In just the past two years I have seen many innovations sent to my house to have a look at and bring my findings to you. Of course, they have had great success with their new chassis and cooling entries thus far, but Corsair has always been a leading brand for power supplies and memory. While I don't have access to do either the power supply testing or even the memory testing unless I was to buy them for a build, I am able to have a look at the cooling mechanisms developed to keep the memory cool.
I know that most people who overclock don't consider that their memory is going to get that hot under stress, and with my first couple of kits of DDR3 I was in that boat. Doing the usual finger test under loaded conditions, I always assessed a cooler running temperature than what my DDR2 would run at. Times have changed and more and more manufacturers are pushing the ICs to either higher levels of speed, or tightening the timings as far as they can go to offer better performance to the end user. Now I run my memory pretty fast normally, and I tend to try to keep my DDR3 at around 2400 MHz for day to day usage. With that, I did start to notice the ICs were warming up, and double checking with my IR thermometer, I was slightly surprised to see 45 or above during the toughest stresses.
That put me on the hunt for cooling solutions for the memory. This quest led me to Corsair as I remembered using the old CMXAF1 fan with three 40mm fans in it. I had noticed the new GT kits were getting this new fan with two 60mm fans, so I went to Corsair to look at the options. At that point I ran across the AirFlow Pro Dynamic LED display that harks back to the days of the Xpert sticks that Corsair developed in the DDR days of memory. This AirFlow Pro is part of a three piece kit needed for full functionality, and Corsair has sent all three components so we could have a look at what the newest options in DDR3 cooling and display technology has to offer.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The Dynamic LED kit, or the AirFlow Pro, is only the top of the three piece kit. The AirFlow Pro mounts to the top of the CMXAF2 fan and displays both the activity of the memory being used as well as a thermal indicator. The AirFlow Pro has an onboard chip that distinguishes how many, up to six in total, memory sticks are being used and sets the activity LEDs accordingly. This means that no matter if you have two, four, or six sticks installed, you will see all of the lighting functional in all conditions. The thermal indicators start in blue (~20C) and end with a bright red (~45C). These three LEDs will also either show two active in dual channel, three active in triple channel, and if you use six, it will show the hotter module in that channel. Along with the wiring to connect this module to the memory, there is a 4-pin Molex connection to power this component. This one bit of the three piece kit can be found at Newegg.com for $54.99 with only $3 to ship it.
The second major component of the assembly is the fan; without it there would be no place to mount the AirFlow Pro. Make sure you aren't going to try to use the older fan design; the difference in the width and the height of the legs is going to make a huge difference. Step in the CMXAF2, a memory cooler utilizing two 60mm fans. This not only adds more air flow, but with the larger fans, they should make less noise than the CMXAF1. With both fans spinning at 3500 RPM, the fans can deliver a combined air flow of almost 27 CFM. Since this is powered with a 3-pin fan connection, you can either allow it to run at the full 12V, or if the motherboard is capable, you can set it to run slower and tweak the noise level to an even lower state. This part of the kit is going to set you back a very affordable $26.00 at Newegg.com, and again requires $3 worth of shipping.
The third and most important part of this design is the memory, and Corsair memory with DHX Pro technology to be very specific. The fan of course will work with many kits of memory, but the AirFlow Pro needs this evolution of the Dual-path Heat eXchange patented technology. While DHX is mainly based on the heat spreader design, it once took an evolution into DHX+ for use with the T30 TEC cooler that you added to a regular water cooling loop. Fast forward a couple of years and now DHX has gone Pro. This incorporates a special plug on the end of the module so that it can send information to the AirFlow Pro Module.
Corsair was nice enough to provide a chart of all of the memory that has this technology to make your shopping a bit easier. For our testing they have provided the CMP4G3M2C1600C7 4GB kit that runs at 7-8-7-20 timings and requires 1.65V to function. The prices of the kits are going to vary with speeds and timings, but the kit we are testing will cost you $109.99 at Newegg.com. With the trend of falling memory pricing, it may just be the time to get the RAM cheap enough that you can still afford the almost $80 it is going to take to make the three piece kit complete.
Packaging and the Corsair AirFlow 2 Memory Cooler
The Package and the Corsair AirFlow 2 Memory Cooler
My three piece kit comes in a brown box labelled simply with a large blue logo on top. The side of the package is taped closed with a sticker designating this as the CMXAFPRO PK2. Simply put, this package contains all three separately packed components inside of this.
The first thing I ran into was the Corsair AirFlow 2 fan. The CMXAF2 comes shipped in a clear plastic clam shell packaging that includes the body of the fan and all the hardware needed for assembly.
The back of the packaging shows why one would need to purchase a memory fan, a few of the features of the AirFlow 2 fan, and support information if you do have any issues or questions.
Inside is the main body of the fan assembly. This contains two 60mm fans capable of almost 27 CFM at 3500 RPM. Powering the unit requires you to find an empty motherboard fan header or use an adapter of your own to convert it to Molex power. The biggest change here is the use of blue stripes in the stickers, as I am used to seeing the red version sent with the Dominator GTs.
The frames of the fans are very thin and should allow the fan to maximize its air flow onto your memory. If for any reason you would need to disassemble this unit, the Phillip's screws found on the front are secured with these nuts. This is what keeps the three fans in place and holds the two pieces of aluminum together.
The hardware with the AirFlow 2 fan consists of four washers, four lock washers, and four thumbscrews to mount the two legs to the body of the cooler. The legs set just under the top of the memory fan, and the screws simply lock these legs to the bottom side of the top of the cooler.
Inside of the cardboard insert that displayed the features on the back, you will find that there is a set of step by step instructions on how to install and power the AirFlow 2 fan.
Assembled, this is what the AirFlow 2 memory cooler should look like.
From what I remember, the CMXAF1 didn't have this hole in the leg. The red and blue versions of the CMXAF2 do however. When using the AirFlow Pro, the wiring now has a convenient access hole to keep wire management clean and tidy when we get that far.
The Corsair AirFlow Pro Dynamic LED Display
The AirFlow Pro comes in this packaging and explains that this is a Parametric Display for DHX Pro Dominator memory next to a lighted image of the AirFlow Pro mounted on top of the CMXAF2.
All of the sides on the packaging mirror the first image, except for this panel. On the light blue background Corsair listed the features of the AirFlow Pro and gives you an idea of what it takes to run it, and what should be expected.
Removing the AirFlow Pro, I found that the LED display is shipped inside of a plastic bag to keep it from rubbing against the cardboard during transit. Inside of the cardboard the unit is resting on you will locate the included hardware to make the AirFlow Pro Functional.
Removing the plastic bag from the dynamic LED display you see eighteen groups of three LEDs. The center two are used for thermal monitoring, while the other eight above and below are used for depiction of the activity of the sticks. The far end with the Corsair logo has a shroud that covers the wires and connectivity. The end closest to us has two holes, and with some included risers, mounts above the CMXAF2.
Underneath the unit is where things get interesting. You can see there is more to this assembly than just LED functionality. Included into the PCB is the chip that holds the parametric equation to make the proper activity lights turn on at the correct time.
Connectivity is simple with the AirFlow Pro. There are six 5-pin plugs in the middle that utilize the cables supplied to attach to the RAM modules. To the right is a 4-pin connection that with an included adapter, is what powers the AirFlow Pro. The white plug to the left has no explanation, but at my best guess, I assume it is what they use to program the code into the chips.
Included in the AirFlow Pro packaging you will find two risers, two lock washers, two washers, and two thumbscrews to mount the LEDs to the top of the fan.
To make sure the system has power you will use the 4-pim to Molex power cable. To transfer the information from the DHX Pro memory modules to the AirFlow Pro you will need to wire one of these six wires between the two of them.
The Corsair Dominator Memory with DHX Pro Technology
As I mentioned, the fan can be used with just about any memory that doesn't have huge heat spreaders, but the AirFlow Pro needs a special set of memory to be able to function and this is what Corsair supplied to me.
Flipping the packaging around, we can see they provided me with a low latency kit of 1600 megahertz DDR3. This RAM can not only run at 7-8-720 timings at 1.65V, but it has the much needed DHX Pro technology and the 5-pin connection on the PCB.
These all black beauties with black fin tips and a dash of blue on both sides will make an attractive addition to any system. I really like the added touch of the black PCB to match the rest of the heat sinks and the entirety of the cooler and LED display.
As you can see on the end of the PCB, there are the same 5-pin connections that we saw under the AirFlow Pro. Connecting one of the six cables from here allows the memory to "talk" to the LEDs.
Assembly and Testing
To get things installed I started by plugging in the wiring to the AirFlow Pro. Reason is that it is easier to get access to this now than any other part of the installation. The power wire goes on the right. As for the memory connections, it doesn't matter which ones you use, and the onboard programming will sort it out and activate the lights.
While the end with the shroud has tabs that latch into the top of the cooler, this end is where the actual fastening of the AirFlow Pro is done. Remove two of the screws from the fan assembly and replace them with the risers. To mount the AirFlow Pro, simply screw in two thumb screws.
Fully assembled the whole unit stands quite tall, but we are only a couple of steps from getting the testing underway.
Looking at the unit from the top you can see that the curved design of the AirFlow Po is not only stylish, but allows more room for the 60mm fans to gulp air from.
As you can see, there is a bit of room to tuck the extra wires under the cover on this end of the cooler. At this point I recommend you run the wires through the hole in the leg and get ready to plug them into the memory modules.
I plugged in the memory end of the wiring off the motherboard as it is much easier here to show them. I would suggest getting comfortable when going to install this as the wires are long enough to get things plugged in, but not long enough to say, rest the fan on the VGA, it needs to be held in the air while you make the connections.
Here we have the whole kit installed and ready for testing. Check out our short video review of the lights in action with an explanation of what you are seeing :-
I did have some issues getting the memory stable on my GIGABYTE P55A-UD7, so I went and tried my P55-UD6, both with the same results. Single channel is fine, but dual channel will not function; this is why the video and the images were done with the X38A from Foxconn. But I'm not here to pick apart the memory; I am here to discuss the cooling and functionality of the whole kit. That in mind, during testing I saw the full gamut of lighting and thermal indications that were fully functional and very informative.
The thermal indicators in the middle will start an icy blue color and work their way on up to a bright red color of LED indication. The icy blue indicates 20C in temperature, green is 30C and the red is registered when the memory reaches 45C. Unless I removed the fan during Memtest86+ runs, the indicator showed green LEDs and the verification with the IR thermometer showed me 31C during all of the runs I put it through in thirty hours of testing. When I unplugged the fan and allowed the kit to keep running stress testing, the light did eventually reach the 45 mark as there is limited airflow there with my water cooling in place. Getting a fifteen to twenty degree swing in memory temperatures is huge as far as removing heat from dead zones inside of a chassis, or keeping the memory super cool in an open environment for extreme end benching or CPU-Z validations. Not only do you get the benefits of memory that runs cooler, you also gain the ability to see how the RAM is doing with just a quick glance.
The whole system is very functional and handy for those who like to push their components within an inch of instability. This three piece kit of a dynamic LED display, fan and DHX Pro Technology is very user friendly once in use and easy to put together so that you can use it. Motherboard compatibility aside, I really liked the whole idea, and loved how cool it was able to keep the Dominators. If you didn't catch it already and would like to have a look at the functionality and just how the LEDs work, please have a look at our video demonstration of the AirFlow Pro on the previous page.
While you can order the kit from Corsair directly so you don't have to piece it all together, either way the kit is going to run you around $180-190 depending on the retailer. These kits are on shelves now, and if you want to see just what is going on with your memory at any time while providing over fifteen degrees in cooling capability, how can you go wrong buying the AirFlow Pro, AirFlow 2 fan, and Dominator memory with DHX Pro technology?
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