Corsair Vengeance: Overclockers Delight


Corsair Vengeance

These days it's all about finding a good value for your money in the PC segment. Just about any P67 motherboard you look at is capable of extracting 4.5GHz from a Sandy Bridge K series CPU. To match that CPU speed you'll need memory capable of keeping up with a capacity that won't have you shutting down all of your programs while you game. Enter the latest memory kit from Corsair, the Vengeance. Corsair Vengeance is designed with gamers and overclockers in mind. Operating at a low voltage with a new heat spreader design, there is plenty of potential speed increase!

Corsair Vengeance

As we mentioned, the Corsair Vengeance memory modules feature a new aluminum heat spreader to help dissipate heat and also provide an aggressive look. The icing on the cake is the price, Corsair is pushing their high capacity Vengeance models into some pretty sweet price points. Our Vengeance 8GB 1600MHz 9-9-9-24 memory kit is available for as little as $104.99. That's a lot of memory for not much money!

Corsair Vengeance

Here you can see the back side of the heat spreader of the Corsair Vengeance memory. The label shows the voltage and timing specifications.

Corsair Vengeance

The model number for our particular kit is CMZ8GX3M2A1600C9. Corsair has several different models designed for the latest Intel Core series CPU's as well as AMD Phenom II and Athlon II platforms.

Corsair CMZ8GX3M2A1600C9 Memory Kit Specifications:

Looks only get you so far, let's see how this new kit of memory from Corsair can do with a new Intel Sandy Bridge 2600K CPU.

Test Setup

Corsair Vengeance 8GB 1600MHz

Our test system was set up with a fresh install of Windows 7 64 Ultimate Edition with the latest Windows Updates. Video card drivers for the AMD Radeon HD 6950 were Catalyst 10.12.

Corsair Vengeance 8GB 1600MHz

The Intel DP67BG motherboard had BIOS BGP6710J.86A.1815 which is the latest from Intel.

Corsair Vengeance 8GB 1600MHz

The Corsair Vengeance 1600MHz 2x4GB memory kit has an XMP (Extreme Memory Profile) of 1600MHz 9-9-9-24 2t and this was the XMP that was used for all 1600MHz testing regardless of CPU speed. The default speed Core i7 2600K used 1333MHz 9-9-9-24 1t timings.

 

Intel Sandy Bridge Test Bench

 Processor  Intel Core i7 2600K  Live Pricing
 Motherboard  Intel DP67BG  Live Pricing
 Memory  Corsair Vengeance 1600MHz  Live Pricing
 Hard Drive  Intel X-25E SSD  Live Pricing
 Video Card  XFX Radeon HD6950  Live Pricing
 CPU cooler Corsair H50  Live Pricing
 Chassis  None - Open Bench  
 Power Supply  Corsair TX750  Live Pricing

Overclocking

With the Corsair Vengeance memory kit designed for overclocking we were excited to see just how much it could be pushed past it's default settings of 1600MHz. One down side of Sandy Bridge CPU's is that overclocking the memory is simply adjusting the multiplier up a notch or two. Sandy Bridge on P67 supports 1066/1333/1600/1866/2133 memory speeds out of the box.

Corsair Vengeance Overclock

Our first attempt was to try the 1866 multiplier on our Intel Burrage motherboard. After the board failed to post I upped the voltage and loosened up the timings, however the board still failed to post. Knowing that the Corsair Vengeance should easily handle these settings, I installed them into an ASUS P8P67 Deluxe. Once installed they booted up at 1866MHz 9-11-9-27 1t with 1.65v without a single issue. Not satisfied with a 266MHz overclock I tried to push up to 2133MHz, but was unsuccessful with all attempts at this speed.

Corsair Vengeance Overclock

Still, I knew that there was some speed left on the table so I started turning up the BCLK. With a BCLK of 103MHz it was starting to push some of the other components out of spec. Not wanting to face the possibility of corrupting the Windows installation, I stopped at 103MHz BCLK giving me, 1922MHz memory speed. This is a solid 322MHz increase over the default speeds of our Corsair Vengeance memory kit. While it's not setting records it is showing that 8GB of memory is definitely capable of reaching close to the highest memory multiplier on Sandy Bridge.

With a mind for system stability, I've included our 1866MHz overclock in the rest of the review to give you an idea of how it stacks up.

