DDR2 800MHz Roundup: A-Data, Kingston, & Mushkin

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Conclusion

Nathan Kirsch’s Thoughts:

It has been some time since I have written an in-depth memory article and it feels good to be back doing what I love most.  I hope everyone enjoyed this 3-way DDR2 800MHz roundup and look forward to more memory articles as I am already benchmarking more PC2-6400 memory from OCZ (OCZ requested a stand alone review) and will post that article up in the near future. 

Benchmarking:

We took three of the leading enthusiast memory companies DDRII 800MHz memory kits and put them through the paces.  When it came to benchmarking the winner was clear from the get go because we all know tighter timings means better performance for the most part.  Since Mushkin rates their modules at tighter timings than A-DATA and Kingston they will always perform better for that reason.  When looking at the benchmarks it is interesting to see the performance gaps between A-DATA’s Vitesta series and Kingston’s HyperX memory line.  The small, but obvious performance difference is due to the Integrated Circuit (IC) selections and the Printed Circuit Board (PCB) that both companies picked to use.  We have been running Elpida and Infienon IC’s for nearly two years here and Legit Reviews and neither companies IC’s really jump out to us as performance winners.  It was shocking to see the Elpida/Brain Power combination perform so well in standard benchmarking and in overclocking.

General Thoughts:

A-DATA:

In recent months A-DATA has really focused on the North American memory market and have finally made it into major online retail channels.  (Think Newegg) A-DATA was last ranked the fourth largest memory company in the world and after looking at their modules it is easy to see how in less than five years they passed up other big names like Corsair, OCZ, Mushkin in the blink of an eye.  They focus on keeping prices down, while keeping performance levels up.  The A-DATA Vitesta DDRII 800 modules were the lowest priced modules of the round-up, but performed well in all of the benchmarking. This was our first major experience with their Vitesta memory line has at is has been a good one.  With low pricing and killer performance A-DATA seems to have some great DDR2 memory modules.  Our only concern with A-DATA is their RMA and return procedures since they are so new to this market.  So far we haven’t had or heard of any problems, but we will keep you up to date and time goes on. We look forward to bringing you more reviews of A-DATA memory modules and as time goes on we will get a better picture of the company and product lines.

Kingston:

The Infienon IC’s that Kingston is using on their HyperX line perform just fine at Kingston’s ratings, but refuse to run at tight timings and high frequencies.  The Kingston modules perform just fine at their rated speeds and come backed with some of the best customer support of any memory company we have seen. We found the Kingston HyperX PC2-6400 memory modules lack what a true overclocker and enthusiast is looking for — The ability to overclock their system to the max.  Our test bed could run 100% stable at 1040MHz with some of the other modules and our PC2-6400 kit from Kingston was only able to run up to 900MHz.  Considering that the Kingston modules cost the most and overclocked the least there isn’t much more to say here. Kingston has the power and knowledge to make some killer modules, but have been reluctant to push the boundaries of performance memory due to a number of issues.  One of the main reasons Kingston is getting hurt on the DDR2 enthusiast front is due to IC selection.  If Kingston was willing to change the IC’s they use on their DDR2 lineup their performance and overclocking numbers would be back up top with rest. **Hint Hint**

Mushkin:

Now that Mushkin is employee owned and a private company we are expecting them to make some new moves in the memory industry.  In recent months they have launched new heat spreaders and have made some very good choices on their memory modules.  Our Mushkin review sample differed from the other brands because it was 2GB.  The more IC’s that are on a memory module the harder it will be to overclock, because if one IC doesn’t like it the module will start throwing errors.  To our surprise the Mushkin eXtreme XP6400 memory kit overclocked past both the 1GB kits from A-DATA and Kingston.  The screened Micron D9 IC’s that Mushkin is using are impressive to say the least. With a price point right in the middle and the best performance and overclocking numbers of the review the Mushkin eXtreme XP6400 memory series is no joke.  When overclocked to 1040MHz the XP6400 modules show other companies what eXtreme memory should be.

Pricing:  

Recently we have been asked by our readers to compare the price versus MHz ratio on memory modules, so here is our first attempt.  To be fair to all the modules we are pricing a single 512MB module since we can only find the 512MB A-DATA Vitesta DDRII 800 modules to see how the price versus performance is.

512MB PC2-6400 Pricing Comparison

Brand

IC Brand 

Consumer Price

Price Per MHz

Live Pricing

A-DATA Vitesta

Elpida

$75.68
9 Cents

Kingston HyperX 

Infineon

$112.00
14 Cents

Mushkin eXtreme

Micron

$101.00
13 Cents

If you are looking for the best bang for the buck it looks like A-DATA takes the win here.

Legit Bottom Line:

If you want the ultimate flexibility in overclocking and timings take a look at Mushkin’s eXtreme XP6400 memory line. If you are “weekend enthusiast” who likes to overclock on a budget without having to brown bag lunch for a month the A-DATA Vitesta DDRII 800 memory line will get you to blazing 1GHz memory speeds for under $150.

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