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Corsair Dominator GT 3x2GB PC3-15000 Triple Channel Memory Review

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3oh6

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<center>



Corsair Dominator-GT 3x2GB PC3-15000 C7 Memory Review</center>



Price: $479 USD Corsair Online Store
Manufacturer Product Page: Corsair
Manufacturer's Part Number: TR3X6G1866C7GTF
TechWiki Info:
Corsair Dominator 3x2GB PC3-15000
Warranty: Limited Lifetime Warranty


It seems like only yesterday that we posted our Corsair Dominator 2x3GB PC3-12800 memory review but it was over three weeks ago now. Boy how things can change in such a short period of time. The morning that we posted that review, the ability to buy a DDR3-1866 kit of memory that was specified to run at 7-8-7 timings with 1.65v was a pipe dream. Many manufacturers had been talking about these new super kits but availability was scarce at best. On the much anticipated morning of February 4th, 2009, Corsair officially launched not only the Corsair Dominator-GT series, but also the new Corsair Online Store. For the first time ever, Corsair will be selling directly from their own internet store. The Dominator-GT series couldn't have been a better launch product.

With the advent of their online store, Corsair has removed all middle men between them and their customers. Corsair has always pushed customer service and selling directly to the end-user only enhances that level of service. We talked about their support in the last Dominator review and it has to be mentioned again. Corsair employs a staff of web surfing pirates that pop in and out of all the enthusiast forums answering questions and helping out customers. Corsair also provides a support forum of their own; TheRamGuy.com. After all, you can have the best product in the world and it means nothing without the proper support, and the Dominator-GT series is one of the best DDR3 memory offerings available backed by legendary support.

Today we will be looking at the Dominator-GT 3x2GB PC3-15000 7-8-7-20 triple channel kit of memory rated for operation at a Core i7 friendly 1.65v. The PC3-15000 rating puts this memory kits operating frequency at a blistering 933MHz or the equivalent to DDR3-1866. Consider this kit the runt of the Dominator-GT series with two other 6GB kits being offered that run at DDR3-2000 with timings of 7-8-7 and 8-8-8 respectively. Make no mistake though, despite the triple channel kit we are looking at today being the lowest binned from the Dominator-GT series, it still packs quite a punch. We will discuss the process in which these three different kits are binned in the Specifications section, but first, let's feast our eyes on some photos of these very attractive modules.
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3oh6

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Package & Contents

Package & Contents

<p style="text-align: justify;">With our sample of the Corsair Dominator-GT coming direct from Corsair, we are pretty sure that the package sent out to customers ordering from their online store are going to receive the same as us. With a premium product like the Dominator-GT triple channel kits, you need to have a premium package and Corsair has supplied that.</p><center>
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">Taking a page out of the Thermalright book, Corsair has gone with a non-descript plain white box for shipping their modules. Reviewers have been receiving these packages for years now and they have always provided a very safe environment for memory, so it is good to see them go retail with the same package. The TR3X6G1866C7GTF comes with a Corsair Airflow fan as denoted by the F in the model number. That is the small box we see on the right hand side of the interior. The rest of the package is filled with air pillows. There is absolutely no movement of the interior contents and users should find their packages in perfect shape when ordering from the Corsair online store.</p><center>
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">Peeling away all of the protective air pillows reveals a stack of modules secured individually, each in a molded plastic blister pack. Corsair was also kind enough to throw in a 4GB Flash Voyager Mini. It is unclear if this will be a bonus in the retail packages or not, but it was a nice little bonus for us. Just don't go complaining to Corsair if one doesn't show up with your memory. The individual wrapping of each module in a separate molded plastic blister pack just adds to the security of the modules during transport. There is little to absolutely no chance of the memory, or the Airflow fan being damaged during transport. Our FedEx shipping box looked like it made a stop through the UPS warehouse but the interior contents are perfectly preserved.</p><center>
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">Like the interior of the larger package, the inside of the Airflow fan package is also packed securely through the use of air pillows. The parts are then wrapped individually with the brackets and mounting hardware in one package and the fan assembly itself in another. Overall, the protection of the components in this package is over the top. Corsair has gone to great lengths to ensure that these Dominator-GT modules and their accessories show up at your door in good shape. We were a fan of Thermalright plain brown boxes and the security they offered, and we are just as pleased with the Corsair plain white box.</p><center>
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">The Airflow fan is a very simple design but effective. The fan assembly consists of the main body containing two 60mm fans and the mounting hardware required to attach the fans to the DIMM slots. These are held in place with four included thumb screws. The main assembly comes apart quite easily by loosening the eight screws that also secure the two fans in place. As we can see, there isn't a whole lot to the design but simple is always the best way to go. The first generation of Airflow fan introduced with the original Dominator modules contained three smaller fans but with the added width of the triple channel memory, Corsair was able to increase the fan size to standard 60mm fans. It is nice to see Corsair take full advantage of the larger footprint that is synonymous with triple channel memory kits.</p><center>
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">The power cables for the fans are joined into a single 3-pin standard fan connection and come from Corsair with a nice black sleeve, shrink wrapped at both ends. Corsair has ensured that the entire assembly is very esthetically pleasing. Keeping with the Dominator-GT colors of red and black provides a cohesive look to the Airflow fan assembly when matched up with the modules. The fans themselves are standard 60mm fans but with no identification stickers or numbers on them, we can't even speculate the manufacturer or their specifications.</p><center>
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">Assembling the Airflow fan is as easy as sliding the two mounting brackets in place and securing them with the thumbscrews. Again, this is a very simple yet effective design. They will sit high enough off the memory to provide ample airflow and with a pair of 60mm fans, there should be lots of air moving over the Dominator-GT modules. If that last photo isn't a beautiful sight, then I don't know what is. Let's take a closer look at these red "hot rod" modules.</p>
 