SiSoft Sandra 2011b

SiSoft Sandra 2011b

A year ago, SiSoftware released Sandra 2010 with full support for Windows 7; in the 18 months since the launch of Windows 7, more than ever before we have seen the line blur between PC and entertainment hubs. Two months ago we released a Blu-Ray benchmark, now we have added a brand-new Media Transcoding benchmark using the new Media Foundation of Windows 7. We have also added yet another benchmark (GPGPU Cryptography) which allows direct comparison of CPU performance (using crypto instruction sets) and GPGPU performance.

SiSoft Sandra 2011b

The Corsair Vengeance memory kit is showing just how well memory bandwidth scales on Sandy Bridge. We see a nice stepping as the speed increases, really regardless of the timings used.

wPrime

wPrime

wPrime is a leading multithreaded benchmark for x86 processors that tests your processor performance by calculating square roots with a recursive call of Newton's method for estimating functions, with f(x)=x2-k, where k is the number we're sqrting, until Sgn(f(x)/f'(x)) does not equal that of the previous iteration, starting with an estimation of k/2. It then uses an iterative calling of the estimation method a set amount of times to increase the accuracy of the results. It then confirms that n(k)2=k to ensure the calculation was correct. It repeats this for all numbers from 1 to the requested maximum.

wPrime v204

wPrime doesn't show much of a gain for any of the kits. The Corsair Vengeance 8GB kit at 1866MHz is right on the heels of the 4GB Kingston HyperX 2133MHz.

Cinebench 11.5

CINEBENCH is a real-world cross platform test suite that evaluates your computer's performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.

Cinebench 11.5

Cinebench 11.5

Intel's Sandy Bridge CPUs do well in Cinebench 11.5 which is heavily threaded. Typically Cinebench 11.5 is most dependent on CPU speed and number of threads but it appears that Sandy Bridge may be a bit starved of memory bandwidth here! The Corsair Vengeance 8GB kit is again right on the heels of the Kingston HyperX 4GB kit at 2133MHz.

7-Zip

7-Zip is a file archiver with a high compression ratio.

 

7-Zip 9.2

7-zip

The built in 7-Zip benchmark shows us that memory speed doesn't have much of an impact on its performance but we do still see a very slight increase as the speeds go higher.

iTunes 10

iTunes is a free application for your Mac or PC. It organizes and plays your digital music and video on your computer. It keeps all your content in sync. And it’s a store on your computer, iPod touch, iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV that has everything you need to be entertained. Anywhere. Anytime.

In this benchmark we take a 640MB .WAV file and convert it to a 160kbp/s .mp3.

iTunes 10

iTunes 10

iTunes is not a heavily threaded app as you can see in the screen shot above. At most it uses two CPU cores for converting to mp3, so clock speed and an efficient architecture reigns supreme. Again we are surprised to see a very slight drop in conversion time with faster memory. The Corsair Vengeance 8GB at 1866MHz shows that it is a great compromise between all out performance and value ram.

x264 HD Encoding

x264 HD Encoding

Simply put, it is a reproducible measure of how fast your machine can encode a short HD-quality video clip into a high quality x264 video file. It's nice because everyone running it will use the same video clip and software. The video encoder (x264.exe) reports a fairly accurate internal benchmark (in frames per second) for each pass of the video encode and it also uses multi-core processors very efficiently. All these factors make this an ideal benchmark to compare different processors and systems to each other.

x264 HD Benchmark

We scaled this chart to the second pass (red) which is the more CPU intensive of the two. x264 HD benchmark shows that its performance is just as dependent on memory speed as CPU speed. The Corsair Vengeance 8GB kit at 1866MHz has excellent performance here, with less than 4 fps difference between the Kingston HyperX 4GB 2133MHz.

Folding@home

Folding@home is a distributed computing project -- people from throughout the world download and run software to band together to make one of the largest supercomputers in the world. Every computer takes the project closer to our goals. Folding@home uses novel computational methods coupled to distributed computing, to simulate problems millions of times more challenging than previously achieved. Moreover, when proteins do not fold correctly (i.e. "misfold"), there can be serious consequences, including many well known diseases, such as Alzheimer's, Mad Cow (BSE), CJD, ALS, Huntington's, Parkinson's disease, and many Cancers and cancer-related syndromes.

The work unit we used was a p6054 which is part of the SMP high performance client for Folding@home.

