What's new
  • Please do not post any links until you have 3 posts as they will automatically be rejected to prevent SPAM. Many words are also blocked due to being used in SPAM Messages. Thanks!

Corsair Dominator 3x2GB PC3-12800 C8 Memory Review

Status
Not open for further replies.

3oh6

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 18, 2007
Messages
1,052
Location
Edmonton, AB
Website
jodybailey.ca
<center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/corsair_logo-1.png" alt="corsair logo">


<b>Corsair Dominator 3x2GB PC3-12800 C8 Memory Review</b></center>



<b>Price:</b> $279+ CND <a href="http://hardwarecanucks.pricecanada.com/detail.php?product_id=587277&sku=TR3X6G1600C8D&matched_search=TR3X6G1600C8D">HWC Price Comparison</a> (At time of posting)
<b>TechWiki Info:</b> TR3X6G1600C8D
<b>Manufacturer Product Page:</b> <a href="http://www.corsair.com/corei7/default.aspx">Corsair</a>
<b>Manufacturer's Part Number:</b> TR3X6G1600C8D
<b>Warranty:</b> Limited Lifetime Warranty



<p style="text-align: justify;">Corsair has become a corner stone brand in the foundation of memory discussions throughout computer forums. Whether it be the average user stating that "they have never had any issues with their Corsair memory", or in the overclocking and enthusiast forums where the comments state, "Corsair has always overclocked very well for me". Whichever category you fall under, Corsair has you covered. From high quality entry level memory options providing excellent stability and compatibility to the bleeding edge performance champions, Corsair has a line of memory to fill all the gaps.

Corsair has also put a lot of effort in taking care of their customers with multiple levels of support. They offer not only the standard manufacturer lines of communication through e-mail and 1-800 telephone support, but Corsair has a forum as well. This method of support is increasingly popular for hardware manufacturers but Corsair has offered this type of service for many years now, they were in fact one of the founders of community based support through a forum if memory serves us correct. On top of all of this, Corsair has a small crew of pirates roaming enthusiast forums helping users out and providing information about Corsair products as they see fit. This level of service is becoming the norm these days but Corsair has always had this deep of a support staff and because of that, a loyal customer base that has used their memory since the early DDR days. Today, however, we are not talking about service or DDR memory; our minds are solely focused on a DDR3 triple channel Corsair Dominator kit of memory designed for the Intel Core i7 processor.

The TR3X6G1600C8D kit from Corsair is a 2x3GB kit of PC3-12800 CL8 memory clad in the uber sleek black Dual-path Heat eXchange (DHX) Dominator heat sinks. The memory specifications are well above the JEDEC standard for DDR3 memory offering high frequencies at good timings, but these are also not their top of the line offering. This combination of frequency and timings with a relatively low sticker price makes this Corsair TR3X6G1600C8D an attractive kit. We of course will also be seeing how far we can push this kit to really see how attractive it is. Another focus of testing will be to confirm or contradict Corsairs own findings on how much more performance 3x2GB kits of memory have over 3x1GB kits in a Windows Vista environment, more on this during testing.</p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1600c8d/index-1.jpg" alt="Corsair Dominator 3x2GB PC3-12800 C8"></center>
 
Last edited by a moderator:

3oh6

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 18, 2007
Messages
1,052
Location
Edmonton, AB
Website
jodybailey.ca
Package & Memory Overview

Package & Memory Overview

<p style="text-align: justify;">Right off the top we have to admit, the title of this section is a bit misleading. We won't have a single image of the package this memory retails in. This is due to the fact that we didn't receive the retail package of this memory as our sample was hot off the production floor in order to get to us in time for the beginning of our i7 rush. Based on history, however, we can assume this memory is packaged in a plastic molded blister pack. It isn't like the package is a complex or integral aspect of a memory kit so we aren't too worried about being light on details there, instead, we will jump right into looking at these impressive Corsair Dominator modules.</p><center>
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">It still looks a little weird and to be honest, intimidating, seeing modules in triplicate instead of pairs. If nothing else, triple channel memory kits just look impressive all stacked up together, especially the sleek black Dominator DHX heat sinks. At first glance, these heat sinks look like the Dominator DHX heat sinks we have come to know and love but a closer look reveals a bit of a face lift to the design.</p><center>
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">Upon standing the modules up we can see that the main body looks pretty much the same. The thin ribbed out shell doesn't appear to be any different from the DHX heat sinks of past, but the fins along the top are definitely different. Not terribly different but a slight redesign has occurred. The PCB is still a Corsair specific model which provides heat transfer from throughout the PCB up to the top strip of the circuit board where the heat sink makes contact. This contact along a top strip of the PCB provides an avenue for the heat from the PCB and the ICs to be pulled out by the heat sink. This is the key to the DHX design. So not only does the heat sink remove heat from the ICs themselves, but also the PCB. This heat is then dissipated into the ambient air via the cooling fins.</p><center>
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">At the angle of the first photo we can get a better idea of just how these heat sinks work. We can see that the modules are double sided and the heat sink attaches to both sides of ICs through a seemingly invisible thermal material. This material is actually cured, or baked, onto the ICs and the heat sinks for optimal thermal transfer. We can also clearly see where the PCB contacts the upper portion of the heat sinks. This is where the design has changed. The old DHX heat sinks actually had two pieces to the upper portion but this new design incorporates all the cooling into one solid mass. The cooling fins are then attached to this mass through what appears to be a strip incorporated into the main body and a set of hex head thumb screws. Based on the photos so far, it would seem entirely possible then to take the cooling fins off.</p><center>
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">As suspected, thirty seconds and a couple turns from an allen key and we have the cooling fins separated from the modules. On the underside of the cooling fins we can see a thermal material, this is very similar to what you would find on the underside of a PWM heat sink on a motherboard. We can't be 100% certain about the reason for the re-design but the new water-cooled TEC attachment that Corsair has been showing off in limited capacity in the enthusiast world would seem to be the likely motivation for this new design. We obviously don't have that attachment here today so we will move on.

