Mushkin HP2-6400 (PC2-6400) 4GB DDR2 Kit Page: 1
Introduction

With games and applications using more and more memory, it's becoming increasingly obvious that soon your trusty 2GB kit won't be enough to keep your PC happy. In addition to this, Microsoft's latest version of Windows - Vista uses over 600mb of ram out of the box, leaving much less space than its predecessor for background applications and games.

It wasn't going to be long before memory manufacturers realised the need to bring 4GB kits to the enthusiast market, and Denver based Mushkin Inc. were one of the first to bring theirs into production. We've reviewed several kits from Mushkin in the past and all have recieved awards for their great performance and price. Today I'll be looking at their HP2-6400 4GB Kit. Designed for performance on a budget, how will these modules compare in overclock-ability and performance to the plethora of 2GB kits available at present. However, before we get started let's take a look at some information on Mushkin the company:

Founded in 1994, Mushkin is best known for producing “Enhanced” memory modules. Located at the base of the Rocky Mountains in Denver, Colorado Mushkin provides performance enhanced computer products to users worldwide. Exceptional quality, enhanced performance and unparalleled customer support are what make Mushkin products the best in the industry.

Mushkin products include an enhanced power supply line and a complete selection of memory upgrades for desktops, servers and notebooks – we offer something for everyone from business user to gamer. Our enhanced memory products are available in several performance categories from standard to extreme, with our REDLINETM series in a class of its own. Our enhanced power supply line offers superb regulation and ripple characteristics, modularity and plenty of power to supply the most demanding systems.

With customers including everyone from Apple Computer and NASA to gamers and web browsers, Mushkin knows what is important to customers - enhanced performance with uncompromised quality. With Mushkin you Get More.


Specifications

The following information has been taken directly from Mushkin's website:

Mushkin High Performance (HP) Series memory products offer outstanding performance and value for the budget-minded enthusiast. Every module is engineered to outperform the competition at an attractive price point without sacrificing any of the Mushkin quality that you've come to trust.

Mushkin HP2-6400 4GB Specs Mushkin HP2-6400 4GB IC's

Frequency: 800MHz
Latency: 5-4-4-12
Parity: Unbuffered
Voltage: 2.0-2.2V
Pins: 240
Module Density: 256x64
Chip Density: 128x8

With a stock voltage of 2.0v there certainly shouldn't be any problem getting the HP2-6400 kit working on a non-enthuisast motherboard with limited vdimm options. More interestingly, Mushkin have catered for the enthusiast by guaranteeing these modules up to a maximum of 2.2v, which should allow us to squeeze a reasonable amount of extra performance out of them without throwing away our lifetime warranty.

The HP2-6400 kit is based on D9GSV IC's manufactured by Micron. With this being the first 4GB kit we've reviewed here at Overclock3D using these IC's, the overclocking section of the review will certainly be a new experience for us. However, if the results from previous Micron D9 based 2GB kits are anything to go by, we should see some decent results.

Mushkin HP2-6400 (PC2-6400) 4GB DDR2 Kit Page: 2
Packaging

Nothing really changes when it comes to the packaging used on most manufacturers memory kits. The favorite without doubt, is still the clear moulded plastic blister pack. Maybe this is because it allows for the modules to easily be placed on retailers shelves and gives the sexy modules inside maximum exposure, or perhaps it's because it adds very little extra to the overall cost of the modules. Either way, it's here to stay, and we can see that Mushkin have adopted this method on their HP2-6400 kit as seen below.

Mushkin HP2-6400 4GB Packaging Mushkin HP2-6400 4GB Packaging

Mushkin HP2-6400 4GB Packaging

The last time we reviewed a Mushkin HP kit was back in June 06, and since then the card insert used behind the modules has had a bit of a design refresh. Moving from a dark black and purple look to a much more refreshing green and white Mushkin colour scheme, the modules would certainly stand out if you passed them in a PC hardware store.

As a side note, Mushkin have gone to the trouble of sealing the packaging shut by melting both corners. This proved to be extremely effective as I had a hard time removing the modules without ripping the packaging apart.


Appearance

As with all of Mushkin performance kits, the HP2-6400 modules come with the trademark FrostByte heatspeaders. The HP range have always been colour coded Blue as we can see below (and in our previous HP2-5300 2GB review), with the higher-end XP2 range using a more menacing Black.

Mushkin HP2-6400 4GB Front Mushkin HP2-6400 4GB Back

Mushkin HP2-6400 4GB Crossed Mushkin HP2-6400 4GB Open

It's good to see Mushkin using the new company logo on their heatspreaders. In my opinion this looks much better than the older green and purple logo and alleviates the problem where the purple text could not be seen very well against the blue heatspreader.

Mushkin have chosen both double-sided thermal tape and clips at top of the modules to hold the heatspreaders in place. Surprisingly I found them quite easy to remove, meaning if you'd rather put your own 3rd party cooling solution on there, you shouldn't have too many problems.


Mushkin HP2-6400 (PC2-6400) 4GB DDR2 Kit Page: 3
Test Setup

Processor: Intel Core2Duo E6700 "Conroe"
Motherboard: Asus Commando P965 (unmodded)
Graphics Card: BFG 8800GTS Overclocked (550mhz / 1600mhz)
Hard Disks: 2x Hitachi Deskstar 80gb SATA-II 8mb Cache (RAID0)
Power Supply: Enermax Infiniti 720w
Operating System: Windows XP x64



Settings

As with all DDR2 reviews on Overclock3D the HP2-6400 modules were subjected to a series of benchmark tests under several different configurations. The configurations used tested the memory's ability to run at high frequencies, tight timings and also ensured that that it could run with 100% stability at stock settings.


