When it comes to Low Latency DDR modules, Mushkin is no stranger. This company has been producing low latency modules for a long time now. Catering to the enthusiast and overclocking crowd, they have to. So when PC3200 ultra low latency DDR made a comeback, demand for it suddenly became huge once again. Of course, Mushkin is ever ready to deliver such product.
Having used Mushkin through the years, I came to know thru experience that the workmanship and the performance that goes with each Mushkin module is always top class. Ultra Low Latency modules have been with this company as early as the days of the PC2100 DDR. Their Hi Perf “LEVEL 2″ CAS 222 PC2100 DDR SDRAM we reviewed 2 years back ran way above its rated PC2100 spec at CAS 2-2-2-5. The same goes with their PC3500 that also worked flawlessly over its rated spec at CAS 2-2-2-5.
So when the ballgame went back to the PC3200 due to the recent influx of new chipsets and processors still based on the 200mhz FSB, Mushkin has all the experience they need to come up with such low latency modules. Their first attempt recently at DDR400 ultra low latency goodness was with their PC3200 DDR 222 Special. It uses Hand-selected Winbond BH-6 chips rated at 6ns to achieve such feat. Though not as overclockable as the legendary Winbond BH-5 (5ns), it was able to deliver that CAS 2-2-2-5 timing that was required by the extreme performance users. However, as we all know, the manufacturer known as Winbond has been extinct for quite some time now. And so are all the chips. So when Mushkin’s BH-6 supply runs out, where will they go?
Well today we will answer that question as we give you an exclusive look at Mushkin’s latest PC3200 ultra Low Latency offering. Introducing, the Mushkin Enhanced PC3200 222 Level II Ver.2 (L2V2) 1Gb Dual Pack.
As the last supply of BH-6 chips became depleted, the PC3200 DDR 222 Special was discontinued. Not wasting any time, Mushkin was already busy manufacturing their next ultra Low Latency PC3200. Having the right chip to replace Winbond’s BH-6 was the key in making this ultimate DDR400 chip. There was only but one choice ATM that fits the bill for Mushkin and that was easily filled in by Samsung.
With the help of Samsung’s 4ns TCCD ICs, Mushkin came out with the PC3200 222 Level II Ver.2 (L2V2). These modules are capable of running CAS 2-2-2-5 at DDR400 and beyond, according to Mushkin. The 1Gb Dual Pack we received is comprised of two matched 512mb PC3200 L2V2 modules specifically targeting the dual channel DDR crowd. The detailed specs for the modules are below.
Mushkin’s PC3200 222 Level II Ver.2 (L2V2) modules are built with sixteen 32M x 8 bit 66pin TSOP-II DDR chips in a dual bank, double sided configuration mounted on a custom six layer black PCB using Samsung’s latest revision F 4ns TCCD ICs. The modules are designed for use on a 200Mhz memory bus at ultra low latency of CAS 2-2-2-5. The modules has been tested and certified for use on various chipsets at its rated spec before they are packed. Therefore, you are sure that these modules will definitely work as advertised. Hand-picked and manually tested components means more work for Mushkin, that’s why you pay a premium for such modules, but this is necessary to ensure the greatest possible compatibility and reliability, the company says.
The L2V2 uses the latest Revision F 4ns Samsung memory chips. Exact part number is Samsung K4H560838F-TCCD ICs. Apparently these chips overclock very well due to its 4ns rating, and we have proven that they do with our recent Corsair TwinX1024 PC3200XL Pro review that also uses the very same chip. So it would be interesting to see if these modules will perform similarly or differently.
The highest ROCK SOLID overclock we achieved at CAS 2-2-2-5 in dual channel configuration is 216MHz (DDR432). A vDIMM of just 2.75v was enough to achieve this overclock. The modules run flawlessly up to 238MHz (DDR476) using a slightly relaxed timing of CAS 2-3-3-7. Relaxing the timings further to CAS 2.5-3-3-7 and CAS 3-4-4-8 did not show much improvement. Still a very impressive overclock though.
Using the same chips as the Corsair PC3200XL PRO we just reviewed, the L2V2 also never reached that DDR500 speed in dual mode. However, in single channel mode, the L2V2 would run solidly up to 253MHz (DDR506) at CAS 2 and up to 258MHz (DDR516) at CAS 2.5.
Mushkin has once proven that if the enthusiast/overclocker asks for it, they will give it. With their PC3200 222 Level II Ver.2 (L2V2), they have delivered DDR modules capable of ultra low latencies of CAS 2-2-2-5 at DDR400 and above. Maximum performance was achieved at DDR400 with the added bonus of more headroom to play with. The L2V2 has indeed squeezed out the last drop of performance you can get at its rated speed. Extreme latencies equals extreme performance. No extreme performance freak would have it any differently.
With the new Samsung TCCD ICs, the Mushkin PC3200 L2V2 achieved overclocking speeds near PC4000 (DDR500) speeds at Dual Channel configuration. At single channel configuration, the modules just ran like wild by posting rock solid speeds of over DDR500. The amazing thing is that it did all these at still very low latencies and just 2.85v on the vDIMM. With these new chips who needs Winbond?
You’ll get the best performance at DDR400 using ultra low latency modules like the Mushkin PC3200 222 Level II Ver.2, no question about that. But at what price? Though CAS 2-2-2-5 are great, they are more expensive than regular DDR400 or even DDR500 modules. But we all know that with extreme performance comes a matching high price tag. This modules were targeted at those who wants the best out of their system. So really, mainstream users need not apply. Currently retailing at US$339, these 1Gb Dual Pack babies can be had for almost US$35 less when coupled with a 10% OCTools discount (see details below).
The Mushkin PC3200 222 Level II Ver.2 (L2V2) 1Gb Dual Pack is another example of fine DDR modules coming out of tested and proven memory manufacturers. Expect this new entry from Mushkin to deliver the maximum performance for your system at DDR400. If its ultra low latency you want, then the L2V2 won’t disappoint. We give it our Editor’s Choice.