Mushkin Blackline 997123R 16GB Review
Reviewed by: ccokeman
Reviewed on: October 1, 2013
Mushkin Blackline 997123R 16GB Introduction:
With each new architecture it seems the memory subsystems are becoming more and more robust. Case in point would be Intel's latest Fourth Generation Core i7 4770, which has the ability right out of the box to run memory clock speeds of 3000MHz and beyond with modules binned that high. Part of the problem in finding and using kits rated up to 3000MHz is purely supply and demand driven. Just the raw manpower hours needed to test and validate the modules is almost cost prohibitive. With each new launch we get a plethora of memory modules designed to take advantage of the latest architecture that feature increased speeds and looser timings. That leads us to the Mushkin 997123R 2400MHz Blackline modules, which are designed for high performance and reliability when you do not want to step up to the Redline series. Featuring XMP 1.3 profiles that run the 997123R modules at 11-13-13-31 using 1.65v at 2400MHz, we get a speed bin that is not quite as lofty, but should still deliver excellent performance. Our 997123R kit does not use Mushkin's Frostbyte cooling technology, but rather Mushkin's Ridgeback cooling solution; a much more robust design that uses design elements from the company's "Get More" slogan. Currently priced at $139, this set of modules is one of, if not the lowest priced high performance kit, offering value and performance as part of Mushkin's Get More strategy. Each of these modules is designed, assembled and hand-tested in the US and have been since the company's inception in 1994. Let's take a closer look to see what Mushkin has to offer.
Mushkin Blackline 997123R 16GB Closer Look:
With rare exceptions, Mushkin's modules come in a retail plastic clamshell that both securely holds the modules in place during transit, as well as providing the visual pop that sets them apart from others on the shelf. On the front face, we see the Blackline 997123R modules through the clear plastic with the Ridgeback and Mushkin logos against a black and green background. On the back face are installation instructions, just in case you truly do not understand the installation process. When you follow the steps, you get the thumbs up! Along the bottom of the ad card is the "Get More" logo, which has been the company philosophy for some time now and it really is a culture instilled in each of its employees.
Mushkin part number 997123R boils down to a pair of 8GB Blackline modules equipped with Mushkin's proprietary Ridgeback heat sink and running at 2400MHz with timings of 11-13-13-31 using 1.65v. The front and back view are identical, with the exception of the serial number/warranty sticker that contains the operating characteristics of the 997123R kit. The robust Ridgeback heat sink assembly is not just clipped on, but rather screwed together for a better fit. The ridges across the top of the modules hang out into the air stream that goes to and from the CPU heat sink. A set of fins, or ridges, are on each side of the modules, with the Mushkin logo located in between so you get the brand out in the open and visible when your chassis has a clear window.
We know what the modules look like and how they should perform, but it's the testing that really determines if Mushkin put the right parts under the hood. Let's get on with it.
Mushkin Blackline 997123R 16GB Specifications:
Heat sink: Ridgeback
Mushkin Blackline 997123R 16GB Features:
- Dual Channel Kit: Engineered for dual-channel architecture.
- Enhanced Frequency: This product has been programmed to operate at the ideal frequency for your system when properly installed.
- Enhanced Timings: This product has been programmed for timings that offer improved performance when properly installed.
- Hand-Tested: This product has been tested by hand for quality assurance.
- Lifetime Warranty: Quality guaranteed - we offer a lifetime warranty on this product and genuine, unmatched service and support.
- Ridgeback Heatsink: This product is equipped with the Ridgeback™ heatsink.
