Corsair Dominator Platinum 2133Mhz 16GB Review

ccokeman - 2012-09-10 16:04:41 in Memory
Category: Memory
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: October 3, 2012
Price: $214


Over the years Corsair's Dominator lineup has been synonymous with the upper crust of performance memory modules. Corsair makes DDR3 memory modules that will fit just about any need from the basic to the extreme with many products in between. The Dominator lineup is a proven commodity with a strong performance feature set from the distinctive fin style to the Dual Path DHX cooling used to keep the memory running cool when pushed. Corsair has gone one step further with the Platinum lineup with the addition of a light bar to allow the end user who really wants to customize every aspect of their build from the motherboard to the cooling solution and even the look of the memory. To that end the light bar can be customized with different colors to meet the requirements of that full-on custom build.

Corsair has put together Dominator Platinum kits that range from 8GB to 64GB with speeds of 1866Mhz to an impressive 2666Mhz in both dual and quad channel configurations. The set of modules we have received from Corsair is part number CMD16GX3M4B2133C9, a 16GB dual channel kit optimized for use on the latest Intel Z77 chipset based motherboards. This kit features 4 x 4GB modules rated for use at 2133Mhz running timings of 9-11-10-30 using just 1.5v. Pricing as you might guess is on the high end of the scale for 16GB of DDR3 memory, but this set comes in a little less expensive than the standard Dominator line at $214 at online etailers. The pricing starts to make sense when you factor in the lifetime warranty, big speeds, tight timings at low voltages, impressive, rugged industrial looks, and Dual Path DHX cooling — not to mention the fact that these modules feature hand selected and binned memory IC's. Lets see how this 2133Mhz kit of Corsair's finest handles the competition all while looking good.

Closer Look:

The packaging for the Corsair Dominator Platinum modules is as distinctive as the modules. The front panel has a window that shows off one of the modules to go with the rendering of the modules front and center. The product name and capacity are below the image of the modules. As noted on the bottom left these modules carry Intel certified XMP profiles. The back of the package lists reasons why these modules should be in your next build with items such as Corsair's Dual Path DHX cooling solution and customizable light bar. The package splits in the middle to show off all four modules in the 4 x 4 GB kit. Inside, each module is individually packaged and inserted into a foam shell to provide both the spacing needed for displaying the modules as well as shock protection during transit. You get high end packaging to go with this high end set of modules.










Stripped out of the packaging we can get a first hand, up close and personal look at the Dominator Platinum modules. Part number CMD16GX3M4B2133C9 is comprised of a quartet of 4GB modules rated to run at 2133Mhz with latencies of 9-11-10-30 using just 1.5v for reduced power consumption and lower operating temperatures. These modules are designed to work in a dual channel configuration in an Intel Z77 based motherboard. This is not to say they will not work with boards equipped with other chip sets, they are just optimized for use with a Z77 chipset equipped motherboard. The front of the modules have a sticker that identifies the part number, latencies, configuration of the kit, speed rating, revision number, and individual serial number. Externally these modules differ from the standard Dominator modules with the use of a light bar that rides over the fins of the Dual Path DHX heat sink. This light bar not only adds a distinctive look but will be offered in multiple colors to more closely match the color scheme of your system and motherboard. On each side of the modules is an extruded aluminum shield that is used to pull heat directly from the highly binned memory IC's while the finned aluminum sink on top of the modules is used to pull heat directly from the PCB.




One of the features that makes these modules visually appealing is the use of the user configurable light bar and pipe. This system is held in place by hex head screws and can be swapped out with several different colors to match the theme of your PC and components. The additional colors should be available by the time you read this article. A light pipe runs the length of the module inside of a polished housing and provides a subtle lighting effect that shines down around the DIMM sockets on your motherboard. Across the top of the polished cover is the Dominator logo so there is no question what modules are in the system, as if the light surrounding the modules is not enough of a visual clue.



The PCB used on the Dominator Platinum series modules is a custom design that incorporates a cooling solution specifically targeted at removing the thermal load from the PCB as well as the memory IC's through convective cooling. In the cutaway below from Corsair you can get a good idea as to how the Dual Path DHX cooling solution works to remove that thermal load. The fins along the top of the modules interface with and cool the PCB while the shields on the sides are used to remove heat from the memory IC's. On one end of the pitch black PCB is the Corsair name and PCB number while the opposite side has a connection used to integrate the modules with Corsair's Link system, which is used to monitor usage and temperatures.



For a quick walk around these modules Corsair has a short video that give the end user the quick tour around the modules to illustrate what they have to offer.


As modules that fall into the upper end of Corsair's memory product stack, the Dominator Platinum modules are hand screened to allow the end user the ability to have a stable, high performance platform that not only looks good but performs well in the long run. Lets see how this 16GB set of memory performs when compared to kits with similar timings and performance characteristics.


