Mushkin Ridgeback 998827 PC3 12800 3x2GB Review

jlqrb - 2010-03-24 01:27:20 in Memory
Category: Memory
Reviewed by: jlqrb   
Reviewed on: April 6, 2010
Price: $204.99

Introduction:

With memory being such a vital component in your PC, it is important that the kit you choose be able to produce the performance you require. Of course, picking which set best fits your needs can be difficult as there are many companies and manufacturers of performance memory to choose from. Many have good reputations and stand behind their products, but not all of them have the fifteen years of experience and the out standing line-up that Mushkin has. This Denver base company has over the years released memory that is fast, stylish, highly overclockable, hand tested and comes included with a lifetime warranty. Some of their more popular series to date are have been the Redline and Blackline, which were highly regarded for their performance and overclocking ability making them a hot commodity for enthusiasts looking for a product that could best meet their extreme demands. The set of memory that we are going to be looking at today is a 6GB triple-channel kit from Mushkin, that includes their all new Ridgeback heatspreader. The Ridgeback is designed to offer optimal heat transfer and still be low profile enough to easily fit in any setup. Before even getting this set out of the packaging I can already tell you that Mushkin has delivered on the looks and if appearance were indicator for performance, we could stop the review here and award the gold. However since this isn't the case we'll have to put them though our testbed and see if this new line can perform as good as it looks.

Closer Look:

The Mushkin Ridgeback kit comes packaged in standard retail plastic casing, that has the companies color of choice (green) throughout it. Since the packaging is clear, all three of the sticks of memory are fully visible from the front, allowing you to look at the new Rigdeback design before even opening the blister pack. The backside of the packaging is very basic and in place of having listed specifications and features here, you instead find a step-by-step guide of how to properly install the memory into your motherboards DIMM sockets. That's about it for the packaging, so nothing to fancy or over the top, but it is functional and completely serves it purpose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The new Ridgeback heatspreader is solid black, has a fin array at the top and is identical on each side, even face down having the Mushkin logo facing the same way on each side. On one side though, you will find the information stick, which provides you with the model number, size of memory, voltage needed and timings. The information on the sticker lists this a a 6GB triple-channel DDR3 1600MHz kit with timings of 8-8-8-24 requiring the voltage be set at 1.65v. With the i7 line of processors having the memory controller incorporated directly into the chip Intel states that 1.65v is the max rating that the processor can support without risk of damage to the CPU, so the 1.65v limit on this kit of memory fits nicely within Intel's voltage requirements.

 

 

The new Rideback design is very pleasing the eye and thanks to its design, should ensure your memory stays running nice and cool. To transfer heat, the heat spreader on the kit applies the proper amount of pressure to the memory, by using a counter sunk screw design that allows for much more accuracy than a the standard securing method. With this accurate amount of pressure, the high-quality thermal pad has proper contact with each memory chip, allowing heat to transfer away from the memory and onto the heat spreader. Now we all know heat travels up, so to create more surface area to release the heat, the Riddgeback utilizes a ridged fin array. The shape of the fin array is the same as the greater than sign that Mushkin uses with their logo and with it leading to the logo on the top it not only looks cool, but almost gives a tire tread look to them from the top as well.

 

 

Now that we have examined the specimen, we can get to our testing and see if it it can perform with best of them.

Specifications:

Model
998827
Type
DDR3
Pins
240
Voltage
1.65V
Speed Spec
PC3-12800
Frequency
1600MHz
Kit Size
Triple Kit
Size
2GB
Module Density
256x64
Ranks
2
Timings
8-8-8-24
Registered
Unbuffered
Heatsink
Ridgeback

 

Features:

 

 

Information courtesy of Mushkin @ http://www.mushkin.com/Memory/Ridgeback/998827.aspx

 

Testing:

Memory can often be an overlooked part of a computer, with many users buying the more cost effective memory instead of the most effective memory. For the average consumer, this usually works, but for the enthusiast market, being held back due to memory can be a major hindrance in achieving optimal system performance. This sadly is the case with many promising sets of memory on the market today. So far, I have been impressed with the build quality and design of The Mushkin Ridgeback kit of memory, but now we get to put them through some stress testing and see how well they hold up against the competition. I will be using a series of benchmarking programs to test the performance of the memory both at stock and overclocked speeds.