All information courtesy of Mushkin @ http://poweredbymushkin.com/catalog/item/4-blackline/818-997123r
Mushkin Blackline 997123R 16GB Testing:
Memory is often hard to separate from one kit to another in gaming, but when it comes to number crunching and computing, some memory provides an extra boost in comparison. To see just what kind of performance this kit has to offer, I will be running the modules through a series of benches to see just how they compare. There will be 8GB and 16GB kits ranging in speed from 2133MHz to 2400MHz, tested at native speeds as well as overclocked. Overclocking of course will be dependent on exactly how far the testing rig will allow, but I'll push it as far as I can. The testing setup used for these benchmarks is listed below, where Turbo Boost has been disabled to eliminate uncontrolled clock changes that may skew the results. The CPU will be run with default Boost clock speed of 3.9GHz for baseline testing and bumped up to 4.2GHz for OC testing (or as close as possible to that speed). All current updates and patches are installed for Windows 7 Professional 64-bit and the latest driver for the NVIDIA GTX 770 will be used.
- Processor: Intel Fourth Generation Core i7 4770K
- CPU Cooling: Corsair Hydro Series H100
- Motherboard: ASUS Maximus VI Extreme
- Memory: Mushkin 997123R 2x8GB 2400MHz
- Video Card: NVIDIA GTX 770
- Power Supply: Thermaltake Smart 750W
- Hard Drive: Corsair Force GT 240GB SSD
- Optical Drive: Lite-On Blu-ray
- Case: Corsair Obsidian 650D
- OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
- G.Skill TridentX 8GB 2400MHz
- Mushkin 993997 16GB 2133MHz
- Patriot Viper 3 16GB 2400MHz
- Corsair Vengeance Pro 2666MHz
- Mushkin 996996 8GB 2133MHz
- Kingston Hyper X 10th anniversary 2400MHz 16GB
- G.Skill TridentX F3-1600-GTX 16GB
CPU-Z: This application visually shows 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.
- Processor: Intel Fourth Generation Core i7 4770K @ 4200MHz
- Memory: Mushkin 997123R 2448MHz 11-13-13-31
Overclocking on Intel Haswell processors is quite a bit different from what we are used to in the last few generations, where the CPU clock speeds did not influence the clock speed the memory controller could handle. Entry to Haswell memory overclocking 101 shows that while the CPU may handle a nice overclock of 4.7GHz to 5.0GHz, the memory may not scale up past 1866MHz or 2133MHz at those CPU clock speeds, even though the memory modules are rated much higher. What I found on both of my CPUs was that anything greater than around 4250MHz on the CPU would not run the memory at 2600MHz or higher. That being said, keeping the CPU as close to 4200MHz was imperative for pushing the limits on the memory I am testing.
Overclocking this set of memory from Mushkin was akin to finding and pulling chicken's teeth; something I am not used to seeing with either the Blackline or Redline kits. No matter the route I chose, the modules just would not boot outside the 2400MHz rating with up to 1.75v and even 1.8v, with the timings loosened up as far as realistically possible. As a last ditch effort, I was able to boost the bclock up from within Windows by using ASUS lightweight TurboV application to at least see some kind of increase in clock speed on these modules. I was able to increase the bclock to get a boost up to 2448MHz from the default 2400MHz. A small gain, but a gain nonetheless. Not what I would normally expect from these modules, but it will have to do with the time I have invested. As far as how well the Ridgeback heat sink performs, it does a great job of shedding the thermal load imparted by the memory ICs.
Maximum Memory Speed:
The maximum memory speed for each set of overclocked modules is indicative of how well the modules ran on this test system. As such, your results may differ in either a positive or negative way based on the capabilities of your hardware. In other words, your mileage may vary!
The benchmarks used in this review include the following:
- PCMark 8
- Geekbench 2.1
- Hyper Pi 0.99
- SiSoft Sandra 2013
- Metro: Last Light
Mushkin Blackline 997123R 16GB Testing:
PCMark 8: With this benchmark, I will be running the Home and Creative suites. The measurement for the both test suites will be the total score.
Geekbench 2.1 provides a comprehensive set of benchmarks engineered to quickly and accurately measure processor and memory performance. Designed to make benchmarks easy to run and easy to understand, Geekbench takes the guesswork out of producing robust and reliable benchmark results.
Hyper Pi is a multi threaded program designed to calculate Pi up to the 32nd millionth digit after the decimal and is used as both a benchmarking utility and simple stress test to check your overclock before moving forward with more rigorous testing. The world records for this benchmark utility are hotly contested.
Rated at 2400MHz, the 997123R kit performs mid-pack throughout most of these synthetic benchmarks.
Mushkin Blackline 997123R 16GB Testing:
SiSoftware Sandra 2013: In this program, I will be running the following benchmarks: Memory Bandwidth and Transactional Memory Throughput. Higher score are better in the bandwidth test while lower scores are better in the transactional memory test.
X.264 Benchmark: This benchmark is used to measure the time it takes to encode a 1080p video file into the x.264 format. The default benchmark is used with an average of all four tests on each pass taken as the result.
AIDA64 Extreme Edition is a software utility designed to be used for hardware diagnosis and benchmarking. I will be using the Cache and Memory benchmark to test each module’s read, write, and copy bandwidth, as well as the latency test.
In each of these tests, the Mushkin Blackline modules deliver middle of the road performance. Overclocking did not really improve the performance due to the small boost in clock speed.
Mushkin Blackline 997123R 16GB Testing:
Part first-person shooter, part survival horror, Metro: Last Light is the follow-up to the extremely popular game Metro 2033. Developed by 4A games and published by Deep Silver, this game uses the 4A game engine. In this game set a year after the missile strike on the Dark Ones, you continue on as Artyom as he digs deeper into the bowels of the Metro.
- DirectX 11
- 16x AA
- Global settings = Medium
- PhysX = Off
- Tesselation = Normal
- Motion Blur = Normal
- SSAA = On
Higher = Better
Even though the FPS variance is small, the Mushkin 997123R modules do well in this game test, consistently placing in the top three during my testing.
Mushkin Blackline 997123R 16GB Conclusion:
Mushkin's Blackline series modules have always delivered excellent performance out of the box. The problem is that the rest of the comparison companies' modules pretty much do the same thing when run at the same rated speeds with little to tell them apart save for the amount of tuning time spent on the XMP profile and how much overclocking headroom is built into the modules. The rest of the qualifiers are the brand and whether you like the company and what they offer, such as the warranty and, in reality something that we all look at, the visuals; not to mention how it interfaces with the rest of the components we have in the system. First let's look at the performance on these Blackline 2400MHz-rated modules. For the most part, they ran right around the mean average during the synthetic tests, yet delivered the highest results in the stock gaming tests. Overclocked we did not see much of a jump in any of the results because I just could not get this set to clock up any higher than a 44MHz gain by using voltage, timings, dividers and different DIMM slots. That really was an eye opener and a first for me on a set of Blackline modules. I figured I was missing something, but nothing worked including the Hynix profiles on the M6E. Some modules just do not like certain boards and I may have found such a combination.
Now when you get to looks, that's subjective, but I like the design elements and pure functionality of the Mushkin Ridgeback heat sink design. The design incorporates part of the Get More logo as the fins on the assembly. The heat sinks are beefy to say the least and manage the thermal load quite well with minimal airflow over the modules. While not the tallest design around, and by no means is this a Mushkin exclusive, you may run into interference issues when using large air cooled heat sinks for the CPU – depending of course on which DIMM slots you use the modules in. Many people stick with one brand or another based on personal experience or a recommendation from a friend. Over the years, Mushkin has earned the trust and loyalty of many users with its commitment to quality by hand-testing each set of modules and delivering great customer service, not to mention a product that just works; when it doesn't, the lifetime warranty is there to soften the blow. Priced at $139, the 997123R 16GB Blackline modules are the lowest priced 2400MHz kit on Newegg at the time of this writing, presenting some incredible value for your money.
- Cool Running
- Lifetime Warranty
- Low Overclocking Margins