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Corsair TWIN2X1024-5400C4PRO Corsair TWIN2X1024-5400C4PRO: With DDR2 out and about, we take a look at the latest XMS2 kit from Corsair based on their Pro Series.
Date: October 13, 2004
Manufacturer:
Written By:
Price:


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.

Things are no different now with the release of the D915 and D925X chipsets from Intel this past Summer. Among the many changes to the Pentium 4 platform, DDR2 is one of the major changes Intel is now pushing. Officially, the new chipsets support PC3200 DDR2, but as is always the case, many enthusiasts are pushing the new platform harder than Intel would probably like. Among the many factors in successful overclocks, the ram plays a major role.

Today we'll be checking out Corsair's latest DDR2 kit, the TWIN2X1024-5400C4PRO. These modules are based on the XMS2 line, and feature a different heat spreader and the same activity LEDs that we're familiar with in their Pro Series modules.

Specifications

Part Number
Speed
Size
Package
CAS Latency
XMS2-5400
1GB
2x240 DIMM
4-4-4-12

You can view the full specifications in this , but what you need to know is the modules are validated with an Intel based motherboard at 675MHz. Since the memory controller operates at 400MHz stock, the ram has a lot of headroom for future growth.

The ram modules arrived in a hard plastic case, with each ram module fitted in the clear plastic shell. The only reason I'm pointing this out is because there should be no confusion in what you're getting. You have a clear view of the ram, and the labels (indicating the type of modules), and the packaging is snap sealed. The seal changes to a slightly translucent white when opened, so it should be pretty obvious to the buyer if the package has been tampered with.

The XMS2 Pro Series modules have platinum coloured heat spreaders, rather than the black ones as was used with their XMS Pro Series. Platinum ones were available in the past, but now it looks like standard issue for the XMS2. Heat spreaders have yet to convince me that they effectively cool ram to the point where it will make a difference in overclocking, but I guess any cooling included won't hurt. What I was told by a marketing rep was that heat spreaders will reduce EMI since it shields the ram, but I don't have any quantitative proof of that.

JEDEC specifications call for DDR2 667 timings of 5-5-5. The TWIN2X exceed specifications, with the modules rated at 675MHz, and ram timings of 4-4-4-12. As many enthusiasts know, tighter timings normally result in better performance, but as memory speeds increase, it is extremely difficult to maintain stability with such low timings. To be honest, timings seem to be having a lesser effect on performance as memory speeds increase as this was something we've observed with our past reviews.

All of the TWINX kits are tested in pairs and in a Dual Channel environment, which both of Intel's new chipsets support. You can buy the XMS2 modules separately if you choose, though I wouldn't be sure why anybody would do that. All the Pro Series XMS2 modules feature the same 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. They do look nice, and it's interesting to see how hard the ram is being pushed in a particular application, but they don't offer any actual troubleshooting use. I suppose if you turn on your PC, and they don't light up at all, you'll know you have a problem somewhere.

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.

How it works is that the R.S.T. Pro2 goes into a free PCI slot and after POST, it bypasses the OS completely, loading a proprietary OS and software package (embedded on the card itself). The card allows you to perform stress and performance benchmarks without the Operating System's memory footprint, memory resident programs, or drivers interfering with the memory installed. We'll provide a full review in the future, but that is the gist of it.

We proceeded with overclocking, and tested the ram via the memory tests on the R.S.T. Pro2 until we got a failure. At DDR-2 533 and 600 (200MHz, 225MHz memory respectively), the Waterchill Antarctica cooled ASUS P5AD2 handled the TWIN2X1024 without any problems, so we're off to a good start. In order to hit the higher FSBs, we lowered the multiplier on our P4 560 ES to 14x200 (2.8GHz) and retested the stock speeds, which were again met with success.

Setting the ram speed at Auto, we then proceeded to crank up the FSB until we failed to POST. This occured at 252FSB, though we were not able to get into Windows until we dropped down to 248FSB. We reinstalled the R.S.T. Pro2 card, and had some problems passing the memory tests at this speed. After bumping the memory voltage to 2.0v, the memory passed the test.

We should point out that at 248FSB, we were not able to reach the ram's maximum rated speed of 675MHz (253FSB), but from the research we've done on the ASUS board, it seems that 248-250FSB is the current ceiling of this motherboard. We'll certainly follow this up if we come across a higher overclocking board in the future.

In terms of memory timings, the ram was pretty much dead set on 4-4-4-12, except at DDR-2 533. At that speed, we were able to tweak the timings to 3-3-3-10, and pass the R.S.T. Pro2 tests.

Test Setup

ASUS P5AD2 Premium: Intel P4 560, 2 x 512MB Corsair TWIN2X PC5400 Pro, ASUS AX800XT, 120GB Seagate SATA 7200rpm, Windows XP SP1, ATI Catalyst 4.9.

The testing configurations will be as follows: DDR-2 533, DDR-2 600, and DDR-2 662.

DDR-2 533 is the highest stock speed setting of all 915/925 motherboards. DDR-2 600 is the highest "stock" allowable by the ASUS board. DDR-2 662 is the highest, stable DDR2 overclock we were able to manage. Except for the DDR-2 533 timings of 3-3-3-10, at the other speeds, 4-4-4-12 will be used. All motherboard timings were optimized for performance, while maintaining stability.

Testing software will consist of the following:

SiSoft Sandra 2004 Memory - Our standard synthetic test to establish a baseline.

Aida 32 Memory Tests - New to our test suite, this is another synthetic test to support (or discredit) our SiSoft results.

PiFast - A good indicator of CPU/Motherboard performance is version 4.2, by Xavier Gourdon. We used a computation of 10000000 digits of Pi, Chudnovsky method, 1024 K FFT, and no disk memory. Note that lower scores are better, and times are in seconds.

Quake 3 - While it's old and moldy, it still has some value as a system level benchmark.

SiSoft Sandra 2004 Memory

Int Buff
Float Buff
533MHz
4723
4737
600MHz
5894
5872
662MHz
6149
6138

If your motherboard supports the speed, you're much better off choosing 600MHz over the stock 533MHz.

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