Mushkin HP3 12800 3x2GB Review
Reviewed by: ccokeman
Reviewed on: December 30, 2008
Every time there is a change in processor technology, there is usually a shift in the system memory needs that goes with the new "platform". This time around, we go from a DDR3 dual channel configuration with voltage limits that pushed upwards of 2.1 volts, into memory that is designed is to be run at 1.5 volts to a Tri channel configuration with strict voltage guidance from Intel that specifies that the memory should run at 1.65 volts or less for the long term reliability of the processor. With the enthusiast community, the limits are more of a guideline until there are mass CPU deaths and then there will be the usual screaming for heads. But the guidance was given beforehand. More system memory may not help with overall speed, but definitely impacts how "smooth" the system runs. That may be interpreted as a speed increase, but the speed was always there - it was the paging to the hard drive causing your lag and performance loss. Just going from 2 to 4GB of memory on a system running Vista will open your eyes to that fact since Vista is a resource hog.
But I digress - this review is not about a dual channel kit but Mushkin's HP3 12800 Tri Channel 3x2GB set of memory, that are optimized for use with motherboards that feature the Intel X58 chipset along with Intel's Core I7 processors. This set of modules is rated for use at 1600MHz (800) with latencies of 9-9-9-24 and uses 1.5 to 1.6 volts to get there - less than the 1.65 volts Intel specifies as a maximum.
The HP3 12800 modules are packaged much the same way the rest of Mushkins lineup is packaged, in a plastic clam shell that holds the modules securely in place for their trip to your door. The front view shows off the modules and contains the Mushkin logo and the slogan "Get More", while the rear view features some installation and trouble shooting tips to help you out should there be a problem. With this set there were no issues.
The part number for this set of modules is Mushkin part number 998659. What this tells us after looking up the specifications for this set of modules, is that this is a 3x2GB set of modules in the HP3 lineup. These modules feature latencies of 9-9-9-24 at 1600MHz and use voltage in the range of 1.5 to 1.6 volts for the specified latencies and clock speed. This set of modules uses heatspeaders designed using Mushkin's own Frostbyte technology to provide these modules with the capability of shedding heat effectively. The blue color signifies that these modules are part of the HP lineup and not the XP or Redline series.
Now we are familiar with the HP3 modules, let's see just how well they perform.
998659 (3x2GB) HP3-12800
When it comes time to purchase your new memory modules, most people look to review sites to get a good idea on the performance capabilities of the memory they want to buy. Why, you ask? So they don't have to go through the endless buy it and return or sell it routine to find the set of their dreams. Hey, we do it for you! How? By testing the memory with a series of benchmarks that show some of the capabilities of the system memory. Synthetic benchmarks as well as real gameplay are used to show the capabilities. Also, there are comparisons to other performance modules, just so that this is not a one-sided affair. That just would not do, and offers up only the knowledge of what the featured product can do.
- CPU:Intel Core I7 Extreme 965 133x24
- Motherboard:Asus P6T Deluxe OC Palm Edition
- Memory: Mushkin HP3 PC3 12800 9-9-9-27
- Video Card(s): Palit HD4850
- Power Supply: Mushkin 800watt Modular Power supply
- Hard Drive: Seagate 1 TB 7200.11 SATA
- Opticals:Asus DVD-R
- O/S: Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit SP1
- Comparison Module #1: Qimonda DDR3 7-7-7-20 3x1GB
- Comparison Module #2: Patriot Viper Series DDR3-10666 3x2 GB 9-9-9-24
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.
- Processor: Intel Core i7 Extreme 965 180x21
- Memory: Mushkin HP3 12800 10-9-9-28 900 MHz 1.62 volts
The stock latencies are 9-9-9-24. The first thing to do was to tighten the latencies up at both the 1333MHz level as well as the 1600MHz level. The Mushkin modules easily ran at 1333Mhz with the latencies at 7-7-7-20 using 1.5 volts. Try as I might, setting the CAS latency to 8 at the 1600MHz level would not allow successful completion of memtest version 2.1. At 1600, the lowest I could reduce the timings to was 9-8-7-20 1t. This was done with 1.58 volts still under the 1.65 volt max. Dropping the command rate to 2t still did not give me the love I was looking for, with a reduction of the CAS latency to 8, so 1t is where the command rate stayed. Next up was to see just how high I could take the HP3 12800 modules. The highest I was able to get the modules to successfully complete memtest and load windows was at 1800MHz at latencies of 10-9-9-28 2t. The modules gave up a 100MHz increase from the 1600MHz (800MHz) rating allowing for an increase in performance with the modules. To get to the 1600MHz level, the memory divider was increased while keeping the CPU at its default speed. To get the memory oveclocked, I used a combination of increasing the baseclock and the memory divider, as well as using the voltages that were available in the P6T bios. The QPI or memory controller voltage, plays a significant part in raising the memory speed and it was adjust in increments up to 1.45 volts to try and gain some additional stability above the 1800MHz level.
The benchmarks used in this review include the following:
- CPU-Z Version 1.49
- Windows Task Manager
- PCMark Vantage
- SiSoft Sandra 2009
- Left For Dead
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. A comparison will be made of the performance at DDR3 1333 for a comparison point at the rated speed and timings and the highest achievable speed for the Mushkin HP3 12800 Tri channel kit.
SiSoftware Sandra 2009 SP2: In this program I will be running the following benchmarks: Cache and Memory, Memory Bandwidth and Memory Latency. All benchmarks will be at default timings and speeds except where noted. Higher is better in all tests, except for Memory Latency, where lower is better.
The Mushkin modules are far and away the best performer in this series of tests. There is not one benchmark where it was outperformed at either the 1333MHz or 1600MHz mark. The memory score in vantage shows the effects of looser timings, but the results in Sandra show increases across the board.
Left For Dead is a new release 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. You goal is to make it to a rescue point, all the 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 zombie. These zombies are quick and work with the pack mentality. Your job: survival!
- 0x AA
- 2x AF
- All other settings High
- Vsync disabled
Higher is Better
The performance across the different modules does not show much differential when set to 7-7-7-20 at all four resolutions. The higher memory speed does show that there is a performance increase at the 1024x768 level, not much else changes.
Mushkin has a history of putting together a set of modules that perform above expectations. This set is no different. The performance at the 1333MHZ level was outstanding in comparison to the other two sets of modules tested. Not just by a little, but by a large margin. In the gaming benchmark, the scores only really changed at the 1024x768 level. But at this level, there was a significant increase by upping just the memory speed to 1600MHz. For an easy setup, you could use the XMP profiles that are programmed to the SPD chip on the modules. I just choose to play with the settings and timings myself to try and improve the performance of the system. These modules easily ran timings tighter than the 9-9-9-24 specification at the 1600MHz level. No matter what I tried though, I could not get them to run at a CAS latency of 8 at this level, but did succeed in getting to 9-8-7-20 with a 1t command rate. To get to the 1800MHz level, I had to increase the CAS latency again to 10, but was able to limit this increase to the CAS latecy and the modules ran quite well at 10-9-9-28. Many of you will remember how high the price was for just 2GB of performance DDR3 memory earlier this year. Over $300 for the most part. At this time you can get three times as much memory for a price lower than that set you bough earlier in the year. Just $230 dollars for this set currently on newegg. Additionally you don't have to run 2.0 or higher volts through it to make it perform, so there is no worry about cooking the modules. When it came to heat, the HP3 12800 modules were cool to the touch and did not require more airflow than what was being pulled past them by the CPU heatsink fans. Apparently, the Frostbyte technology used for the heatspreaders is doing the job quite well in the lower voltage arena. As part of Mushkin's High performance line, the HP3 12800 modules do everything you expect them to do at a price that is attractive for a set of performance modules.
- Cool running
- Good looks(not gaudy)
- XMP profiles
- Latency increase for 1800MHz operation.