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Corsair XMS 3200 XL Pro

 

LED’s and Performance to Match

 

by Josh Walrath

 

 

            For years I had always heard about Corsair and their memory, but I never had a real “in” with the company.  Then at a Comdex some years back I happened to be introduced to Robert Pearce, who would one day join Corsair.  The door to the wonderful world of Corsair Micro was opened to me, and I have been very happy with the results of our relationship.  My ties with Corsair again took a giant leap forward when Joe James (formerly of Tyan) joined the company.  This August Corsair decided to buy some advertising space from me (as seen above).  Now, this might be perceived as a “conflict of interest” to many readers, and in some cases this would be correct.  In this case, it is not.  The reason I approached Corsair about advertising is that in all my experiences their products live up to the hype, and buying Corsair memory is rarely a bad decision.

The packaging isn't flashy, but the DIMMS certainly are.

            Corsair gained a lot of exposure when the first Winbond BH5 based products were released.  These were high memory modules that ran at 2:2:2:6 timings at PC3200 speeds.  These were also shown to be decent overclockers with tight settings, and seemed to be able to handle high voltages as well.  Winbond decided one day to stop making memory, and soon stockpiles of BH5, and the later models BH6/CH6, were soon dwindling, and finally the trickle of these parts stopped altogether.  Many in the memory industry were a bit panicked, as there didn’t appear to be a product on the horizon that would replace the popular BH5.  Samsung came to the rescue at just the right moment.  Thus, the legend of the TCCD module was born.

            When Samsung first released the TCCD module, it was rated at a mediocre PC2700 at CAS 2.5, but for some reason or another it quickly became apparent that these little numbers ran quite nicely at 2:2:2:5 at PC3200, and many of them also ran at 2.5:3:3:6 at PC4000.  These now appear to be the module of choice for many memory manufacturers looking to provide PC3200 memory at fast timings.  The ability to clock higher than 250 MHz reliably has made these a favorite with many enthusiasts.

            Corsair was one of the first to release DIMMS utilizing these new modules, and they made a very large impact.  With people paying outrageous amounts of money for the few remaining BH5 DIMMS on the market, it was a cool breath of fresh air when Corsair had several versions of the TCCD based products for very affordable prices.  Again, the ability to clock these DIMMS much higher, and much easier, than the previous BH5 modules have made these incredibly popular.

Corsair was kind enough to include a casebadge, in case someone fails to notice the flashing DIMMS...

            The XMS 3200 XL Pro is Corsair’s flagship model featuring Samsungs TCCD modules.  These DIMMS come with very large aluminum heatsinks, much larger than typically found on other premium DIMMS.  The main selling point of these DIMMS are the LED activity lights that line the top of the DIMM.  Each DIMM has two rows of LED lights, and when there is minimal activity, only the green LEDs are illuminated.  When the memory is going full bore, the entire row of LED’s are lit (from green to red in color).

            While the LED’s are only a cosmetic addition, it is nice to see when exactly the memory is being highly utilized.  Most often in games and photo/video editing applications the DIMMS are running at full bore.  In desktop tasks they rarely get past the first yellow LED.  Another consideration with these DIMMS is that the LED’s need to be powered, and that power comes from the DIMM slot.  Theoretically this could leach power from the memory modules, making them slightly more unstable when pushed to their limit.  LEDs take up very little power, so this may not be as big of a drawback as others have claimed them to be.  Still, if a user is worried about these things, then they can always buy the next step down in XMS 3200 XL DIMMS (those that are essentially the same but do not feature the LED lights).

 

Next: Initial Impressions

 

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