Corsair Vengeance 12GB DDR3 1600 Review

ccokeman - 2010-12-07 16:35:56 in Memory
Category: Memory
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: January 16, 2011
Price: $199


For some people, thinking of a corsair brought up images of a rouge or a pirate. Not any more.  That is of course, if you are even remotely aware of the computer parts industry! Corsair with a capital C has become one of the top manufacturers of high performance DRAM for use in our dream machines. The Dominator lineup has become synonymous with the upper crust of high performance memory with their distinctive design and performance. The one drawback to the top end Dominator modules was that for the best modules you paid an upper crust premium to acquire them. If the Dominator line is a little much for the budget then say hello to the newly launched Vengeance line. The Vengeance lineup is a new line of modules with another distinctive, aggressive look that uses an entirely new heat spreader design and comes in sets of four to 16GB in combination's for most popular systems. The set I am looking at today is the 1600MHz rated 12GB (3 x 4GB) low voltage kit for use in Intel X58 based systems. Low voltage has been a term we have been used to hearing since the introduction of memory for the Intel X58 and newer systems. Usually this means 1.65v but this set from Corsair is rated to run the 9-9-9-24 latencies with just 1.5v. A significant reduction in voltage to curtail heat and power consumption, both things which are a plus in this day of high energy costs and stuffed-to-the-gills cases. 12GB of memory is becoming more commonplace as the density of modules increases and the pricing of DRAM continues to stay low meaning, more people can increase the amount of DRAM in their systems for not a lot of cash. Let's see how this set of modules from Corsair handles and if we see any benefit to using a full 12GB worth of memory.

Closer Look:

The Vengeance modules come in a retail box with a beauty shot of the modules inserted into a motherboard to give you an idea what you are getting if you purchase them. The capacity is listed on the top right with a listing of the size and count of the modules on the bottom right corner. The bottom left corner has an Intel logo so you can pretty much guess what type of system these modules will be going into. The back cover has a trio of windows to show off the modules and the pertinent information on the labeling that includes the part number and capacity. The modules are secured in a total of three clear plastic shells. This makes sense when you look at the fact that you can buy single 4GB modules in this series.








This set of Vengeance modules is designed to work with an Intel X58 based system with three 4GB modules in a triple channel configuration. This set of modules carries part number CMZ12GX3M3A1600C9. This breaks down to a 12GB set of modules rated to run at 1600Mhz with a CAS latency of 9. The timings for this set are 9-9-9-24 at 1600MHz using 1.5v. From this view of the modules you can see the aggressive looking heat sinks and how they differ from the Dominator line up. Like most memory designed for Intel systems, you get the benefit of an XMP profile so you can just set the profile and fire up the system without spending any real time in the BIOS. These modules do come with Corsair's lifetime warranty in case something does go horribly wrong so you have that peace of mind going into the purchase.



When I first picked up these modules, the difference in weight when compared to the Dominator heat sink was clearly evident. This of course leads to a more thorough inspection of the modules. The heat spreader on this set of Vengeance memory from Corsair uses a stamped aluminum heat sink that is connected together on the ends and is attached to the modules via thermal tape. This thinner design saves on material and therefore costs. The Vengeance memory line runs with 1.5v as the default voltage so a more robust cooling solution is not needed. Insert evil grin here - this does not mean it's not needed as there are those of us who will push the modules to a higher clock speed and will most definitely raise the applied voltage to the modules! The design allows plenty of airflow through the modules and indeed stayed cool during testing as the fins were right in the airflow path to the CPU cooler. If you use a larger cooling solution, populating all six dimm slots on your motherboard may provide some challenges due to the height of the memory.




Now that we know a little more about this latest offering from Corsair's memory lineup, it's time to find out just how well they perform when run through our test system. The good looks are only part of the equation. Kind of like a kit car that has the looks of a Ferrari with Volkswagen underpinnings and engine. Will we have something true to form or an impostor? Let's find out. But not before we get the beauty shot of these modules!


12GB Kit (3 x 4GB)
Performance Profile     
Fan Included      
Heat Spreader    
Memory Configuration     
Triple Channel
Memory Type            
Package - Memory Pin                      
Package - Memory Format                   
Tested Voltage                        
SPD Voltage                         
Speed Rating                      
PC3-12800 (1600MHz)
SPD Speed                     
Tested Speed                 
Tested Latency              
SPD Latency


Great Looking, Great Overclocking Memory at a Great Price

Optimized for Compatibility with the Latest CPUs and Motherboards

Next-Generation Density for the Ultimate Power User

Product Description

Key Features


All information courtesy of Corsair @


This set of Vengeance series memory from Corsair is but one of the seven sets offered in dual channel and triple channel configurations up to 16GB. The testing will include both stock and overclocked settings to see just how much headroom this set of modules has over and above the stock 1600MHz rated speed. Each set of modules is tested in this method to keep the CPU as close to the 2.66GHz default speed as possible, while maximizing the memory speed. The voltages used will be all the available options in the BIOS to reach the maximum clock speed while using the default 1.5v for the stock testing. For the overclocked testing, all bets are off. The test system is listed below and was used for each of the modules tested with a fresh install of Windows 7 Professional 64 bit.


