Corsair XMS2 Dominator PC2-10000 - World's Fastest RAM

World's fastest DDR-2 memory is in the house - can Corsair XMS2 Dominator PC2-10000 memory justify itself for the price?
| Feb 6, 2007 at 11:00 pm CST
Rating: 95%Manufacturer: Corsair Memory

Introduction

World's Fastest Memory? Corsair Dominator PC2-10000DDR-2 modules just keep getting faster and faster as of late. Companies like OCZ, Mushkin, Corsair and Team for the most part have been looking at ways to one up each other with higher speeds.Our last high-speed memory that we looked at was OCZ's water cooled FlexXLC modules that managed a stunning top speed of 600MHz or DDR2-1200. While there is some criticism of the DDR-2 memory standard, it has really opened the way for the high-speed memory modules that the new and improved Intel processor platform really does like. While DDR-3 is not that far off, DDR-2 still have some way to go apparently in its latter years of life.Today we are taking a look at the world's fastest DDR-2 production memory and it's from Corsair. Rated at PC2-10000, it's able to run at 625MHz using a total of 2.4 volts and possibly even more if you are lucky enough. Can it truly dominate the competition, though?Let's have a look and see what a 2GB dual channel memory kit worth about $750 USD or $1000 AUD down under actually provides.

Package and Modules

Package and Modules
Before we get into the benchmarks that we all love, we first have a look at the modules and what they come to us in. Corsair ships the Dominator memory in one of the largest boxes we have seen for a RAM package. On the front of the box there is a pamphlet attached to it with some info on the modules specs as well as installation instructions.When we opened the box there was a large foam insert and a smaller box. The foam insert contained the memory modules in a special cut out cavity. The smaller box has the cooling solution.
Corsair's PC2-10000 memory comes with nVidia Enhanced Performance Profiles (EPP) to aid in simpler overclocking. It is a technology actually jointly developed by Corsair and nVidia.Apart from the OCZ FlexXLC memory, these are the largest passively cooled modules on the market. The top has a unique heat exchange system. Corsair has produced a new heatsink cooling system in order to keep the modules running at such high frequencies as cool as possible. Corsair has named this their "Dual-Path Heat Xchange Technology" or DHX as it's known for short. It's still a newish cooler that is included on some the Dominator memory kits such as TWIN2X2048-6400C3DF, TWIN2X2048-8888C4DF and of course the monster TWIN2X2048-10000C5DF that we are looking at here today.
The first path of the cooling system is direct contact with the BGA chips at the back of the chips as well as cooling the PCB itself. This is done by a metal plate that is directly made into the PCB and contacts the back of the memory chips but does not touch the BGA solder points.The second path is a more conventional heat spreader on the front of the chips like most memory modules contain. One thing though that is unique is that the two paths don't touch each other. Both of the spreaders rise up between each other and the additional fan or air flow within your case will remove dissipated heat from the modules.
This is what sets Corsair's Dominator memory apart from the rest - the optional cooling fan solution. It clamps to the top of the memory modules when they are inserted into the DIMM sockets and then plugs directly onto a power header on the motherboard. This allows the board to monitor the speed of the fans. There are a total of three 40mm fans that spin at over 3,000RPM to keep the modules cool and it does the job very effectively.Without the cooling fan installed and in use, the modules become quite hot to the touch, with the fan on there is barely any heat to speak of. This will not only aid in attaining higher clock speeds from the memory but also help in longevity of the memory.

Overclocking the RAM

Overclocking the RAM
The modules themselves are quite aggressively timed for modules hitting past 600MHz or 1200MHz DDR. Corsair rates their modules for 5-5-5-18 2T at 625MHz. Last week we checked out the impressive OCZ FlexXLC memory and it had to lower itself down to 5-9-9-24 2T just to hit 600MHz.With our new Gigabyte P965-DQ6 rev 3.3 test system motherboard we managed to hit a total of 627.5MHz or 1255MHz DDR (which works out to be PC2-10040) with the timings still staying at 5-5-5-18 2T. We did manage a speed of 634MHz or 1268MHz DDR to load Windows XP but any attempt to load benchmarks resulted in a total system shutdown and reboot. To get as high as we used the full 2.4 volts that the modules specify.Another site managed to break 1300MHz DDR but it's of course going to depend on what motherboard you are using along if you get the sweetest pick of the batch. We're pretty impressed anyway to be running memory at speeds above PC2-10000.To see what was possible we lowered the timings as tight as possible at 800MHz DDR. In this instance we got 4-3-3-15 2T out of the modules, which is quite aggressive, and this was without any voltage increase to the modules.If we had a little more time with the modules we would have tried some voltage increases to see if we could have gotten more out of them. We had only a short time to test - we were impressed with what we got on our first attempts but if you've got more time to invest in pushing the modules to the absolute maximum, you'll more than likely see better results.

Benchmarks - Test System Setup and Everest

Test System SetupProcessor: Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 (Supplied by Intel)Motherboard: Gigabyte P965-DQ6 rev 3.3 (Supplied by Gigabyte)Hard Disk: 500GB Seagate 7200.9 SATA (Supplied by Seagate)Graphics Card: 2 x MSI Radeon X1950 Pro in Crossfire (Supplied by MSI) Cooling: Gigabyte Neon775 (Supplied by Gigabyte)Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP SP2Drivers: Intel INF 8.1.1.1001, ATI Catalyst 7.1 and DX9c
Our test system setup was slightly updated to the new revision 3.3 version of Gigabyte's P965-DQ6 motherboard. The main difference is all solid capacitors rather than electrolyte capacitors of the original board and it does allow for higher FSB speeds and that is only going to help the Corsair memory aim higher.We tested Corsair Dominator against the OCZ FlexXLC with both modules running at their highest memory speeds at default timings - that would mean 600MHz for the OCZ RAM and 627MHz for the Corsair RAM. We also did tests at 800MHz with SPD timings as well as 800MHz with the tightest timings we could find - that meant 4-4-4-15 for the OCZ RAM and 4-3-3-15 for the Corsair RAM.Let's get started and see what all these testing numbers mean when it comes to overall performance of the system.EVEREST Ultimate EditionVersion and / or Patch Used: 2006Developer Homepage: http://www.lavalys.com Product Homepage: http://www.lavalys.comBuy It Here
EVEREST Ultimate Edition is an industry leading system diagnostics and benchmarking solution for enthusiasts PC users, based on the award-winning EVEREST Technology. During system optimizations and tweaking it provides essential system and overclock information, advanced hardware monitoring and diagnostics capabilities to check the effects of the applied settings. CPU, FPU and memory benchmarks are available to measure the actual system performance and compare it to previous states or other systems.
At stock speeds OCZ and Corsair are tied across the board thanks to the same timing results. Its not till we start to play around we see that OCZ falls to the back thanks to a tighter timing setting at 800MHz from the Corsair RAM as well as an overall higher bandwidth.

Benchmarks - ScienceMark

ScienceMark 2.0ScienceMark 2.0 is a mathematical program designed to stress the memory subsystems of both desktop/workstation and server environments to determine the read/write latency as well as the overall memory bandwidth available between the CPU and the memory controller.
Again at stock each are the same and it's not till we start adjusting some BIOS settings that we see Corsair take the lead.

Benchmarks - Adobe Premiere Elements

Adobe Premiere ElementsVersion and / or Patch Used: 2.0Developer Homepage: http://www.adobe.com Product Homepage: http://www.adobe.com/products/premiereel/Buy It Here
Our test with Adobe Premiere Elements 2.0 is performed with a raw two hour AVI file. It is then compressed into DivX format using the latest version codec. We measure the time it takes to encode and then record CPU usage.
There is little difference here; it's the bandwidth that matters. Corsair manages to move right ahead as expected.

Benchmarks - PREY

PREYVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.2Timedemo or Level Used: HardwareOC Custom TimedemoDeveloper Homepage: http://www.humanhead.com Product Homepage: http://www.prey.comBuy It Here
PREY is one of the newest games to be added to our benchmark line-up. It is based off the Doom 3 engine and offers stunning graphics passing what we've seen in Quake 4 and does put quite a lot of strain on our test systems.
In our first real-world gaming situation we see that the Corsair memory when clocked higher does make a good difference, but also even with lower latencies there is still a good result to be seen.

Final Thoughts

Final ThoughtsCorsair has been able to produce the most impressive DDR-2 module to come into our labs in terms of raw performance attainable. OCZ FlexXLC memory did have the bling factor of running water cooling to keep the RAM operating icy cool as well as aid in extended life. Although, if you don't have some RAM cooling setup, you are forced to run passive cooling, which will obviously mean the modules are probably operating hotter than desirable. Corsair has done something about this and rather than going with water cooling like OCZ, Dominator PC2-10000 gives you a nifty cooling system to keep the modules nice and cool when pushing things to the limit.One thing that doesn't sit well with us is the extreme price of Corsair's latest memory. These are some of the most expensive memory modules available on the market and easily the most expensive DDR-2 modules that we have ever tested. At least in Australia, the OCZ FlexXLC modules come in at around $125 AUD (or about $97 USD) cheaper than that of the latest Dominator modules sitting at the very top of the price range. They are clearly not for the average Joe consumer, that doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out.Even though an extra $100 bucks or thereabouts may sound like a lot, when you are already willing to spend over $650 USD on a 2GB DDR-2 memory kit (such as the OCZ FlexXLC), the extra money spent probably isn't going to hurt you all that much, to be honest. At the end of the day, there is not a huge difference in overall performance between the fastest memory from OCZ and Corsair but for enthusiasts, every last little drop of it counts.Although, for the speed and great features on offer, it's up to you to decide if this is the memory you're after if you are super serious enough about your overclocking or 3DMark world record breaking hobby. If that's what you're into, Corsair's XMS2 Dominator PC2-10000 memory is the very best money can buy, at least for now.- ProsFastest DDR-2 modules on the marketHighest memory clock speeds reached in our labsIncluded DHX cooling keeps the modules cool when overclockedVoltage protection up to 2.4 volts under warrantyNaturally great performance on offerEnhanced Performance Profiles (EPP)-ConsVery expensiveHeight restricted cases may have problems with sizeRating - 9.5 out of 10 and TweakTown's "MUST HAVE" Best Performance Award!

Last updated: Apr 7, 2020 at 12:26 pm CDT

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