Corsair Dominator 3x2GB PC3-12800 C8 Memory Review

by 3oh6     |     February 3, 2009


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.

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.


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