The last photo above shows the channel that is vacant with the cooling fins removed. It really doesn't appear to be a very efficient path for the heat to move from the main heat sink body to the cooling fins and we suspect that if the extra height the cooling fins add to the modules is causing an issue in your setup, taking them off might not be an option to discount. To be truthfully honest, we much preferred the first generation of DHX heat sink on the Corsair memory but are confident in Corsair that the design change is for the better.</p>
 
Last edited by a moderator:

3oh6

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 18, 2007
Messages
1,052
Location
Edmonton, AB
Website
jodybailey.ca
Specifications

Specifications

<p style="text-align: justify;">Memory is quite basic when it comes to specifications. There are three primary points of concern; frequency, timings, and voltage. The biggest topic of discussion with the i7 triple channel memory kits revolves around the voltage. Early i7 stepping B engineering samples (ES) where finding that too high of a vDIMM setting would result in failure of the CPU, in particular, the memory controller. This was not something we didn't expect as AMD has had on-die memory controllers for a long time and in the DDR BH5 hay day, one had to keep vCORE within a certain percentage of vDIMM in order not to kill the memory controller. Of course, that was when us benchmarkers were putting 3V+ to memory. It has been released by some motherboard manufacturers that anything over 1.65v vDIMM is dangerous for the processor and thus, DDR3 triple channel kits designed for Core i7 are sticking - for the most part - to 1.65v or less.

The Corsair Dominator line of memory has stuck to this standard as well offering all of their i7 memory kits at a rating of 1.65v or less. Many benchmarkers, myself included, have been running memory above 1.65v for extended periods of time and haven't ran into issues. This is of course with the newer stepping C0/C1 retail processors which seem to have alleviated the problem with high vDIMM...but we still don't know for sure without more hours and more testing. For now though, we don't recommend going over 1.65v with vDIMM on Core i7 setups. One would think we would stick to our own advice but we haven't and won't, we can afford to have a failure, you likely can't. With that prefaced, here is a copy of the specifications sheet that can be found on the Corsair web site outlining what our TR3X6G1600C8D Dominator memory is capable of doing.</p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1600c8d/specs-1.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Corsair does a good job outlining exactly what their particular models are specified to do and goes into even greater detail than most. Our only problem is that they don't have web pages for each model, simply PDF files like the one we have shown you above. This of course is an absolutely minor gripe but something we have never understood about Corsair. They have such a great web site, but they don't have the information contained in the PDF as a page on the site. Clicking on each respective model, instead, downloads and opens a PDF.

Either way, the primary focus of the specifications are of course the memory frequency which for this kit is rated at DDR3-1600 or 800MHz, the timings of 8-8-8-24, and voltage of 1.65v. Of course these specifications are for Intel X58 based motherboards and the modules do have these settings programmed into a XMP SPD profile for easy setup on compatible motherboards. Corsair also specifies a JEDEC standard SPD profile at lower frequency and higher timings to ensure these modules will boot with any motherboard at BIOS defaults, with or without XMP capabilities.

The features section outlines the fact that the memory is 100% hand tested by Corsair after production before packaging and if you have ever been on a Corsair factory tour or seen photos of their testing setups, you know this to be true. Corsair also tucks the fact that these modules contain a Lifetime warranty into the PDF. Lifetime warranty on memory has become a standard in the memory industry but it is still something worth mentioning and letting readers know about. We have now seen the modules, looked over the specifications, and learned a little bit about the company. We will now move on to the test setup we will be using for the overclocking benchmarking.</p>
 
Last edited by a moderator:

3oh6

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 18, 2007
Messages
1,052
Location
Edmonton, AB
Website
jodybailey.ca
Memory Installation & Test Setup

