To ensure that all reviews on Overclock3D are fair, consistent and unbiased, a standard set of hardware and software is used whenever possible during the comparative testing of two or more products. The configuration used in this review can be seen below:
CPU: Intel i7-870 @ 4GHz
Motherboard: MSI P55-GD80
Memory: 4x2GB Corsair Dominator GT PC3-12800 CAS 8-8-8-24
HD : Hitachi Deskstar 7k160 7200rpm 160GB
GPU: Asus GTX275
PSU: Gigabyte ODIN 1200w
Installing the kit was a relatively simple affair despite the cooler not having any assembly instructions. The blue tipped heatsinks on the Dominator GT kit are very fetching and will match any blue themed setup perfectly. Our test board, the MSI GD80-P55 is one such board.
The bulk of the cooler presented a slight issue in that it blocked a third of the CPU cooler upon installation. To make matters worse, should you wish to orientate your CPU cooler in a horizontal position, the cooler would be unusable. The good news is that the 60mm fans are a great improvement over the previous 40mm variants. The cooler no longer whines like a women watching the football on TV, instead it just hums along pretty much silently, going about its business cooling the modules. You may read on some review sites that the cooler is loud. Upon first inspection I would have been inclined to agree but it is 'not the cooler that's loud, it's due to the cooler blocking airflow to the CPU HSF which gives the inclination that the Dominator cooler is making the noise when in fact it is not. When the memory cooler was run independently, away from the CPU cooler, it ran almost silent.
During the testing of the setups above, special care was taken to ensure that the BIOS settings used matched whenever possible. A fresh install of Windows Vista was also used before the benchmarking began, with a full defrag of the hard drive once all the drivers and software were installed, preventing any possible performance issues due to leftover drivers from the previous motherboard installations. For the 3DMark and gaming tests a single card configuration was used.
For testing the memory we used a number of synthetic benchmarks and games:
- Lavalys Everest 4.10
- SuperPI mod_1.5
- Sisoft Sandra 2009
As the kit is clocked to 1600MHz in stock format, the CPU base clock will not need to be overclocked as the dividers on the P55 chipset allow a maximum of 1600MHz. Add to that the X.M.P profiling and the setup was very easy with this feature enabled.
As the Dominator GTs now utilise Micron chips instead of the highly clockable but unreliable Elpida Hypers I was not holding out much hope of the dominator GTs clocking much higher than the stock 1600MHz. I am however happy to report that the kit clocked very well reaching a none to shabby 1980MHz, just a touch from the golden 2000MHz. At this clockspeed however, the kit was a little unstable so I dropped them down to a much more stable 1900MHz. Sadly, raising the latencies and increasing the voltage slightly did not affect the overclocking but 1900MHz at CAS 8 is a very good performance for an 8GB kit.
Perhaps with the P55 kit, the most worthwhile overclocks do not arise from screaming bandwidth but tighter timings. Again, the Dominator GT kit impressed, running at CAS 7-7-7 with no trouble whatsoever. Raising the bandwidth at this latency proved troublesome with numerous BSOD but at the stock level, the kit was stable as a rock.
After returning the kit back to it's default speed, I ran our standard set of memory benchmarks pitching it against the recently reviewed 4GB GSkill kit. The GSkill kit was run both underclocked (1600MHz and stock speed (2000MHz) to give the best comparison. Special consideration should be given to the 2000MHz results where the CPU was overclocked to 4GHz which will also benefit the benchmark scores. The most significant comparison is like for like (1600MHz vs 1600MHz) but adding the higher clocked kit into the mix shows what difference both bandwidth and CPU speed add versus a larger DDR3 kit.
Let's see how both kits performed...