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3oh6

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Memory Overview

Memory Overview

<p style="text-align: justify;">For those readers fortunate enough to have found a Foxconn Bloodrage or are gearing up for the EVGA Classified motherboard and want memory to color match, look no further. These modules are dead sexy, no bones about it. Personally I would have preferred Corsair blue for the highlights but red encompasses speed better so it is understandable why the decision to go red was made.</p><center>
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">The original Dominator series turned the memory market on its head. The sleek all black heat sinks with inner silver cooling fins were the first of their kind and provided not only top notch looks, but were revolutionary in their cooling abilities. The next generation of Dominator heat sink, which we first looked at a few weeks ago, changed the cooling fin design slightly. These modules use the new design as it offers the upgrade to the water cooled TEC attachment that Corsair has been showing off lately. This design allows for the top row of cooling fins to come off so the water cooled TEC attachment can be secured.</p><center>
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">The only difference between the Dominator-GT series and the standard Dominator DHX heat sink is the color of the top cooling fins and the red color on the labels. We won't discuss much about the technology behind the heat sinks as the specifications section will cover that, so let's just bask in the glow of the formidable Dominator-GT modules.</p><center>
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">The PCBs used are of course Corsair's own design and the same that have been used on Dominator modules from day one. These special PCBs are different from all other manufacturers as they are built to interact with the Dominator DHX heat sinks to remove heat from the modules through the PCB as well as the ICs. The upper cooling fins, and most distinguishable aspect of the Dominator-GT modules, are no different than standard Dominator modules. The red paint is what sets them apart from the crowd. It also just occurred to us that if Corsair can paint their cooling fins, what is to stop end users from painting their standard Dominator modules. Let the modding begin.</p><center>
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">As we saw in the last photos and the two above, the top cooling fins simply mount to the heat sink side walls through the use of three hex head screws. These screws thread into the thin piece shown in the second photo. The cooling fins then attach to the heat sink sides that attach to not only the ICs, but also the PCBs as mentioned earlier. The last couple photos provide an excellent view of just how the heat sinks attach to the modules and the PCB. This dual path for heat to be removed from the modules is exactly what the term Dual-path Heat Xchange (DHX) stands for that Corsair uses to market their cooling solution. We will now move on to the specifications section where we go a little deeper into how these heat sinks work, as well as go over the staggering specifications these Corsair Dominator-GT modules run at.</p>
 