Memory Installation & Test Setup

<p style="text-align: justify;">The first question on everyone’s mind when we pull out a new kit of memory with oversized heat sinks is: will those even fit in my setup? With standard height and width memory modules, installation photos or its own section are a bit overkill. With the Corsair Dominator line of memory and their Dual-path Heat Xchange or DHX technology, installation may be hampered in certain situations with larger CPU coolers. This will rely on the combination of motherboard, CPU cooler, and of course the memory. Let's take a look at how these modules fit in the EVGA X58 SLI motherboard with one of the bigger CPU coolers, the Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme.</p><center>
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">All quiet on the western front, or we should say on the east/west front, even with the large fan footprint pushing and the Dominator modules in the closest memory slot. In this orientation, it is tight with the fan holder, but certainly works and should work well with the fan pulling air through the fins of the DHX heat sinks. On the EVGA motherboard, the green slots are the primary slots so the black slots will only be used when running six memory DIMMs but even with a potential 12GB of memory installed, the Dominators show no sign of an uncomfortable fit...so far.</p><center>
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">The cease fire disappears when we turn the heat sink around in a north/south configuration as the DHX heat sinks are just too Yao Ming like for this setup. This is only true for the black slots, however, as the green slots are provided more than enough room in our setup for the Dominator modules. So unless you are running six modules, the EVGA X58 SLI and a Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme provide multiple heat sink orientations for use with Corsair Dominator DHX equipped modules. Now that we have the memory installed, let's take a look at how the memory is recognized in this same configuration.</p><center><table><tr><td>
</td><td>
</td><td>
</td><td>
</td></tr></table></center><p style="text-align: justify;">The above CPU-Z and Memset screen shots show that at the BIOS defaults, the memory does not run at the specified ratings. This is due to the simple fact that the EVGA X58 SLI motherboard does not recognize the XMP profiles that Corsair has programmed and shown in the second CPU-Z image above. The good news is that this motherboard makes it really easy to get these particular modules up to speed, sort of speak. For a complete step-by-step process for adjusting the EVGA X58 SLI motherboard to run these modules at spec without any overclocking of the system, please visit the forum discussion thread for the Corsair Dominator TR3X6G1600C8D. Here is how the entire setup will look for the subsequent overclocking and benchmarking...</p>

Test Setup

<center><table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="735px"><tr><td align="left" colspan="2">
</td><td align="right" colspan="2">
</td></tr></table><br /><table border="0" bgcolor="#666666" cellpadding="5" cellspacing="1" width="735px"><tr><td colspan="4"><b><font color="#ffffff">Test Platform:</font></b></td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="25%"><b>Memory:</b></td><td align="left" bgcolor="#ececec" width="75%"><b>Corsair Dominator 3x2GB PC3-12800 8-8-8 (TR3X6G1600C8D)</b><br>3x1GB Crucial Ballistix / G.Skill HZ</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="25%"><b>Motherboard:</b></td><td align="left" bgcolor="#ececec" width="75%">EVGA X58 SLI</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="25%"><b>Processor:</b></td><td align="left" bgcolor="#ececec" width="75%">Intel Core i7 965 Extreme Edition</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="25%"><b>Processor Cooling:</b></td><td align="left" bgcolor="#ececec" width="75%">Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme-1366<br>Included Thermalright 120mm 1600RPM/63.7CFM<br>120mm ADDA AD1212MS-A73GL 2050RPM/80.5CFM</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="25%"><b>Thermal Paste:</b></td><td align="left" bgcolor="#ececec" width="75%">Arctic Cooling MX-2</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="25%"><b>North Bridge Cooling:</b></td><td align="left" bgcolor="#ececec" width="75%">Stock</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="25%"><b>South Bridge Cooling:</b></td><td align="left" bgcolor="#ececec" width="75%">Stock</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="25%"><b>PWM Cooling:</b></td><td align="left" bgcolor="#ececec" width="75%">Stock</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="25%"><b>Power Supply:</b></td><td align="left" bgcolor="#ececec" width="75%">Ultra X-Pro 750W</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="25%"><b>Video Card:</b></td><td align="left" bgcolor="#ececec" width="75%">BFG GTX 280 OCX (NVIDIA GeForce 180.48 WHQL)</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="25%"><b>Additional Fans:</b></td><td align="left" bgcolor="#ececec" width="75%">120mm AD1212MS-A73GL 2050RPM/80.5CFM</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="25%"><b>Hard Drives:</b></td><td align="left" bgcolor="#ececec" width="75%">Seagate 7200.9 80GB SATAII 8MB cache</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="25%"><b>OS:</b></td><td align="left" bgcolor="#ececec" width="75%">Windows Vista SP1 (with all updates)</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="25%"><b>Ambient Temperature:</b></td><td align="left" bgcolor="#ececec" width="75%">23C ~ 25C</td></tr></table></center><p style="text-align: justify;">What we have here is a fairly typical Core i7 setup but a little under powered in the graphics processing department. This was done on purpose in order to provide a platform for the 3D testing that will compare single GPU results to that of a dual GTX 280 test setup that Corsair used in testing gaming performance between 3GB and 6GB of memory. This is also the reason we have a 3x1GB 'kit' of memory listed in the chart above. We will be comparing not only the gaming performance between 3GB and 6GB of memory, but the rest of our benchmarks as well. In the Windows Vista environment, it will be quite interesting to see if the 3GB setup can keep pace with our Dominator 6GB configuration. Our Windows Vista SP1 installation has been tuned for performance by reducing unnecessary services and bloat in order to minimize the memory footprint that plagues Vista out of the box.</p>
 
Last edited by a moderator:

3oh6

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 18, 2007
Messages
1,052
Location
Edmonton, AB
Website
jodybailey.ca
Stability Testing & Overclocking

