Mushkin Ridgeback 996991 PC3-16000 8GB Review

ccokeman - 2011-04-06 20:20:23 in Memory
Category: Memory
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: April 26, 2011
Price: $145


Intel's Sandy Bridge platform has proven to be a capable performer for the mid-range enthusiast, offering exceptional performance for a pretty modest price point. Usually with each new platform, the memory manufacturers have a "new" lineup of modules that are tailored for the latest and greatest platform. This time is no different. After having looked at four sets of memory ranging from 4 to 8GB in our P67 Memory Roundup I found that the binning of modules was pretty close to what they could accomplish out-of-the-box. Due to the Sandy Bridge architecture, the amount of bclock overclocking is limited so there are large frequency jumps between memory multipliers. 1600 to 1866 to 2133 are usually the choices available. Bclock tuning jumps off from those points presenting some unique challenges. One being the lack of bclock tuning with a spread of about 10MHz being the maximum with about a 5Mhz to 7MHz being the norm, if you have a decent chip. That brings us to this 8GB set of Mushkin Ridgeback Memory that runs at 2000MHz with latencies of 9-11-9-27 using 1.65v. Let's see what kind of headroom and performance these latest modules from Mushkin have to offer.

Closer Look:

The packaging of these modules is the traditional blister pack retail packaging with a new graphic that steps away from the traditional white with green and black accents. Across the top is the Mushkin Enhanced logo and the Ridgeback name that sets these modules apart from the standard Frostbyte design. The back side of the packaging has information about Mushkin as a company while below that is a quick illustrated guide that shows how to install the modules into a motherboard. The "Get More" slogan is shown along the bottom of the package. The slogan is more than just an idle saying, it's a company philosophy.









This set of Mushkin Ridgeback modules are listed as part number 996991. This equates to an 8 gigabyte (2 x 4GB) set of modules rated to run at PC3-16000 or 2000MHz running latencies of 9-11-9-27 using 1.65v. Additionally, these modules are equipped with Mushkin's own Ridgeback heat spreader design. Each of the major players in the memory market have their own design that sits atop each respective product stack and this is Mushkin's design that is an upgrade from the traditional Frostbyte design. This design is a take on the greater than (<) sign used in the Mushkin logo as each rib on the top of the aluminum heat spreader is shaped this way. The labeling on the modules lists the part number, voltage requirements, timings used, capacity, speed rating and serial number bar code of the Ridgeback modules. just across from this label is the painted on Mushkin logo.




The Ridgeback heat shield design is a three piece design that consists of two shields on the side that screw to the top Ridge that holds the cooling fins to dissipate the thermal load from these high density modules. In this illustration from Mushkin you can see how the modules are put together and how they function to reduce operating temperatures to allow the end user to "Get More".


This set of Ridgeback modules are equipped to run the higher memory speeds the enthusiast demands. The question is where will this set run when the latencies are tweaked and will CAS 9 be the end result or just the beginning of the tweaking?


Speed Spec:
Kit Type:
Dual Kit
Module Size:
Cooling Technology






All information courtesy of Mushkin @


To find out just what kind of performance the Mushkin Ridgeback PC3 16000 8GB set of memory will deliver, I will be running it through a series of benchmarks to see how they compare. Both 4GB and 8GB kits that range in speed from 1600MHz to 2133MHz will be tested at their native speeds as well as overclocked as far as the test platform and CPU will allow. Overclocking on the Intel P67 series platform is very BCLK limited so most of your speed gains will come from adjusting the memory multiplier and working the timings down to a more respectable level if possible in an effort to improve performance. The test setup used for this evaluation is listed below. Turbo Boost has been disabled to eliminate an uncontrolled clock speed increase which could skew the results. The operating system is Windows 7 Pro 64bit with all current patches installed at the time of testing. The video drivers are the AMD Catalyst 11.2.

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.

