Corsair XPERT TWINXP1024-3200XL Review

Memory by KeithSuppe @ 2005-04-07

Corsair has been running circles around most other memory makers lately, releasing a plethora of cutting edge products. Focusing foremost on performance, they also understand ergonomic appeal wrapping their CL2 2-2-5 TwinX in some of the most innovative packaging the industry has ever seen. Their latest TwinX3200XLPRO offers DDR400+ speed, some of the tightest latencies on the market and a feature rich LED which displays module data in real-time. Today we take an in-depth look at Corsair?s latest and greatest.

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Installation/Intel overclockin


I only tested XPERT briefly on my Socket-478 Prescott 3.0E/Asus system due to the graphic card limitations. Since the Asus was boxed it made a quick example for photographing the installation for XPERT. Eventually I switched to the A64 3500/DFI Lanparty nF4 Ultra setup. Both systems were water-cooled. The Intel/Asus system was cooled with Alphacool's venerable Alphacool Xtreme Pro Set. The primary benchmark system based on the A64/DFI combo will be cooled with Corsair's COOL system, as seen below.

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XPERT PC3200 Ergonomic Specifications

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Test Setup 1, 2
CPU 1.) Intel Socket-478 Prescott 3.0E
2.) A64 3500
Mainboard 1.) Asus P4C800E-Deluxe (875 chipset/BIOS v.1019)
2.) DFI Lanparty UT (nF4 Ultra chipset/BIOS v.310)
Memory XPERT Series CMXP512-3200XL (2x512MB DC)
Graphics 1.) ECS Xabre 400
2.) ATI X800 XT PCI-ex
Power Supply 1.) PCPower&Cooling TurboCool 510 Deluxe
2.) OCZ PowerStream ADJ420W
Operating System Windows XP Professional

Appropriate Memory Evaluation and Benchmarking

When testing memory, specifically its overclocking potential, I begin running the part at it's default speed under SPD (Serial Presence Detect) or under Auto in DRAM BIOS settings. The largest percentage of PC End-users do not regularly enter their BIOS and begin making intricate SDRAM and Advanced Chipset adjustments. Experienced Overclockers in general make up a very small percentage of PC-users, and even a smaller percentage will adjust memory timings beyond the most basic settings. The typical Overclocker will enter their BIOS and manually adjust CL (CAS Latency) among the plethora of other adjustments ultimately "forcing" the memory to run under a given setting/s. I allow memory to run from its native SPD/Auto configuration thereby revealing manufacturer preprogrammed Serial Presence Detect timings. Additionally how the part performs under such settings will quickly reveal details about the manufacturer’s choice of ICs and PCB.

I've found a propensity among the very best overclocking parts to be very specific in their required settings at a given speed and with a specific system, especially in A64 based systems. Since every memory varies slightly in its design execution, parts and voltage requirements, often only the most experienced overclockers are able to extract the best performance. At times these settings even become closely guarded formulas which can only be found searching the most obscure hardware site forums and esoteric thread topics. At the end of the day there may be just a handful of people, one from each corner of the globe subscribing to these threads. While Corsair has been a friend to overclockers everywhere, they cannot remain in business spending millions on R&D only to sell a handful of XPERT. While XPERT is an "Enthusiast" part primarily, Gamers with a little extra cash and/or the budding Overclocker are going to love this product. This is because it doesn't require a dual PhD in Cryptanalysis, and Electrical Engineering to find just the right BIOS settings. Ironically, the LED readout which displays so much relevant info is the ideal teacher for those wanting to learn. Once BIOS settings are made the results can be seen on the modules before long before Windows and the Dashboard Utility.

Displaying values such as temp and voltage in real-time proved to be quite a valuable tool.

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Corsair's Dashboard Utility
Our first screenshot shows the XPERT Dashboard Utility which is contained on the driver CD or can be downloaded from their site as the above title links. The software essentially replicates the information displayed on the modules, and some additional features as well. Opening the utility and clicking on "All" displays basic memory information as seen below. The second screenshot will show additional information such as timing's, voltage, etc, which can be displayed simply by clicking on he specific DIMM. As you can see below our Intel system is running at 200FSB (1:1) with timings set in the BIOS under SPD (Serial Presence Detect).

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Clicking on the specific DIMM # brings up more detailed information.

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Through Dashboard you can customize the LED marquee to scroll three custom messages each 23-charaters in length or a continual message 69-characters in length. As seen from the screenshot below, whomever wrote the Dashboard software either has high aspirations for Corsair, or perhaps a telling sense of humor.

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Intel Prescott Socket-478 3.0E / Asus P4C800E-Deluxe Benchmarking

As stated earlier our Intel Asus/3.0E system was limited by virtue of its graphics card, therefore, this system was used briefly to exemplify basic Intel compatibility. I ran limited benchmarks, one being Lavalys Everest v1.51 which was included on the driver CD. Clicking on the thumbnails below from left to right will show the memory bandwidth benchmarks, READ, WRITE, and Latency (respectively). All three were at 200FSB / 1:1 aspect ratio, default VDIMM, default Vcore, and SPD timings.

Overclocking with the 875-MCH. Raising the FSB speed, hence the memory clock speed, did not require a VDIMM increase nor did it effect stability. The SPD setting Corsair has programmed into their XPERT series resembles that of their entire Low Latency TwinX line. I pushed the Prescott from its default 3.0GHz to 3.7GHz raising the FSB to 250FSB (1005MHz QDR/500MHz DDR). Below the timings automatically changed to 2-4-4-8 under SPD.

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Timings are still tight in CAS Latency although CAS to RAS Delay, RAS Precharge and Active to Precharge Delay have increased, but are still appropriate given the speed increase and PC4000 performance. For our final Intel benchmark I've included the synthetic Sandra 2005 bandwidth/Buffered. Settings remained the same at 250FSB and SPD.

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Bandwidth wasn't what I expected given some clock speeds, changing CL from SPD to specific timings such as 2.5-3-3-7 would have resulted in better performance. The Canterwood or 875's MCH (Memory Controller Hub) is dated compared to the on-die MCH of the A64. Although my S478 Prescott is an excellent overclocker, and some excellent bandwidth has been achieved with high VDIMM and specific timing, Canterwood is now in its technical terrible two's. I mean no disrespect towards current Socket 478 owners and you’re hanging on to that system waiting for the dual-core Intel you’re probably better off. In fact it's arguable whether DDR2's lackadaisical latencies and LGA 775 Prescott with black-hole pipeline depth offers any improvement over its predecessor. The lower latencies maintained by the 875/DDR combo mated with the overclocking prowess of Northwood still give Intel's latest offering's a run for their money, and their life. Nonetheless in the evolutionary timeline of the PC-world, which juxtaposed is similar to the geologic scale of evolution, two years is a virtual grand scale leap in technology.

Without further adieus, onto A64 benchmarking->
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