Corsair Vengeance Pro DDR3 2666MHz 16GB Review

ccokeman - 2013-08-24 15:07:26 in Memory
Category: Memory
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: September 11, 2013
Price: TBD

Corsair Vengeance Pro DDR3 2666MHz 16GB Introduction:

Corsair's Vengeance line up has traditionally played second fiddle to the Dominator as the more affordable enthusiast level modules. Not to diminish the brand in any way mind you, but the Dominators line has always been at the top of the food chain and come with a nice price premium over the lower tier lines. Not so any longer with the Vengeance Pro series modules that are designed primarily for the overclocking community. On Intel's Z77 platform we saw huge increases in the memory controller performance, with the Z87 platform pushing that even further for truly awe inspiring memory clock speeds. As of now the record stands at 4404MHz. Of course most of the top clocks are run single channel and at sub zero temperatures with nothing more than reputation and e-peen as the goal!

Now what we get with this new lineup is an improved heat shield design that comes with different color accents to match the theme of your case, be it blue, silver, gold or red, on the 16GB set I am looking at today. The Vengeance Pro modules are designed to run on the latest Haswell-based platforms to take advantage of the robust memory controller architecture built into the processors. The modules are built upon an eight layer PCB with specially binned memory ICs in speeds from 1600MHz to 2933MHz or higher. This list includes some specialty sets built using hand binned ICs for higher speeds of up and over DDR3-3000MHz. Having looked at a few kits running on the Z87 platform, it will be interesting to see how this 2666MHz 2x8GB set fares by comparison.

Corsair Vengeance Pro DDR3 2666MHz 16GB Closer Look:

Visually appealing, the packaging sets the tone for your expectations with a picture of the bold-looking module up front and personal against a deep red and black background. Across the top is the Corsair logo and capacity of this kit (16GB). Along the bottom is the Vengeance logo with the banner showing this is the Pro sereis modules designed for use with motherboards and processorson the Z77 and Z87 Intel chipsets. On the back panel is a short intro on the genesis of the Vengeance Pro line in multiple languages highlighted with a lifetime warranty. A pair of windows show off the center of the modules illustrating the part number, voltage, and revision number. Inside the shell, the Vengeance Pro 2666MHz modules are secured in a clear blister pack along with the warranty information in case the Vengeance Pro modules fail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out of the packaging and laid out, we see the new Vengeance Pro series modules come with a much different aluminum heat shield than that of the standard Vengeance line, which comes with either a tall or low profile design. The Vengeance Pro line comes with an accent clip in various colors to suite your build. Instead of the whole heat shield being colored, only the accent on the top of the modules and the background of the Vengeance graphic is colored against an anodized black background. This kit, part number CMY16GX3M2A2666CllR, is 16GB in capacity made up of 2x8GB modules running at DDR3 2666MHz using primary timings of 11-13-13-31, is equipped with an XMP 1.3 profile and uses 1.65v to run the numbers.

Corsair is keenly image conscious and decided to use an eight layer black PCB with the Vengeance Pro series instead of a green PCB that would detract from the good looks of these modules. Highly screened memory ICs are used with both sides of the module populated with memory ICs on this kit. Corsair's Vengeance Pro heat shield is a new design but is still fairly tall at 38.1mm from top to bottom and may cause interference with large CPU heat sinks. However, if you are using an all-in-one style liquid cooling solution such as one of Corsair's Hydro Series solutions you will not have any clearance issues. At 38mm the heat shield is tall enough to take advantage of the cooing air stream going to the CPU keeping the modules cool when the voltage is pushed.

 

 

 

Good looks, high speeds, and a lifetime warranty all make this an attractive set of memory. However the real worth will be in how well it performs in the testing.

