Mushkin Blackline PC3-16000 3x4GB Review
Reviewed by: RHKCommander959
Reviewed on: September 27, 2011
As time marches forward, memory module speed and size will continue to grow. When the Intel X58 LGA 1366 socket platform hit the shelves, the first triple channel DDR3 kits emerged. DDR3 had been around for a while in single and dual channel kits for both AMD AM3 and Intel LGA 775 system, so the memory technology to develop triple channel kits wasn't ground breaking. The cost effective size was 3x1GB, the big daddy then was 3x2GB, and finally 3x4GB kits as they become more affordable.
Now that 3x4GB kits are becoming more and more available for the masses, the prices will continue to drop and speeds climb. Mushkin has provided a 12GB kit that is clocked at 2GHz using 1.65V! The Mushkin Blackline PC3-16000 3x4GB 998990 kit up for review uses the unique Frostbyte heat sink and features tCL 9 tRCD 11 tRP 9 tRAS 27 for the main timing at 2000 MHz.
Mushkin uses similar packaging for all of their memory kits, a molded plastic Clamshell container with a paper insert and a barcode sticker on the back. The front of the paper insert has the Mushkin logo and the statement "Get more." and underneath the memory is a large less than symbol "<". The rear has a brief company statement and installation instructions for the standard memory slot. Near the bottom is the company address and website.
The part number for the memory is 998990 and can be referenced at the Mushkin website. This is a triple channel kit, with each stick having a 4GB density and is designed to run at 2GHz with 9-11-9-27 main memory timings at 1.65V. The Frostbyte heat sink design works well with these modules. This memory has a lifetime warranty and are hand tested to ensure a quality product arrives. Two clips hold the heat spreaders onto the module, along with a strip of thermal tape to help attach and conduct heat away from the ICs. A sticker that identifies the memory and the basic settings also runs over one of the clips to help keep people from taking the modules apart. The PCB looks like it is a standard green 6-layer design.
With the memory unpacked and looked at, it's time to get a peek at the Specifications and Features!
Triple Channel Kit
- 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.
- FrostByte Heatsink: This product is equipped with the Frostbyte™ Heatsink.
- 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.
- Triple Channel Kit: Engineered for triple-channel architecture
All information courtesy of Mushkin @ http://mushkin.com/Memory/Blackline/998990.aspx
Testing memory is done with several benchmarks in the OCC test suite. The benchmarks include PCMark Vantage, Geekbench 2.1, Super Pi 1.5, Sisoft Sandra 2010, and Batman Arkham Asylum. The CPU is kept as close to the stock speed of 2.66 GHz as possible by reducing the CPU multiplier. Using BCLK along with the memory multiplier allows us to set the memory speeds. Hopefully this kit will have some headroom. All testing is performed on Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit on the test rig listed below.
- Processor: Intel Core I7 920 200x18 3.6GHz
- Cooling: Noctua NH-U12P SE 1366
- Motherboard: ASUS P6T Deluxe OC Palm Edition
- Memory: Mushkin Blackline 998990 PC3-16000 9-11-9-27 2000 MHz
- Video Card: XFX HD6970
- Power Supply: Mushkin 1000 watt Joule Modular power supply
- Hard Drive: 1 x Seagate 1TB SATA
- Optical Drive: LG DVD-RW
- OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
- Case: Cooler Master HAF 932
- Mushkin Redline 996805 6-8-6-24 1600MHz
- G.Skill Pi Series 7-8-7-24 1600 MHz
- Mushkin 998687 8-9-8-24 1866 MHz
- Corsair Dominator TR3X6G1600C8D 8-8-8-24 1600 MHz
- Kingston HyperX T1 9-9-9-27 1600 MHz
- Mushkin Blackline 998677B 7-7-7-20 1333 MHz
- Patriot Viper II Sector 7 9-9-9-27 1800 MHz
- Kingston HyperX H2O PC3-16000 9-10-9-27
- OCZ PC# 17000 Flex EX 12GB 10-10-10-30
- Corsair Vengeance 12GB 9-9-9-27 1600 MHz
CPU-Z: This application shows us the settings that we have chosen in the BIOS. Items shown in this application include CPU speed, 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 920
- Memory: Mushkin Blackline 998990 9-11-9-27 2105 MHz
Using the XMP profile, the suggested QPI voltage was 1.40V. But, in my case the memory controller wasn't happy until I gave it 1.45V. Once that issue was patched, the memory ran perfectly stable at stock, operating warm but not hot. The memory would tighten up some, but the CAS latency didn't like to go down to 8 over 1850 MHz, however, 8-9-8-27 was fully stable at 1805 MHz and 9-9-9-24 was stable at 2000 MHz. Overclocking was easy but my i7 920s IMC couldn't keep up, so I had to settle with 2105 MHz which required 1.5375V QPI.
The maximum memory speed for each set of modules when overclocked is a measure 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. That said, your mileage may vary!
The benchmarks used in this review include the following:
- CPU-Z Version 1.54
- Windows Task Manager
- PCMark Vantage
- Geekbench 2.1
- Super Pi 1.5
- SiSoft Sandra 2010
- Batman Arkham Asylum
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.
PCMark Vantage scores were all similar, with this test capacity isn't important, speed and tight timings are. The Mushkin kit scored well in the Sisoft testing, these tests don't regard the capacity either. The kit did great by usually scoring in the top 5.
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.
Super PI Mod 1.5: is a 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 highly contested.
Geekbench results were all grouped really close together but the Mushkin Blackline kit scored great. The scores were again similar with Super Pi, overclocking didn't seem to help much this time for the Blackline memory.
Batman: Arkham Asylum is a game that brings together two bitter foes, The Joker and Batman. The Joker Has taken over Arkham Asylum, Gotham's home for the criminally insane. Your task is to rein the Joker back in and restore order. This game makes use of PhysX technology to create a rich environment for you to ply your trade.
- Global settings = Low
- Ambient Occlusion = off
- Resolutions 800x600, 1024x768, 1280x1024
The Mushkin Blackline stayed near the middle in all of the Batman tests. Memory capacity and speed have little effect on this game, but in an RTS it could prove much more useful.
The Mushkin Blackline 12GB kit definitely exceeded my expectations! These sticks didn't even feel warm in use and felt like they had much more headroom for overclocking than my CPU could keep up with. Most home users will not need 12GB of memory yet, but power users will enjoy the headroom. For less than $150, you could have enough memory to run a home server easily. The Frostbyte heat sink design has been around since at least when DDR memory was out and is small enough that there shouldn't be a problem running them with a large heat sink (though it may come close) or populating every slot. This design keeps the modules small and lightweight, but is still sufficient to keep the memory running cool.
With the large capacity, I was expecting them to be finicky, run warm, and not provide much headroom for overclocking. Well, I was wrong on all counts! The only problem I ever ran into was that I required more voltage than the XMP profile suggested for QPI voltage. Bumping that up to 1.45V from 1.40V quickly fixed the 124 BSOD that is indicative of low QPI voltage. At stock, the memory was willing to tighten up a little bit to 9-9-9-27, but for CAS 8 I was able to run around 1805 MHz with 8-9-8-27 and up to 1850 MHz before stability issues. Overclocking the RAM to 2105 and higher didn't require any additional memory voltage really, just QPI to keep the CPU IMC happy. I feel that there was more headroom to overclock this kit if only the IMC could have handled it. This kit also has a lifetime warranty to protect end users, which is always a great bonus when looking at hardware. Mushkin also hand tests their memory so the chances of getting a DOA stick should be very low. In the end, if you need or want a high speed 12GB kit, the Mushkin Blackline 998990 is a great choice!
- Overclocking headroom
- Effective Heatspreader design
- Good Looks
- Lifetime Warranty
- Low Cost
- Need applications to take advantage of the capacity