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3oh6

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Specifications

Specifications

<p style="text-align: justify;">At this point, it is safe to assume that a large portion of the public is aware of the memory voltage limitation imposed on the Intel Core i7 processors. After it was known that anything above 1.65v was not recommend for i7 processors, memory manufacturers were left scrambling to find solutions for the high end market. The reason for the recommended low voltage deals with the fact that the memory controller is now on the CPU die instead of the chipset, thus making it much more susceptible to damage with high vDIMM, like AMD64 processors have been for years. Back in the middle of August, 2008, Elpida Memory Inc. announced a new DDR3 SDRAM integrated circuit (IC). These new IC's were designed with a copper interconnect that uses argon fluoride immersion lithography. This process has allowed these IC's to operate at much higher frequencies with substantially lower voltages.</p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1866c7gtf/specs-3.jpg" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">These IC's were the gift that the enthusiast world was waiting for and we didn't even know it yet. Here we are in February of 2009 and these ICs have finally made their mark on the high-end computer enthusiast. It is these Elpida ICs that are responsible for the amazing performance offered by the Corsair Dominator-GT series that we are looking at today. Not only have we never seen specifications like this for DDR3 memory, we wouldn't even be close to these clocks at 1.65v if it wasn't for the Elpida ICs known as "Elpida Hyper". The only problem is that not even all of these super ICs run at operating frequencies in excess of DDR3-1800 at 7-8-7. A very small percentage actually does. What this means is that a good portion of the price we are paying for these modules is covering the binning process, and not the actual hardware. Let's now look at the official specifications of the TR3X6G1866C7GTF triple channel kit from the Corsair Dominator-GT series.</p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1866c7gtf/specs-1.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">The above image is of course a PDF available from the Corsair web site. The very second point that Corsair advertises is support for Intel Extreme Memory Profiles (XMP 1.2). Now, we aren't harping, we are just saying. XMP profiles are an almost must for performance memory and if memory manufacturers are going to advertise the capabilities, the motherboard manufacturers should support it. We are officially done complaining about XMP profiles, maybe.

As we have already seen from the photos in the previous sections, these modules are rated for operation at DDR3-1866 or 933MHz with timings of 7-8-7-20 at 1.65v vDIMM. Corsair tests each kit immediately before packaging on X58 based motherboards. It is our understanding that testing is performed on the ASUS P6T Deluxe. We have also found out that the TR3X6G1866C7GTF kits are verified compatible with the Gigabyte EX58-UD5, ASUS P6T Deluxe, ASUS Rampage Extreme II, and the DFI X58-T3eH8 that we are using today. We will also attempt to stabilize the memory at the above rated specifications on the EVGA X58 SLI as well. As we know, there are also DDR3-2000 Dominator-GT kits available rated for timings of 7-8-7 and 8-8-8. The DDR3-1866 7-8-7 kit we are focusing on today are basically those modules that couldn't quite meet the higher binned specifications. It theoretically caps the available performance we can expect at 1.65v, but also allows for a better price than the higher binned parts. At $480USD, it is most certainly hard to say these come at a good price, but it certainly is less than the $580 DDR3-2000 7-8-7 kits.

Let's now turn our attention to the Dominator DHX heat sinks that drape over these impressive memory modules.</p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1866c7gtf/specs-2.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">This convenient cutout image of a Dominator-GT module shows exactly what we were trying to explain in the last couple photos of the Memory Overview section on the last page. There are two methods for heat to escape from the modules. Through the ICs in the traditional manner with aluminum heat sinks directly contacting the ICs, as well as the industry first and only, PCB that is designed to draw heat out from the ICs through the PCB. This heat is then transferred to the cooling fins through direct contact with the heat sinks at the top of the PCB. This design is really quite brilliant and Corsair has been using it for some time now. We have always loved the DHX heat sinks, right back to the original offerings on the PC2-10000 DDR2 Dominator kits. Our one concern is the fact that the top is removable for upgrade options. This is great as it adds another level potential performance to the memory, but this also provides another joint where heat has to transfer instead of a solid path from the PCB/ICs to the cooling fins.</p><center>
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">The image above shows the top cooling fin separated from the heat sink body. The three hex head screws hold the red cooling fins in place. A layer of thermal material interfaces between the two surfaces. This does allow for the potential upgrading of module cooling but as we mentioned, it removes the direct path to the cooling fins that the original Dominator DHX heat sinks provided. It is a bit of a give and take situation for Corsair with this design.

