Mushkin Ridgeback 996902 PC3 16000 2 x 2GB Memory Review

jlqrb - 2010-05-05 22:13:56 in Memory
Category: Memory
Reviewed by: jlqrb   
Reviewed on: May 13, 2010
Price: $189.99


Mushkin has been releasing high quality components into the market for years and has become a very recognizable name with PC enthusiasts. This is due to Mushkin's constant effort to release memory that is not only fast, but also has extremely tight timings, is highly overclockable, and is backed by a lifetime warranty. All these efforts have definitely paid off and Mushkin released one great set after another, time and again. The kit we are going to be looking at today is the 2000MHz DDR3 model from its new Ridgeback line. This new series from Mushkin has proven to be a great addition to the high-end DDR3 market, but what is really impressive about this particular kit is that, even at 2000MHz, it is able to run with timings of 7-10-8-27. These are extremely tight and should propel this kit's performance above the majority of the competition. You really can't judge a product's performance from the listed specifications though, so let's get these into the test system and see what they can really do!

Closer Look:

The Mushkin Ridgeback kit comes packaged in a retail blister package with the company logo at the the top, followed by the Ridgeback name and a full display of the memory below. With the memory being displayed through the packaging, you can get a good look at exactly what the kit looks like before purchasing. Turning the packaging over to the back panel, you will find a description of Mushkin being the "memory of the future" and a detailed visual guide on how to properly install the new Ridgeback kit into the memory DIMMs on your motherboard. I really like the way Mushkin packages its memory - it is eye catching and informative, but not over the top or too flashy.










The Ridgeback kit we are going to be looking at today comes is a 2000MHz 4GB dual-channel set with timings of 7-10-8-27 and a voltage requirement of 1.65V. These timings are tight for a 2000MHz model, which can lead to improved performance when compared to the competition. Also, since the memory voltage is set at 1.65V, it does not exceed the maximum voltage level of Intel's LGA 1156 socket. With this kit being part of the new Ridgeback series, it utilizes Mushkin's new cooling solution that has two thick heat spreaders placed on each side of the modules and a ridged, finned array at the top. This new design has proven to be very effective at dispensing heat and keeping the memory cool, which will increases the lifespan of the memory and can also improve the overclocking capabilities. As with all memory from Mushkin, this kit is hand-tested before shipping and backed by a lifetime warranty.



With impressive specifcations and utilization of the new Ridgeback design, I can't wait to get these into the test system and see how well they perform.


Speed Spec
Kit Size
Dual Kit
Module Density





Information courtesy of Mushkin @



Due to the memory limitation of the 890GX motherboard used, testing at 2000MHz is not possible, so I will instead be testing this kit at 1800MHz, which was the highest stable speed achievable at 1.65V. This 200MHz reduction in bandwidth should not prove too limiting a factor and with the tight timings of 8-8-8-24 we should still see a decent improvement over the more standard 1600MHz DDR3 memory. So far, I have been impressed with the build quality and design of the 4GB dual-channel Mushkin Ridgeback kit, but now we get to put them through some stress testing and see how well they hold up against the competition. For testing, I will be using SiSoft Sandra 2009 and PCMark Vantage to test the benchmarking performance of the memory, as well as running Left 4 Dead at multiple resolutions to gauge the gaming 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:

Unfortunately, with the limitations of high bandwidth memory and the AM3 platform, I will not be able to include any overclocked performance for this review.


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 SP4: 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.






The Mushkin Ridgeback kit at 1800MHz outperformed all the 1600MHz kits in all the SiSoft Sandra 2009 tests, with the most noticeable gains being that of the memory latency and bandwidth. In PCMark Vantage, the Ridgeback kit did beat out the other kits, but in this benchmark the differences were minimal and each kit was within a few hundred points of each other.


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!














In Left 4 Dead, the increased frequency helped the Ridgeback kit outperform the other sets in the three lower resolutions, and helped place it among the top performers at the highest resolution of 1920 x 1200.


Even after reducing the memory bandwidth by 200MHz for the review, the Mushkin Ridgeback kit managed to perform at a very impressive level. This really showed the additional performance gains by not only higher bandwidth, but also tighter timings. At 1800MHz, this set was still able to use timings of 8-8-8-24 with a command rate of 1T, and did so within the 1.65V requirement. This is shy of the default speed, but it was still an improvement over the standard 1600MHz DDR3 memory that the majority of us use. However, for those using the AM3 platform, this might not be enough to want to purchase a set of memory that cannot be used at the default speed. This is understandable, but if you are interested in the Ridgeback design, Mushkin does also offer a kit from the same series at 1600MHz, with timings of 8-8-8-24. Furthermore, with the recent release of the 890FX chipset from AMD, there are now a few AM3 motherboards available that do support 2000MHz (O.C) DDR3 memory or higher, but even if the board can reach 2000MHz, it does not necessarily mean that the memory controller on the AMD procoessor will go that high. Even, with these limitations though, you should still be able to push this kit to the 1800+ mark rather easily. This only applys to AMD users and If you are using Intel's 1156 socket and not AM3, this kit will run at the default speed of 2000MHz with timings of 7-10-8-24 and possibly even scale well beyond the 2000+ mark.

With this kit being part of the new Ridgeback line, it utilizes Mushkin's new cooling solution that has a very well designed heatspreader with a finned array at the top to dispense excess heat. This design works flawlessly and, during the review, the memory never ran hot. With this new design though, does come an extra premium and at $189.99, this is not the cheapest kit of 2000MHz DDR3 available. Nevertheless, they do come with tighter timings than most and also have the Ridgeback heatspreader. Really, when you are buying this kit of memory, you are getting an extremely high quality product that even when limited by certain motherboards, still performs very well and would perform even better when paired with an Intel system (which we will test shortly) or possibly a 890FX motherboard with 2000MHz (O.C) support.







*Note* Check back for our testing of these modules on Intel's socket 1156 platform.