800C7DF">Click Here to Compare Prices</a>
<b>Manufacturer:</b> <a href="http://www.corsair.com/">Corsair</a>
<b>Manufacturer's Part Number:</b> TWIN3X2048-1800C7DF
<b>Warranty:</b> Lifetime Warranty



<p style="text-align: justify;">When you think of Corsair Memory you think stability, quality, customer service, and if you hang out in enthusiast forums...the bearded support staff. Having been an industry leader in the production of memory for almost 15 years now, Corsair is a well established and trusted brand in enthusiast circles. Not only do they offer some of the best performing memory available, Corsair backs it up with a visible and friendly support staff that are only an internet forum away. We have looked at other Corsair products in the past here at Hardware Canucks, but this is our first dance with the darling of the Corsair ball, and what a dance it promises to be.</p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dominator_logo-1.png"></center>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Top Gear's Richard Hammond was about to take a jet powered car off-roading, the world was about to lose one of the true patrons of its natural habitat in Steve Irwan, and Corsair dropped the bomb on what was to be the biggest step forward in memory cooling technology since the heat spreader was introduced. It was the summer of 2006 and despite being almost two years ago now, it seems like yesterday when we first laid eyes on the beautiful black heat sinks that have become the industry standard for superior memory...the Corsair Dominator line was born.

Corsair needed a flagship and they found it in the Dominator brand. "The DOMINATOR family of modules represents the very best of Corsair’s engineering." as described by Corsair leaves nothing to the imagination. Dominator memory is the best that Corsair puts out and ranks among the highest rated modules industry wide. We have the absolute pleasure of looking at a high frequency/low timing DDR3 kit of Corsair Dominator memory today in the TWIN3X2048-1800C7DF. Rated for operation at DDR3-1800 with tight timings of 7-7-7-20, our NVIDIA 790i based motherboard has been drooling ever since we got confirmation they were on their way. So without further delay, let the games begin.</p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/small/modules-3.jpg"></center>
 
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3oh6

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Specifications

<b>Specifications</b>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/specs-1.png" alt="" border="0" style="float: left; margin: 4px 7px 4px 0px";>Memory has very little in the way of specifications so let's keep this short and sweet, like Reese Witherspoon. As the image to the left indicates, these modules are tested for operation at <b>900MHz (DDR3-1800) 7-7-7-20 at 2.0v</b> on the Asus P5K3 motherboard. This shows the relative age of these modules as they have been available for a number of months now. Corsair has since released an XMP version of these modules designed for Intel X38/X48 motherboards as well as an EPP programmed kit designed for the NVIDIA 7 series motherboards.

The other setting worth noting is that these modules are rated for this frequency and timings at 2.0v. This is pretty much the upper limit as far as manufacturers have gone with rated voltage for DDR3. There have been many discussions as of late dealing with this very topic in the enthusiast forums and 2.1v seems to be about the max current DDR3 IC's are willing to take without risking damage. Seeing most manufacturers limit voltage at 2.0v fits right into this pattern of thought. So despite this kit being tested with an Intel P35 based motherboard, we are quite confident that it will run just fine on the NVIDIA 790i Ultra SLI based motherboard we have planned for it.

At this point we turn our attentions to the superior cooling offered by the Dominator and all DHX Corsair memory modules. DHX stands for Dual-path Heat Xchange and is a term derived straight from how the heat sinks work. Essentially there are two pathways for heat to be dissipated. One path removes heat through the outside heat sink from direct contact with the ICs and the other path draws heat out of the specially designed PCBs to the inner layer of the heat sink.<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/specs-3.jpg" alt="" border="0" style="float: right; margin: 4px 0px 4px 7px";>

As mentioned, these heat sinks are nothing new but still unique in an industry that has the competition scrambling to match the ingenuity some twenty four months after they have been released. It isn't often when that happens and that just shows how far ahead of the competition this memory cooling solution from Corsair is.</p>
 
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3oh6

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Package & Memory Overview

Package & Memory Overview

We are now getting into the meat and potatoes of the review with our first look at the actual modules we will be testing today. As always, we start with a look at the package that they came in and then the hardware itself.