Okay, enough discussion of specifications, or possibilities. Let's get these modules installed already and take them for a spin. Next up is the installation section as well as a thorough run down of our test platform.</p>
 
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3oh6

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Memory Installation & Test Setup

Memory Installation & Test Setup

<p style="text-align: justify;">Since these modules are physically no different than the Dominator modules we looked at a short while ago, the installation section will likely produce similar results. We are using a different motherboard, the DFI X58-T3eH8 instead of the EVGA X58 SLI, but the Thermalright Ultra-120 will likely be limited to a single orientation for 6 DIMM support like it is on almost all X58 motherboards.</p><center>
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">How do you make the best looking memory sticks on the planet ugly? You mount them in a DFI X58-T3eH8. The colors may not match but the performance of this setup will be lethal. We decided to really push things with the use of a 38mm fan on the Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme and much to our surprise, the green slots are 100% compatible with these tall Dominator DHX heat sinks. This is the only orientation we anticipate the ability to use the yellow slots for which would only be needed with six DIMMs, but that won't even be possible with a 38mm thick fan on the heat sink. The fan over hangs that first slot and it is a definite no go. Again, this is really of no concern because a 38mm fan isn't a requirement and the green slots are the primary slots for a three DIMM setup anyway. So for our purposes, we are happy that we can use the 38mm fan instead of a standard 25mm thick 120mm fan.</p><center>
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">Speaking of standard 25mm thick fans, the included 120mm fan from Thermalright with the Ultra-120 eXtreme is more than willing to accommodate a memory stick in the first yellow DIMM slot. This means that those looking to run six modules - you crazy memory loving freaks you - will have no problem doing so with the TRUE in this east/west orientation and a standard 25mm thick fan pushing air through the heat sink. As suspected, however, there will be no first slot love with these Dominator-GTs and the TRUE in a north/south orientation. The green slots are completely useable with the taller DHX heat sinks, but not the first yellow slot. Again, this is what we expected to find as it was the same case with the Dominator DHX heat sinks in the EVGA X58 SLI. The next item on the agenda is the use of the Airflow fan.</p><center>
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">It appears that the 38mm fan we use on our TRUE just doesn't want that Airflow fan there. It can clip on but if you look at the release tabs of the DIMM slots in the first photo above, we can see that the mounting arms are only attached to the last three tabs. This will still provide plenty of airflow over the modules and with the CPU heat sink fan butting up against that first module, it will get plenty of airflow as well. But it just isn't an ideal configuration. Like the yellow DIMM slot issue, it can easily be rectified with a standard 25mm fan installed on the TRUE but we like our 38mm Ultra Kazes so they will remain and we will simply use another Ultra Kaze to cool the memory like we always do. With the memory finally installed and our fan situation sorted out, let's fire the rig up at the BIOS defaults and see what it gives us.</p><center><table><tr><td>
</td><td>
</td><td>
</td><td>
</td></tr></table></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Without XMP profiles being supported by the DFI X58-T3eH8, the above screenshots are pretty much useless to be honest. They simply mean that we will have to manually adjust the memory and system settings to get the memory running at the specified frequency and timings. This is of no fault to Corsair as they clearly have the proper XMP profile programmed onto the modules, including voltage, but the motherboard refuses to utilize it. This is also the case with the EVGA X58 SLI and one asks themselves, isn't the X58 chipset made by Intel? Isn't the XMP program a child of the Intel brain trust to allow for simple performance memory configuration? So why is it then that all of these X58 based motherboards don't support the XMP profiles of memory? Don't worry, we have been asking the same questions and getting absolutely no answers. We believe it comes down to the motherboard manufacturers programming the support into the BIOS. Perhaps the X58 chipset simply doesn't like using XMP profiles. Maybe it is all a conspiracy so that memory manufacturers end up having to spend more money on support staff to help end users get their memory running up to spec.

