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Is all DDR400 created equal?

Manufacturer: Corsair Micro / XtremeDDR
Supplied by:  Corsair Micro / Sidewinder Computers
Price: Corsair XMS3200c2 512mb $183; Corsair XMS3200 512mb $163; XtremeDDR PC3200 256mb $90; XtremeDDR PC3200 512mb $190

By Dean Barker (9/9/2002)




Memory is memory right?  Not hardly.  The last memory review we did here was with some Corsair XMS PC3000 (DDR366).  The performance of that stick, knocked our socks off.  Today we are fortunate enough to go the next step.  We have four sticks of DDR400 up on the bench to see if we are going to get another nose bleed from some seriously high FSB action.  Realistically, there isn't a high need to absolutely HAVE TO be able to spank north of 200MHz on your front side bus, but, as my grandfather always said, "If you're gonna be a bear, be a grizzly!"  We want to thank Corsair Micro and Sidewinder Computers for hooking us up to make this review possible.

This memory comparison/review will be short and to the point like our last.  Does it run and how well, at the three standard memory settings.  These being 2.5-3-3 2T, 2-3-3 1T, and 2-2-2 1T.  And of course, how high does it top out at these settings.  From Corsair we have two 512 meg sticks of their XMS line.  The first is some PC3200 they claim can hit 200MHz at CAS 2.5.  The other from Corsair is the same but can supposedly hit 200MHz at CAS2.  From XtremeDDR we have two sticks of their PC3200, one 512 and one 256 meg stick.


All four of the units come with heatspreaders to aid in keeping the memory cool.  Personally, I've never found a heatspreader more than warm to the touch so I have to wonder out loud do they do much more than look cool?  The Corsair's is pirate black while the XtremeDDR provides choices of heatspreader colors.  We have the gold but also available are silver, blue, purple, and red.

Installation of memory is normally a pretty straight forward operation but not with the XtremeDDR.  Our test box refused to post not less than a quarter of the time regardless of which DIMM slot we were using.  And not a quarter as in one in four; worse, I mean a quarter as in no post for five or six tries then everything would go hunky dorey for a dozen runs or so, then back to failed postings.  Originally, we though we got a hold of a bad stick of memory but BOTH of the XtremeDDR sticks did this.  To rule out there being another factor causing this we would occasionally after a failed post, drop a stick of the Corsair into the exact same DIMM and change nothing.  Hitting the power brought the system up happy and healthy EVERY time.  Before we get to the benches, I want to underscore the severity of the XtremeDDR problems we had.  They were so bad that even before we got benchmarking results the XtremeDDR gets a wave off award as something to avoid.




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