Mushkin Ascent XP3 16000 2 x 1 GB Reviewccokeman - May 11, 2008
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DDR3 memory is moving closer and closer to the mainstream marketplace. Prices are falling and speeds are on the rise. With each new performance motherboard chipset delivered by the manufacturers, the speed threshold continues to increase in a self perpetuating cycle. What that means, of course, for the power user, is that performance continues to increase as new hardware is made available. Unfortunately, one of the means for increasing that performance comes with the added cost of a higher power requirement to make the memory perform as advertised. Performance DDR3 modules voltage demands are now pushing into the 1.9 to 2.0 volt range; quite an increase from the JEDEC spec of 1.5 volts. Along side the increase in voltage requirements comes the increase in the thermal load on the memory ICs. Essentially, more power equals more heat. It's the transference of energy from one medium to another. Heat can and will kill your memory modules, I've had it happen first hand. What is needed is a means to dissipate that heat or thermal load. There have been many different heatspreader designs over the years that have met with mixed success rates. Mushkin has the Frostbyte technology, Patriot has the Viper Fin design, Corsair and other have thier own designs, and each have their merits.
With the release of the Ascent XP3 16000 series of modules, Mushkin has pushed to the forefront with another method of cooling the memory modules. Sure there is a heatspreader, but it's what lies just beneath the black heatspreader that makes the difference in this case. The Ascent modules are cooled with a technology developed by Celsia technologies, called eVCI (enhanced Vapor Chamber Interface). In a few word, this nanospreader design is a two-phase vapor chamber cooling system. Celsia describes it best, "A NanoSpreader™ is a patented copper encased two-phase vapor chamber into which pure water is vacuum sealed. The liquid is absorbed by a copper-mesh wick and passed as vapor through a micro-perforated copper sheet where it cools and returns as liquid to the wick."
Just how will this technology help cool modules designed to run at 1.9 to 2.0 volts? Will the nanospreaders do the job and keep the modules cool and operating as they should? Is this just another example of "getting more"? Let's find out!
The Mushkin Ascent XP3 16000 come in the standard retail clamshell packaging that Mushkin has used. The simple understated look that says I don't need the flash. The Mushkin product card carries the "Get More" slogan, as well as the brand name on the front side, and features a brief installation and troubleshooting guide on the back. The product code for this set of modules is 996620, and it is a 2 x 1 gigabyte set of modules.
The XP3 16000 modules are designed to use 1.9 to 2.0 volts and run at an amazing 1000MHz with latencies of 9-9-9-24. Of course, a board using the 790i Nvidia chipset is reccomended. You will notice the design of the heatsinks are a radical departure from the Frostbyte technology that Mushkin has used for quite some time. The modules feature a finned heatsink that uses additional ribbing on the sides of the modules to increase the surface area, leading to additional cooling capacity.
The heatspreader design uses a thick aluminum outer shield that has fins across the top of the modules to dissipate the heat load into the air stream over the modules. The nanospreaders can be seen under the aluminum shields. These nanospreaders are in contact with the memory ICs to provide a path for the heat to reach the outer shields to be dissipated.
Here is a quick shot of how the Celsia nanospreader technology works. It looks pretty interesting as the spreader makes contact with the heat source (memory IC's) and disapates it into the finned outer shield. This provides a wider heat path to the dissipation point than a heatpipe solution. Therefore, you have a much more even distibution of the heat load, making the components run cooler across the whole face of the design.