Stability Testing & Overclocking

<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 cut and paste job from previous memory reviews.</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/tr3x6g1600c8d/setup-5.jpg" alt="Corsair Dominator 3x2GB PC3-12800 C8"></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;">With the transition to Windows Vista 64-bit and the i7 platform, our stability testing has evolved slightly. SuperPi 32M is ran with 8 threads now and 3DMark Vantage is the 3D testing program of choice over 06/01 of past reviews. What we have found thus far is that the 8 threads of SPi 32M are an even better test for memory stability than in the past with 2 threads on a dual core. We have all but come to the conclusion that if 8 threads of 32M SPi ran at the same time passes, the system will pass all other stability testing. So when you are clocking memory on the i7 powered platform, start with HyperPi and 8 threads of 32M, it really makes testing nice and quick to narrow down to your overall stability. Now let's get to some of that stability testing.</p>

<b>Specification Stability Testing</b>
<p style="text-align: justify;">We will continue our stock stability testing section into the i7 world and with this kit, it really was necessary because the EVGA X58 SLI motherboard didn't have XMP compatibility. Getting the memory up to stock frequencies was just a matter of setting the memory ratio to 2:16 and the vDIMM to 1.60v (1.58v under load measured with a DMM). Yes this kit is rated for 1.65v but even at 1.60v we had no problem at stock clocks. We then adjusted timings to best match what the XMP profile provided and we were off. At first boot we got a blue screen on Windows load. Back into the BIOS, a slight nudge in VTT (+200) so that it ran at 1.26v under load measured with a DMM. Here is the screen shot from that testing, which went smooth as butter after the VTT bump.</p>
Click for full size screenshot...
<center><a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1600c8d/stable_spec-1.png" target="_blank">
</a></center><p style="text-align: justify;">As we said, this kit definitely had no problem running the stability testing, even with voltage being undervolted by 0.07v from the rated specifications. Clearly we will have some head room with this memory. The slight bump in VTT voltage is 100% expected and will be part of overclocking memory, or simply running memory, on the i7 platform. VTT can also be labeled QPI voltage or UNCORE voltage on some motherboards. This is what the on-die memory controller gets its voltage from so naturally, it will play an important role in memory clocking. Let's move on to the overclocking now and see what we can squeeze out of this kit.</p>

<b>Stability Overclocking:</b><p style="text-align: justify;">Since this is our first i7 based memory review, overclocking the memory was a bit of a feeling out process as we weren't even sure what ICs these modules had, so we weren't sure what timing sets to work with. For simplicity sake, we stuck to the tried and true 7-7-7, and 8-8-8 timing sets. We also had to decide whether we were going to run the memory over the 'safe' 1.65v outlined by motherboard manufacturers in regards to CPU damage that may be caused from going beyond it. As it turned out, that was a rather easy decision to make, and was actually made for us.</p><center>
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">To open, we definitely had some head room with this kit of memory, but we certainly weren't blown away. The biggest factor in the limiting of overclocks was the simple fact that our sample really did not like voltage at all. Anything over 1.65v was not stable, and in most cases, even 1.65v set in the BIOS created instability. On our 8-8-8 clocks, everything was clipping along great, better than great in fact. We started clocking from 800MHz at 1.60v and almost hit 900MHz shortly. After that, we spent hours upon hours banging our head against a wall. Opening up timings, vDIMM, VTT, setting 2T, and every combination of them; we could not get this memory past the 900MHz or DDR3-1800 range. Even for benchmarking stability, 910~915MHz is about the limit for this kit. The key is the fact that it just doesn't like volts. With almost 900MHz achieved at a rock solid and low 1.60v, we certainly can't complain, but we would have loved to go further.

The story is pretty much the same at the 7-7-7 timing set. Up to the 770MHz mark we were still at 1.60v set in BIOS and once we found instability we started nudging voltage. We got a little bit of a response getting up to 786MHz stable at 1.65v but anything over that was unstable. It seems these modules are particularly sensitive to voltage and if we were able to identify the ICs it would like be Elpida based. The question has been posed at the Corsair forums in the appropriate thread and has been since early December with no response so we are left to speculate. The problem is that Corsair changes IC's so often on the same model that what we reviewed today might not even be the same memory that is available in retail channels a week from now. The IC's on memory are what define its clocking characteristics and they could completely change with an IC change. These modules are Rev 2.1, so any modules with newer revisions could have different ICs and our overclocking results are pretty much useless for comparison.

As it turns out, yes, the Corsair Dominator TR3X6G1600C8D do provide decent overhead in the clocking department and allowed us to tighten timings up nicely as well as move to 1T, but the voltage restrictions really prevent this kit from being a benchmarkers memory. For everyday use, however, they are very solid and easy to get up and running in the EVGA motherboard. They also give you plenty of room to move around to find the best BCLK for optimal CPU frequency.</p>
Click for full size screenshots...
<center><a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1600c8d/oc-2.png" target="_blank">
</a> <a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1600c8d/oc-3.png" target="_blank">
</a></center><p style="text-align: justify;">These overclocks, or very similar ones, will be used in the upcoming benchmark section. We have decided to try and compare the 7-7-7 and 8-8-8 clocks at the same CPU and UNCORE frequency so the memory clocks had to be adjusted slightly to accommodate due to memory ratios and BCLKs needed to achieve each.</p>
 
Last edited by a moderator:

3oh6

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 18, 2007
Messages
1,052
Location
Edmonton, AB
Website
jodybailey.ca
Benchmark Methodology

Benchmark Methodology

<p style="text-align: justify;">As mentioned earlier in the review, the EVGA X58 SLI motherboard does not support XMP profiles so for our <b>stock</b> results, instead of a straight plug and play like we would have for an XMP capable setup, we will have to manually set the timings.<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1600c8d/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"> In manually setting the timings, we basically matched up everything we could to what the XMP profile dictates so in essence, the <b>stock</b> results in the benchmarks will be with the XMP profiles. All of the processor settings will be left at default excluding the Turbo function of the i7 965 processor. The processor will be locked in at 3.2GHz with the QPI set to the default 6.4 GT/s. The only settings that will be adjusted are the memory ones changing the frequency to 800MHz or DDR3-1600 and the rated 8-8-8-24-2T timings. The EVGA X58 SLI really makes it easy to get this memory up to the rated frequency despite the lack of XMP profiles and it should be said that there were absolutely no compatibility issues with this memory and the board.

For the <b>red</b> results in the benchmarks, we will be running our two Stable Overclock results that we just looked at. The CL7 and CL8 clocks we achieved managed to come pretty close to the same CPU frequency with BCLK/memory ratio/CPU ratio adjustments so what we did was made minor changes to the clocks in order to have as close a dead heat comparison between the 7-7-7 clocks and 8-8-8 clocks. The grey results are going to depict the performance of the 3x1GB setup that was clocked identical to the 8-8-8 3x2GB setup. This will provide the direct comparison we are looking for. The video card used for all results will be the pre-overclocked BFG GTX 280 OCX running at its default clocks of 665/2400/1458. Keep this in mind when looking at the 3D results that these are overclocked values from the reference GTX 280 specifications of 602/2214/1296. Here is how the rest of the test setup will be derived as far as operating system and software goes:
  1. Windows Vista x64 w/SP1 is installed using a full format
  2. Intel Chipset drivers and accessory hardware drivers (audio, network, GPU) are installed followed by a defragment and a reboot
  3. At time of benchmarks the latest drivers were downloaded from their official web sites as the latest drivers, most notable, NVIDIA GeForce Release 180.48 WHQL
  4. Programs and games are then installed followed by another defragment
  5. Windows updates are then completed installing all available updates followed by a defragment
  6. Benchmarks are each ran three times after a clean reboot for every iteration of the benchmark unless otherwise stated, the results are then averaged
</p>
 
Last edited by a moderator:

3oh6

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 18, 2007
Messages
1,052
Location
Edmonton, AB
Website
jodybailey.ca
Memory Benchmarks

Memory Benchmarks


Everest Ultimate v4.60<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>Everest Ultimate is the most useful tool for any and all bench markers or overclockers. With the ability to read most voltage, temperature, and fan sensors on almost every motherboard available, Everest provides the ability to customize the outputs in a number of forms for display on your desktop. In addition to this, the memory benchmarking provides a useful tool of measuring the changes to your memory sub-system when tweaking to measure the differences.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1600c8d/mem_bench-1.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">This comparison actually has us quite intrigued and really brought a sense of anticipation for results. Normally memory benchmarks are pretty ho-hum, but with triple channel memory on this X58 platform being so new, we are going to learn something today. Right out of the gate, Everest seems to show a mixed bag of results when looking at the 3x1GB VS 3x2GB battle. In bandwidth the 3x1GB kit falls behind both overclocked 3x2GB configurations but at the same time is biting at the heels of the higher clocked 6GB results. Everest has been a good bit sketchy with i7 results so we won't buy too much into the numbers just yet.</p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1600c8d/mem_bench-2.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">The latency results show just as tight a race and show there may be some differences, but the margin for error between runs in Everest are just too great to hang a hat on these initial results. Let's move on to SiSoft Sandra and see what it makes of the different setups.</p>

SiSoft Sandra 2009.SP2<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>SiSoft Sandra is a popular and well used benchmark in the industry but not really a friend of serious benchmarkers. The results SiSoft Sandra produces have been suspect at times basing the numbers it comes up with on system specs and not actual testing. The latest version of Sandra seems to be one of the few programs that appear to calculate memory bandwidth consistently so we decided to include it in today’s benchmarks. Like we have always said with SiSoft Sandra though, take these results for what they are and nothing more.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1600c8d/mem_bench-3.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Unlike Everest, SiSoft Sandra has come up with some rather neat looking results. Not neat as in interesting, rather neat as in contrived. My beef with Sandra is that the results always seem to be exactly what they 'should' be, and these numbers are no different. We simply won't provide further comment but let's just say, these results are a little too uniform, but do show the 3x1GB kit falling substantially behind both overclocked 6GB setups.</p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1600c8d/mem_bench-4.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">The memory latency numbers, unlike the bandwidth results, are conducive to what Everest showed. The 3x1GB and 3x2GB setups clocked to 900MHz @ 8-8-8 seem to be neck and neck with the stock and 7-7-7 results falling ever so slightly behind. I guess all we can do is look at Sciencemark to see if it helps validate either Everest or Sandra in what they have shown.</p>

