Introduction Are you mentally challenged? Yes… well no need to worry as Mushkin is here to the rescue. Mushkin Memory needs no introduction as one of the leading memory giants in today's PC arena. If you haven't heard of them, well…. How can I describe you now? Hmmm...let me see!! Just kidding folks. Incorporated in early 1994 and based in Colorado, Mushkin memory has come up from an average memory producer to one of the leaders in the market today. The key to Mushkin's success is due to two aspects; high performance and incredible stability. Believe me people; Mushkin memory is one of the most stable memory types capable of withstanding high overclocking procedures.Memory is something you can never have enough of. Anybody disagree with me? Guess not. Well hunting for memory can be a very daunting task indeed, nevertheless it's one of the most important factors you should not overlook when buying. The main criteria you have to consider in memory are speed, type and the brand. There are many generic types of RAM out in the market going at very eye catching prices, however opt for these modules only if you don't require high performance. If you plan on overclocking your system extensively these types of RAM will fail miserably. So when it comes to high performance and stability, well your choices narrow down considerably. Before I continue on there's one fact all you newcomers to the PC arena should know. Never think that spending extra for a good brand of memory is a waste of your money. Actually consider it as a saving. Arguably RAM is one of the key important pieces of hardware in your computer when it comes to performance and reliability. The total performance of your system significantly depends on your memory. So if you expect high-quality performance from your system a good brand of RAM will take you a long way. Overclockers, ever wondered why your systems crash constantly even though you have installed the best cooling in your system? Well taking a look down memory lane would be a good start.So what do we have in offer to you today? Mushkin sent us one of their 128MB PC 133 High-Performance Rev 3 SDRAM modules to be tested. There're a few things you should know when installing RAM modules in your system in order to get the most out of them. So find out what they are just to update yourself.
Things to know
The performance of your memory will have a lot to do with the type of motherboard you use. If you're one of those overclockers who still rely on those great BX boards, memory frequency will only fully support 66MHz and 100 MHz FSB (Front Side Bus) speeds. The newer i815 and i815E chipsets are similar to the BX chipset, however they are capable of going beyond the 133MHz mark.Going into the bios chipset feature setup of your board, you're offered three settings, which determine the working memory frequency for your system. The common settings are CAS Latency, RAS to CAS delay and Pre-charge delay. To get the best performance from your system you need to set these timings to their optimum level, so lets see what all these mean.CAS (Column Access Strobe) Latency tells the system of the DRAM system memory access cycle timings when SDRAM memory is installed in the system. The memory's column access timings and the current system clock speed determine the ratio for this setting. Setting this to CAS 2 will give you the best performance, yet if the RAM is not rated at this setting the system might not be very stable. Higher the clock speed of your system, harder the ability to run a lower CAS rating. This actually depends on the CAS rating of your memory. If it's rated at CAS 2 then it's likely that you'd be able to run high frequencies without any lockups. Mushkin's 128MB High Performance Rev 3 modules are rated at CAS 2 as 133MHz. As our tests will show we were able to go beyond this frequency at CAS 2 with no system halts.RAS (Row Access Strobe) to CAS delay sets the delay between the CAS & RAS signals. Pre-charge delay and RAS to CAS delay should be set to a lower value for best performance. A higher number will improve stability, compromising in performance. However the memory in concern today has a rating of 2 at 133MHz.Mushkin's High Performance Rev-3 memory are rated at 2-2-2, which effectively means that its CAS Latency, RAS to CAS delay and Pre-charge delay are set at 2 at a speed of 133MHz. After all why would they call it "High-Performance" huh?
We have received so many innovative packages throughout our time of existence, but I must say this was the most novel of them all. Everybody here were simply awe struck by the sight of this airbag. And yeah, it amply protects the module from most hazardous environments.
It's extremely important that you install your module. One of our writers got this bright idea one day to see what would happen if a RAM module was installed the wrong way. So stepping into his bright project, he got hold of a 64MB generic RAM module and powered the system on. A series of beeps continued with a burning odor coming from within the system. The machine didn't even boot up; well this is not surprising at all. Now it rests as a lovely key chain for his car keys. Anyway our loss is your gain. Now you know what exactly would happen if it were installed incorrectly.So how do you get this right? It's pretty simple really, and if you have a dash of common sense there's no reason why it should end up a key chain. Line up the RAM Module's key with the DIMM slot's key and press it in. Never try to force it in. If you have done it correctly you'll here the memory retainer clips snapping to hold the module firmly. You can also do this by aligning the grooves in the RAM Module, correctly with the grooves of the DIMM slot.After the physical installation I booted up the machine, and the system detected the module correctly. Now that we're ready to see how well these Mushkin High-performance RAM modules perform.
Taking a close look at the module, you'll notice the RAM chips are rated at 7.5ns organized in a 16MBx8 configuration. This effectively gives us the 133MHz speed. (1000/7.5). However as you'll see in our tests we were able to reach 143MHz at CAS2 with these modules with no hitches at all. Again this may not be the case for all types of RAM rated at 133MHz.
Rev 2 of Mushkin's High Performance RAM were rated at 7ns, therefore even though they were rated at 133MHz the true speed of it is 143Mhz. (1000/7) Nevertheless the good news is Mushkin says their High Performance RAM modules are hand picked, which means the very best memory chips are chosen. This ensures great stability as well as its ability to perform beyond its specification.
What makes these Mushkin High Performance modules so special? There are many memory brands out there, which are capable of running 133MHz without a problem; so most of you might wonder why the hell we are making such a big deal about. To start with most of the other brands, which are capable of running at 133MHz, are rated at CAS 3. Bring it down to CAS 2 and you'll experience all sorts of chaos. Running successfully at CAS 2 would bring in a whole load of performance to your system. The overall memory bandwidth increases dramatically and you'll also notice a huge difference in Gaming performance. (FPS increases).This is just the start. Most of us today strive on overclocking don't we? Going beyond the 133MHz mark and not having good memory will most definitely mean disaster. Overclocking means going outside the parameters of the manufactures specifications. It goes unsaid that this causes a great deal of stress and heat on the components within the system and to ensure that your system remains stable in these harsh conditions, one must ensure to get top quality products.This is where Mushkin's High Performance RAM stands out of the crowed. When they come out of the manufacturing process, they are rated at 133MHz CAS 2, which means they are already geared for good performance. When it comes to overclocking Mushkin RAM are renowned for their stability. Since the High Performance modules are hand picked and built for optimal performance we found them to perform well beyond their specification without any problem at all.Mere talk would not convince any of you people now would it. So lets go ahead and put these babies to the test.
In order to test the comparative advantage of these modules, we decided to compare Mushkin's High performance RAM modules with a Generic PC-133 module, one that you're most likely to find out there in the market.So up with the SisSoft Sandra scores.Initially we decided to go with CAS 3 settings.
As the results show, the Mushkin RAM boasts almost a 15% lead even where its full potential is not utilized. The modules are rated CAS 2 at 133MHz, so lets checkout what an improvement we get.
Okay so let the results speak for themselves. Almost a 26% increase in comparison to the standard PC 133 module tells us that Mushkin's high performance RAM are truly geared for "High Performance"Noticing the potential of these high performance modules, we decided to tweak the system a bit more and see how well these modules will stand up to it. Our main goal was to achieve around a FSB of 143MHz. Since the generic RAM we used could not stand up to this test, only the results of the Mushkin RAM is shown.
At first I thought I was seeing things, so I decided to retest it. Same result. Performed it again and this time was sure I was not seeing things. The astounding factor is that the modules perform at this high FSB at CAS 2. Never did the system show any signs of stress. Mind you people, we were able to run Quake III and 3D Mark many times round without the system ever crashing. Like I said before, Mushkin's High Performance RAM are hand picked for their quality, which ensures this incredible stability even at high FSB's. I'm sure they could do more, and we'll be posting these results at the time we update this review with the 3D Mark 2001 results. We plan on beating the 150MHz mark, so we'll keep you posted once we actually perform the tests.
At the time of testing the memory frequencies for both modules were set at 2:2:2. We cannot see a drastic contrast between the two modules here, however Mushkin still has a clear lead.
The results never seem to comedown do they? A 5% increase is observed between 133Mhz to 143MHz, which isn't much to talk about, yet worth noting.
Here the tests were done continuously for many times, before we actually obtained the final result. In real world tests such as the above, Mushkin again takes the lead, even though by a small margin. What matters to most gamers are these results, so obtaining a 55 FPS is pretty good indeed.
Not much to say here either. The increase in FPS in minimal.