16GB Kit (4 x 4GB)
Performance Profile
Fan Included
Heat Spreader
Memory Configuration
Dual Channel
Memory Type
Package - Memory Pin
Package - Memory Format
Tested Voltage
SPD Voltage
Speed Rating
PC3-17066 (2133MHz)
SPD Speed
Tested Speed
Tested Latency
SPD Latency





Allinformation courtesy of Corsair @


Memory is often hard to separate between one kit and another in gaming, though when it comes to number-crunching and computing, some memory provides an extra boost in comparison. To see just what kind of performance this kit has to offer, I will be running the modules through a series of benchmarks. There will be 8 GB, 16 GB and 32 GB kits tested, ranging in speed from 1866 MHz - 2400 MHz, tested at native speeds as well as overclocked. Overclocking, of course, will be dependent on exactly how far the testing rig will allow, though I will push it as far as I can. The testing setup used for these benchmarks is listed below, where Turbo Boost has been disabled to eliminate uncontrolled clock changes that may skew the results. The CPU will be run at default clock speeds for baseline testing and bumped up to 4.5 GHz or as close as possible, where possible, for OC testing. All current updates and patches have been installed for Windows 7 Professional 64-bit and AMD Catalyst driver version 12.6 will be used for the video card.


Testing Setup:


Comparison Modules:


CPU-Z: This application visually shows the settings that we have chosen in the BIOS. Items shown in this application include CPU speed and bus settings, motherboard manufacturer, BIOS revisions, memory timings, and SPD chip information.



Task Manager: We use this utility to show physical memory, kernel memory, page file, and processor usage.

Task Manager



Going into the testing, you need to know that as one of Corsairs highly binned sets of memory this set should have some overclocking headroom. Indeed they did. Since Corsair sells a set of these modules rated at 2666Mhz using 1.65v I though I would start there for my overclocking. Sadly about all I could get was some SuperPi 1.5 32m stable results to show for it using 1.75v on the modules with timings of 10-12-12-31 2T. Stable enough for benchmarking but not for everyday use. To run stable enough for everyday required a latency change to 9-12-11-31 2t using 1.695v, a divider change to 2400Mhz, followed up with some bclock tuning. By tweaking the VCCSA and VCCIO voltages up a bit to 1.150 and 1.00 respectively, I was able to push the modules to 2481Mhz still keeping the cas latency at 9 with semi-tight secondary timings. While 2666Mhz would have been nice for each and every day use, the modules just would not run the number. Loosening the timings further results in a performance loss that is not offset by the speed gain. If you want to avoid as much tweaking as possible you can set the modules to run on the programmed XMP profile. By setting the profile and changing the memory divider to 2400Mhz and the voltage changed to 1.65 the modules responded with a perfectly stable boost without changing any other settings. In the end I ended up with a 15% boost in memory speed for the time and effort it took to iron out the potential of these modules.

Corsair recommends additional airflow over the modules when running over 2400Mhz. At over 2400Mhz the modules were still running at just above ambient temperatures with just normal airflow from the fans pushing air through the Corsair H100 radiator. At 1.75v with an additional fan placed to blow air over the modules they did not even get warm to the touch. That being said I could not get in between the modules for a more accurate measurement. Even so the DHX cooling seems to handle the thermal load quite well at 1.75v, the maximum voltage used in the testing. Any way you cut it the Dominator Platinum modules offer even better performance through tuning to go along with the stunning looks and impressive DHX cooling.



Maximum Memory Speed:

The maximum memory speed for each set of overclocked modules is indicative of how well the modules ran on this test system. As such, your results may differ in either a positive or negative way based upon the capabilities of your hardware. In other words, your mileage may vary!


The benchmarks used in this review include the following:



PCMark Vantage: With this benchmark, I will be running the system suite, as well as the memory test suite. The measurement for the system suite will be the total score. The measurement for memory performance is the total memory score.

















PCMark 7 is the latest iteration of Futuremark's popular PCMark system performance tool. This latest version is designed for use on Windows 7 PCs and features a combination of 25 different workloads to accurately measure the performance of all PCs from laptops to desktops.


Higher is Better


Geekbench 2.1 provides a comprehensive set of benchmarks engineered to quickly and accurately measure processor and memory performance. Designed to make benchmarks easy to run and easy to understand, Geekbench takes the guesswork out of producing robust and reliable benchmark results.



Super PI Mod 1.5 is a program designed to calculate Pi up to the 32nd millionth digit after the decimal and is used as both a benchmarking utility and simple stress test to check your overclock before moving forward with more rigorous testing. The world records for this benchmark utility are hotly contested.



At stock speeds the Corsair Dominator Platinum modules compare well with the Mushkin 993997 2133Mhz modules used in our test beds. When compared to other 2133Mhz kits with different densities the performance deltas are small but enough to allow the Dominator modules to perform close to, if not at the top of the results for each test. Overclocking results have the Dominator Platinum modules delivering the highest performance in 60% of the tests.