Folding@home SMP

Folding@home

Folding@home has made great strides with the new A3 SMP folding client; it scales very well across multiple physical cores as well as Hyper threaded cores. As you can see, clock speed and memory speed play a huge part in SMP folding performance. The Folding@home SMP client has a large working set as the simulation needs quite a bit of memory. We can see that memory bandwidth has noticeable impact on performance. The Corsair Vengeance 8GB kit is once again right on the heels of the Kingston HyperX 4GB 2133MHz kit. For the price and capacity the Corsair kit is giving up very little in performance.

Starcraft II

Starcraft II Wings of Liberty

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty Performance Benchmark

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty is a military science fiction real-time strategy video game developed by Blizzard Entertainment for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. A sequel to the award-winning 1998 video game StarCraft, the game was released worldwide on July 27, 2010. It is split into three installments: the base game with the subtitle Wings of Liberty, and two upcoming expansion packs, Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void. StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty has had a successful launch, selling three million copies worldwide in less than a month.

We tested Starcraft II at Ultra Settings on both the GPU and CPU at resolutions of 1024x760, 1680x1050, and 1920x1080.

Starcraft II

Only at 1024x768 do we see much of a gain in performance between all of our results even with a huge increase in clock speeds! Clearly, we are GPU limited by our single AMD Radeon HD 6950 for most of the test. We see that there is some scaling with memory speed but it would never be noticeable during a game.

Left 4 Dead 2

Left 4 Dead 2

Left 4 Dead 2

The Sequel to Valve Corporation's award-winning Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2 involves the aftermath of an apocalyptic pandemic. There has been an outbreak of a pathogen that causes infected humans to behave like zombies. The four survivors have to fight their way through the hordes of infected, using safehouses along the way to rest and recover in order to reach extraction points. This takes place in the southern United States, featuring Savannah, GA and New Orleans, LA.

We tested Left 4 Dead 2 at its highest settings but with no Anti-Aliasing at three resolutions, 1024x768, 1680x1050, and 1920x1080.

Left 4 Dead 2 Settings

Left 4 Dead 2

Left 4 Dead 2 paints a similar picture as Starcraft II, we are limited by the AMD Radeon HD 6950 at 1920x1080. Performance for all scenarios is stellar. Lower resolutions show that the additional memory speed does increase performance slightly. Since the testing is done in real time with FRAPS there is a +/- 2% variance in the tests, it just so happens the variance kept falling to the Corsair Vengence 1600MHz at 1920x1080!

Final Thoughts & Conclusion

Corsair Vengeance

The Corsair Vengeance 8GB 1600MHz CL9 DDR3 memory kit is a great performer in every regard. Being able to overclock this memory kit easily to 1866MHz is huge! While it does not win outright in benchmarks it is narrowly behind. The results are so close that it would be tough to actually see the difference in everyday scenarios. Its true value lies in its cost per GB where at just $5 more provides double the capacity of the highest performing 2133MHz kit!

The Corsair Vengeance memory kit has a good looking heat spreader and is much more aggressive looking than the Dominator and XMS lines. Those of you showing off your PC are going to have a tough call on your hands, but again looking at the GB per dollar ratio it is hard to ignore the Vengeance kit.

Corsair is well known for their reliability and performance. As far back as my first overclocking days, trying to squeeze every last MHz out of a Thunderbird AMD Athlon 1333 CPU, Corsair has always offered a hassle free lifetime warranty on their memory modules. This is great peace of mind for anyone looking to spend their hard earned money on a new kit of memory and the Corsair Vengeance line continues that tradition.

It really is amazing that with the downturn in memory prices that for just $104.99 today we can get an 8GB memory kit that is Intel XMP certified to run at 1600MHz with a very low voltage, virtually guaranteeing you can hit higher speeds with a small increase in voltage. With an Intel Core i5 2500K CPU, a Corsair Vengeance memory kit, and a decently priced motherboard you would have a build that is both very overclocking friendly and an incredible performance per dollar.

With today's games and programs using more and more memory, 4GB is now the minimum you should be looking to put into a new system that you plan to keep for a few years. The Corsair Vengeance 1600MHz 8GB would be ideal if the budget allows and its very attractive pricing make it a no brainer! At $104.99 it should be at the top of the list for your next system build.

 

Corsair Vengeance 8GB 1600MHz Value Award

Legit Bottom Line: It just doesn't get much better than this. The Corsair Vengeance 1600MHz memory kit provides a great value by offering an 8GB memory kit that is easily overclockable with excellent performance and a lifetime warranty, all at a price that is easy on the budget.