Corsair Vengeance Pro DDR3 2666MHz 16GB Specifications:

Warranty
Lifetime
Density
16GB (2x8GB)
 
Speed
2666MHz
 
Tested Latency
11-13-13-31
 
Voltage
1.65v
 
Format
DIMM
 
Pin Out
240Pin
 
Intel XMP
1.3
 
Heatspreader
Anodized Aluminum Black
 
Accent Clip
 Anodized Aluminum, Red, Silver, Gold, Blue
 

 

Corsair Vengeance Pro DDR3 2666MHz 16GB Features:


 

All information courtesy of Corsair @ http://www.corsair.com/en/memory-by-product-family/vengeance-pro-series-memory.html

Corsair Vengeance Pro DDR3 2666MHz 16GB Testing:

Memory is often hard to separate from one kit to another in gaming, but 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 benches to see just how they compare. There will be 8GB and 16GB kits ranging in speed from 2133MHz - 2400MHz, tested at native speeds as well as overclocked. Overclocking of course will be dependent on exactly how far the testing rig will allow, but I'll 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 with default Boost clock speed of 3.9GHz for baseline testing and bumped up to 4.2 GHz for OC testing, or as close as possible to that speed. All current updates and patches are installed for Windows 7 Professional 64-bit and the latest driver for the NVIDIA GTX 770 will be used.

 

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.

CPU-Z

 

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

Task Manager

 

Overclocking:

Overclocking on Intel Haswell processors is quite a bit different from what we are used to in the last few generations, where the CPU clock speeds did not influence the clock speed the memory controller could handle. Entry to Haswell memory overclocking 101 shows that while the CPU may handle a nice overclock of up 4.7GHz to 5.0GHz on really impressive examples, the memory may not scale up past 1866MHz or 2133MHz at those CPU clock speeds, even though the memory modules are rated much higher. What I found on both of my CPUs was that anything greater than around 4250MHz on the CPU would not run the memory at 2600MHz or higher. That being said, keeping the CPU as close to 4200MHz was imperative if I wanted to push these modules from Corsair higher than the rated 2666MHz.

With the rated speed that high I was expecting to pull off a 300MHz screen shot but was not able to do so. The highest I was able to reach was just over 2900MHz using the default XMP profile with some modified settings and a boost in voltage to 1.75v. To hit that range I was forced to use the 167MHz strap and lower the bclk to 161MHz. At this speed the memory sub timings were bad enough that performance dropped off markedly, negating any real performance gains. So back to the drawing board to see how high I could get while still retaining the primary timings at the XMP defaults.

Letting the board retain the memory subtimings set by the Maximus VI Extreme at 4.2GHz on the core and 2800Mhz on the memory, the performance was still sub par when the board would train the memory timings so it was back to the drawing board to manually tweak the settings enough to improve performance overall. In the end I was able to run 11-13-13-35 using 1.75v on the DIMMs and leaving the System Agent, Digital IO, and Analog IO to the board to control. Ultimately 2828MHz using the 2800MHz divider and a 101MHz bclk gave me a solid 162MHz boost in clock speed that delivered measurable gains in memory performance.

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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 on the capabilities of your hardware. In other words, your mileage may vary!

 

The benchmarks used in this review include the following:

Benchmarks:

Corsair Vengeance Pro DDR3 2666MHz 16GB Testing:

PCMark 8: With this benchmark, I will be running the Home and Creative suites. The measurement for the both test suites will be the total score.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

 

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.

   

   

   

 

Hyper Pi is a multi threaded 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.

   

 

Starting out in the testing, Corsair's Vengeance Pro modules are just behind the Mushkin kit in the majority of the benchmarks. The exceptions being the Geekbench bandwidth scores and the Hyper Pi times. When overclocked the scores improve across the board.

Corsair Vengeance Pro DDR3 2666MHz 16GB Testing:

SiSoftware Sandra 2013: In this program, I will be running the following benchmarks: Memory Bandwidth and Transactional Memory Throughput. Higher score are better in the Bandwidth test while lower scores are better in the transactional memory test.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

 

X.264 Benchmark: This benchmark is used to measure the time it takes to encode a 1080p video file into the x.264 format. The default benchmark is used with an average of all four tests on each pass taken as the result.

