It has been quite some time since there has been something really interesting to look at in the memory market. As a result, we have not gone out of our way to review memory modules - instead it made sense for us to focus on more general memory articles than on anything in particular. If you've been reading bit-tech for some time now, you will know that we have covered some aspects of memory performance and memory timings in games and more recently covered the effects of memory timings on Intel's Core 2 Duo processors.
If you're not an overclocker, there is simply very little need to buy performance memory because timings make very little difference when price and performance are considered - you're better spending your money on more memory. For those that are overclockers, the memory market is a little more interesting, as there are some modules that really perform and others that don't - it's almost as if there is a sub-culture for the nerds that can spot a set of cheap modules that are also outstanding when it comes to overclocking.
At the end of August, Corsair announced its Dominator line of memory modules with a new breed of heatspreader design that had the potential to breathe a new interest in to performance memory products. We first saw a prototype for these modules running at an incredible PC10000 at this year's Computex trade show and there was no strict schedule as to when the modules would appear. They're now available to buy in the shops, so we think it's worth giving them a once over to find out what all of the fuss is about.
For those of you who aren't immediately turned off by the £400+ price tag, you can see that the Dominator heatspreader design is an evolution of its Pro-series heatspreader. In fact, Corsair's Dominator 'heatsink' is so far from a standard heatspreader that it shares more properties with a traditional heatsink than it does with the memory heatspreaders that you're no doubt familiar with.
If the price is a worry for you but you are interested in the technology, you will be pleased to know that the modules we have here aren't the only modules in the Dominator product lineup. Corsair has also released a set of Dominator modules rated at the same speed and timings as the company's previous flagship part - the 8500C5 modules. For those that aren't familiar with Corsair's 8500C5 memory, they're rated at 1066MHz with timings of 5-5-5-15 at 2.1V. Scan has the new 8500C5D modules on pre-order for £267.90 including VAT - it's worth noting that these don't come with the Dominator Airflow cooling add-on that we'll come to in a minute.
The Dominator modules themselves are much taller than your standard memory module - they're a massive 52mm tall, compared to a standard module that is typically no more than about 31-32mm in height. This could cause some clearance issues on particular motherboards - Corsair tells us that it is actively putting together a list of compatible motherboards, to ensure that end users don't end up disappointed. Hopefully this list will also detail aftermarket CPU coolers that will not fit on the compatible motherboards once a pair of Dominator modules are installed.