Up to now when you say DDR2, loose timings comes into mind. I mean most DDR2 available right now have very relaxed timings to go with their fast frequencies. This is one of the reasons why there are still chipsets out there utilizing the still dominant, in terms of market share, DDR1. Some chipset and CPU makers are still reluctant to adopt the new DDR2 technology because of the lack of modules that can do tighter timings.
Theoretically, a DDR1-400 running at CAS 2-2-2-5 when compared to a DDR2-400 running at CAS 4-4-4-10 would provide almost the same performance. So why go DDR2 now when we can still squeeze some more juice out of the “old” DDR1? Well, sooner rather than later, DDR1 will reach its limitation. For extreme overlockers, it already has. That’s why going the DDR2 way is inevitable. As we all know, DDR2 can provide faster frequencies than any other DDR1 out there. However, equipped with relaxed timings, its performance hasn’t been fully maximized yet. This is where Mushkin steps in.
With tighter timings than most DDR2 counterparts, Mushkin will try to further optimize the power of DDR2 and provide you with better overall performance never experienced before from any DDR2 system. Introducing, the Mushkin 1GB PC2-4200 (533) Dual Pack CL 3-2-2.
Mushkin’s 1GB PC2-4200 (533) Dual Pack is designed for use in the latest generation motherboards. It picks up where DDR left off with bandwidth of up to 5400 MB/s and plenty of room to grow. These are 240 pin, unbuffered, non-ECC modules that consumes 28% less power than first generation DDR allowing for higher clockspeeds and reduced latencies. This dual pack consist of 2 x 512mb PC2-4200 modules and is rated CL 3-2-2-8 at 533MHz.
Each Mushkin PC2-4200 1Gb DDR2 module is shrink wrapped with anti-static packaging, placed in Mushkin’s trademark “airbag” and then packed inside a box. Included is a free Mushkin pen and an aluminum “powered by mushkin” case badge.
These modules were built with sixteen 32M x 8 bit DDR2 chips in a dual bank, double sided configuration mounted on a custom six layer PCB. Gone is the special black Mushkin PCB that we are so used of seeing. Instead you get the traditional green PCB. These modules are designed for use on any DDR board using a 400MHz or 533MHz memory bus at CL 3-2-2-8.
SPD is programmed at 3-2-2-8 latency values and tested at 1.8v. It defaults at 266MHz (DDR2-533) but is backward compatible to DDR2-400 systems. Interestingly, this module’s spd value at DDR2-400 is set at 2-2-2-6. However, we weren’t able to test this as our BIOS only allows up to CL 3 as the lowest possible latency. It did work flawlessly though at CL 3-2-2-6 which is what we tested the modules at.
As always, each module is equipped with a custom-designed aluminum Heat Spreader that reduces the risk of localised hot spots within the memory core and further increases overclocking margins of the modules. Note that heatspreader color may vary and that tampering with them VOIDS warranty. Our particular sample comes in a platinum color heatspreader complete with an embossed company logo.
We’ll go straight to this part so that we can include the highest rock solid overclock at the lowest possible timing of CAS 3-2-2-6 in the test results. So how far can these PC2-4200 modules go? Well, we were able to run the Mushkin 1GB PC2-4200 (533) Dual Pack rock solid to an amazing 640MHz DDR2 at CAS 3-2-2-6 and up to 732MHz at CAS 4-4-4-12 and 750MHz at CAS 5-5-5-11.
This is with the memory running in dual channel configuration and with the voltage set at 2.0v. We used a 18x multiplier on the unlocked processor with the FSB set at 240MHz for the overclock at 3-2-2-6 setting. We then used a 16x multiplier with the FSB at 274MHz for the overclock at CAS 4-4-4-11. Finally, we used a 15x multiplier with the FSB set at 281MHz at CAS 5-5-5-11. Memory ratio was set at 3:4 to run asynchronous with the processor in all instances.
Mushkin has done it again with their 1GB PC2-4200 (533) Dual Pack CL 3-2-2 offering. They’ve managed to produce DDR2 modules that can run aggressively at timings that is quite foreign in DDR2 land. With this optimized latencies, they were able to further boost the already excellent performance of DDR2 at fast frequencies.
Being able to run at tighter timings makes the DDR2 a more viable option for those on the upgrade path. Our results show that with better latencies, DDR2 has what it takes to finally take the market away from DDR1. DDR2 has a long way to go when it comes to frequencies and DDR1 history tells us that CAS latencies can only get tighter as time goes by.
Overclocking wise, how can we complain? These Mushkin modules were able to take us up to DDR2-640MHz at tight timings of CL 3-2-2-6 and up to DDR2-750MHz at its most relaxed timing. That’s 217MHz over its rated speed. You get a headroom that is sure to handle even the most extreme overclock while running at the tightest possible timings. And with the cost of PC4200 modules getting cheaper by the day, the Mushkin 1GB PC2-4200 (533) Dual Pack is a great buy no matter where you look at it.
If you want the best DDR2 performance out of your DDR2 system now, then tighter latencies is the only way to go. With Mushkin’s 1GB PC2-4200 (533) Dual Pack, you get that plus a whole lot more…