Mushkin Redline XP Memory
Mushkin Enhanced Memory has been a player in the DRAM market for years and just recently has taken another jab into the heart of the enthusiast market. This time around Mushkin has secured a number of Winbond based UTT IC's that have been packaged and put on some Brain Power 815 PCB's. The end result was not only a new part number, but a whole new memory series called Mushkin Redline XP (Extreme Performance). Mushkin states that their Redline memory series eliminates the memory as a potential hardware bottleneck when overclocking their DDR1 systems. Today, we take a look at their XP4000 2-2-2 Redline memory and see if it is all that Mushkin says it to be.
When Mushkin first told us the name of the new series, Redline, I thought that the name was perfect. Redline has been for years a thing that many professional racers and weekend racers have learned to love or hate. The thrill of having your car running 6,000+ RPM's down the quarter mile strip at 150+ MPH is a rush that few people will have experienced, but once you try it you get addicted. In a sense overclocking is the same thing. You take a bunch of parts and modify them to run as fast as you can with the thrill of it all being the chance of it breaking or breaking records. Mushkin's XP4000 redline memory is rated to run at 3.3-3.5 Volts, which is above the redline on many boards. To be honest only DFI's DFI LanParty UT NForce4 Ultra-D, DFI LanParty UT NForce4 SLI-DR, and DFI LanParty NForce4 SLI-DR offer the voltages needed to operate correctly. Boards that are unable to reach these voltages may be able to do so with the help of a "voltage booster" that is marketed and sold by OCZ Technologies.
Once you get your platform correctly set up you then need to make sure the correct "safety" devices are in place for your official redline experience. Just as the NHRA requires safety restraints, Muskin requires that computer enthusiasts use active cooling to keep the Redline XP memory series cool and performing at their best. Modules that are not properly cooled will/may not meet rated timings and speeds, and may become susceptible to premature failure. Mushkin currently recommends 15-25cfm of direct airflow over the ram modules which can be easily accomplished with one 60mm or 80mm low rpm fan.
Now that you know what platforms the Muskin Redline XP4000 memory line works on and what is required in terms of cooling we can take a closer look at the modules and then redline them to see what we get in terms of performance.
What is under the Heat Spreader?
When removing the heat spreaders the warranty is voided, so we do not suggest removing them unless you don't plan on using the lifetime warranty. Once our nice red heat spreaders were taken off the modules were found to be to be using Brain Power 815 PCB's and unmarked UTT memory IC's.
The Jet Black colored Brain Power 815 PCB's differ from the JEDEC design, but have proven to have good overclocking results in the past. The PCB has six layers and holds 16 UTT IC's on the double sided modules. This means the modules are using the 32M x 8 configuration. Let's take a closer look at the IC's themselves.
Last month we wrote an in-depth article on UTT IC's, so if you don't know what UTT stands for you need to read it. Since the UTT IC's come unmarked, we had a tough time trying to identify the IC's. Mushkin was sure that they used Winbond UTT IC's, but did not comment on which revision (BH, CH, DH) they were using right now.
- Memory amount: 2 x 512MB
- Memory IC's: Unmarked Winbond UTT IC's
- 500MHz (PC-4000) Unbuffered DDR Modules
- CAS latency: 2 clock cycles
- RAS precharge: 2 cycles
- RAS active to precharge: 6 cycles
- Command rate: 1T (1 cycle)
- Red heat spreader for thermal diffusion
- Latency: 2-2-2-6-1T
- 3.3-3.5 Volts
- Lifetime Warranty
Memory Performance Testing
DFI Lan Party nForce4 SLI-D Motherboard
AMD 3500+ Venice Processor
Corsair HydroCool 200ex Water Cooling
Mushkin Redline XP4000 Memory (250MHz x 9 = 2.25GHz)
Mushkin Black Level II 4000 Memory (250MHz x 9 = 2.25GHz)
Mushkin Black Level II 3200 Memory (200MHz x 11 = 2.21GHz)
nVidia 6800GT Video Card
OCZ PowerStream 600W PSU
Windows XP Pro w/ SP2
Sisoft; Sandra 2005 SR1:
Sisoft Sandra 2005 is designed to test the theoretical power of a complete system and individual components. The numbers taken though are, again, purely theoretical and may not represent real world performance. Higher numbers represent better performance in memory bandwidth.
Results: It is clear that the original PC4000 memory with 3-4-4 timings has less unbuffered throughput than the new XP4000 memory at 2-2-2 timings. The Muskin Black Level II PC-3200 memory modules with 2-2-2 timings are no match for the new Redline modules. Moving from PC-3200 to PC-4000 with 2-2-2 timings showed an increase of roughly 700MB/s on both buffered and unbuffered memory scores.
Everest Version 2.01 Final:
Everst 2.01 is a professional system information, diagnostics and benchmarking program for Win32 platforms. It extracts details of all components of the PC. It also tests the actual read and write speeds of your memory giving a fairly accurate look of true memory performance.
Results: Everest v2.01 shows results close to those that we found with Sandra, but an even larger gap between the two PC-4000 parts. Mushkin's Redline XP4000 modules showed to have more bandwidth than the other modules.
ScienceMark 2.0 Final:
Science Mark 2.0 is an attempt to put the truth behind benchmarking. In an attempt to model real world demands and performance, ScienceMark 2.0 is a suite of high-performance benchmarks that realistically stress system performance without architectural bias. All of our testing was completed on the 32 Bit Final benchmark version that is dated March 21st 2005.
