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Corsair XMS 3500 Platinum Series DDR RAM

Company: Corsair Micro
Product: 256MB XMS 3500 Platinum Series DDR RAM
Street Price: ~$130 USD
Date Reviewed: November 22, 2002
Reviewed By: Joey C. aka Chong345
Rating: (9/10)



Corsair has been a leading and well-respected memory manufacturer for years now. They have provided some of the highest quality memory modules available on the market and have made quite a name for themselves. This year they started their Extreme Memory Speed (XMS) line. These modules are made for people who really need the speed such as gamers. These modules are the top of the line in speed and performance out of all the Corsair modules. Today we will be looking at the 256 MB XMS3500 Platinum Modules, which are currently the fastest memory modules Corsair has to offer.

Corsair rated the XMS3500 to run at 434 MHz DDR, the RAM uses five nanosecond chips. The manufacturer tests all the individual modules on an ABIT KD-7 motherboard at 434 MHz. The memory timings used during their testing are 2-3-3-7-1t. Corsair chose these memory chips for their excellent performance in gaming applications. The memory comes with aluminum heat spreaders that are platinum colored. There are also XMS3500 modules that have black heat spreaders. Corsairís representative told us that there is absolutely no difference between the black and platinum modules. The programmed SPD values are set at the expected JEDEC PC3200 values. The memory comes with Corsairís lifetime warranty as well.


Examining the Memory:

A plastic container holds the memory just like all of Corsairs memory. The thermal interface used between the memory and the heat spreader is double sided thermal tape. The heat spreaders will help to dissipate the heat that the memory gives off. Running at higher voltages and higher speeds these modules will produce a lot of heat so it is a nice feature to have. Heat spreaders are very common on the faster modules and has somewhat become a standard.

Test Machine:

Test Setup:

Motherboard: ABIT IT7 (volt modded)
CPU: Intel Pentium 4 2.26B
Memory: Corsair XMS PC3500 256MB
CPU Cooling: Swiftech MCW462-UT
Video Card: ATI Radeon 9700 Pro
Power Supply: PC Power and Cooling 475W

Testing this memory was not an easy task since the memory runs at such as high speed. To get the memory to run at 434 MHz, the user must overclock their DRAM to reach that speed since current JEDEC standards only support PC2700. To raise the DRAM speed, the Front Side Bus must be raised which also overclocks the CPU as well as the AGP/PCI clocks. We placed the memory in an Intel machine since there is the ability to lock the AGP/PCI clocks to 66 MHz/33 MHz. This will help to lower instabilities caused by the AGP and PCI cards running out spec since they will be running at their proper speeds. The other reason that we chose to use the Intel machine is the 2.26 chip used in this test runs all the way up to 195 FSB, which is 3.3 GHz. We know this due to other tests that we have run on the CPU individually. This will allow us to max out the memory using the 3:4 memory divisor. The 3:4 memory divisor helps in overclocking the memory because it runs the DRAM at a higher bus than the Front Side Bus (FSB). For instance at 133 FSB using the 3:4 (FSB: DRAM) memory ratio, the memory is running at 354 MHz DDR instead of 266 MHz. So in theory since this chip runs stable all the way up to 195FSB, using the 3:4 divisor we could run RAM at a speed of 520MHz DDR, now if only there was a module on the market that could run that fast! A 226W TEC and -29C water cooled the CPU to -15C. This will help to make sure the CPU does not overheat and/or cause instabilities. The voltage was set to 1.8V for the CPU during all tests to help ensure that the CPU had plenty of voltage as we raised the FSB.

MBM5 Pic:

For more information about memory please read this article about overclocking DDR memory. The memory article will help to explain why we chose this particular test setup, and might help you make a better purchasing decision for your next Intel or AMD rig.


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