<CENTER> </CENTER>
This is the retail package the Corsair Dominator PC3-14400 7-7-7 kit comes in. It is your typical molded plastic clam shell that is used for so many memory kits these days. The modules are held securely in place in the upper portion of the package and because the plastic is clear, we can see pretty much the entire module.

<CENTER> </CENTER>
Sitting behind the modules providing a back drop is the paper insert with all of the advertising and marketing logos as well as some information about the Dominator heat sink design on the back side. It was just mentioned that the modules were held 'securely' in place thanks to the molded plastic tabs where they rest. The Dominator Airflow fan doesn't have the same comfort. In fact, the Airflow fan doesn't really fit in the package at all and the package will not stay securely closed. Our modules luckily stayed locked in their spot during transport but many consumers have complained that upon receiving Dominator memory in this package, modules came loose from the package because of the Airflow fan blocking the ability for the package to close. We would really like to see a solution for this issue and for Corsair to come up with a better, just as cost effective, solution for transporting modules with the Airflow fan.

<CENTER> </CENTER>
Like we said, the Airflow fan is the culprit for the package not staying closed. The fan comes disassemble and the package of screws seen above are part of the problem. Even when we tucked the screws to assemble the fan inside the chassis of the fan, the package still would not close. The other important role of the interior sheet of paper is installation instructions. The sheet opens up and provides instructions for both memory installation, and the Dominator fan installation.

<CENTER> </CENTER>
Assembling the Dominator fan is very easy and is accomplished without tools thanks to the thumb screws. We simply have to slide the mounting tab in place and secure it with the double washer and thumb screw. It was fully assembled in less than two minutes and the hardest part was just getting into the bag for the mounting screws. In the end we simply destroyed the bag to make it happen.

<CENTER> </CENTER>
Aren't they just beautiful? In our opinion here at Hardware Canucks, the Dominator heat sinks are not only the most technically advanced thermal solution for memory but the tuxedo black finish and overall visual appeal of these modules is just stunning. The entire design, right down to the part label, is esthetically pleasing and very well conceived. The use of the dark PCBs that match the heat sink is a very nice touch as well. I guess if you are going to be designing and getting a custom PCB made, you might as well get it done in a color that compliments the rest of the module.

<CENTER> </CENTER>
The primary feature of the Dominator heat sinks are the cooling fins at the top of the module. There is also additional cooling engineered into the side of the heat sinks through the way of the ribbed surface. Not only does it add visual appeal and style the module, but it provides the slightest extra bit of surface area for dissipating heat. Naturally these modules are taller than a standard module which will play a role during installation so we will discuss that then.

<CENTER>
modules-5.jpg
</CENTER>
As much as the rest of the module is impressive, the real work isn't on the exterior. The real design elements that set these DHX heat sinks apart is under the visible portion of the heat sink and part of the silver interior cooling fins we see poking out of the top of the modules here.

<CENTER> </CENTER>
The base of the silver fins originates here, on the upper portion of the PCB. This gold plate along the top of the PCB is the contact pad we saw earlier in the specifications diagram where the silver cooling fins remove the heat that is coming through the PCB. This design is so very well executed that just looking at these photos is impressive, let alone how well the design works. Directly from the side we can see the ICs on the inside halves of the modules but no ICs on the outside. This is because these modules are single sided as are most Micron based 1GB DDR3 modules. This means that a simple thermal pad has been placed on the backside to ensure the heat sinks sit flat on the module for optimal cooling of the ICs on the other side. Corsair also uses a clear thin layer of thermal interface material between the ICs and the heat sinks but we can't even see it in the photos here. This thermal interface is actually cured in an oven to provide the ultimate thermal conductivity. It also prevents us from removing the heat sinks to inspect the ICs.
 