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.

 

Overclocking:

Overclocked settings:

When it came to overclocking the Mushkin Ridgeback set of memory, I was astounded in the end result, I mean not every set of memory can reach an extra 449MHz, which is an increase of 28%. This end result was accomplished with by loosening the standard and sub-timings a bit, but I was able to keep the CAS at 8 the whole time. While overclocking, the memory climbed extremely well all the way up to around DDR3 1875, which I was able to run with timings of 8-9-8-25 and the voltage at the default 1.65, completely stable. After that point though the kit started getting a little touchy, needing quite a bit of fine tuning to reach the maximum of DDR3 2049, with the voltage bumped up to 1.68. This is an additional 449MHz on the memory which should yield extra performance, increasing the frame rate in games and making all programs run smoother. Also, if you prefer to run your memory in 1T and not the 2T shown, there is good news for you, as I was able to reach around 1980MHz with a CAS latency of 8, using the 1T command rate.

 

The benchmarks used in this review include the following:

Benchmarks:

Testing:

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 performed well in all the tests. In PCMark Vantage, the Ridgeback came in second place with a total score of 6280 and third place in the memory score test. In the Sandra 2009 tests the Mushkin kit again performed very well, having a great latency score and staying relatively even with the other kits in the benchmark. Once overclocked, the system had visible performance gains, showing why it is that overclocking your system in beneficial.

Testing:

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! 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Left 4 Dead, there really was no clear winner and all sets of memory achieved great frames per second. Once overclocked though, there was a decent gain in frames per second in the lower resolutions.

Conclusion:

The new Ridgeback kit of memory from Mushkin is absolutely astounding and during the course of the review (even though I tried) just could not find any real cons with it. The set comes rated at DDR3 1600MHz with timings of 8-8-8-24, which was more than enough for it compete aggressively against the comparison models, especially when it came to the PCMark Vantage test. In this benchmark, the Ridgeback kit’s total score was ahead of all but one other set and all but two sets in the memory score. This makes for a high performance set of memory right out of the box. So, we know that this kit has strong stock performance, but here at OCC we like to push our products to the limits and when it came to the Ridgeback kit the limit was an amazing 28% frequency increase. This allowed for an additional 449MHz, for a total speed of 2049MHz. Not too many set's out there can reach beyond the 2000MHz mark, so this is very impressive showing, but equally impressive is that they scaled this high with the CAS latency remaining at 8. With this being the case end timings were 8-10-9-29, a command rate of 2T, with the voltage needing to be set a 1.68 to fully run stable. I do have to say though, that beyond just the voltage and timings there was a good deal of tweaking needed to the QPI voltage and sub-timings in order to reach the maximum overclock. In the end I was extremely happy with the result, but if you are looking to get the best performance out of this kit, it might be a good idea to really familiarize yourself with the overclocking options in your BIOS.

Once the overclocking was finished, the memory really put up some impressive numbers and did so while running completely cool to the touch, even with a voltage increase. The ability to keep the heat down was due to the new Ridgeback cooling design, which utilizes advanced cooling solutions to decrease the operating temperature of the memory. The Ridgeback uses a counter sunk screw design to ensure that each side of the heat spreader contacts the memory chips with the proper amount of pressure allowing the high quality thermal tape to quickly transfer the heat from the modules to the heat spreader, where it can then migrate to the top finned array area to be evenly and effectively be removed. This design works flawlessly and even though the Ridgeback uses a finned design, it is still low profile enough to not have to worry about any clearance issues with after-market CPU coolers. Keeping the memory cool will not only increase the overclocking potential for the memory, but also add to its lifespan, which is a nice benefit in its self, but I do have to admit the new look is pretty beneficial as well. Along with all of this you get Mushkins lifetime backing of your memory purchase and since the premium for the set is not excessive, it really is a great value. Even though this review was for a 6GB triple-channel set, you can also find the new Ridgeback design in dual-channel, for use with Intel's LGA 1156 or AMD's AM3 systems. If you are looking for a great set of memory, the Mushkin Ridgeback kit is one of the better ones out there, and are definitely strong enough to meet the demanding needs of gamers, benchmarkers, overclockers and multi-taskers.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: