Mushkin is a name well known in the enthusiast community for its high end memory modules, characterised by the trademark jagged spine heatspreader. Mushkin's highly successful Redline series has found itself in many high performance computers over the years and earned itself a reputation as quite a solid performer. Today we look at the Redline series' little brother in the form of the XP2-8500 2GB DDR2 kit, the fastest kit Mushkin currently have on offer.
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 REDLINE 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.
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Furthermore, Mushkin offer a lifetime warranty on all their memory products as well as a 30 day compatibility warranty. Unfortunately, there is no mention on their support pages on whether this lifetime warranty covers the modules at voltages above the rated max of 2.35v. As seen in other reviews, this is not an uncommon occurrence and so purchasers might want to look into these things before buying.
As you can see above, the modules utilise D9GMH Micron IC's. These are rated at slightly lower speeds than D9GKX IC's but are known to do better at lower timings. However, these are by no means steadfast rules and so we shall see how they perform further into the review.
Mushkin XP2-8500 DDR2 2GB Kit Page: 2 Packaging
The Mushkin XP2-8500 kit comes packaged in the blister pack that seems to be highly favoured among memory manufacturers these days. A pretty basic but effective form of packaging either way, and allows shoppers to get a good look at what they're getting for their money.
The cardboard backing is a double sided piece of card with a beginner friendly set of instructions on the back, providing instructions for installation and troubleshooting. The text on the back however is very small considering the amount of space available and was very hard to read from a normal distance.
Here is a sample of the directions on the back:
If the machine boots, counts the memory, then locks up: > Try the Mushkin seperately; double check the BIOS settings for the memory. If the settings are more aggressive than the specifications on the RAM the computer will not run properly
Pretty basic but very useful for someone newer to the world of computer modification and overclocking.
The XP modules from Mushkin come with the trademark FrostByte heatspeaders seen on all of Mushkins higher end kits. I personally quite like the look of these heatspeaders and I expect the ridges yield at least a small performance increase over the standard style of spreader.
The Mushkin logo is painted on both sides in green and lilac which stands out but I think detracts slightly from the aggressive look of the modules.
The heatspreader is fixed on both sides by double sided, sticky thermal-pads as well as two small stainless steel clips to hold the top securely in place. This allows for easy removal or replacement of the spreader. Now that we've had a look at our review subjects in detail, let's throw them into our test bench.
Processor: Intel C2D E4300 "allendale" Motherboard: ASUS P5B deluxe - unmodded Graphics card: Leadtek 7800GTX 256mb HDD: Seagate Barracuda 200gb - SATA/2 Power Supply: Hiper 580W Type-R Modular Operating System: Windows XP sp2
For the benchmarking of the XP2-8500 modules we try to cover every angle that could be desired by users. Therefore we test at high frequencies, low latencies and mixtures of both. The memory was kept at 2.35v for all testing; usually at OC3D we would alter the voltage when needed and state the changes on the testing details. However, at 2.35v the memory was still well within acceptable heat levels and so there is no reason why it cannot be left at this level permanently.
Below is the details of each setting that will be used in the benchmarking process:
Stock Settings (5-5-4-12 / 533MHz)
Here we tested the memory to ensure that it could indeed run at its rated speeds. This may seem like a pointless test but unfortunately some memory kits do actually fail to manage stock speeds, some of which have actually passed through the OC3D Labs.
In this case, I am pleased to say that the memory ran at 1066 @ 5-5-4-12 without any problems whatsoever.
Lowest Timings at Stock Frequencies ( 4-4-4-10 / 533MHz)
Here we try to take the memory timings down as low as possible while keeping the frequency at stock levels. The timings were taken down to 4-4-4-10 while retaining SuperPI 32M and Orthos stability.
A pretty respectable drop in timings for relatively high speed memory.
Highest Frequency at Stock Timings (5-5-4-12 / 600MHz)
For this round of testing, the memory was taken up to the highest possible frequency while maintaining stock timings and staying stable in the same tests used for the previous settings.
Keeping the timings at 5-5-4-12 and the voltage at 2.35, the memory managed to reach DDR2-1200. Not a huge overclock but still very respectable. With a small increase in voltage and some looser timings I can see higher speeds being reached.
I managed, after much perseverance, to get to timings of 4-3-3-8 @ 460MHz. This was stable up until the higher levels of SuperPI and so was not officially included. However I believe that with some more voltage; higher speeds and stability could be reached. Let's see what the Everest and SuperPi results show.
For the first set of benchmarks I used Everest Ultimate Edition and SuperPI. As usual with all benchmarks here at OC3D, each test was carried out three times and the mean (average) calculated.
The results are somewhat typical of what we see with memory benchmarking. All the scores attained are impressive, with the overclocked Read Score hitting 8GB/s. The SuperPI times too are a far cry from the A64 results from only a few months ago. On the next page we can see how Mushkin's performed under some Sandra, 3DMark and FPS benchmarks.
For this set of tests I used several different applications. SiSoft Sandra, Futuremark's 3DMark06 and CounterStrike: Source - Steam Stress Test. Again all tests were done three times to ensure accuracy.
3DMark06 was set to 1024x768, like all 3D mark tests done in our Labs, with all other settings left as default. CounterStrike:Source was set to 1280 x 1024, 0 AA, Bilinear Filtering and all world / model details at full.
As you can see, the general trend continues, with the high speed - stock timing settings giving the best performance, with very little difference between the stock and lowered timings. There is also a clear relationship between the Everest Latency test and the SiSoft Latency tests, with the SiSoft test being pretty much exactly 13ns higher for each value.
Is the Mushkin XP2-8500 DDR2 2GB Kit worth outlaying your hard earned cash on? Read on to find out.
Mushkin XP2-8500 DDR2 2GB Kit Page: 6 Conclusion:
Overall the Mushkin XP2-8500 2GB kit is a great, solid performer. Aimed at the enthusiast end of the market, the kit definitely doesn't disappoint.
Although the memory would not go to particularly high speeds, the stock settings still give headroom for impressive overclocks while retaining full stability.
The kit is available on Mushkin's website with a List Price of £215 / $419, which, while still at the high end of a lot of peoples budget, is a very decent price when compared to other 2GB PC2-8500 kits on the market.
Pros: + Solid at stock settings + Capable of very low timings + Stay fairly cool at higher voltages + Attractive heatspreaders + Lifetime warranty + Reasonable price
Cons: - Do not overclock particularly far within specified voltages - Slightly unoriginal packaging
A big thankyou to Mushkin for supplying the kit for review.
Feel free to dicuss the review over in the OC3D Forums