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3oh6

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Memory Installation & Test Setup

<b>Memory Installation & Test Setup</b>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The available motherboards for testing installation at this time has been shrunk down to the single EVGA 790i board that we will be doing our testing on so that is naturally all that we will be able to present for photos. I think it goes without saying though, that these modules are taller than a standard module so keep this in mind when making your CPU cooler and motherboard purchasing decisions. You will want to see just how much room the memory DIMMs have from both the CPU cooler and northbridge cooler.</p><center><a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/install-1.jpg"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/small/install-1.jpg" alt="" border="0"></a> <a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/install-2.jpg"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/small/install-2.jpg" alt="" border="0"></a></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Our test motherboard, the EVGA 790i Ultra SLI is clearly well laid out, especially considering the fact that the Thermalright Ultra-120 is turned sideways stretching out as far as pretty much any CPU cooler does on the market today...and all four DIMM slots have plenty of space. The Noctua NC-U6 cooler on the northbridge is about equal in width if not a little bigger than the stock cooling on this motherboard and it too has no issues with the DIMM slots. This just means that the added height of the Corsair Dominator DHX heat sinks really doesn't affect the installation in this particular setup.</p><center><a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/install-3.jpg"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/small/install-3.jpg" alt="" border="0"></a> <a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/install-4.jpg"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/small/install-4.jpg" alt="" border="0"></a></center><p style="text-align: justify;">The other portion of the installation is for the Dominator Airflow fan that comes bundled with select Corsair Dominator modules. This fan is comprised of three small 40mm fans and securely clips onto the memory module retaining clips. The fan is a very nice addition and matches the color scheme of the Dominator modules for a unified look. There are many reports of the fans dying a premature death and going out like a pack of cats brawling outside your open window while you sleep at night, but we have not experienced it yet. At the same time, we haven't used the fan all that much because we choose to go with a 120mm over the modules that also helps sweep hot air away from the Noctua NC-U6 northbridge cooler.</p><center><a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/spd-1.jpg"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/small/spd-1.png" alt="" border="0"></a> <a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/spd-2.jpg"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/small/spd-2.png" alt="" border="0"></a></center><p style="text-align: justify;">When booting the system at defaults, our Corsair Dominator modules come in at 667MHz at 9-9-9 timings. This obviously isn't specification and with most if not all performance memory, in order to run the memory for what it was designed, we need to make adjustments in the BIOS. The reason memory manufacturers program the SPD of the modules below specification is so that it will boot in a motherboard at default settings. You see, motherboards will usually only boot at the JEDEC specified voltage. For DDR3, this voltage is only 1.5v. This is far below the specified voltage for these modules of 2.0v at the rated frequency and timings. If these modules were programmed to boot at specified timings, they might not even POST at 1.5v. So the task of setting specified timings is up to us...but Corsairs support forums and technical staff do an excellent job assisting anyone with questions about this process. You simply need to head over the www.AskTheRamGuy.com and provide some of your system specifications and they will help you out. This address is provided on the package of all Corsair memory.</p>

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/setup-1.jpg" style="float: right; margin: 4px 0px 5px 20px"><b>Test Platform:</b>
  • <b>Motherboard:</b> EVGA 790i Ultra SLI
  • <b>Processor:</b> Intel C2D E8400
  • <b>Processor Cooling:</b> Thermalright Ultra-120
  • <b>Memory:</b> Corsair Dominator PC3-14400 7-7-7-20
  • <b>Power Supply:</b> Silverstone Zeus ST56ZF
  • <b>Video Card:</b> HIS HD3870X2 512MB
  • <b>Additional Fans:</b> 120mm AD1212MS-A73GL 2050RPM/80.5CFM
  • <b>Hard Drive:</b> 1 x Seagate 7200.9 80GB SATAII 8MB cache
  • <b>OS:</b> Windows XP SP2 (with all updates)
<p style="text-align: justify;">In past memory reviews we have brought up the fact that not all motherboards can guarantee that they will run DDR3-1800 memory. Some do list it as a feature like the up-coming review we have on the Asus P5E3-Premium. For the motherboards that don't, obviously buying a kit of memory that isn't guaranteed to run on a motherboard at the specified frequency is a risk you as the consumer are going to have to accept. Corsair does have excellent technical support and they will definitely help you as best they can should you run into that situation but the motherboard manufacturer won't, since it isn't supported.

