Mushkin Blackline 996782 PC3 12800 2x2GB Review

ccokeman - 2010-01-14 00:17:52 in Memory
Category: Memory
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: February 2, 2010
Price: $113.00


Past performance is not an indicator of future performance. You hear it all the time on television from the guys hawking the next big thing in the stock market with the get-in-low mentality. Well if past performance does happen to be any indicator, then Mushkin's Blackline modules will provide a certain level of performance along with a more than modest amount of overclocking headroom. With Intel's release of the Socket 1156 processors, there was the need to deliver modules that worked within the same boundaries as those processors since they are built upon the same Nehalem micro-architecture. That meant that the voltage used to push the modules should not exceed the 1.65 volt specification set by Intel. Pretty much every manufacturer has been on board and delivered modules that meet and exceed this specfication with speeds that really are reaching new overclocking limits. This set of Blackline modules are part of the Extreme performance lineup and, as such, come with enhanced latencies of 7-9-7-24 at 1600MHz, using just 1.65 volts. The modules come equipped with Mushkin's sleek looking Frostbyte heatspreaders that not only give the modules a unique look, but are functional to boot. With each set of Mushkin modules that I have tested, the "Get More " tag line has been on the packaging. It's there for a reason! Let's see if this set of modules indeed live up to the expectation set by Mushkin's past performance.

Closer Look:

Those of you who have followed Mushkin's products are familiar with the green, white and black theme. Well it looks a little different now with an update to the look. Still the same retail blister packaging, but that's to be expected; it works. The front of the package shows the Blackline 996782 modules with the phrase "Get More" still proudly displayed on the top right. Flip the package over and the "Memory of the Future" slogan is along the top and under that a brief explanation of the Mushkin Enhanced business philosophy. Under that you get a tutorial on how to properly install the Mushkin Enhanced modules into the motherboard DIMM slots. Just pictures, no words - the perfect solution for the men that don't read the instructions (let's face it; most of are in this category)!










These Mushkin Blackline modules carry part number 996782. This 4GB dual channel set of modules is designed to run on the Intel P55 platform with a voltage specification of 1.65 volts and enhanced latencies of 7-9-7-24 at 1600MHz. These modules are equipped with Mushkin's own Frostbyte heatspreaders to disperse the heat generated by the modules under load. Not as effective as the Ascent heatspreader, but when you put heatpipe cooling on memory modules, everything else seems to be just average! The Frostbyte design does work though, as I have seen in past testing.



In the past, Mushkin's performance modules have proven to deliver great performance and excellent overclocking headroom for the enthusiast. Let's see if this new set of modules lives up to the company ad line of "Get More"!



Part  Number
Speed Spec:      
Kit Type:             
Dual Kit
Module Size:    
tCL:        7
tRCD:     9
tRP:        7
tRAS:     24






Information courtesy of Mushkin @


Many people believe that memory modules all perform the same, but this is not true. Every module overclocks and performs differently. You want to get the best for your money and there are many ways to test which memory performs best. To test the Mushkin Blackline 996782 modules, I will be running them through the OverclockersClub suite of benchmarks to see how the performance compares to that of modules that are rated at both a lower and higher rated speed, but with varying timings. These modules run at 7-9-7-20 at 1600MHz. The CPU is run at a clock speed of 200 x 16 on the Patriot modules, while the balance of the modules are run with the CPU at 160 x 20 with the memory multiplier of 10 to keep the modules at their rated 1600MHz speed. For the overclocking test, I will use a combination of voltages and timing increases while increasing the bclock on the CPU to increase the clock speed of the modules to see if they are capable of reaching higher speeds to deliver additional performance.

Testing Setup:

Comparison Modules:

CPU-Z: This application shows us the settings that we have chosen in the BIOS. Items shown in this application include CPU speed and bus settings, motherboard manufacturer, BIOS revisions, memory timings, and SPD chip information.




Task Manager: We use this utility to show physical memory, kernel memory, page file, and processor usage.