However you want to look at it, Corsair has done their job alongside all other memory manufacturers to provide XMP profiles to get memory running at spec. It is the motherboards that aren't providing support from their end. To help alleviate Corsairs work load, in the Specification Stability Testing section coming up, we will provide the final settings we used to get the Corsair Dominator-GT memory up to the specified clocks and timings on the DFI X58-T3eH8 as well as the EVGA X58 SLI. These settings will be in the form of an Excel spread sheet that will be available for download. Let's now take a quick look at the rest of the setup.</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-GT 3x2GB PC3-15000 7-8-7 (TR3X6G1866C7GTF)</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%">DFI X58-T3eH8</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>2 x Scythe Ultra Kaze 120MM 2000RPM 87.6CFM (DFS123812L-2000)</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%">Corsair HX1000W</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="25%"><b>Video Card:</b></td><td align="left" bgcolor="#ececec" width="75%">BFG GTX 295 (NVIDIA GeForce 181.20 WHQL)</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="25%"><b>Additional Fans:</b></td><td align="left" bgcolor="#ececec" width="75%">Scythe Ultra Kaze 120MM 2000RPM 87.6CFM (DFS123812L-2000)</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;">This setup is about as high end as it gets without going crazy with the GPUs. A single GTX 295 is going to be able to churn through all game testing at 1680x1050 with full detail levels set. This means that the system will likely be the bottle neck which is actually a good thing. In our last Corsair Dominator review we tested the 3x1GB setup against the 3x2GB kit of Dominator modules, but with a single GTX 280. With the GTX 295 used today, it should be interesting to see if we get any noticable differences in the results. It will also be a bit of a challenge getting the 3x1GB modules to match the clocks of these Dominator-GT monsters, even at stock. In reality, memory with this kind of performance is designed more with the benchmarker in mind than it is the daily driver, especially with the Core i7. Memory bandwidth doesn't seem to play a huge role in overall performance from what we have seen thus far, but we also haven't seen memory clocks like this on i7 yet.</p>
 
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3oh6

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Stability Testing & Overclocking

Stability Testing & Overclocking

<p style="text-align: justify;">There is no point in me wasting my hot air on explaining our stability testing methodology, I blow enough hot air in the forums, so here is a cut and paste job from previous memory reviews to explain what we consider stable at HWC.</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/tr3x6g1866c7gtf/tr3x6g1866c7gtf_dominator-gt_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;">As we have said, stability testing is a fairly fluid discussion. There are a million ways to properly test an overclock for stability. The above recipe we have found to bake a pretty solid and consistent cake and like to think it is a pretty good method for testing 24/7 overclocks of memory and a system. With memory involved in today's overclocking, the modules themselves aren't the only component being pushed. With the Intel i7 processor housing the memory controller now instead of the chipset, the CPU used in running a kit of memory over 900MHz at 7-8-7 is going to play a key role. This is even more evident when we start to approach the 1000MHz mark. Processor voltages like VTT are going to play a huge role in overclocking and balancing all of these with cooling is going to be tough. At some point, the processor is going to run out of gas with just air cooling before these Corsair Dominator-GTs do. Keep this in mind when looking at the results.</p>

<b>Specification Stability Testing</b>
<p style="text-align: justify;">After the little rant earlier about lack of XMP support, stability testing at the specified timings and frequency obviously involved a little setting manipulation in the BIOS of the DFI X58-T3eH8 and the EVGA X58 SLI. Both boards were rather simple to get setup and running for an experienced user like myself, but for the average person, there will be a bit of a learning curve. Rumors on the internet were that we would run into one major speed bump with the EVGA X58 SLI as it was reported not to run the 2:14 ratio so we would have to go with the 2:12 ratio and increase the BCLK. This wasn't the case in any way, shape, or form. Like the DFI X58-T3eH8, we simply had to go in and adjust a couple voltages, manipulate the settings to get DDR3-1866 7-8-7-20 @ 1.65v running and we were off to stability testing.

As mentioned the DFI X58-T3eH8 was a breeze to get up and running at spec like the EVGA X58 SLI. A slight bump in voltage here, an adjustment of a timing in the memory section there, and we were up and running. We of course are quite familiar with overclocking and know the boards we are using quite well. For the average user, this might not be the case. So like the EVGA settings, we have posted the DFI settings in the comment thread for the Corsair Dominator-GT 2x3GB PC3-15000 C7 here in the HWC forums. Both of these boards were virtually painless to get this memory running at spec, but we would still love to see the XMP profiles working on these, and other X58 boards...in case that wasn't obvious enough already.</p>
Click for full size screenshot...
<center><a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1866c7gtf/stable_spec-1.png" target="_blank">
</a> <a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1866c7gtf/stable_spec-2.png" target="_blank">
</a></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Both setups required pretty much identical voltages as far as VTT goes to get the systems stable. The key to high memory overclocks with the Dominator-GT memory, or any DDR3 on the Core i7 platform, is the VTT or sometimes incorrectly referred to as QPI voltage. This voltage setting is what powers all things on the processor that aren't the actual core, like the memory controller. Every processor is going to require a different amount of VTT in order to get this kit stable at DDR3-1866 7-8-7-20 but we found that both of the i7 965EE processors we used today required about the same. The EVGA screenshot is a little misleading as it shows a VTT of 1.400v set in the BIOS, but that actually equates to 1.35v when measured by a DMM. This is about the same VTT that the DFI X58-T3eH8 required as seen in the screenshot. The Everest reported voltages for the DFI shown in the screenshot are pretty much bang on to what is measured with a DMM. The EVGA voltage readings are pretty far off so we opted to show what voltages were set to in the BIOS through E-LEET.

