Corsair TWINX1024-3200LLPro RAM Review

Admin - 2007-03-24 15:01:52 in Memory
Category: Memory
Reviewed by: Admin   
Reviewed on: February 20, 2004
Corsair Memory
Price: $290 USD
Introduction
Today we are looking at some XMS Pro series memory from Corsair, the TWINX1024-3200LLPro. The XMS Series memory is Corsair's superior memory line. More specifically their XMS Pro series is "designed, optimized, and tested to support xtreme gaming". This memory has a very large surface area for better cooling with the heatspreaders and it also features LED activity lights. With dual channel DDR motherboards becoming the standard, enthusiast are out to find the fastest and most superior memory on the market. In our review today we will be testing the TwinX PC3200 memory with two different chipsets and we will also test the overclocking ability of the memory. So, without further adieu lets see what this memory is made of!


About Corsair
If you have never heard of Corsair Memory before, then you must be living under a rock. Corsair is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, memory companies in the world. The company started in 1994 and has rapidly earned the reputation of being the first in everything they do. Their focus has always been on supporting the special demands of mission-critical servers and high-end workstations, as well as the performance demands of extreme gamers. Corsair thoroughly tests their memory for compatibility with many of the major system platforms. Their high standards is what sets Corsair a part from the rest.


Just a few days ago Corsair announced their new XMS2 family of xtreme performance DDR2 memory modules. They are the very first memory company in the world to support the new DDR2 standard. DDR2, the second generation of Double Data Rate memory technology, includes new features such as a larger 4-bit prefetch and programmable on-die termination (ODT) to reduce signal bounce and improve reliability at high speeds. This goes to show that Corsair really does stand up to their reputation of being the first in everything.



What is Dual Channel DDR?
One of the most mis-understood facts about dual channel DDR is "dual channel DDR memory". There is no such thing as Dual Channel DDR memory, however there is such things as Dual Channel platforms (or chipsets). There is nothing special within the memory itself that distinguishes that it can be used with Dual Channel or not. The motherboard is what distinguishes if the memory should run in dual channel mode or single channel mode. In order to take advantage of Dual Channel DDR you must fill the first two memory slots on your motherboard with two identical memory sticks. This is the reason why memory companies like Corsair packages two identical memory sticks. Here is how the Dual Channel DDR works:

One memory controller on your motherboard reads and writes data while the second controller is standing by ready for the next access. This eliminated the "wait time" or delay found with single channel motherboards. With this delay gone you can see up to a 10% increase in performance. While 10% may not be all that much, it can definitely help the power users who are seeking every ounce of performance. Features
  • Aluminum heatspreaders
  • 95% greater surface area than standard heatspreaders
  • 18 activity LED's show level of memory activity
  • 2-3-2-6 latency settings
  • Lifetime warranty


    Specifications
    Model Twinx1024-3200LLPRO
    Speed PC3200 400MHZ DDR
    Size 1024mb (2x512mb)
    CAS Latency 2-3-2-6
    Dimensions 1.75' Tall -5.41' Long - 0.03' Wide

  • In-Depth Look


    The 1024-3200LLPRO kit came in your standard clear plastic clam shell package and contained two sticks of 512MB CMX512MB-3200LLPRO. From the packaging you can tell Corsair is trying to get their point across that this is not your ordinary memory.



    The first thing you may notice about this memory is the magnitude of it, it's huge! The size of this memory has its ups and downs. On the up side, the larger memory gives the heatspreaders a larger surface area to cool. In theory this would mean the memory would be cooled better because the heatspreaders are covering more surface area. I for one have never really been a firm believer in heatspreaders for RAM or for memory on video cards. I have never seen a difference in the stability, cooling, or overclocking ability. On the down side of this larger memory is the fact that it is larger. This means you may have problems installing it in some computer case configurations. We actually had a couple of problems with this, but more about that later in the review.



    If you have not noticed it by now, there are a total of 18 activity LED's that run across the top of the memory modules. These LED's merely show the memory activity level. The LED's consist of green, yellow and red. They have no real purpose other than adding some luminescence to your computer case. If you do not have a window in your computer case, then these LED's will not do you any good. Of course you could always mod them and redirect the LED's to the front of your case instead :)

    The LED lights aren't the only interesting feature of the heat spreader. Corsair does a few things different with the way the heat spreaders are attached. Instead of frag tape and clips used to attach the heat spreaders to the memory modules thermal epoxy is used, and the module is baked to cure the epoxy to the heat spreader and memory modules. I really like this feature as some company's use inexpensive thermal tape that can insulate the memory.
    Installation


    We ran in to a couple of problems installing this memory. On one of our test systems the memory was so tall that it came only centimeters away from our Serial ATA Adapter that we had installed on our hard drive. We had to remove this adapter before installing the memory for the memory to fit. If you own a very small computer case, you can see that you may run in to a problem where the actual hard drive may prevent you from installing the memory without first removing the hard drive. In our other test system, which was a small Shuttle box, we had similar problems but it was related to the power supply. We had to remove the power supply unit before we could install the memory. We can't provide you pictures of this since the review of the Shuttle has not been published on our site yet :)

    None of these problems are major, especially since most people do not upgrade their memory very often. We still felt the need to inform you of our problems that we had.

