Mushkin XP2-6400 DDR2 2gb Kit Page: 1
Introduction

With the introduction of the AM2 chipset from AMD which most notably adds DDR2 support to their platform and the increased need for 2gb of memory in your machine to run the latest games without lag, more and more people are flocking to the forums to ask "Just what is the best 2gb DDR2 kit for overclocking?".

In the past, overclockers have been spoilt with the specs of DDR reaching speeds of up to 310mhz (DDR620) and latencies as low as 2-2-2-5. We all know that DDR2 can't compete with these latencies, at least not at present, however today I'm going to be looking at some memory from Mushkin which could well start closing the gap.

About Mushkin
"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."

Often regarded as one of the "Top-3" memory manufacturers by overclockers, lets see if they've got what it takes to convince me to move away from my 1gb DDR620 rig!


Packaging

Mushkin Packaging Mushkin Packaging

Mushkin have chosen to package their XP2 modules in a 'blister-pack' style packet. This method seems to be a favourite among memory manufacturers, with companies such as OCZ and G.Skill using exactly the same packets.

I was slightly disappointed to see Mushkin using the same paper insert on their XP2 series as they do on their other models. It would have been nice touch if Mushkin could have included some information relevant to the memory contained within the packet. Some manufacturers have even been known to go as far as including the best configurations for some of the most popular overclocking motherboards.


Mushkin XP2-6400 DDR2 2gb Kit Page: 2
Specifications

The following specifications have been taken directly from Mushkin's website:


"The eXtreme Performance 1GB XP2-6400 module (DDR2-800) offers enhanced second generation memory throughput and stability for the most demanding DDR2 computing platforms. A product of Mushkin's exclusive EPIC (Enhanced Performance IC) selection process, the XP2-6400 is hand-tested to the highest quality and performance standards. The module is an unbuffered 240-Pin Double Data Rate x2 (DDR2) Synchronous DRAM Dual In-Line Memory Module (DIMM), organized as a dual-bank 128Mx64 high speed memory array using 64Mx8 chip density. This DIMM achieves high-speed data transfer rates of 800MHz at latencies of 4-4-3-10 (CAS-TRCD-TRP-TRAS). The XP2-6400 is enhanced by Mushkin's Frostbyte heatspreader to ensure superior thermal performance and system reliability. With extreme performance and Mushkin's renowned reliability, the XP2-6400 is the memory upgrade of choice for those DDR2 enthusiasts demanding more out of their high-performance system."

Mushkin XP2 Specs

Frequency: 800MHz
Latency: 4-4-3-10
Parity: Unbuffered
Voltage: 1-9V-2.1V
Pins: 240
Module Density: 128Mx64
Chip Desnsity: 64Mx8

Its good to see that Mushkin have managed to squeeze every ounce out of these chips in the latency department. Quite a lot of DDR2 chips are still rated in the 5-5-x-x range, but Mushkin have managed to reduce this to a respectable 4-4-3-10.


Mushkin XP2-6400 DDR2 2gb Kit Page: 3
Appearance

Mushkin pull away from the crowd in this department, passing up on the over-done chrome and gold effect heatspreders used by many other manufacturers in favour of something a little more 'extreme' looking.

XP2 Sticks XP2 Side On

The black heatspreaders are a fairly new design by Mushkin, which promise to have better cooling capacity. I simply love the look of the green and purple Mushkin logo against the black background.

XP2 Cooling XP2 Cooling

I had a good go at trying to remove the heatspreaders to find out what was underneath, but unfortunately the heatspreaders are stuck directly to the memory chips with double sided thermal tape. According to Mushkin, they went well out of their way to ensure that the thermal tape used was of the highest quality and had excellent heat transfer properties.

XP2 PCB XP2 PCB

The PCB of the XP2 series memory is manufactured by Brainpower, who are well know by overclockers for producing high quality PCB's which assist in getting the best results out of the memory chips.


Mushkin XP2-6400 DDR2 2gb Kit Page: 4
Test Setup

Processor: Intel P4 630 3.0ghz Prescott 2mb Cache 800mhz FSB
Motherboard: Abit AW8D (Intel 975X Chipset)
Graphics Card: XFX 6600GT PCI-E
Hard Disk: Hitachi Deskstar 80gb SATA-II 8mb Cache
Power Supply: Silverstone Strider 560w
Software: Windows XP SP2


Benchmarks

When benchmarking the XP2-6400 I wanted to be sure to cover all angles. Some people like to run their memory at low latencies (mostly gamers), some like to run their memory at high frequencies, whilst others prefer a mixture of both settings. Below is some information regarding the testing procedures and their results:

Stock Benchmark
The XP2-6400 overcome the first hurdle, being able to run at rated stock timings of 4-4-3-10 at DDR800 with 1.8v. Too many times I've seen people not being able to run memory at rated timings - so this is a good start for Mushkin!

Lowest Timings at Stock
Many people may not be running their memory above the rated DDR800 speeds but might wish to gain a slight performance boost by lowering their timings. The XP2-6400 was able to run at 4-3-3-6, DDR800 with the maximum recommended voltage of 2.1v. These timings are quite impressive for DDR2, which is known for its high latency.

Lowest Timings Overall
For those of us with processors utilising a 533fsb and seeking low latency memory you will be pleased to hear that the XP2-6400 achieved timings of 3-3-2-6 at DDR667 with 2.1v. This is great news if you wish to keep your processor at stock speeds, but tweak your memory settings for extra performance.

Highest Frequency
Many overclockers are not fond of using dividers to slow down their memory whilst pushing up the speeds of the processor, so for this test I loosened the memory timings to 5-5-5-15, applied 2.1v to the memory and managed to achieve a maximum stable overclock of DDR920. This is quite a reasonable overclock for 1gb modules, as they are well known for not being as overclock friendly as their 512mb counterparts.

Everest Read Everest Write

Everest Latency Sandra ALU

Counter Strike FPS SuperPI 1m


Mushkin XP2-6400 DDR2 2gb Kit Page: 5
Conclusion

With speeds reaching as high as DDR920 or latencies as low as 3-3-2-6 the Mushkin XP2-6400 is some seriously good DDR2 memory for overclockers and gamers wanting to venture into the 2gb market. It may not reach overclocks as high as its 1gb Kit counterpart, but this just the nature of the beast.

The stock timings of 4-4-3-10 are excellent for DDR2, beating out most manufacturers stock timings of 5-5-x-x, whilst also not requiring masses of voltage to get there.

Currently priced at $301 direct from Mushkin, this memory is by no means cheap. However, if you are looking for some great performing DDR2 that can do both tight timings and high frequencies, then this could well be the memory for you.


Pro's
- Can do very tight timings at lower frequencies.
- Can overclock up to DDR920 with relaxed timings.
- Great looking black heatspreaders.
- Excellent stock timings
- Low voltage requirements

Con's
- Price a tad high.

Recommended

Thanks to Mushkin for providing this product for review.

Discuss this review in our forums..