SiSoftware Sandra 2012: In this program, I will be running the following benchmarks: Cache and Memory, Memory Bandwidth, and Memory Latency. Higher is better in all tests, except for Memory Latency, where lower is better.
















AIDA64 Extreme Edition is a software utility designed to be used for hardware diagnosis and benchmarking. I will be using the Cache and Memory benchmark to test each module’s read, write, and copy bandwidth, as well as the latency test.


Higher is Better


At the 2133Mhz rated speed the Dominator Platinum modules perform in the same narrow window that the rest of the 2133Mhz rated modules perform in. When overclocked the ability to run Cas 0 at close to 2500Mhz helps drive it to the top of the field in six out of the seven tests.


Part first-person shooter, part survival horror, Metro 2033 is based on the novel of the same name, written by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. You play as Artyom in a post-apocalyptic Moscow, where you'll spend most of your time traversing the metro system, with occasional trips to the surface. Despite the dark atmosphere and bleak future for mankind, the visuals are anything but bleak. Powered by the 4A Engine, with support for DirectX 11, NVIDIA PhysX, and NVIDIA 3D Vision, the tunnels are extremely varied – in your travels, you'll come across human outposts, bandit settlements, and even half-eaten corpses. Ensuring you feel all the tension, there is no map and no health meter. Get lost without enough gas mask filters and adrenaline shots and you may soon wind up as one of those half-eaten corpses, chewed up by some horrifying manner of irradiated beast that hides in the shadows just waiting for some hapless soul to wander by its lair.















Higher = Better


Clearly illustrated is the fact that memory is less of a determining factor in game performance than the video card. All of the results, including the results delivered by the Corsair Dominator Platinum modules, are within a two FPS window, stock and overclocked.


What Corsair has to offer with this set of modules is a kit that will run with the best kits out on the market at stock speeds yet offers the ability to really push the limits of your CPU's memory controller when it comes time to overclock them for added performance margins. Top that off with a unique industrial look and the ability to use the light bar feature to customize the modules and you have a kit that delivers excellent performance while looking great. At 2133Mhz, the Dominator Platinum modules are by no means a slow kit. Overclocking yielded a 15% boost in clock speed to 2481Mhz using timings of 9-12-11-30 and 1.695v. A pretty decent boost all the while running Cas 9 at close to 2500Mhz. These settings allowed the modules to sit in the top spot in the testing in 12 out of 21 tests and almost equal the best modules in 7 more tests when overclocked — a pretty solid performance when comparing against modules that clocked a bit higher. Since Corsair offers kits that scale up to 2666Mhz, it was only fair to at least try to run the number. These modules did hit 2666Mhz using 1.75v applied in the BIOS to run some super pi 32m stable testing using 10-12-12-31 timings. While this is not an everyday type of test, it shows the potential if these modules go sub-zero. In all, the overclocking was fairly robust with this set of modules. However, they would be lost without the Dual Path DHX cooling solution that Corsair employs on the Dominator lineup. By cooling the PCB and the memory IC's through convective cooling, the cooling solution is great with minimal airflow at up to 2400Mhz and 1.65v. Above that, Corsair recommends additional airflow to keep the modules cool. Using a 120mm fan 8 inches away from the modules kept them close to ambient temperatures even when pushing 1.75v through the DIMMs. These results are impressive to say the least. The light bar over the heat sinks acts as a channel to direct airflow over the fins of the DHX cooling solution and proves to be effective as well as good-looking.

The light bar is a feature that sets these modules apart from any other on the market by giving the end user a way to customize the look of the memory in their system with lighting effects that will be available in multiple colors to compliment just about any system. Availability for the light bars is is trending towards the end of 2012! Popping a set of red light bar equipped Dominator Platinum's into the Maximus V Gene would allow the modules to fit right in with all of the red lighting already on the board. This set of Dominator Platinum memory is equipped with a "Link" connection that can be used to hook the modules up to Corsair's Link monitoring and control system. Additional airflow can be gained by mounting Corsair's Airflow Pro Dynamic Temperature and activity display that ties into the link connector for a visual indication of both memory usage and temperature readings. The Airflow Pro is an interesting tool, but it would take away from the impression of the lighting. As you can guess pricing for these boutique modules is going to set you back a little over and above what you would pay for a set of performance modules. This kit currently retails for $214 or about 15 bucks less than Dominator modules with slightly better timings yet with the same capacity. All in all the Dominator Platinum modules performed well by comparison, offering great performance and overclocking margins to go along with the unique look provided by the Dual Path DHX cooling and innovative lighting solution. Sure, you can get performance memory for less, but when you are putting together that premium build and need a specific look you cannot go wrong with this set of memory from Corsair. This kit has it all: looks, performance, and a lifetime warranty to boot!