The motherboard we are working with today doesn't specify this particular kit for guaranteed operation but it does specify that memory up to 1000MHz or DDR3-2000 is supported. So that means, as long as this memory is willing, the motherboard should allow it. Corsair does have a brand new kit of Dominator memory designed specifically for the NVIDIA chipset based motherboards specified to run at the same DDR3-14400 7-7-7 of this kit. In addition to that, Corsair also recently released a PC3-16000 kit that is specified to run at DDR3-2000 9-9-9 on NVIDIA chipsets with the part number TW3X2G2000C9DFNV. That may be a product to look forward to here on the pages of Hardware Canucks. For now though, we will have to settle for the already lightning fast DDR3-1800 kit in front of us.</p>
<center><a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/setup-2.jpg"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/setup-2.jpg" alt="" border="0"></a></center>
 
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3oh6

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Stability Testing & Overclocking

<b>Stability Testing & Overclocking:</b>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Our stability testing methods for memory have been discussed at length in the past, so we are going to simply rely on the explanation from previous reviews. Here is a run-down of what we consider to be proper stability testing.</p><b>Stability Testing Methodology:</b><p style="text-align: justify;">Memory stability, what constitutes stable? What is not considered stable? These questions get hotly debated in enthusiast forums all over the internet like little brush fires on the fringe of an inferno that play havoc with forest fire crews. Everyone has their own opinion about stability, especially when it comes to memory stability. For some, stable means they can do whatever it is on their computer without it crashing, blue-screening, or restarting; whether that means gaming or just surfing the internet. To this user, stable means simply using the computer as they normally would.</p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/setup-3.jpg" alt="" border="0"></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Of course, that is not what we would call stable and we do a lot more thorough testing before labeling a memory frequency/timing stable. One of the toughest types of programs on a system has been found to be distributed computing projects such as [email protected], [email protected], World Community Grid, and more. Running 24/7 crunching for one of these great causes is a sure way to find holes in a system if there is truly some instability, unfortunately it takes a considerable amount of time to use them for stability testing so we use the list of programs below to all but guarantee the system to be 24/7 distributed computing stable:</p><p style="text-align: justify;">For those use to seeing reviews with a CPU-Z screenshot and a comment that the system was "solid as a rock", you will be quite surprised to see the above testing in the screenshots below. Every overclock of our memory sample listed in this section has gone through this testing. Naturally just because our sample has clocked this well, doesn't mean that every sample will. On the flip side, many samples of this memory will overclock much higher than ours did so it goes both ways. In the end, view the results from this sample as just that, a single sample of many varying kits.

<b>Specification Stability Testing:</b>

<p style="text-align: justify;">The Specification Stability Testing section is just that, to test stability at the specified frequency, timings, and voltage. With memory modules coming out specified to run at the bleeding edge, we wanted to test to make sure they were actually capable of running said specifications. We not only manually set the system up to run the specified settings, but we also measure voltage right from the motherboard to accurately know the actual voltage being supplied to the modules. The voltage that is set in the BIOS is hardly ever what is actually being supplied. Measuring vDIMM from where we do, it ensures that the modules run at their rated voltage, not at an elevated voltage because the BIOS setting was off.</p>
Click for full size screenshot...
<center><a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/stable_spec-1.png"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/small/stable_spec-1.png" border="0"></a></center><p style="text-align: justify;">The stability testing used is the exact same we use for testing the stability of the overclocks. This battery of tests has actually been referred to as "...a bit more rigorous than typical applications that most enthusiasts would run on a regular basis." by one memory manufacturer. After hearing that, we know our stability test is adequate since it is too much for some. Of course, the Dominators passed this test with flying colors as we expected despite the motherboard not really liking CL7, we'll see more about this shortly. Let's now move on to the fun stuff.</p>
<b>Stability Overclocking:</b><p style="text-align: justify;">As we just discussed, all voltages listed in the chart below are marked with an (A). This (A) signifies actual voltage that is being supplied to the modules measured right at the DIMM slot. Most motherboards don't actually supply the voltage that you select in the BIOS so listing that voltage would be useless. This way, we know how the memory performed with the actual voltage being supplied.</p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/ocing-1.png" alt="" border="0"></center><p style="text-align: justify;">That is right folks, there is no lying here, this kit of memory was actually stable at 1045MHz on this 790i motherboard. To say that this motherboard loves this memory at 8-7-6 timings is an understatement. To go even further, the memory was able to run dual 32M SPi instances up to 1060MHz with the same amount of voltage, but wasn't Prime/HCI Memtest stable at that frequency. In all honesty, the 8-7-6 clocks were probably being held back by the motherboard but at the same time, this NVIDIA 790i Ultra SLI chipset is a lot more impressive for memory clocks than any other has been to date. This Corsair Dominator felt like it was going to clock forever at these timings, it really was a blast to test at.

