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Review: Corsair DOMINATOR DDR3-1,600 C8: bandwidth for Core i7

by Tarinder Sandhu on 25 December 2008, 05:00 3.55

Tags: DOMINATOR DDR3-1,600 CL8 6GB, Corsair

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Tri-channel goodness

Corsair sells four packs of DDR3-1,600MHz memory, split over two packs of 3GB and 6GB RAM. The main differences between the two sets lies with the use of tighter timings - 8-8-8-24 2T - and DOMINATOR heatspreaders on the C8 set, compared with slightly looser timings - 9-9-9-24 - and classic XMS3 'spreaders on the C9 part.

Looking at various etailers online, the 6GB C8 pack costs from £195, which is only marginally dearer than the non-DOMINATOR-adorned set. Giving a wider picture, 6GB of DDR3-1,066 memory can be purchased for around £145 and the same-quantity DDR3-1,333 for around £160. You clearly pay a premium for faster-speed modules, and we're going to investigate whether it's worth it or not.

Here's one of the three modules that ships in well-protected blister packs. The cool-looking DOMINATOR heatspreader appears to be a chunkier version of what's gone before and certainly feels well-built, with a weighty feel when in your hand.

The JEDEC standard for DDR3 is 1.5v, and such is the sensitivity of Intel's memory-controller on Core i7 processors, that it's not partial to huge voltage increases. That's why even class-leading DDR3 memory ships with a maximum operational voltage of 1.65V - just 10 per cent above default. Careful IC-screening and significant qualification is required for Core i7-orientated kits, because Corsair's very own  non-Core i7-qualified 2GHz pack requires a toasty 1.9V.

Knowing the vagaries of Core i7, the 1,600MHz package is specified to run at 8-8-8-24 timings with just 1.65V, as shown on the sticker.

Corsair states that each three-module kit is packaged together immediately after testing, as a triumvirate, on X58 motherboards.

Making things simpler, the kit is pre-programmed with XMP (eXtreme Memory Profile) settings that correlate to the timings on the packet. Booting up on a Foxconn Bloodrage X58 motherboard, the modules' fired up at 1,333MHz at 9-9-9-24 timings - the JEDEC standard - and jumping on over to the relevant section and enabling the XMP function, the system rebooted with the modules running at 1,600MHz: easy as pie.