In a world in which high-speed, high-cost DDR3 memory is becoming less relevant to overall system performance, manufacturers are having to find new ways in which to make their modules appeal to the modern-day enthusiast.
Claiming to offer record-breaking frequencies and ultra-low latencies is no longer a guaranteed sell, for consumers have caught on to the fact that today's CPUs carry enough on-board cache to drastically reduce the benefits of premium RAM.
This change in PC architecture has forced manufacturers to seriously rethink their enthusiast product lines. In the past 12 months, Crucial has expanded its high-end Ballistix line to include the more affordable, more sensible Ballistix Sport, Corsair has augmented its premium line of Dominator kits with the aggressively-priced Vengeance, and Kingston has extended its top-of-the-line HyperX range with Blu - a new line of memory described as "ideal for the entry level gamer or PC enthusiast". Heck, OCZ has gone as far as to quit the DRAM game entirely.
Selling high-end kits at increasingly-lower price points is bad news for manufacturers, but it's also great news for you - the consumer. Browse the virtual shelves of your favourite online retailer and you'll find that a high-end 8GB, 1,600MHz kit can be yours for less than £50.
One of the latest such kits is Corsair's Vengeance LP - a low-profile addition to the 2010 Vengeance range.
Available in a choice of colours - including Jet Black, Cerulean Blue and Special Edition Arctic White (pictured) - the Vengeance LP module makes use of a heat spreader measuring 26.25mm tall and is designed for use in "high-performance systems with extra-large CPU coolers" or small-form-factor PCs that aren't able to accommodate the existing 47.37mm-tall Vengeance range.
The reasoning behind the new LP line is simple, and the shorter modules make a lot of sense, but Corsair's "low-profile" branding has become a point of contention. While the manufacturer is quick to point out that "these are low profile in comparison to the standard tall heat spreader Vengeance modules", consumers should note that the LP range isn't the start of a new ultra-slim form factor; it is essentially the same standard height as the majority of available modules.
And the heatsinks are contentious for other reasons, too. While the Blue and Black Vengeance LP kits are all designed to run at 1.5V, the Special Edition Arctic White model we're taking a look at today operates at an ultra-low 1.35V. At that voltage, is a heatsink required at all? Probably not, and that explains the choice of colours - these supposedly-low-profile heatsinks are little more than fashion accessories.
Not that there's anything wrong with a bit of pizzazz, mind you. The Vengeance LP in Arctic White looks suitably smart and is a perfect match for Corsair's other recent bit of Special Edition kit. The contrast of white aluminium on an black PCB - which, we should add is exclusive to the Arctic White kit - is particularly easy on the eye, and hey, as far as sticks of memory are concerned, they don't tend to come much nicer than this.
Like many other high-performance kits, the Vengeance LP is tested to operate at 1,600MHz with latencies of 9-9-9-24, and it's an XMP-compatible set, so selecting the memory's optimum BIOS settings will be a one-click process on Intel boards. At the time of writing, the following seven Vengeance LP kits are available at retail:
|Size||Speed||Voltage||# of DIMMs||Heat Spreaders||Part Number|
|16GB||1,600MHz, 9-9-9-24||1.5V||4||Cerulean Blue||CML16GX3M4A1600C9B|
|16GB||1,600MHz, 9-9-9-24||1.5V||4||Jet Black||CML16GX3M41600C9|
|8GB||1,600MHz, 9-9-9-24||1.5V||2||Jet Black||CML8GX3M2A1600C9|
|8GB||1,600MHz, 9-9-9-24||1.5V||2||Cerulean Blue||CML8GX3M2A1600C9B|
|8GB||1,600MHz, 9-9-9-24||1.35V||2||Arctic White||CML8GX3M2A1600C9W|
|4GB||1,600MHz, 9-9-9-24||1.5V||2||Cerulean Blue||CML4GX3M2A1600C9B|
|4GB||1,600MHz, 9-9-9-24||1.5V||2||Jet Black||CML4GX3M2A1600C9|
Corsair has sent us the two-DIMM 1.35V Special Edition Arctic White kit to play with, and though the Special Edition tag suggests a premium price tag, this 8GB (2x4GB) configuration is competitively priced at just under £50. Worthy of consideration for your next system build? Let's find out.