On the other hand, 7-6-5 timings were really disappointing. This again is a motherboard factor we believe. No memory we have tried in the short time we have spent with this motherboard has done well at 7-6-5. It might be CL7 or might simply be the combination of tRCD and tRP at 6-5 with CL7. Either way, we can't blame the memory for these clocks and as soon as the Asus P5E3-Premium comes in, we will be testing this kit at CL7 on that motherboard so look for an update in the discussion thread for this review at that time.

Going down to even tighter 6-6-5 was a bit of a question mark for us after seeing what 7-6-5 did but again, this kit and motherboard combo impressed us like the 8-7-6 clocking. The Corsair Dominator memory really felt at home at this timing set and clocked to a more than acceptable DDR3-1650 at 2.1v (A). These clocks with tRCD and tRP at 6-5 just further point the finger at CL7 on this motherboard as these timings with CL6 were simply incredible.</p>
click for full size screenshots...
<center><a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/ocing-2.png"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/small/ocing-2.png" border="0"></a> <a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/ocing-3.png"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/small/ocing-3.png" border="0"></a> <a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/ocing-4.png"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/small/ocing-4.png" border="0"></a></center>
 
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3oh6

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Benchmark Methodology

<b>Benchmark Methodology</b><p style="text-align: justify;">In all of the benchmark graphs including the sample graph to the right. For recent DDR3 reviews we have seen comparisons to DDR2-1200 5-5-5, DDR2-1000 4-4-4, and DDR2-1120 4-4-4-8. We figured it is about time to quit beating a dead horse and cut out the DDR2 comparisons. It has been seen on all three occasions that despite DDR3 providing higher bandwidth and equal latencies, this does not equate to a substantial increase in either synthetic or real world benchmark results.<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/method-1.png" alt="Just a sample graph outlining where the results will be coming from in the up-coming benchmarks." style="float: right; margin: 4px 0px 4px 7px"> So today we will simply be taking a look at a couple memory setups in the benchmarks.

As always, the grey bars in the graphs <b>(1 / 2)</b> will indicate the rated frequency and timings of the Corsair Dominator memory. For these <b>grey</b> results, all but the primary memory timings are left on AUTO in the BIOS. This will best simulate what the average user would have for a setup on a 790i board. We have gone with two sets of 'stock' settings. One, as if the average user left the CPU at stock and simply un-linked the memory and set 1800 in the BIOS. The other is with a mild overclock to 400x9 with the memory set to 1800 as well. Naturally, the first grey bar isn't exactly DDR3-1800 but as close as un-linked memory would allow with a 333MHz bus speed (1333 FSB). This motherboard is nice because it allows this simple method in order to run the memory at the frequency it is rated for without having to overclock the system bus or only to overclock the system bus marginally like we have with the second set of results.

The last three red results in the graphs <b>(2 / 3 / 4)</b> are reserved for the 'non-stock' settings. With the 790i motherboard we have complete freedom with what we want to compare so we took this opportunity to explore the memory performance of the 790i chipset a little bit with a direct comparison of 6-6-5 at close to its maximum stable overclock, 7-6-5 at near its max, and 8-7-6 at its highest stable clocks we can achieve. The CPU frequency, FSB, and all other variables remain the same, all that changes is the memory frequency and timings, thanks to the un-linked memory ability. This essentially provides a direct comparison between the three memory frequencies at the height of their potential with this kit. That is of course as long as the different ratios play no role in the performance.

For all of the benchmarks, appropriate lengths are taken to ensure an equal comparison through methodical setup, installation, and testing. The following outlines our testing methodology:

a/ Windows is installed using a full format.
b/ NVIDIA Chipset drivers and accessory hardware drivers (audio, network, GPU) are installed followed by a defragment and a reboot.
c/ Programs and games are then installed followed by another defragment.
d/ Windows updates are then completed installing all available updates including .NET Framework followed by a defragment.
e/ Benchmarks are each ran three times after a clean reboot for every iteration of the benchmark unless otherwise stated, the results are then averaged.

