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Review: Corsair DOMINATOR DDR3-1,866: 30GB/s bandwidth for Core i7

by Tarinder Sandhu on 4 February 2009, 14:12 3.35

Tags: Corsair

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Almost at 2GHz

A look back at our recent DDR3 pricing article highlighted that pricing continued to fall, even in the presence of an ever-weakening pound. Thinking of Core i7, you could purchase a Corsair TR3X6G1333C9 6GB DDR3-1,333 pack for around £145, which offered a decent compromise between price, capacity and performance.

Spending more cash gave you higher speeds, right the way up to a select band of DDR3-2,000MHz. The question of whether spending more gave you an acceptable performance increase was one left for review, and we found little benefit in scaling up to 1,600MHz.

However, Corsair is synonymous with releasing some of the world's fastest RAM, and its DOMINATOR DDR3 line is the embodiment of this. Scaling to 1,866MHz on the online site, Corsair will be selling, directly, a 2,000MHz tri-channel kit in a short while.

1,866MHz-rated memory is still incredibly fast, and Corsair sent us a 6GB kit to thrash through the labs. Let's take a look.

Seen the 'spreaders before? You probably have on the DDR3-1,600 C8 parts, and they're exactly the same on this higher-speed range.

Shipping with 9-9-9-24 latencies and taking due account of the Core i7 memory-controller's penchant for low-voltage operation, the set operates at 1.65V.

The weighty feel of the DOMINATOR heatspreaders gives the modules an ostentatious feel, and so it should, because the 6GB pack - 3 x 2GB modules - currently etails at around £345, or over twice as much as a DDR3-1,333 pack of the same capacity. The same-speed pack is also sold in a 3GB (3x 1GB) form.

Isn't it pretty, if you're into black DHX heatspreaders. As usual, the modules are backed up by Corsair's limited lifetime warranty.

Sensibly, the modules are pre-programmed with XMP v1.2 profiles, meaning that, on compliant X58 motherboards, you should be able to run them at their various parameters without needing to really fiddle with the board's BIOS: it's almost as easy as one-click ordering from Amazon.

The three modules are tested at 1,866MHz, 9-9-9-24 latencies, with 1.65V pumping through them on a Gigabyte EX58-UD5 (Core i7, X58) motherboard, according to Corsair. The very fact that they're hand-tested and packaged together indicates that the speeds, and therefore price, make them a low-volume but high-impact seller. We reckon that Corsair sells 10x the number of DDR3-1,066 memory... easily.

Being a premium part, Corsair adds some more pizzazz by bundling in an AIRFLOW fan. This has been redesigned to accommodate triple-channel memory and is therefore wider. Subjectively,  it's also far better built than the first incarnation.

AIRFLOW packs in two 60mm fans that, when attached, provide, well, cooler air over the heatspreaders. You don't need to install it when running stock speeds, but it's only sensible and right to do so when pushing the modules farther, knowing that they're close to the bleeding-edge of performance already.

And here's the whole shebang. Let's now see how much of a difference having faster memory makes, as we take a look at benchmark numbers.