Stock - DDR2-800 / 2.0v / 5-4-4-12

CPUZ CPUZ

Being the first 4GB DDR2 review we've ever done here at Overclock3D, I was slightly worried about possible compatability issues with our test hardware. However, installing the modules as normal and enabling the "Memory Remap Feature" in the BIOS enabled the system to see the full 4GB. The HP2-6400 modules also had no problems running at stock specifications of DDR2-800 / 5-4-4-12 with only 2.0v.


Max Frequency - DDR2-936 / 2.2v / 5-5-5-15

CPUZ CPUZ

Loosening the timings to 5-5-5-15 and upping the voltage to the maximum warranted 2.2v allowed some headroom for overclocking the modules. To be honest I wasn't expecting to see much of an overclock considering this is a 4GB kit, but the modules achieved a reasonable 68mhz overclock, taking them up to DDR2-936. Not too shabby for a kit aimed at the price conscious enthusiast.


Tightest Timings - DDR2-800 / 2.2v / 4-3-3-6

CPUZ CPUZ

With the modules still set at 2.2v and the frequency defaulted back to DDR2-800 I set out to find how far the timings could be tightened. Surprisingly I was able to achieve 4-3-3-6 - an extremely decent outcome for any DDR2 kit, let alone a DDR2-800 4GB one.


Mushkin HP2-6400 (PC2-6400) 4GB DDR2 Kit Page: 4
Benchmark Results

For the benchmark phase of our review, the Mushkin HP2-6400 4GB kit was subjected to several popular benchmarks in order to illustrate outright performance. All benchmarks were run three times and an average taken to guarantee uniformity of the results.

Mushkin HP2-6400 4GB Everest Mushkin HP2-6400 4GB Sandra

Mushkin HP2-6400 4GB Everest Mushkin HP2-6400 4GB Everest

Despite the HP2-6400 4GB kit having the same timings as many 2GB kits we've reviewed in the past, the latency results obtained from both Sisoft Sandra and Everest came out at around 10ns slower. More interestingly, running the memory with timings reduced to 4-3-3-6 actually made the latency results significantly worse in the case of Sisoft Sandra, and had very little effect in Everest.

As expected, running the modules at DDR2-936 (468mhz) gave the best results in both bandwidth benchmarks leaving both DDR2-800 (400mhz) results fighting for second place.

Mushkin HP2-6400 4GB SuperPI Mushkin HP2-6400 4GB SuperPI

SuperPI certainly showed a liking for the extra 2GB of ram, performing over 2 seconds faster than a recently tested PC2-8500 (533mhz) 2GB kit in the 1M benchmarks.

Mushkin HP2-6400 4GB 3DMark Mushjkin HP2-6400 4GB 3DMark

The same can also be said for both 3DMark suites, with the HP2-6400 4GB kit producing better results running at 468mhz than a 2GB kit running exactly 100mhz faster with the same timings!

Quake4 F.E.A.R

F.E.A.R seemed to 'top-out' at 94fps regardless of the settings used, possibly indicating that it is not heavily reliant on memory speed or that the 8800GTS used simply couldn't do any better with 4xAA/8xAF enabled. Quake4 on the other hand showed a 20fps+ increase when running at DDR2-936, most likely due to the bump in processor speed from 2.66ghz to 3.12ghz.


Mushkin HP2-6400 (PC2-6400) 4GB DDR2 Kit Page: 5
Conclusion

There's no doubt in my mind that running a system with 4GB of RAM certainly helps performance in some games and applications. However, in order to get the full 4GB to show up in Windows we needed to perform several tweaks in addition to running a 64-Bit operating system. This is certainly something you should take into consideration before making the leap to any 4GB DDR2 kit, as otherwise you'll be left feeling slightly robbed.

These prerequisites aside, the Mushkin HP2-6400 4GB kit certainly performed well in our benchmarks and even managed to beat the scores produced by some of the higher-performance 2GB DDR2 kits we've tested recently. With a maximum overclock of 468mhz (DDR2-936) and nimble timings of 4-3-3-6, the modules certainly showed some hope for the PC enthusiast who wants run 4GB of memory without sacrificing performance or being forced to reduce their overclock.

The HP2-6400 4GB kit can be purchased from Mushkin's website for $344 providing you are based in the USA or Canada. Those of us based anywhere else in the world (the UK especially) may have a tougher time finding a Mushkin distributor, making it very hard to gauge exactly how competitively priced these modules would be in the UK market. However, based on their price compared to other kits on USA websites , I'm going to score them an 7 for value.


Pros
• 4GB certainly showed benefits in games and most benchmarks.
• Capable of tight timings at 4-3-3-6.
• Reasonable overclock-ability.
• Warranted up to 2.2v with stock voltage at a modest 2.0v.

Cons
• Hard to get hold of outside the USA & Canada.
• Many cheaper alternative 4GB PC2-6400 kits available.


Recommended Award


Thanks to Mushkin for making this review possible. Discuss in our forums.