We have listed the benchmark versions on each graph as results can vary between updates. Normally we would briefly discuss the effect tRD has on performance but this review is taking place on an NVIDIA chipset and not an Intel like previous memory reviews so there is nothing to discuss really. What you see is what you get, there is no monkey business or adjustments going on in the background that need to be brought into the light.</p>
 
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3oh6

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Memory Benchmarks

<b>Memory Benchmarks</b><p style="text-align: justify;">Let the benchmarking games begin. As mentioned, we have the ability to adjust memory freely for the most part on the 790i based platform so we used this opportunity to get a direct head to head comparison between top clocks at 6-6-5, 7-6-5, and 8-7-6. Let's see how each timing set does in memory bandwidth and latency tests.</p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/bench-1.png"> <img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/bench-2.png" style="margin: 108px 0 0 0;"></center><p style="text-align: justify;">If we were to predict what the bandwidth results were going to look like, this is about what we would have expected. The Everest read numbers are just incredible easily breaking 13k on this motherboard and the write results are equally impressive. The reason for the almost identical write results with the overclocked settings is due to the fact that all red results are ran at the same FSB, and FSB on this system is obviously the only factor in write bandwidth.</p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/bench-3.png" alt="" border="0"> <img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/bench-4.png" alt="" border="0"></center><p style="text-align: justify;">With Science Mark and the PCMark 05 memory suite, we see a continuation of the bandwidth results with a slow steady increase in performance from top to bottom. So it is looking like even on the new NVIDIA 790i Ultra SLI chipset that memory frequency rules the roost, as far as bandwidth goes, much like is the case on the Intel P35 and X38 chipsets we have looked at in the past.</p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/bench-5.png" alt="" border="0"></center><p style="text-align: justify;">The last of the synthetic memory benchmarks are the latency results from Everest and SiSoft Sandra. Here is where we see our first "upset", if you will. The 7-6-5 timing set appears to be on par or slightly better than the 8-7-6 setup. I wouldn't call it a decisive victory but it certainly kept up to and equaled the higher frequency results. This combined with the bandwidth results may translate into something in the other benchmarks, let's find out.</p>
 
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System Benchmarks

System Benchmarks

With the system benchmarks, we have added a couple more real-world programs to the testing fold to get a better idea how memory interacts with some day to day usage programs.

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As always though, we start with Super Pi and the 1M runs I can discount. Anytime you run 1M you can have this much variation on a run to run basis, but 32M is a different story. With three runs averaged and the 6-6-5 numbers actually pulling ahead of the 7-6-5 runs rather significantly, as far as 32M is concerned, it starts quite an interesting discussion. Personally, this reviewer uses SPi 32M to gauge memory performance before Everest or any other bandwidth test. 32M is so sensitive to memory performance, both bandwidth and latency, that it tends to be a better judge of character. These results might indicate that the 7-6-5 clocks we are getting on this board really are not in line with the other two timing sets, which was mentioned in the overclocking section. Hopefully NVIDIA can do something about this in future BIOS upgrades but it doesn't look good for CL 7 thus far for high clocking stability.

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The WinRAR benchmark was replaced for 7Zip benchmark recently due to some inconsistent results and just like 32M SPi, we see a little bit of crack in the armor that bandwidth is always better. At the frequencies we are running each timing set, 6-6-5 again appears to be slightly superior to 7-6-5. At the other end, 8-7-6 just continues to dominate like it has in all benchmarks up to this point.

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It seems to be the theme for the system based benchmarks that 6-6-5 at 820MHz is faster than 7-6-5 at 913MHz. So despite latency being almost identical and the bandwidth programs giving the advantage to 7-6-5 at these frequencies, all of the programs actually testing performance are leaning towards 6-6-5. Again, it isn't so much that 6-6-5 is walking about from the 7-6-5 numbers in the DivX and Lame encoding tests but it is keeping up and that alone is significant. The Lame results showing an almost dead even heat amongst the three overclocked timing sets may be an indication of a bottleneck elsewhere with that program, possibly in the hard drive reading and writing. We may have to find a better, multi-threaded, MP3 conversion program for benchmarking in the future.
 
