Corsair Dominator Series

Corsair has a long and illustrious history as an innovator in the memory market. For many years the only recognizable brand of enthusiast memory was Corsair. That has changed in recent years, but that is the reason many computer enthusiasts are so loyal to the Corsair brand.

Corsair is the most widely recognized brand of enthusiast memory in the world. It is also widely distributed, making the Corsair brand easy to find just about anywhere you might be located. Corsair has been manufacturing high-speed memory since 1994, and as a result the company has supplier relationships with many computer manufacturers. Corsair maintains an extensive line of memory, ranging from their Value Select brand of low-cost memory to their top-end XMS line.

XMS2 Dominator is Corsair's name for a new memory series. It describes some unique innovations in the PCB and memory cooling.

As you can see from the diagram Dominator uses two paths for memory cooling:
  • Conventional heat release through the front of the memory chips into a pair of super efficient heat sinks
  • Additional dissipation through the back of the memory chips and through the circuit board through heat fins integral to the PCB.
In addition cooling can be further enhanced with a Dominator Airflow fan. This super-efficient fan is designed to attach to the memory clips and float over the Dominator memory modules.

The Dominator Airflow fan uses three 40mm tachometer controlled fans. The fans run at moderate speed to provide adequate airflow but still remain near silent when operating. The Dominator Airflow fan kit comes standard with the Dominator PC2-8888 2GB memory kit, but it is also an optional accessory that will work with any DDR-2 or DDR memory modules to provide additional cooling.

The Corsair fan design is very clever and is a much more secure solution for fan cooling than a precarious large fan laid over the top of memory modules. If you seriously overclock your memory then you should definitely consider adding this 3-fan option to your system, no matter what memory you use.

Corsair has made Dominator cooling widely available in their high-end XMS line. You can find a Dominator version of almost any Corsair Super Performance memory.

Cosair XMS2 Dominator Modules
Part Number Rated Speed Size Timings Kit Fan Included
TWIN2X2048-9136C5D XMS2-9136 2048MB 5-5-5-15 2X240DIMM No
TWIN2X2048-8888C4DF XMS2-8888 2048MB 4-4-4-12 2X240DIMM Yes
TWIN2X2048-8500C5D XMS2-8500 2048MB 5-5-5-15 2X240DIMM No
TWIN2X2048-6400C3DF XMS2-6400 2048MB 3-4-3-9 2X240DIMM Yes
TWIN2X2048-6400C4D XMS2-6400 2048MB 4-4-4-12 2X240DIMM No

NVIDIA and Corsair have jointly developed an open standard for memory profiles in the SPD (Serial Presence Detect) called EPP. It was first unveiled at the launch of the NVIDIA 500 family of chipsets and has been expanded since. The SPD profiles are called EPP (Enhanced Performance Profiles) and they are a standard feature of all Dominator memory modules. This allows easier setting of aggressive overclocking timings if the motherboard supports EPP profiles.

Dominator PC2-8888C4DF Specifications

Corsair supplies Dominator DDR2-1111 in the largest memory package you will likely see. The memory ships in a box about the size of a package for a video card. The box contains a matched pair of 1GB Dominator DIMMs and a Dominator Airflow fan unit.

The PC2-8888 Dominator DIMMs are built with specially binned Micron D DDR2 memory chips. This is certainly not a surprise since OCZ Flex XLC and all the other recently tested top-of-the-line memory has used the same memory chips.

Once installed you have to agree the complete Dominator kit has a unique look. The Airflow fan kit, with quiet, down-facing fans, appears to do a good job of keeping the DIMM area cooler. This certainly contributes to better overclocking performance. We did not measure the temperature drop, as we're not sure how relevant the heatsink temp is to performance, but the finned composite heatsinks are noticeably cooler to the touch when overclocking with the Airflow fan kit attached.

Corsair Dominator PC2-8888C4DF Memory Specifications
Number of DIMMs & Banks 2 DS
Total Memory 2 GB
Rated Timings 4-4-4-12 at DDR2-1111
Rated Voltage 2.4V

Corsair Dominator fits the same DDR2 slots as past DDR2 memory, but the dual-path heat exchanger makes for a much taller DIMM. Add the Airflow fan on top and you have a tall memory area. However, while the volume is larger, a Dominator setup still has no problem fitting in a standard case. Since the Airflow fan occupies the same area as the memory module area, fan space requirements are actually less than a large fan resting on top of the DIMMs. We have no problem at all using a complete Dominator kit with the large Tuniq 120 air cooling system.

Index Memory Test Configuration


View All Comments

  • anandtech02148 - Tuesday, January 2, 2007 - link

    let say a dual ddr2 800mhz occupied 2 slot
    and the other 2 slot is occupied by 533mhz ddr2

    although they operate at different voltage, will it work?
    what am i to do with older memory modules when all these new
    1111mhz and newer models come out
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, January 3, 2007 - link

    Different grades of memory can be on the board, but the channels can not be individually set. Therefore the memory has to be run at the speed of the slowest modules. However, some 533 can run DDR2-800 and most run at least 667. Reply
  • anandtech02148 - Monday, January 1, 2007 - link

    Cheers to Anandtech for using a 520psu. hooorayy.. finally we're testing something at a sane level.