ScienceMark v2<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>ScienceMark is an almost ancient benchmark utility at this point in time and hasn't seen an update in a long time. It is, however, still a favorite for accurately calculating bandwidth on even the newest chipsets.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1600c8d/mem_bench-5.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Here we see a similar pattern to SiSoft Sandra and, in our opinion, Sciencemark is the most reliable bandwidth measurement program of the bunch. If that is in fact the case, it does appear Sandra is on the right track and perhaps should be looked at a little closer with these i7 results. We are not ready to eat our words just yet about Sandra but it could possibly be predicting slightly lower performance in programs based on these bandwidth numbers. There is only one way to find out though, and that is what we are going to do right now.</p>
 
Last edited by a moderator:

3oh6

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 18, 2007
Messages
1,052
Location
Edmonton, AB
Website
jodybailey.ca
System Benchmarks

System Benchmarks


SuperPi Mod v1.5<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>When running the 32M benchmark of SPi, we are calculating Pi to 32 million digits and timing the process. Obviously more CPU power helps in this intense calculation, but the memory sub-system also plays an important role, as does the operating system. SPi 32M has been a favorite amongst benchmarks for these very reasons and is admittedly the favorite benchmark of this reviewer.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1600c8d/sys_bench-1.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">The first of our system benchmarks is always SPi 32M because it could really be part of bandwidth. With all things equal, memory frequency is king of SPi 32M. With that being said, our results shouldn't be a surprise if you have done any testing of 3x1GB VS 3x2GB in 32M. It was an early known fact that 3x2GB kits are quicker in 32M because that is one of the first things us benchmarkers tested when i7 came out. Confirming those early results are the numbers above. With everything equal, the 3x2GB kit is quicker, but surprisingly by less than a single percentage point. Even still, for 32M elite benchmarkers, those 4.5 seconds are worth a lifetime of tweaking so 3x2GB kits of memory should be had whenever possible. Translating these numbers to real world though, less than 1% is less than 1%...AKA nothing.</p>

PCMark Vantage<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>The latest iteration of the popular system benchmark is PCMark Vantage from the Futuremark crew. The PCMark series has always been a great way to either test specific areas of a system or to get a general over view of how your system is performing. For our results, we simply run the basic benchmark suite which involves a wide range of tests on all of the sub-systems of the computer.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1600c8d/sys_bench-2.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Isn't this an interesting turn of events, and a substantial win for the 3x2GB kit. The gap is so dramatic that we honestly feel there is something wrong with this benchmark when it comes down to volume of memory. It simply could be that PCMark Vantage just pushes the system and uses up a lot of system memory giving a big advantage to the 3x2GB setup. Either way, PCMark Vantage is simply a synthetic benchmark, it will be interesting to see if this kind of gain can be had with real world apps.</p>

Cinebench R10<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>Another benchmarking community favorite, Cinebench renders an intense 2D scene relying on all the processing power it can. Cinebench R10 is another 64-bit capable application and is likely the most efficient program tested today at utilizing all cores of a processor. We will be running both the single threaded and multi-threaded benches here today.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1600c8d/sys_bench-3.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Cinebench is primarily a CPU dependant benchmark and that seems to be the case here. The 3x1GB kit actually performs best in the average of three runs but the difference between runs of any given setup was greater than the difference between the 3x1GB 8-8-8 setup and the 3x2GB setup. Because of this it is pretty much safe to say memory had little to no effect on these results.</p>

DivX Converter v7.1<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>Next up is a real life benchmark where we simply time a common task done on the computer. Encoding DVDs for viewing on the computer or other devices is an increasingly important task that the personal computer has taken on. We will take a VOB rip of the movie Office Space, and convert it into DivX using the default 720P setting of the new DivX converter v7.1.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1600c8d/sys_bench-4.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">In the first real world test, we get the second big and decisive victory for the 3x2GB setups. Even the lower clocked 7-7-7 configuration handles the 3x1GB kit handily. From the fastest 3x2GB kit to the 3x1GB kit, we see a one minute and forty second gain. That is nearly an 8% decrease in encoding time, which is rather significant for those doing a lot of this type of work on their systems. After a whole pile of narrow or indecisive results, we finally have our first outright win for the 3x2GB setup.</p>

Lame Front End<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>Un-like the DivX conversion we just looked at, Lame Front End is not multi-threaded and only utilizes a single core of a processor. This will obviously limit performance but we should still recognize significant time savings going from the stock settings to the overclocked results. We will be encoding a WAV rip of the Blackalicious album, Blazing Arrow and converting it to MP3 using the VBR 0 quality preset.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1600c8d/sys_bench-5.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Following up the DivX victory, the 3x2GB kits again handle the 3x1GB kit in the single threaded Lame Front End benchmark converting WAV files to MP3. The difference is smaller but in a single threaded application showing over a 5% gain is pretty substantial. Make that two wins for the 3x2GB kits.</p>