    Movie


    It would be to hard to describe what the LED activity lights look like, without showing you. Therefore we have made a short video clip of the LED's in action!


    Testing
    System 1 System 2
    AMD 2500+ @ 3200+ Speeds (11x200FSB) AMD Athlon 64 3200+
    Abit NF7-S Rev 2.0 Shuttle SN85G4
    WD 120GB 8MB Cache Hard Drive WD 120GB 8MB Cache Hard Drive
    Windows XP w/ SP1 Windows XP w/ SP1


    Originally I wanted to test both single and dual channel on the Abit motherboard, but the increase in performance and bandwidth in single vs dual channel was less than 3% in most cases and i didn't feel the need to include single channel scores. To test the memory's stability and memory bandwidth I used memtest86, prime95, Si Soft Sandra, and Pcmark04. For Sandra, and PCMark04 three test were ran with the average score of the 3 combined for the scores listed below.

    Front Side Bus Memory Voltage Latency Pass/Fail
    200 Stock Stock SPD Pass
    205 Stock Stock SPD Pass
    210 Stock Stock SPD Pass
    215 Stock Stock SPD Pass
    217 Stock Stock SPD Fail
    217 2.7 Stock SPD Pass
    218 2.7 Stock SPD Fail
    218 2.7 CAS 2-3-3-6 Fail
    218 2.8 CAS 2-3-3-6 Fail


    I tried everything to get the 1024-3200LLPRO to be stable with Prim95 and memtest86 above 217fsb, but no voltage or latency combination could get the memory stable past 217fsb.



    Note: The Athlon 3200+ shown in the graph is an Athlon 2500+ Barton overclocked to 3200+

    Here we see the corsair showing some good numbers in the Sandra memory test. The NF3 chipset with the help of the 64-bit Athlon on board memory memory controller is really showing some good scores to be running in single channel. Even with dual channel, the NF2 is still lacking behind the Athlon 64 and NF3.

    sandra fix

    Note: The Athlon 3200+ shown in the graph is an Athlon 2500+ Barton overclocked to 3200+

    Here we see the corsair showing some good numbers in the Sandra memory test. The NF3 chipset with the help of the 64-bit Athlon on board memory memory controller is really showing some good scores to be running in single channel. Even with dual channel, the NF2 is still lacking behind the Athlon 64 and NF3.



    Note: The Athlon 3200+ shown in the graph is an Athlon 2500+ Barton overclocked to 3200+

    Again we see both chipsets putting in very respectable scores for their platform. The NF3 shows a healthy 26% boost in performance over the NF2 board in PCMark04 memory bandwidth score. Overclocking
    Results were pretty good but not the greatest I've seen from PC-3200 memory. Trying to boot with ultra low latency's cas2 2-2-6 was greeted with a reboot right after the post screen. The memory ran great at stock voltage and latency's up to 215fsb, after 215 a slight bump in vdimm was needed for system to become stable with stock latency's. 217 fsb or DDR434 was all I could get out of the memory, no amount of voltage or raising of the latency's would get this memory past 217 FSB. I was impressed at how far the memory overclocked with stock voltages and latency's. Here are some overclocked memory scores:


    Note: The Athlon 3200+ shown in the graph is an Athlon 2500+ Barton overclocked to 3200+

    We can see that both systems gained a significant increase in memory bandwidth. The NF3 platform is really showing its muscle in the scores above.


    Conclusion
    Jason's Thoughts
    The first set of memory we received was defective. I could not get the memory to pass Memtest 86, or Prime95 on both a Asus A7n8X DLX and Abit nf7-S at any speeds. A lot of companies will "hand pick" hardware for review sites to be sure they give us a flawless or better than advertised product. It seems though Corsair does not do this, and I am very glad they do not. This allows us to provide our readers with the most accurate review as possible by using the same exact product as a consumer would buy from a company. Since we received a bad stick of memory we had the opportunity to test out Corsairs RMA department. I am happy to say that they sent me a new package of memory, overnight. Other than that little quirk I was really impressed with TWINX1024-3200LLPRO memory. The lower latency's are great for AMD based systems where high FSB overclocks are not common. If you own a Intel system based on the 865/875 chipsets, and are looking for the highest possible FSB where low latency is not concern then you might want to look at Corsairs Twin-X 1024 4000PRO or 4400PRO. The lights were a nice touch but added no real functionality other than good looks. If your looking for dual channel matched memory pairs you cant go wrong with any of the XMS series of memory.

    Matt's Thoughts
    The Corsair TWINX1024-3200LLPro may not be a top choice for overclockers but it does show off some impressive benchmarks, especially on the Athlon 64 test system. This memory can be found on pricewatch for about $290 bucks, which is not all that bad considering it is 1GB of memory. The superior quality of the memory and the company that stands behind it, is what makes this memory worth every penny. The bulky size of this memory may be a turn off to some, but I would recommend this memory to anyone seeking performance, quality, and who might want to do some mild overclocking. I really like the LED activity lights but if you have no window, they have no purpose. Instead I would recommend the Corsair TWINX1024-3200LL which is $40 bucks cheaper and is basically the same memory but without the LED's.


    Pros

    Cons