    600buxs for memory, one of the reason why Intel got out of memory business to focus on Cpu
    in 1980s.
    2.4v to operate, are we reaching 12v soon for running memory modules?

    in the meantime i'm still dreaming for that 2gig at 100buxs range. and i was a fan of Rambus RAm until this ddr cartels took over.

  • daos - Monday, January 1, 2007 - link

    I recently purchased some Dominator PC6400C4D to replace my old OCZ PC6400 Platinum. I can honestly say that the heatsinks make a huge difference in overall temps of the DIMMS. Either the OCZ ran extremely hot at default voltage or the Dominators are insanely efficent at keeping the memory cool.

    I run these at 2.4v 3-3-4-9 DDR2800Mhz and they are cool to the touch. I still cannot believe how cool these heatsinks keep the memory. At first I was hesitant to raise the voltage to 2.4v but after seeing how cool they run I wish my P5WDH board allowed for higher memory voltages!

    Guys/Gals, the heatsinks really do work and I am a living example of it. I have always been the one to instantly rip the spreaders off of memory in the past but these really work.
  • MadAd - Monday, January 1, 2007 - link

    Not so long ago ram worked perfectly fine without heatspreaders at all, calculations at the time showed that ram was no-where near needing them now its hard to get anything but value ram without them. For a few coinsworth of metal they have engineered lots of pretty colors and shapes to dazzle us with but do we really need it?

    IMO instead of a pro-forma memory review, you have an opportunity to spice it up a bit with the angle of either supporting this new fad, or cut through the spin, with some measured data. Simply take the ugly things off and benchmark it again. See if it still hits the same highs and still retains its timings with no heatspreader.
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, January 1, 2007 - link

    A very good idea. The only problem is the inner heatsinks are heat merged to the PCB, and the outer heatsinks use a thermal epoxy for mounting to the memory chips. Unlike the old days, removing a heatspreader is now often fatal to memory. The surface mount memory chips are easily pulled off, even if you use extreme care, in trying to remove the outer heatspreaders. Removing the inner ones could destroy the PCB.

    We could test this if the memory makers would supply the memory without heatsinks. The question then is why would they want to?

    I can tell you from past testing that fan cooling the memory definitely extends overclocking to higher levels. However, removing heatsinks made no difference at all in OC on DDR with simpler sinks. This setup by Corsair is quite a bit more sophisticated than the colored metal covers and it may make some real difference in performance.
  • MadAd - Thursday, January 11, 2007 - link

    Ok point accepted that it may be hard to render them testable if epoxy is used but dont you love a challenge? :lol:

    Honestly, its starting to get serious now with these">

    As you know yourself fan cooling is something applied whatever the form they come in, ok so you could analyse how efficient each method is but the big question is still whether its all just hype or not. I think hype.
  • cmdrdredd - Monday, January 1, 2007 - link

    Team Extreme memory never comes with heatspreaders, and they make memory that can go to DDR2-1200 with the right setup. What does this tell you? Reply
  • customcoms - Monday, January 1, 2007 - link


    More often than not it registered the highest test results, but the differences in performance at stock speeds are very small. Above DDR2-1067 Dominator broke away from the pack, producing the highest game test results we have seen so far at any overclocked speeds. This is no doubt the result of the tighter 4-4-4 timings that could be maintained all the way to DDR2-1233. Corsair Dominator set new performance records in every test category, and it managed to just edge the also fast OCZ Flex XLC in most gaming benchmarks.

    Wes, I am sorry, but if I'm reading the same benchmarks as you are, of the three games you tested, the OCZ is still the fastest memory (granted, Quake 4 is within margin of error) period, around 1-2 fps faster than the corsair. Why you say the corsair is faster when the benchmarks speak otherwise (the tighter timings+higher speed and the higher raw speed of the corsair is the only thing I see better than the OCZ).

    Basically, in real world applications (i.e games, which are what 95+% of the market buying these kits are doing with their machines), the OCZ is faster, according to YOUR OWN benchmarks. You also give it the edge on the 975X platform. Hence, I would say it is the better ram (plus it has the option for water cooling). Doesn't really matter, as I won't be spending that kind of money on ram EVER-better to buy an 8800GTX etc.
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, January 1, 2007 - link

    When you also include results on the nVidia 680i the Corsair Dominator is faster overall. On the 975x, which is the only thing included in the graph results, the OCZ Flex XLC is faster. Individual timings are also slightly faster at DDR2 1067 and DDR2 667 on the Corsair.

    OCZ Flex XLC and Corsair Dominator PC@-8888 are both at the top of our benchmarking and either would be a great enthusiast choice. The Corsair pushes the 680i slightly faster and therefore is the fastest memory we have tested to date.

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