Photoshop CS4<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>Adobe Photoshop CS4 is fully x64 compliant and ready and able to use every single CPU cycle our processor has available including the implementation of GPU support utilizing the GTX 280 in our test system. It is just a shame it can't fully utilize all 8 threads of the i7 processor yet. We have changed our Photoshop benchmark to more of a standardized test configured by DriverHeaven.net. Their Photoshop benchmark utilizes 15 filters and effects on an uncompressed 109MB .JPG image that will test not only the CPU but also the memory subsystem of our test bench. Each portion of the benchmark is timed and added together for a final time that is compared below.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1600c8d/sys_bench-6.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">The 3x2GB momentum hits a bit of a snag as we move to the Photoshop CS4 benchmark. This came as a surprise to us as we figured CS4 would show some solid gains to the larger volume of memory but that clearly wasn't the case. We have a dead heat race between the two setups with identical clocks.

It does appear that the 6GB configurations do show some potential over a 3GB setup in both pure bandwidth and real world applications. Synthetic benchmarks like SuperPi also seem to have a bit of a liking for 3x2GB kits. This really is no surprise to us since Vista does like memory and it may be more of a byproduct of the OS and not so much the application. Let's now see how these setups compare in the gaming arena.</p>
 
Last edited by a moderator:

3oh6

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 18, 2007
Messages
1,052
Location
Edmonton, AB
Website
jodybailey.ca
3D Gaming Benchmarks

Gaming Benchmarks


<p style="text-align: justify;">It was mentioned earlier that the reason we through in the 3x1GB results was primarily to confirm or refute the findings that Corsairs internal testing found when comparing a 3x2GB setup to 3x1GB setup in respects to gaming on the Vista platform. They used dual GTX 280s showing some pretty significant gains in certain games but we thought it would interesting to see if the same held true for a single GTX 280, and with a rather efficient Vista installation. Here is the link to the Corsair internal results when comparing 3x1GB to 3x2GB in Vista. Keep in mind, they used 2 x GTX 280 video cards, we will be using a single for comparison sake...AN811: Gaming Performance Analysis - 6GB vs 3GB. We don't have an exhaustive list of games to test but we will benchmark our normal suite and the results could possibly be quite interesting, let's get started.</p>
Futuremark 3DMark Vantage
<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>We have forced ourselves to step up to 3DMark Vantage results for all reviews because the public demands it. 3DMark Vantage is the newest in a long line of 3D benchmarking software from Futuremark and is the most elaborate to date. Featuring multiple presets for various system configurations, Vantage is the culmination of all 3DMarks past relying on system and GPU power for its results. We will stick to the Performance preset as it seems to be the most popular at this point in time.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1600c8d/3d_bench-1.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">With the 3DMark benching we really don't see a difference between 3GB and 6GB setups. In fact, the difference between any of the three overclocked setups is minimal at best. Memory isn't really playing an important role in 3DMark results it appears, at least not with these configurations.</p>

Crysis - Sphere benchmark<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>We all know what Crysis is and how much it beats up systems but we wanted to add it to the gaming benchmarks to see how system changes can improve performance on a mid-level system. Detail levels are all set to Very High with the resolution at 1680x1050 with 4xAA. We ran the benchmarks with a demo of the Sphere level in DX9 and 64-bit. The game looks great with this setup and plays just well enough to keep us happy.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1600c8d/3d_bench-2.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Moving on to Crysis we can again see a pretty consist result set, only this time across the entire range of the spectrum. The stock clocks with CPU frequency 700MHz slower has no problem keeping up with the rest of the group. Minimum frame rates drop the slightest bit but nothing to really consider a sizeable result. Crysis is obviously a video card killer and the settings we have gone with are playable with a single GTX 280 but it is quite evident that a single GTX 280 is the bottleneck for this benchmark.</p>

FarCry 2<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>Another new fall release of this past silly season Far Cry 2 has some beautiful scenery but does lack that buttery smooth game play in places. A lot of moaning and groaning has occurred with Far Cry 2 but acceptable frame rates are much easier to achieve than Crysis and the game play is plenty smooth enough to enjoy. We were really able to crank up the settings with this benchmark on this setup.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1600c8d/3d_bench-3.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">The equality pattern continues for Far Cry 2. Here is a game that absolutely screams with a pair of GTX 280s but only plays as well as Crysis with a single card. Of course we have the details set very high and are running with DX10, but the game is more than playable at these settings in this configuration. It is really starting to look like Corsairs internal testing was indicative of a system that wasn't as heavily bottlenecked by the GPU as we were here with a single card. This is perhaps why they were seeing the gains they did with dual GTX 280s.</p>

Fallout 3<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>The first of our FRAPS captured frame rate games, Fallout 3 is a little bit of everything. First person shooter meets landscape wanderer and adventure finder. Playing Fallout 3 can become quite addictive and the nature of the game can have hours disappear behind you without having a clue. For our benchmarking today we ran around the landscape just outside vault 101 up to Washington and then back towards Megaton for some fire ant battles. FRAPS was used to record the frame rates so keep this in mind when comparing results, game play was similar but without a time demo, it definitely varies.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1600c8d/3d_bench-4.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Again, we see a slight dip in the minimum frame rates with the 3x1GB setup which might indicate a weakness to that setup that could be further exploited by more GPU processing power but no conclusive results. Fallout 3 obviously isn't a real GPU killer as our average FPS is around the 70 mark for all setups, but with details levels maxed it can still put a decent load on the video card.</p>