Testing Setup:

Comparison Modules:


CPU-Z: This application shows us 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



Overclocked settings:


Overclocking a 12GB set of memory should present some challenges but when playing with this set is was no harder to overclock than a 6GB set. I say that knowing it should take more QPI volts to stabilize the overclock than you might use with a 6GB set. All it took was the right combination of settings to reach the number. 1700MHz came without much fuss but 1800Mhz took an increase in voltage while maintaining the 9-9-9-24 timings. Moving up further required another bump to 1.65v and to finally reach 1974MHz  (374MHz over the rated 1600Mhz) the timings needed to be relaxed to 9-10-9-27. Any further bumps in voltages did not bring about a further increase in clock speed. The 374Mz increase in clock speed if looked at as a percentage increase would come in at a roughly 23% increase. Now will we see a 23% bump in performance? Not likely, but we should see a measurable increase. If overclocking is not your thing you can definitely tighten the timings up at the rated 1600MHz speed. In this case, to 7-8-7-24 with a slight bump in the VDIMM to 1.60 from the rated 1.5v. However, you do give up any power efficiency gains by doing this. Corsair has put together pretty informative blog post on how they were able to overclock these Vengeance modules in case you get stuck and need some guidance for both P55 and X58 platforms. We also have an 8GB set of these modules for review with Intel's Sandybridge processor and P67 platform coming here shortly. So stay tuned for that.



The maximum memory speed for each set of modules when overclocked is a measure of how well the modules ran on this test system. As such, your results may differ in either a positive or negative way based on the capabilities of your hardware. That said, 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.





















SiSoftware Sandra 2009 SP2: 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.








The PCMark Vantage tests show that capacity is not the way to increase performance but that higher speeds and tighter timings are the way to go. In the Sandra testing, the Corsair modules perform right in line with other modules with the same timings and rated speeds. The overclocked results show that the Vengeance modules are comparable to modules with the same speed rating and latency.


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.



In Geekbench, the added capacity is not a factor in improving performance. However the higher capacity does seem to help when comparing the performance of the 12GB sets with the 6GB sets of memory. The slightly better timings of the Vengeance modules allow it to edge out the 12GB Flex modules from OCZ in the Super Pi testing.


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The additional capacity does not help much in terms of game performance when the video card is taken out of the equation. When you increase the visual quality, the limiting factor to becomes the video card not the memory. Even so, the Vengeance memory delivers comparable performance.


When you first grab this set of Vengeance memory from Corsair, you notice that they do not have the heft of modules equipped with the Dominator heat spreader. In reality, the thermal solution design is constructed completely differently than that of the Dominator design. Is this design less effective? Maybe in a really high voltage benchmarking environment but definitely not with the 1.5v to 1.65v these modules will most likely see in use as a daily driver. The higher fin array will pick up more of the airflow going to the CPU offering up excellent cooling allowing you to lean on the clock speeds a little to gain more performance by overclocking the modules along with your CPU. Now, everyone knows Corsair made a name for themselves with the overclocking prowess of their modules. This set lives up to that legacy and more with a bump of almost 25% from 1600Mhz to 1974MHz. That's 374Mhz with a bump in the TRCD and TRAS and the voltage bumped to 1.65v. Not shabby at all! But wait, you don't overclock? Blasphemy! In that case you can reduce the latencies again to improve performance without increasing clock speeds. This set would drop down to 7-8-7-24 again with just a small bump in voltage to 1.60v.

When you look at the pricing of memory modules of this capacity, you have to think that the pricing structure is going to be pretty steep. Not really! With six GB kits going for around $100 now, the $199 price is competitive with the rest of the market. The aluminum heat sinks are aggressive looking and will fit with just about any build. During testing, the heat sinks were effective at removing the heat from the high density modules allowing the great overhead I saw with these modules. The only downside to modules with large heat sinks (and this is in no way a Corsair exclusive issue) is that when trying to populate all six slots on an Intel X58 platform you will run into clearance issues when running a large tower style heat sink like the Noctua Nh-U12P I use in my test system. It's just a fact of life, two things cannot occupy the same space at the same time - Editor's note: not true, ask my wife about her shoe collection :). Again, not a Corsair problem. When it's all said and done and the dust clears, the Corsair Vengeance series modules are an excellent choice if you need 12GB of system memory for a price that won't break the bank. You get the good looks, the power savings, Corsair quality and their lifetime warranty.