Overclocked settings:

Overclocking these modules proved to be challenging once I reached the limits of their capabilities at 7-9-7, which ended up right around 1800MHz (900MHz). At this point, bumping up the CAS latency and TRP should have provided some really healthy benefits, but a grand total of 2 MHz was gained. Upping the voltage to the memory and the memory controller did nothing for me at this point. So I pushed the CAS and TRP back to 7 and bumped the TRCD to 10. This did pay dividends with a bump in clock speed up to 1946MHz (973MHz). Bumping the CAS and TRP back to 8 allowed me to get up to 2000 MHz stable, but no amount of voltage or timings seemed to get me past the 2000MHz barrier. I could boot at 2090MHz, but could not pass Memtest 4.1 at any speed above 2020MHz with any repeatability. Voltages used to reach the 2000MHz level include 1.696v to the memory and 1.31v on the memory controller. Any higher on either voltage and I would start seeing errors in Memtest. At the stock PC3 12800 speeds, however, the modules were able to handle the timings being tightened to 6-8-6-20 with no ill effects. 1600MHz Cas 6? Not too bad! This overclock represents a 25% improvement over the stock clock speeds of 1600MHz - a level that took some work to achieve, but well worth the effort. All and all, not too shabby for a kit that retails for 130 bucks. Get More? I think so!



The benchmarks used in this review include the following:



PCMark Vantage: With this benchmark, I will be running the system suite, as well as the memory test suite. The measurement for the system suite will be the total score. The measurement for memory performance is the total memory score.
















SiSoftware Sandra 2009 SP2: In this program, I will be running the following benchmarks: Cache and Memory, Memory Bandwidth, and Memory Latency. Higher is better in all tests, except for Memory Latency, where lower is better.






In the PCMark Vantage testing, the Mushkin modules scored at the lower end of the spectrum, but were definitely not the lowest performer. In the Sandra testing, the Mushkin modules do well in three out of the four categories. The Latency test is where the Blackline modules did not excel. Overclocking brought huge increases across the board when the modules were pushed up to 2000MHz.



Left 4 Dead is a first-person shooter from Valve that leaves you as part of a group of survivors in a world where an infection has rapidly turned the populace into a zombie horde. Your goal is to make it to a rescue point, all while fighting what seems like overwhelming odds. Along the way there are safe houses where you can replenish your weapons and health. The movie "I Am Legend" comes to mind to set the stage for this game. But unlike the movie, there are four characters and not just a lone gun and his faithful companion. The horde is not at all like the typical slow walking, foot shuffling zombies. These zombies are quick and work with pack mentality. You have but one job; survival!














The Mushkin Blackline modules did not deliver an increase in performance except at the 1680x1050 resolution where they were two FPS better than the comparison modules. At 1024x768, the Muskin Blackline modules were two FPS slower than the Corsair modules, but at 1280x1024 they delivered identical FPS.


During the testing, the Mushkin Blackline modules delivered on the promise of performance, delivering solid results in all but one category, the latency test in the Sandra testing. That result aside, the modules were in the thick of it, besting all the modules in the Left 4 Dead 1680x1050 resolution testing. At $130, you have a set of modules in the Blackline 996782 kit that has some serious overclocking potential for not a whole lot of money. That is something that goes along with the theme of the Socket 1156 processors - performance for the masses without the massive outlay for the top of the line Socket 1366 gear. A few of the modules in this range that I have tested have had problems overclocking on the P55 platform because of an incompatibility, but not this set. Pop the kit into the board and roll with it on up to 2000MHz with just a little tickling of the voltage to make them sing! That my friends is a 20% overclock if you are keeping count! If high speeds are not your game, then the modules will allow the latencies to be adjusted lower to the tune of 6-8-6-20 with the stock 1.65 volts and 1600MHz clock speed these modules are rated to operate at. Mushkin's Frostbyte heatspreaders are designed to keep the modules cool under fire with the wide flow path for airflow through the modules. Even with 1.7 volts through them, they remained just barely above ambient temperature under load. Airflow of course helps to keep the Frosbyte heatspreader working more efficiently. With Mushkin's Lifetime Warranty, hand tested modules, and competitive pricing and performance, this set of modules will give you a ton of overclocking fun for your hard earned cash. "Get More"? Why yes, yes I did!