Corsair XMS2 PC2-4300 Pro 1GB DDR2

May 17th, 2005 | By

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Corsair XMS2 PC2-4300 Pro 1GB DDR2

: 05/17/05 – 07:55:40 PM


: Memory

Page 1 : Introduction


$238 (Newegg)

Corsair really needs no introduction, so we'll make this short. They are a company based in Fremont, California that has built a strong reputation for making what many would consider the best enthusiast memory. Quality, compatibility and yields are what make this brand so popular.

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We've taken a look at a number of DDR modules in the past and just recently began our first looks at the DDR2. Today we continue that trend with a look at some of Corsair's finer DDR2 offerings in the form of their
XMS2 Pro Series 1GB DDR2 Twin2X Matched Memory

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The pair we're going to look at are rated for up to 538 MHz at a pretty low 3-3-3-8 latency. Perhaps we can squeeze better timings out of this RAM and compare it to the more expensive RAM from SimpleTech we looked at last time.

Page 2 : Package

The Corsair modules arrived in quick haste and in perfect condition. They were packed in bubblewrap and came directly from Corsair.

The retail package is small of course, and the packaging is simple to open and resealable.

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Inside are the two DIMMs. These sticks of memory are a bit larger than most because of the room needed to house the LED circuitry. Otherwise, the thickness isn't all that much different from ordinary DIMMs – just height.

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Included with the packaging was a foldout guide for installation. Memory installation is pretty intuitive and simple, so I don't imagine many of our readers will need this.

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Page 3 : Specifications

Here is a short list of specs Corsair provides on their website:

1024 MB Capacity (2×512 MB)
240-pin DDR2 Dimm
32M x 8 DDR2 SDRAMs
PC2 4300 (538 MHz)
SPD Programmed At 3-3-3-8
High-efficiency Aluminum XMS2 Heatsink
24 Activity LED's
Lifetime Warranty

Not much needs explaining here. A pair of DIMM; the ticket to utilizing dual channel if you're chipset/motherboard supports it. The CAS latency for this pair is almost as low as you can get with DDR2. They feature a standard voltage, a nice high frequency allowing lots of room for overclocking, the common 512 MB capacity per DIMM, and something unique – activity LED's.

Page 4 : Testing

The tests were conducted using the following system specs:

Test Setup:

Pentium 4E 2.8 GHz
Thermalright XP-120 w/120mm SilverStone FMC3XW Fan
Hitachi 80GB 7200RPM Hard Drive
MSI 915P NEO2 Platium Motherboard
HIS X700Pro IceQ Turbo PCI-E Video Card
Raidmax RX-520XPW Power Supply
Windows XP Pro SP2 + Latest Drivers, Updates


SimpleTech PC2-4200 DDR2

Corsair XMS2 Pro Series 1GB DDR2 Twin2X

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The test setup.
I have yet to get ahold of a good motherboard for testing DDR2 memory. In fact, I looked around for a board that offered an abundance of async settings and found the 915P NEO2 Platinum. Despite all the praise and good words said about this board at many sites, I discover that it has some problems: a broken PCI-E lock, none of the 533+ 'featured' async settings, and an annoying bug that won't allow Corsair and PDP modules I've tested to run at any async settings (the SimpleTech will strangely enough). What a waste of money!

So here we are and while I can't provide any numbers above 250 MHz (500 MHz), I can say this much: Running the memory async on a Pentium 4 is going to provide almost no performance benefit, thus it's important to run the memory with as fast a frequency and as low of a latency as you can afford. Just by the memories rating, we're afforded 69 MHz of overclocking headroom from the 200 MHz standard bus (on everything but the latest Extreme Edition chips from Intel). This means there's a good chance the memory isn't going to be a bottleneck in the system plus the memory's latency could run lower than SPD settings.

That was just the case for these modules as they even ran at 250 MHz (and others have shown 269 MHz as well) at the low latency of 3-2-2-4. These are excellent figures and as we will see shortly, they provide a nice bump up in memory bandwidth.

To compare the performance with the memory we last looked at from SimpleTech, I wanted to look at same frequencies, latencies, and then the lowest attainable latencies with the Corsair memory. Quake 3 Arena, a popular benchmark for examining performance differences in memory was one such test used. Two compare the theoretical memory bandwidth, we included SiSoft Sandra 2005 Memory Benchmark numbers.

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Looking at the results here, we see that at the same settings the Corsair performs about on par with the SimpleTech memory we recently reviewed. The big advantage that the Corsair memory has are lower latencies at higher frequenies. Just how high is unknown, though in future memory coverage we may get to update these figures. Till then, I can't comment on headroom for overclocking, but will say the results being presented at other sites look quite good (700+ MHz effective).

Hopefully I'll be able to get a board that can do these modules justice in the near future as we continue covering different brands. The performance, none-the-less, is good and shows benefits over the more expensive SimpleTech branded DIMMs.

Page 5 : Conclusion

The Corsair memory modules tested here today presented a great deal of value compared to SimpleTech's offering we most recently looked at. What's more is that the Corsair memory features extras that users might expect when spending more than $200 for memory; heatspreaders, lower latencies, higher stock frequency, and Corsair's unique activity LEDs.

I can say that I'd recommend this memory to people looking for fast, stable, and high performing memory. Most users, with current chipsets won't find this memory or any other DDR2 we've looked at so far to limit their system overclocks. In fact, without some frustrating trial and error it's proving difficult to find the right combination.


Low latencies
Heat spreaders
Activity LEDs (bling bling)


Expensive (not budget memory)

I'd like to thank the people at Corsair for supplying the parts for testing.

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