Results: Sciencemark likes the tighter timings and this showed when the Mushkin XP4000 scored 256 points higher than the original Mushkin PC4000 modules.
Now let's move on to some gaming benchmarks and Super Pi!
SuperPi Mod / Game Testing
Super PI Mod v1.4:
Super PI is a program a lot of enthusiasts use to benchmark overall system performance, as the program is capable of calculating pi up to 33.55 million digits on a timer. Many overclockers and enthusiasts are in a battle to get the lowest 1M Super Pi time possible.
Results: Super Pi Mod v1.4 showed that PC-4000 CL3 and PC-3200 CL2 show similiar results at roughly the same processor frequency. The Mushkin Redline XP4000 showed just how big of an impact CL2 and a newer Brain Power PCB plays over the older Muskin Black PC-4000 at CL3 with Samsung TCCD IC's and a reference PCB. At DDR500 tight timings of 2-2-2 proved to be nearly two seconds faster than timings of 3-4-4.
Flight simulations are notorious for their CPU-dependence, and this makes the Comanche 4 benchmark potentially a better CPU/subsystem test than it is for 3D video cards. Comanche 4 uses DX8.1 pixel/vertex shaders and was run at 640x480 32-bit with no audio.
Results: Moving from PC-3200 to PC-4000 we see a slight difference, but the Mushkin Redline XP4000 shows a 3 second increase over our baseline PC-3200 sample.
Let's take a look at overclocking and then round up our final thoughts on Mushkin's Redline XP4000 memory kit.
Overclocking / Conclusion
Overclocking on the DFI LanParty SLI-D motherboard can be tricky, but by using the BIOS, a clockgen, and AMDTweaker we were able to overclock the motherboard with ease. Most overclockers buying this memory want to have 2-2-2 timings, so we overclocked with very aggressive timings set in the BIOS on our AMD 3500+ Venice processor. With 2-2-2-5 timings at a 1T command rate and 3.6V we were able to reach 510MHz with a solid Sandra 2005 score of roughly 7350Mb/s.
Next we reduced our timings to 2-2-2-6; 2T and raised the voltage up to 3.7V and was able to reach 273MHz or DDR546 with our XP4000 memory modules. At these speeds we were able to get a Sandra 2005 score of 7400MB/s once averaged.
Below is a screen capture of our CPU-Z 1.29 settings and the Sandra results at 546MHz.
Reaching 510MHz at the most agressive timings possible, with complete stability is pretty nice and the scores are also impressive. When running our PC-3200 at 2-2-2 on a stock 3500+ our scores were roughly 5800MB/s. After overclocking our system and taking the memory to the Redline we were able to reach 7400MB/s. A 1.6GB/s increase in memory bandwidth over our stock system was nice to see!
Nathan Kirsch's Thoughts:
The memory industry has seen a number of changes over the past few years and the use of UTT memory IC's is another big change. The performance numbers shown from Mushkin's Redline XP4000 modules are impressive to say the least. If you have a platform that is able to run high voltages then these modules are something to consider for sure. Just keep in mind that ACTIVE COOLING is required and from our testing in the lab it really does help. When PC-3200 2-2-2 came out they were 2.6V and now with these new modules consumers are told to run 3.5V through the modules to get PC-4000 2-2-2. The voltage required on enthusiast modules has gone up dramatically as you can tell, but with proper cooling nothing should go wrong.
The performance of these modules was impressive after benchmarking them on a number of applications. The memory bandwidth and number of frames per second in games both increased thanks to the tight timings. Out of the three Mushkin modules we tested during this review the winner is clear as the Mushkin Redline modules beat out the other two kits on every single benchmark. The Redline XP4000 modules are also the fastest 2-2-2 modules that we have had out of the box. Reaching 2-2-2-2; 1T at 510MHz, was once a long shot for the average consumer, but now it can be done easily with no major mods needed.
In terms of pricing the Mushkin Redline XP4000 can be found at $275 from Monarch Computers, $213 direct from Mushkin, or $199 at Newegg (Out of Stock). As you can tell the pricing varies from $199 to $275, so shop around for the best pricing before you pick a kit up. The Mushkin Redline XP4000 modules are competitively priced at just under $200 and over a very good price versus performance ratio.
UPDATE: (11am 6-14-2004) Mushkin has informed us that their 1GB Redline XP3500 kit has a $30 mail-in rebate on it right now. That puts the modules at $169 plus shipping over at Newegg from 6/13/2005 to 6/30/2005. The XP3500 kit uses the same PCB's and IC's as the XP4000 kit, but is rated lower by Mushkin. Not a bad deal seeing how the XP4000's are sold out!
Looking back at my experience with the Mushkin Redline XP4000 modules it has been a positive one. The modules work well on the DFI SLI-D motherboard and that can't be said for many older modules. Overclocking was not hard and the modules never got too hot with our single 80mm fan sitting above them. If you live your life in the fast lane then these modules are right up your alley.
Legit Bottom Line:
Mushkin's Redline XP4000 memory takes 2-2-2 timings to a whole new level by allowing users to reach previously unseen tight timings at high frequencies. To top it all off they were able to pack all this performance into a 1GB kit that retails for less than $200 (USD)!!