  

  

 

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.

  

  

  

  

 

The looser primary timings and XMP 1.3 profile cause the Vengeance modules to under perform against the field at the default 2666MHz speed. When overclocked to 2828MHz, the Vengeance modules improve in almost every category.

Corsair Vengeance Pro DDR3 2666MHz 16GB Testing:

Part first-person shooter, part survival horror, Metro: Last Light is the follow-up to the extremely popular game Metro 2033. Developed by 4A games and published by Deep Silver, this game uses the 4A game engine. In this game set a year after the missile strike on the Dark Ones, you continue on as Artyom as he digs deeper into the bowels of the Metro.

 

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

Looking at the results in the game test it seems that memory has less of an impact than the GPU or CPU. The variance between the highest and lowest result is within a single FPS top to bottom.

Corsair Vengeance Pro DDR3 2666MHz 16GB Conclusion:

Long known as a source of high performance memory for the enthusiast and gamer, Corsair has brought a product to market that is targeted at both user groups. At stock speeds with the XMP 1.3 profile selected in the BIOS, the modules perform in the middle of the comparison field for most of the tests. Most likely due to the loose sub-timings needed to run the modules at 2666MHz with only 1.65v. In comparison, some of the slower modules running with tighter timings were actually higher performing in the synthetic benchmarks. When it comes to real world performance overall, the added speed did not account for gains large enough to offset the bump in speed and relaxed timings needed to get there. Again with the XMP profile.

Overclocking the Vengeance Pro modules provided some added lift in the performance numbers while maintaining the stock timings of 11-13-13 with only an adjustment needed on the TRAS to 35 along with the prerequisite bump in voltage to 1.75v. Keeping the voltage static at 1.65v would not allow a boot even with looser timings, even up to 13-15-15-35 at 2800MHz, the next divider up from 2666MHz. The maximum clock speed I could pull out of these modules was just over 2900MHz using 1.75v and timings of 12-13-13-35. Any higher than that the performance drop off was not worth the effort for day to day use but would look great in screen shots.

One of the signature features of the Vengeance lineup has always been the large heat shields used to manage the thermal load on these modules. Corsair updated the look with a new design that takes the color and moves it to a removable clip that comes in red, silver, gold and blue. Each color coinciding with some of the most popular motherboard colors options in use for the Z87 platform. Since the Vengeance Pro series was designed for use in this platform, it's easy to understand the color options.

At 31mm tall from the base of the heat sink to the top, you may have some clearance concerns with large CPU heat sinks. When liquid cooled there is not such concern. That's not a Corsair problem but a problem in general with all of the tall performance DIMMs made today. But that added surface area does indeed pay dividends when it comes to cooling performance. Even with 1.75v to 1.8v running through them, the Vengeance Pro aluminum heat shields keep the modules cool. Add some airflow from the heat sink or a fan directly at them and the modules stay right at room temperature.

Overall the Corsair Vengeance Pro modules are a great set of memory for overclocking and toying around reaching for big memory speeds, but at those upper end speeds you lose performance. Additional tuning and testing can get back most of the loss in performance as you boost the speeds. On the Z87 platform, the CPU speed is always going to offer the greatest boost in performance with the memory second in line. Add in the intricacies of running speeds greater than 2600MHz with high CPU clock speeds and you have a challenge on your hands finding the best overall balance in performance. If in your zest to reach for massive memory speeds and something goes wrong, Corsair offers these modules with a lifetime warranty.

I don't have concrete pricing on these modules just yet, but the 2400MHz version of these modules will set you back close to $189. Pricing of similarly rated 2666MHz modules from other manufacturers are currently in the $225 to $250 plus range, so I would expect that this Vengeance Pro series kit will come in at that price point. At the end of the rainbow you have a set of modules that look great, boot right up the first try thanks to an XMP 1.3 profile, and run cool as can be. The best bet to maximize performance will be to tweak the sub timings to get the most from these modules.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: