Memory is arguably the most important component to actually spend the money on to get the high quality stuff. Top companies like Corsair and Kingston have always stayed in good competition and have fueled the memory market, even in bad times. Dual channel DDR is now the latest and greatest in high-speed memory technology and with that speed comes the necessity to pay even closer attention to what you are buying for your system. The way I think of dual channel DDR is sort of like RAID for RAM. While sometimes its possible to get two drives exactly the same size without being having the same hardware; 99% of the time it will not work at all, or have problems further down the road. The same goes for Dual Channel DDR. Luckily, Corsair has packaged pairs of matched RAM for this new standard, and correct me if I am wrong, but they were the first to do it.
The packaging is pretty standard; just some molded plastic with a small pamphlet with some testimonials on the back, some images of websites’ seals of approval, and of course the url for corsairmemory.com which is where you would go for real information about the memory.
The memory comes standard with some aluminum heat spreaders to help dissipate the the heat that this memory gives off. I will go into some of their innovation on this front later. It has a nice little holographic sticker on it, and the ram is available with either a pair of black aluminum heat spreaders, or silver ‘platinum’. All in all, the package is free of guff which makes me happy that they didn’t pour gobs of money into marketing, and saved it for what matters.
One thing that may confuse people that are just beginning to look at this stuff is that it’s only sold in pairs, which means when you see an ad for ‘Corsair TwinX 512MB’ that doesn’t mean two sticks of 512, nor does it mean a single stick of 512MB. It means two DIMMs of 256MB. Some may see this labeling as an advertising trick, but the alternatives could be viewed as equally deceptive. Most other memory manufacturers are using the same labeling convention on their dual channel memory. Just know what you are looking for and don’t assume anything.
Time to take a closer look at the DIMMs themselves. I couldn’t (too scared) to pry the heat spreaders off of the memory so i just squinted inside and found something very interesting. Most of you know that DDRSDRAM DIMMs all have eight chips on either one side of the stick or both (save ECC) and usually both because it is cheaper to get more of the low density chips thatn to get a few of the high density ones. What corsair did, and is pretty rare, was to stagger the higher density chips. I made an ugly diagram of how these chips are positioned on the PCB, as my camera doesn’t have that kind of close-up quality.