It is really good to see the kind of innovation that is going on in the memory market right now. In recent reviews there were many comments about "cookie-cutter" sameness in DDR2 memory products. Then OCZ introduced their innovative Flex XLC memory with the option of water cooling that we covered in OCZ Flex XLC: PC2-9200 Pushes the Envelope. That memory shook up notions of what represented an enthusiast memory product.

Even before Flex XLC was introduced Corsair was shaking up the high-end memory market with their new Corsair Dominator memory. We had first used Dominator modules in our review of the NVIDIA 680i motherboard. The Dominator memory was a big contributor to the record-setting memory performance we achieved on that board. That experience meant we needed to follow up the Flex XLC review with a review of another memory to break out of the ordinary - Corsair Dominator.

Our samples tested with the 680i were DDR2-1142, which actually topped by a few MHz the incredible DDR2-1300 we achieved with the OCZ. The Corsair Dominator 1142 pioneered a unique taller PCB board with integrated fin cooling and an optional top cooling fan.

The look and functionality of the DDR2-1142 Dominator memory, fully decked out, certainly gets your attention. However, when we approached Corsair about reviewing the 1142 Dominator they suggested we look at their latest super high speed product, which is Corsair Dominator DDR2-1111 (PC2-8888). We were told that while the 1111 is rated a bit slower the performance rating is at CAS 4 instead of CAS 5 like the 1142. That meant the 1111 was actually a faster memory with the promise of lower latency.

Corsair remains one of the most innovative companies in the memory market. If there is a something new in the memory market, you can count on the fact that either Corsair introduced it or they have a very similar product. It is no surprise then to see such an innovative new memory product from Corsair. The dual-path cooling and extremely high speed ratings are pretty exciting. The question, of course, is how the Corsair Dominator DDR2-1111 4-4-4 actually performs in our tests systems. Is it the equal of the other top RAM in the market, or does it set new performance standards for DDR2 memory? We will find answers to those questions in our Memory Test beds.

Corsair Dominator Series
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  • anandtech02148 - Tuesday, January 2, 2007 - link

    let say a dual ddr2 800mhz occupied 2 slot
    and the other 2 slot is occupied by 533mhz ddr2

    although they operate at different voltage, will it work?
    what am i to do with older memory modules when all these new
    1111mhz and newer models come out
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, January 3, 2007 - link

    Different grades of memory can be on the board, but the channels can not be individually set. Therefore the memory has to be run at the speed of the slowest modules. However, some 533 can run DDR2-800 and most run at least 667.
  • anandtech02148 - Monday, January 1, 2007 - link

    Cheers to Anandtech for using a 520psu. hooorayy.. finally we're testing something at a sane level.

    600buxs for memory, one of the reason why Intel got out of memory business to focus on Cpu
    in 1980s.
    2.4v to operate, are we reaching 12v soon for running memory modules?

    in the meantime i'm still dreaming for that 2gig at 100buxs range. and i was a fan of Rambus RAm until this ddr cartels took over.

  • daos - Monday, January 1, 2007 - link

    I recently purchased some Dominator PC6400C4D to replace my old OCZ PC6400 Platinum. I can honestly say that the heatsinks make a huge difference in overall temps of the DIMMS. Either the OCZ ran extremely hot at default voltage or the Dominators are insanely efficent at keeping the memory cool.

    I run these at 2.4v 3-3-4-9 DDR2800Mhz and they are cool to the touch. I still cannot believe how cool these heatsinks keep the memory. At first I was hesitant to raise the voltage to 2.4v but after seeing how cool they run I wish my P5WDH board allowed for higher memory voltages!

    Guys/Gals, the heatsinks really do work and I am a living example of it. I have always been the one to instantly rip the spreaders off of memory in the past but these really work.
  • MadAd - Monday, January 1, 2007 - link

    Not so long ago ram worked perfectly fine without heatspreaders at all, calculations at the time showed that ram was no-where near needing them now its hard to get anything but value ram without them. For a few coinsworth of metal they have engineered lots of pretty colors and shapes to dazzle us with but do we really need it?

    IMO instead of a pro-forma memory review, you have an opportunity to spice it up a bit with the angle of either supporting this new fad, or cut through the spin, with some measured data. Simply take the ugly things off and benchmark it again. See if it still hits the same highs and still retains its timings with no heatspreader.
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, January 1, 2007 - link

    A very good idea. The only problem is the inner heatsinks are heat merged to the PCB, and the outer heatsinks use a thermal epoxy for mounting to the memory chips. Unlike the old days, removing a heatspreader is now often fatal to memory. The surface mount memory chips are easily pulled off, even if you use extreme care, in trying to remove the outer heatspreaders. Removing the inner ones could destroy the PCB.

    We could test this if the memory makers would supply the memory without heatsinks. The question then is why would they want to?

    I can tell you from past testing that fan cooling the memory definitely extends overclocking to higher levels. However, removing heatsinks made no difference at all in OC on DDR with simpler sinks. This setup by Corsair is quite a bit more sophisticated than the colored metal covers and it may make some real difference in performance.
  • MadAd - Thursday, January 11, 2007 - link

    Ok point accepted that it may be hard to render them testable if epoxy is used but dont you love a challenge? :lol:

    Honestly, its starting to get serious now with these">

    As you know yourself fan cooling is something applied whatever the form they come in, ok so you could analyse how efficient each method is but the big question is still whether its all just hype or not. I think hype.
  • cmdrdredd - Monday, January 1, 2007 - link

    Team Extreme memory never comes with heatspreaders, and they make memory that can go to DDR2-1200 with the right setup. What does this tell you?
  • customcoms - Monday, January 1, 2007 - link


    More often than not it registered the highest test results, but the differences in performance at stock speeds are very small. Above DDR2-1067 Dominator broke away from the pack, producing the highest game test results we have seen so far at any overclocked speeds. This is no doubt the result of the tighter 4-4-4 timings that could be maintained all the way to DDR2-1233. Corsair Dominator set new performance records in every test category, and it managed to just edge the also fast OCZ Flex XLC in most gaming benchmarks.

    Wes, I am sorry, but if I'm reading the same benchmarks as you are, of the three games you tested, the OCZ is still the fastest memory (granted, Quake 4 is within margin of error) period, around 1-2 fps faster than the corsair. Why you say the corsair is faster when the benchmarks speak otherwise (the tighter timings+higher speed and the higher raw speed of the corsair is the only thing I see better than the OCZ).

    Basically, in real world applications (i.e games, which are what 95+% of the market buying these kits are doing with their machines), the OCZ is faster, according to YOUR OWN benchmarks. You also give it the edge on the 975X platform. Hence, I would say it is the better ram (plus it has the option for water cooling). Doesn't really matter, as I won't be spending that kind of money on ram EVER-better to buy an 8800GTX etc.
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, January 1, 2007 - link

    When you also include results on the nVidia 680i the Corsair Dominator is faster overall. On the 975x, which is the only thing included in the graph results, the OCZ Flex XLC is faster. Individual timings are also slightly faster at DDR2 1067 and DDR2 667 on the Corsair.

    OCZ Flex XLC and Corsair Dominator PC@-8888 are both at the top of our benchmarking and either would be a great enthusiast choice. The Corsair pushes the 680i slightly faster and therefore is the fastest memory we have tested to date.

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