The other item to note when comparing the two setups is that with the DFI, we manually set the memory to 2T, but with the EVGA we left command rate at Auto. This left us with a 1T command rate on the EVGA board that we didn't notice until half way through the stability testing. Needless to say, the memory XMP profile shows a 2T command rate for the specified frequency and timings but our kit had no problem running 1T.</p>

<b>Stability Overclocking:</b><p style="text-align: justify;">The overclocking section of this Dominator-GT review is going to be a little flat. Simply put, this kit of memory is already so highly clocked at the specified ratings, that they really are pushing the limits of the Intel i7 processor. As we mentioned earlier, the memory controller is now on the processor die instead of the north bridge like Intel processors of past. Some weaker processors are going to have trouble pushing memory much past DDR3-2000, let alone 3x2GB at ultra tight timings like 7-8-7 without excessive voltages.

The balance between stability and VTT/vDIMM voltages becomes a rather fluid one. We are still very early in the Core i7 life cycle and it isn't known how much voltage is too much so we will be keeping things relatively conservative for our 24/7 overclocking results. Since these results are geared towards actual stability in a daily use environment on normal air cooling, we don't want to be feeding the CPU/Memory/Memory controller excessive volts. Our self imposed limits were 1.755v as set in the BIOS for vDIMM, and 1.55v for VTT. Let's look at the stable 24/7 overclocks.
</p><center>
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">Before we discuss what is shown above, why don't we address what is not. We don't have any results listed above for looser timings than the rated 7-8-7. The reason for that is quite simple; the tight timings of 7-8-7 outran our processor with air cooling, or so we suspect. Our system simply can't handle any higher stable clocks than what this kit was willing to offer at the tight timings of 7-8-7. We didn't even have to go up to our self imposed limit of 1.75v for the 7-8-7 clocks. This is assumed to result from a lack of our processors ability to stably clock the unCore frequency much past 4000MHz. At the same time, the memory could simply be out of gas. Further testing with sub-zero cooling and observation of the memories scaling with stability taking a back seat will provide more evidence to what held us back here.

What we were able to maximize, however, were frequencies at 6-7-6. With a rather impressive DDR3-1816 clocking, the Dominator-GTs really showed their versatility. Going into this round of overclocking, we hadn't seen a whole lot of CL6 testing of these modules and the new Elpida Hyper ICs. Needless to say, we were impressed. At one point we thought we were going to be able to reach the rated frequency of DDR3-1866, but 1.75v vDIMM just wasn't enough to get us there. Either way, still a great showing for CL6 from the Corsair Dominator-GTs.

The 7-8-7 clocking speaks for itself. We really must have gotten lucky with our modules as they came very close to meeting the DDR3-2000 7-8-7-20 frequency and timings of the higher binned Dominator-GT kit at the rated 1.65v. Unfortunately we topped our Dominator-GT sample out at a very respectable 1010MHz 7-8-7-20 2T with less than 1.70v. Keep in mind, this is completely 100% stable through our very thorough stability testing suite. We are already hunting for better unCore clocking processors but at the same time, we haven't seen much - if any - stable overclocking of 3x2GB kits at these types of clocks. A lot of guys are benching these clocks and much higher, but not many showing lengthy stability testing. Below are the screen shots of the testing for the listed overclocks.</p>
Click for full size screenshots...
<center><a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1866c7gtf/oc-2.png" target="_blank">
</a> <a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1866c7gtf/oc-3.png" target="_blank">
</a> <a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1866c7gtf/oc-4.png" target="_blank">
</a></center><p style="text-align: justify;">It is now time to turn this rather impressive overclocking display pu on by the Dominator-GTs into some benchmark results. We will be utilizing the results of the above overclocking to come up with an interesting comparison for the benchmark suite. With the versatility in frequency and timings available from the Dominator-GT, there really is no lack of possibilities for us to test, but we think we came up with something that will provide some insight into memory performance for end users.</p>
 
