Corsair needs no introduction to the enthusiast community. They’ve been making high-end modules since 1994 and are considered by many to be one of the best in the industry. Today I’ll be taking a close look at Corsair’s TWIN2X4096-8500C5DF kit, which is of the Dominator variety. Dominator is Corsair’s enthusiast line of memory products employing a unique cooling solution called “DHX” or “Dual Path Heat Exchange”.
Four gigabyte kits have dropped in price significantly over the last six months. Having upgraded to Vista recently, my once plentiful 2GB kit had been almost 50% consumed at the desktop. It seems as if 2GB has moved straight from the high-end to the mainstream. I, like many others inevitably have been throwing hardware at Vista in an effort to improve performance. Many new games, like Company of Heroes, are starting to benefit from more than 2GB of memory as well.
The original 2x2GB kits were far from enthusiast grade. Most were higher latency parts, topping out at 800MHz. The only alternative was to purchase a four stick combo, which didn’t always play nicely with many motherboards. Today, 1066MHz, PC2-8500 4GB kits are plentiful and some are clocking even higher out of the box.
A Closer Look
The TWIN2X4096-8500C5DF is a 4096MB, 1066MHz kit comprised of only two modules. Timings come in at the expected 5-5-5-15 specification, which is pretty standard for PC2-8500 kits, both 2GB and 4.
Specifications (taken from the Corsair Dominator product page)
- Part Number: TWIN2X4096-8500C5DF
- Capacity: 4GB kit (2048MBx2)
- Type: DDR2 240-pin DIMM, Unbuffered, NON-ECC
- Rated Frequency: DDR2 PC2-8500 (1066MHz)
- Rated Timings: 5-5-5-15
- Rated vDIMM: 2.1V
- Included Accessories: Includes Dominator Airflow Fan kit
- Warranty: Lifetime
- Approximate Retail Price: $125 after MIR.
One specification I was pleased to see is the very reasonable 2.1V required for the modules to operate at their rated specification. Many lower end or SFF boards do not provide more than 2.1V, so the modules can be taken advantage of. Quite a few PC2-8500 kits require 2.2V. The modules should still operate just fine at their JDEC specifications of 800MHz and 1.8V.
Another nice addition is the inclusion of Corsair’s Dominator Airflow fan. I’ll be taking a closer look at the airflow fan later.
The TWIN2X4096-8500C5DF kit comes packaged in a simple blister pack. Inside you’ll find some basic installation instructions and the Dominator Airflow fan. The specifications are listed on the modules themselves.
I’ve always been very fond of the Dominator module appearance. With a black PCB and the very impressive looking DHX spreaders, they certainly look the part.
The Dominator fan kit is a nice addition. It utilizes three 40mm fans, but according to Corsair, is tuned for low noise operation.
It is a piece of cake to install the Dominator fans. They simply clip onto the memory slot latches. It is held in place by a healthy amount of pressure. The Dominator modules stand quite high already, so the fans don’t make the situation much better if the motherboard layout is not very good.
In case a millimeter or two of movement is needed to clear a large heatsink or other component, the fan assembly can be shifted slightly.
The ‘DHX’ system is comprised of two separate heatsinks. The first adheres to the IC tops to cool the memory directly. The other silver colored heatsink adheres to the PCB itself. This is significant because DDR2 ICs are BGA (Ball Grid Array) based. They attach to the PCB with little beads of solder at the rear of the IC. Because there is such a large surface area of solder behind the IC, a good portion of the heat output is transfered to the PCB.
Corsair’s specially designed PCB improves heat conduction and allows heat to travel up to the heatsink above. This is a very well thought out cooling system for BGA based ICs.
I had no issues getting the modules up and running at their rated specifications. I simply set the frequency and vDIMM in the BIOS. For those not keen on tinkering around in the BIOS, Corsair has programmed their modules with “Enhanced Performance Profiles”. When combined with a compatible motherboard, the modules can run at 1066MHz without the buyer even entering the BIOS.