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3oh6

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3D/Gaming Benchmarks

<b>3D/Gaming Benchmarks</b><p style="text-align: justify;">Our benchmark journey concludes with a little bit of some 3D gaming benchmarks. First up is the complete 3DMark suite. Some people recently have asked why 3DMark 01 is included with our benchmark results, I simply tell them it is because 3DMark 01 is the best benchmark out there...aside from Super Pi of course.</p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/bench-11.png"></center><p style="text-align: justify;">You know it is funny, where we just finished dogging on the 7-6-5 results in the system section, that timing set shows the highest scores in both 3DMark 01 and 05 which are the most sensitive of all 3DMark benchmarks to system performance. As the sports saying goes, "this is why we play the game", because sometimes you just never know how it is going to turn out.</p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/bench-12.png"> <img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/bench-13.png"></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Then just as quickly as 7-6-5 rose to the top, it fell right back down again. Call of Duty 4 showed slightly weaker performance with the overclocked 7-6-5 set but the results are inconclusive at best. The margin of difference is slim to none in either games and despite our best efforts to keep the playing field level for all the benchmarks, these 3D results can't be construed as anything other than "margin for error results". Which simply means that the differences in results could easily be chalked up to the inherit difference in results you get from running any benchmark. We through these in to simply show that memory performance, and system performance on the whole, shows very little gains in a lot of games when mated to a high end video card like the HD3870X2.</p>
 
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3oh6

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Conclusion

<b>Conclusion:</b><p style="text-align: justify;">Corsair seldom disappoints with their Dominator line of memory and that tradition has carried over nicely from the DDR2 line up. The Corsair Dominator PC3-14400 kit of memory is some of the best DDR3 memory available right now with no one rivaling the technology behind it and very few matching the ability. There are higher specified CL8 kits of memory available, but we saw today that these Dominators have absolutely no problem playing at high frequency, especially when paired with an NVIDIA 790i based motherboard.

There were of course some hiccups with CL7 and despite this having nothing to do with the memory, it needs to be brought to attention. The NVIDIA 790i platform, as impressive as it is, has some pretty substantial flaws. The flaw of our particular interest regarding this review involves running memory at CL7 and issues with data corruption at high FSB and memory clocks. During the overclocking sections we encountered a lot of corrupt operating systems when pushing the memory too far or timings too tight. Again, this is no fault of the memory, simply the motherboard we used for testing. Just keep this in mind if you are planning a 790i system as you will likely want to be running your memory at CL8 vs. CL7 which takes a way a bit of the luster from kits like this Corsair Dominator PC3-14400.</p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/dompc3-14400/conclusion-1.jpg" alt="" border="0"></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Data corruption and CL7 memory issues aside, the Corsair Dominator memory and NVIDIA 790i motherboard are a lethal combination. We are still reeling from the overclocking we were able to achieve on this kit. Now the question becomes, is this memory worth the price? Well, is any DDR3 worth the price? At this point in time, it certainly isn't a cost effective solution given the fact that DDR2 memory can be bought for cheaper than a fake Role' in downtown Manhattan. What DDR3 does offer is ridiculous bandwidth and higher performance, which comes at a cost. If you are on a budget, then you might want to stick with some Dominator DDR2 but if you are building a system from the ground up, then DDR3 needs to be considered because prices are down a lot from where they were a short month or two ago, and there is no arguing that DDR3 is the inevitable future. If you have decided on DDR3 then keep the Corsair Dominator amongst the top contenders of your list whether you want looks, performance, support, or warranty.</p>

<b>Pros:</b>
  • Corsair knows how to cool memory, the DHX heat sink is tops in the industry
  • Typical top binned Dominator, specified high and overclocked even higher
  • Corsair support is amongst the best and certainly the most visible in the community
  • Included cooling fan that fits securely to memory

<b>Cons:</b>
  • The package of the Dominator with included fan definitely needs work
  • Some issues running CL7 on NVIDIA 790i motherboard, again, not the memories fault
  • The DDR3 bug will bite and you will spend more $ than you know you should


 
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