Call of Duty: World at War<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>The latest installment of Call of Duty is not unlike the last with high frame rates easily achievable with settings maxed at 1680x1050. This is especially true with this setup and a single GTX 280. We have no problems running full tilt with every detail level set to the max and that is how we benchmarked. We again used FRAPS to record frame rates of the Little Resistance level from the time we leave the boat up to near the end of the level where we enter the hut. Total play time is 10 minutes with the same amount of time spent in the underground bunker for each run. Again, results will have slightly larger margins for error due to the nature of benchmarking actual game play versus a time demo.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1600c8d/3d_bench-5.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Our last set of numbers comes from COD: World At War, and like the rest, we see no difference between any of the setups. Even in a non-time demo environment of testing, the 3x1GB kit of memory just didn't show a weakness, aside from the couple of instances where the minimum FPS dropped off a bit from the rest of the pack. As we mentioned earlier, this was an exhaustive testing to explore this issue formally. We simply wanted to see if the Corsair results would show up with a single card instead of SLI'd GTX 280s. As it turns out, the inconclusiveness of the results might have just given us our answer. It appears we might have to follow up on this testing somewhere down the road. Perhaps a bone stock Vista install or more GPU power, like Corsair used, would show more of difference amongst memory kits?</p>
 
Last edited by a moderator:

3oh6

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 18, 2007
Messages
1,052
Location
Edmonton, AB
Website
jodybailey.ca
Conclusion

Conclusion


<p style="text-align: justify;">Corsair certainly knows what they are doing in the performance memory market and the Dominator line of memory is amongst the most successful of any brand there is. The triple channel market has been absolutely flooded with memory kits lately and prices are starting to drop to a more than reasonable level. One could go as far as saying that prices are actually good. The question is, what separates the Corsair Dominator line of memory - particularly the 3x2GB TR3X6G1600C8D kit that we looked at today - from the rest of the pack? Aside from specifications, which are usually very similar if not identical amongst kits of a similar frequency/timing set, there isn't a whole lot different.</p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1600c8d/conclusion-1.jpg" alt="Corsair Dominator 3x2GB PC3-12800 C8"></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Until of course we take into account the physical characteristics of the Corsair Dominator line as their module cooling is one of a kind. Other manufacturers do offer cooling solutions but nothing as advanced as the DHX heat sink the Dominators use which cools both the ICs from the outside as well as through the PCB itself. Memory cooling may not enhance performance but it certainly will provide a more stable platform in warmer cases if temperature does become an issue. Another aspect of Dominator memory is that you are not just buying memory, you are buying support. Corsair offers top notch service and support as well as a quality warranty process that is very painless to take advantage of should that situation arise.

As far as performance goes, it is still early on in the i7 lifecycle and with that, the DDR3 triple channel memory kits. The specified timings of 8-8-8 at DDR3-1600 slots this kit ahead of the 9-9-9 kits at this frequency but slightly behind the 7-7-7 DDR3-1600 kits available. We were hoping to confirm the results of the Corsair in-lab testing of 3x2GB kits versus 3x1GB with our single card setup but it appears that the graphics card is the limit there and more than a single GTX 280 is required to not bottleneck the system. The memory bandwidth and system performance though of these new i7 setups with high quality DDR3 triple channel memory like the Corsair Dominator sure is impressive.

If we had to recommend this memory to a target audience we obviously couldn't point the high-end benchmarkers and overclockers its way. The overclocking headroom do to a lack of usable voltage just doesn't allow the clocking to scale and limits are found rather early. With that said, however, the headroom this kit did provide with the rated voltage is rather substantial and quite impressive reaching an almost DDR3-1800 at the 8-8-8 1T timings. This kind of headroom definitely gives the enthusiast the flexibility to seek out peak performance from a system with the limited memory ratios of the X58 chipset and i7 processors. For this reason, we can easily recommend anyone looking for performance memory that should give them some significant wiggle room from stock clocks to look at the Corsair Dominator 3x2GB TR3X6G1600C8D memory. At the price we can find it for in Canada it is reasonably competitive with the competition and not too far off the budget PC3-12800 9-9-9 kits but offer plenty more in overclocking and performance.</p>

<b>Pros:</b>
  • Corsair is a brand trusted by the enthusiast and hobbyists alike
  • Top quality service from any number of avenues of access
  • Respectable headroom for overclocking frequency as well as timings
  • 3x2GB performance memory is becoming reasonably priced and this kit is no exception

<b>Cons:</b>
  • Does not scale well with voltage and not ready for high-end benchmarking
  • The inevitability of installation issues in certain setups that comes with all tall memory modules
  • No included fan, we would like to see all Dominator memory kits come with the Corsair memory fan

<center><b><i>We would like to thank Corsair and their wonderful support staff for making this review possible.</i></b></center>
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Status
Not open for further replies.

Twitter

Top