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3oh6

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Benchmark Methodology

Benchmark Methodology

<p style="text-align: justify;">We swear, this is the last time we comment on the lack of XMP profiles. Well, at least until the conclusion anyway. But it is a big part of this kit so it needs to be talked about.<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1866c7gtf/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"> The lack of the XMP profiles has required us to manually set the timings for the results in <b>stock</b> form. These settings were derived from the XMP profiles on the memory as best to what we could set given the BIOS options of the DFI. All other BIOS settings are left at default aside from locking the i7 965 processor we are using today to 3.2GHz for this set of results. The grey results are going to mirror these exact clocks and settings but instead of a 3x2GB kit, we will be using a 3x1GB kit. This is a continuation of our last Dominator memory review and wanting to test the difference between 3x2GB and 3x1GB for performance.

The final set of results will be draped - appropriately enough - in <b>red</b>. This color of bars in the graphs will depict our performance at the maximum 6-7-6 and 7-8-7 stable overclocks we achieved with these modules. It isn't actually right at the limit that we found with the Dominator-GT modules for 7-8-7, but knock them down just a notch allowed for a direct comparison between the two timings sets with the same CPU clocks. For all of the benchmarking done today, we will be relying on the services of a wonderful EVGA GTX 295 at its default clocks of 594 / 2052 /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>
 
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3oh6

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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. Unfortunately with the i7 processors, the results aren't always consistent and we can receive variations as much as 1000MB/s at any given time. Because of this we use multiple runs and drop any of the "high" scores from the averages.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1866c7gtf/mem_bench-1.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Aside from the absolutely ridiculous numbers that these triple channel kits put up with i7 processors, we see a pattern of lowest to highest that we expected. What we also get is a slight disparity between the 6GB and 3GB results of the same settings. Knowing Everest is not that precise with i7 processors, we will take it with a grain of salt at this point, but early on it looks like the 3x2GB kit has a bit of a bandwidth lead at the specified DDR3-1866 that these Dominator-GTs run at.</p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1866c7gtf/mem_bench-2.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">The latency results paint a similar picture as the bandwidth numbers. We have a steady drop in latency as the memory clocks go up, as well as too small a difference between the top two result sets. In fact, they both consistently came back with 44.6ns results in Everest.</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/tr3x6g1866c7gtf/mem_bench-3.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">SiSoft Sandra repeats the bandwidth pattern of Everest from above but the differences are noticeably bigger. They are also uniform, very uniform results. Despite the fact that there may be some truth to the results, Sandra just always seems to present them in a neat and tidy package. Take the results for what they are worth.</p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1866c7gtf/mem_bench-4.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">The numbers are different, but the pattern is identical to Everest. Both programs clearly agree on latency amongst the various setups we tested here today.</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/tr3x6g1866c7gtf/mem_bench-5.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Probably my favorite memory bandwidth test, ScienceMark looks a lot like the Sandra bandwidth numbers. If we recall our last Dominator triple channel DDR3 review, this sounds quite familiar. The pattern appears to be that 3x2GB provides better bandwidth than 3x1GB, and higher clocks equates to higher bandwidth and lower latency. We really thought the 6-7-6 clocks might be close since the frequency was so high, but that clearly wasn't the case. Let's now see how these bandwidth numbers relate to some overall system benchmarks.</p>
 
