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Corsair TWINX2048-4400 PRO Corsair TWINX2048-4400 PRO: We look at a 2GB DDR kit from Corsair and check if the extra ram benefits DDR based setups.
Date: October 14, 2005
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has a reputation among enthusiasts as makers of some of the best ram in the business. Over the years, as ram technologies change, as well as getting faster, Corsair was always out there, putting out products to meet the demands of power users.

Earlier this week we looked at the benefits of adding more system ram via a larger kit and saw that depending on what applications and games you use, there are some benefits to having more system ram. Granted, that's a given when we're talking 512MB to 1GB, but 1 gig to 2 gig has always been less concrete.

Today we'll be checking out Corsair's TWINX2048-4400 PRO kit. These modules are based on the XMS line, and feature a black coloured heat spreader and the same activity LEDs that we're familiar with.

Specifications are non-existant since Corsair doesn't have this kit listed yet on their website. However, they should be similar to their TWINX1024-4400 kit, right down to the memory timings. Only difference is that there are two 1GB sticks in this kit rather than 512MB.

The XMS Pro Series modules have black coloured heat spreaders as mentioned earlier. Along with improving the cooling of the ram, the spreaders will also reduce EMI since it shields the ram, but I don't have any quantitative proof of that (this was a message relayed by a support engineer).

The kit is rated at PC4400, which works out to 550MHz. The ram timings are quite good at this speed, ticking in at 3-4-4-8, and as many enthusiasts know, tighter timings normally result in better performance.

All of the TWINX kits are tested in pairs and in a Dual Channel environment, which the majority of all new chipsets (including offerings from Intel, VIA, NVIDIA and ATI) support. All the Pro Series modules feature activity LEDs that makes this line of ram so popular. There are 24 LEDs present, and they light up as the ram is being used.

Overclocking

A will be used to test for reliability as well as stability during our overclocking tests. The card is quite expensive, but if you're testing a lot of ram, or you're a technician troubleshooting systems, this card is well worth the money.

We proceeded with overclocking, and tested the ram via the memory tests on the R.S.T. Pro2 until we got a failure. At DDR400, the Koolance PC3-720SL cooled ASUS A8N SLI Premium and an Athlon 643500+ handled the TWINX2048-4400 without any problems, so we're off to a good start since this is well below the rated speed. Along with sheer clock speed, we also toyed around with the timings to see if we can tweak as well as we can OC:

Clock Speed
Timings
R.S.T. Pass
400 2-2-2-5
Yes
460 2-3-2-5
Yes
558 2.5-3-3-7
Yes
546* (1T) 3-4-4-8
Yes
612** (2T) 3-4-4-8
No

*546MHz falls a little below Corsair's stock speed, but this was with a 1T command rate which is a bit faster than a 2T rate.

**612MHz was the absolute highest we were able to manage out of our system, though the ram wouldn't pass our R.S.T. Pro2. It ran benchmarks just fine, though we did experience system crashes on occasion. The 590MHz is a 40MHz bump from stock

Test Setup

ASUS A8N SLI Premium: Athlon 64 3500+, 2 x 1024MB Corsair TWINX PC4400 Pro, MSI 7800GTX, 160GB Seagate SATA 7200rpm, Windows XP SP1.

The testing configurations will be as follows: Stock (550 @ 3-4-4-8) , and TW = Tweaked (546 1T @ 3-4-4-8).

The comparison memory will be Corsair's own TWINX1024-4400 (two 512MB sticks) at stock speeds. We've ommitted various OC results since it's pretty much a no brainer that we'll see more performance since the CPU and subsystem will also be overclocked. The point of the excercise today is to compare 1GB vs 2GB.

SiSoft Sandra 2005 Memory

No surprises as the tweaked settings net more performance. At equal clock speeds, we see little difference between the 1GB and 2GB kit, though the 1GB kit seems to score better with this synthetic benchmark.

PiFast

PiFast can always benefit with more memory, and it's reflected here in our benchmarks. The TWINX2048-4400 is about 3 and a half seconds faster which doesn't seem like much but work with larger numbers and you'll see a much wider gap.

Battlefield 2

As we've seen in our TWIN2X2048-6400 review on Wednesday, moving up to 2GB does yield a significant performance gain in gaming when paired with NVIDIA hardware. There is improvement with ATI software, so it's not like Corsair broke anything for ATI owners, but there is a wider gap using the 7800GTX than the X850 Platinum.

Unreal Tournament 2004

UT2004 does show some improvement, though not nearly as dramatic as we've seen with Battlefield 2.

Doom 3

Doom 3 shows little at lower resolution, but at 1600x1200 we can see the extra gig of ram helps a great deal.

Final Words

When Windows XP first came out, 512MB was the recommendation by Microsoft for an enjoyable computing experience. Most games at that time did fine with 512MB, and this includes the overhead the OS already took on the memory.

From an enthusiast standpoint, 512MB did the job, but we always felt anybody's recommendation would be an enthusiast's minimum. 1GB was much better and especially in Dual Channel mode, it made things run a lot smoother overall.

Does anyone really need 2GB though? Our answer is yes. Even if your system is fine at 1GB, I can tell you that Microsoft will probably say something like "1GB is the recommended amount of ram a user needs for Vista". Using our rule, 1GB will probably be the minimum for Vista, and truth be told, we feel 1GB is the minimum anybody should have in their system now.

Even if you do not use NVIDIA video cards, games do see a slight boost in performance moving from 1GB to 2GB. Perhaps as more games catch up to the technology, we'll see bigger gains across the board, but even current games such as Doom 3 and Battlefield 2 see improvements today.

Applications, especially memory intensive apps will definitely benefit from more ram. Not everyone uses Photoshop and Adobe Premiere, but I'll bet a lot of people use some form of image and video editing software daily. Perhaps the ram rule (Photoshop's rule is 5x more ram than the largest file you're working on) is not as demanding as Adobe's, but I'm certain something similar is in effect.

That being said, 2GB in a system is approaching enthusiast and workstation country. It isn't for everyone. Not that nobody will benefit from it, but if your needs are less intense, you can stick with 1GB for now, and add another one (or two) down the road provided you have the free ram slots.

Pros: Great performer, LEDs are always seXay, quality parts, lifetime warranty and 2GB of goodness.

Cons: Not cheap. 2GB may not be needed for everyone.

Bottom Line: Corsair's TWINX2048-4400 Pro offers a whole lot of ram for your needs. Along with the 2GB, it provides excellent performance, good overclocking and is backed by Corsair's rep and warranty. Given the install base of Athlon 64s for gamers (likely with SLI setups), Corsair is wise to move forward in providing the right kit for enthusiasts.

If you have any comments, be sure to hit us up in our forums.

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