Task Manager



Corsair Overclocked settings:

Overclocking memory involves a little bit of give and take with higher speeds usually coming at the cost of increased latency and/or voltage. This set of memory from Mushkin is rated for operation at 2000Mhz with timings of 9-11-9-28. Unfortunately for testing purposes on the P67 test platform, the memory multipliers and bclock tuning are limited. So, right out of the box I ran this Ridgeback set of memory at 133Mhz (2133MHz) higher than the rated specification with the same timings. To reach higher speeds than 2133MHz I had to use a combination of timings, voltage and blcock tuning to reach the final clock speed of 2252MHz or 252MHz over the rated frequency. For voltage, I had to push 1.69v through the modules to get 2252MHz stable. Tightening the CAS latency any more than 9 at this level resulted in the computer not posting. To reach a CAS latency of 8 with sane voltages. I had to drop to the 1866 multiplier and increase the bclock so that I could run just over 1900MHz at 8-9-8-27. CAS 7 took another reduction in frequency to to around 1684MHz at 7-8-7-24. Even when the CPU multiplier was increased to run the CPU at a higher speed to increase overall bandwidth, I did not see a significant increase in memory bandwidth from 3.4GHz to 4.7-4.8GHz in SiSoft Sandra 2011's memory bandwidth test. In the end, a 12.5% increase in clock speed offers up performance improvements but are tempered by the fact that the CPU is overclocked at the same time.


I ran a set of tests with the CPU and memory overclocked to see how Super Pi times would be impacted by the change in the CPU/memory multiplier relationship. Each multiplier was tested with a comparable processor and multiplier to get as close as I could in each test. Below are the results and show that the 4.7GHz CPU clock speed and 1120MHz memory speed offered the best Super Pi time.



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:


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.




















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 hotly contested.



In PCMark Vantage, the Mushkin Ridgeback modules finished with the highest score in three out of four tests while finishing second in the other test. The Geekbench testing shows the Ridgeback modules did not deliver the highest overall scoring but did finish in the top two in the memory specific testing. The Super Pi testing shows that the higher bandwidth delivered by the 2133MHz modules deliver a lower average time to complete the 32m test.


SiSoftware Sandra 2011: 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.
















At 2133MHz the Mushkin, Kingston and G.Skill modules perform similarly in this test suite. When overclocked higher, the Kingston modules have an edge over the Ridgeback modules due to the higher clock speed the 4GB Kingston kit was capable of delivering.


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.

















At stock speeds (2133MHz) the Mushkin Ridgeback modules deliver a higher FPS in the Batman testing by a few FPS. When pushed higher, the Kingston Grey and Redline modules deliver more FPS due to the tighter timings at the limits of their capabilities.


Testing this set of Mushkin Ridgeback memory was much the same as testing the rest of the modules in the comparison field. The lack of bclock tuning on the Intel P67 platform gives you a very small window with which to ply your trade when it comes to overclocking the modules. For instance, this kit carries a 2000MHz rating but easily hits 2133MHz at the as-delivered timings of 9-11-9-27. However, going above this level required a bump in voltage as well as some limited bclock tuning. With this set of Ridgeback modules from Mushkin, the most I was able to pull from them was 2252MHz at latencies of 9-11-10-28 with 1.69v. In reality though, this is a bump of 252Mhz over the rated 2000Mhz or about 12.5%. Dropping the CAS latency meant a reduction in overall memory speed impacting overall performance. Even with 1.75v, I was not able to get CAS 8 stable at 2133MHz. I was kind of hoping for more but had to settle on CAS 9 with more realistic volts to the modules. Running higher clock speeds on the memory does help deliver improved memory bandwidth for increased performance. In many of the tests, this set was in the top two for performance if not the first in the scoring. Not all mind you but most of the tests. Not having the opportunity to try on a set of Ridgeback modules for size, I wanted to see just how well the heat sink design worked in comparison to Mushkin's own Frostbyte heat spreader design. I found that their is no comparison when it comes to the cooling abilities of the Ridgeback heat sink design over that of the Frostbyte design. Even when pushing 1.75v through the modules (to try for improved CAS latency numbers) the modules were cool with the airflow I had moving over them. The solid aluminum multi-piece design seems to be effective and is a substantial improvement over the Frostbyte design I have been used to working with over the years. The dropping memory prices have made it a tough market for the enthusiast class memory manufacturer. Even in these tough times, Mushkin still offers and stands behind their product with a lifetime warranty. Priced at $145, this Ridgeback memory kit is priced very competitively against competing products in the same capacity (8GB) and frequencies of 2000MHz. Delivering great performance, overclocking, lifetime warranty and a competitive price point, the Mushkin Ridgeback 996991 2000MHz 8GB memory kit is an excellent choice for that next build.