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3oh6

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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/tr3x6g1866c7gtf/sys_bench-1.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">No, we didn't plan these results. It just so happened to turn out that the gap between the two comparable results is the same three seconds. It also just happened to turn out that they were exactly 100 seconds apart from each other. Symmetry aside, the results show a little less difference than we would have been expecting with a true difference in bandwidth. The most impressive is the fact that the 6-7-6 clocks at 900MHz can go toe to toe with the high clocked 7-8-7 timings. Looking at these numbers, we should see similar differences in a number of the benchmarks today. SuperPi 32M is a wonderful representation of the difference between the memory sub system of two setups and these results show the differences amongst our setups.</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/tr3x6g1866c7gtf/sys_bench-2.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">The first real sign that 3x1GB of memory is out performed by the 3x2GB kit is evident in our PCMark Vantage benchmark. Almost 300 points in identical setups in PCMark Vantage with the only difference being the volume of memory speaks - pardon the pun - volumes.</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/tr3x6g1866c7gtf/sys_bench-3.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Cinebench historically is more CPU dependant than anything and the results here confirm that once again. We have some variation amongst the setups, but minimal at best to say the least.</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/tr3x6g1866c7gtf/sys_bench-4.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">The difference between the 3GB and 6GB setup may only be 3%, but the difference is there. This is the second benchmark now that shows the 3x2GB kit of Dominator-GT outperform an identically clocked 3x1GB kit of memory. We were primarily looking at this comparison for gaming numbers in response to the Corsair Gaming Performance Analysis, but a number of programs - like DivX conversion tasks - are showing a noticeable performance advantage to the 6GB kit as well.</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/tr3x6g1866c7gtf/sys_bench-5.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">The singled threaded MP3 conversion application, Lame Front End, starts to show a bit of preference to higher memory clocks and more gigabytes, but the impact is minimal.</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/tr3x6g1866c7gtf/sys_bench-6.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Right as we start to see a pattern of the 3x2GB blue results outperforming the grey 3x1GB setup, Photoshop swoops in and breaks up the party. We concluded that our Photoshop memory setup must have contributed to these results, but in every aspect of the DriverHeaven.net benchmark, the 3x1GB setup slightly beat the equally clocked 6GB setup. Further investigation might have to occur on this subject to get to the bottom of the results.</p>

WinRAR 3.80<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>We all know what WinRAR is and does. It is a compression and decompression tool that has a built in benchmark, a way to tell just how fast a system can do this programs given task. We simply run the benchmark up to 500MB processed and time how long it takes.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1866c7gtf/sys_bench-7.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">We decided to bring back an old favorite, the WinRAR benchmark. Memory bandwidth is king in WinRAR, and these results tell the whole story. Heck, WinRAR doesn't just tell the story, it magnifies it. DDR3-1990 7-8-7 is better than DDR3-1803 6-7-6 and 3x2GB heavily outperforms 3x1GB of memory in WinRAR performance.

With these programs tested showing favoritism to the 6GB kit, we are almost optimistic we will confirm Corsairs own results where they found 3x2GB of memory to perform much better in gaming when compared to an equal 3x1GB setup.</p>
 
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3oh6

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3D/Gaming Benchmarks

Gaming Benchmarks



Futuremark 3DMark Vantage / 06<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. 3DMark 06 is the previous iteration of this successful 3D benchmark suite.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1866c7gtf/3d_bench-1.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">3Dmark 06 appears to appear memory volume as well as frequency. Keep in mind we run this benchmark in Vista and results are far from ideal. With that said, there is no denying the memory differences result in a different scores. 3DMark Vantage Performance preset doesn't seem to follow the same rules, or at least does in a much smaller way.</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/tr3x6g1866c7gtf/3d_bench-2.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">I think it is about time to close the book on this 3x1GB VS 3x2GB comparison we have focused the last couple memory reviews. In all of our gaming testing with a single GTX 280, or a single GTX 295, we see no difference in performance amongst various setups. GPUs seem to be the bottleneck in these games and that is just the end of it. Perhaps it is a time to drop these games from benchmarks and come back with a little fresh meat.</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/tr3x6g1866c7gtf/3d_bench-3.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">We won't continue to repeat ourselves here. The results speak for themselves and nothing is required to explain the numbers. At maxed out details FarCry 2 just doesn't seem to be affected by system changes after a certain point. Whether it be a quad core i7 at 3.2GHz or 3780MHz.</p>

Left 4 Dead<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>The newest game in our testing sweet, Left 4 Dead was just added after we were asked to include a Source powered game in our memory benchmarks. Being based on the Source engine, there is definitely a chance that system performance will heavily influence the results. We used FRAPs to measure frame per second on a custom time demo of the rooftop level.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/corsair/tr3x6g1866c7gtf/3d_bench-4.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">The Source engine game does appear to be affected by memory and system changes. This was not at all un-expected as the Source engine has traditionally been inspired to run faster with a faster system. GPU power definitely plays a role, but that line ends a lot sooner with Source games over others.</p>
 
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