Mushkin XP2 PC2-5300 DDR2

Has the time come for DDR2 memory? Is now the time for enthusiasts to finally embrace DDR2 technology with better performance on Intel based platforms, and the promised Holy Grail of AMD's new AM2 socket with DDR2 support and built-in memory controllers?

Socket AM2, the 940 pin DDR2-ready Athlon 64 socket, will be unleashed upon consumers some time this summer, most likely by the end of July. AMD is expected to have working samples in place by the time of Computex 2006, which will be held from June 6 th to June 10 th in Taipei.

After DDR2 was first introduced for Intel, Micron D fat body chips gained enthusiast's attention in a big way, due to the lower latency timings and the ability to push performance to much higher memory speeds. Unfortunately, the Micron fat body D DDR2 memory chips are now history.

Perhaps Mushkin has discovered an alternative to the famed Fat Body IC's. While 3-3-3 at DDR2-667 is not quite as fast as the 3-2-2 timings seen with the best Micron chips, it is still among the fastest specifications that you will find for DDR2-667 memory modules. It is also worth mentioning that the older, and now discontinued, Micron Fat Body D chips were never specified as performing at 3-2-2- timings, so perhaps these new Mushkin Elpida modules will do even better than their rated timings.

With that in mind, the goal in testing was to see exactly what the new Mushkin XP2 memory could do in our memory test suite. How do the new Mushkin DDR2 with Elpida chips compare to the top Micron DDR2 memory? Is this new Mushkin DDR2 memory a worthy choice for current Intel and future AM2 enthusiasts?

Product Specifications and Information

Mushkin confirmed the use of Elpida IC's for the Extreme Performance Black Series (XP) memory modules.

Brain Power confirmed that the B62URCE PCB used in the new Mushkin XP2 PC-5300 is manufactured by them. Brain Power manufactures custom PCB modifications for their customers. They can also supply stock memory boards.

Elpida provided a data sheet for these integrated circuits, which are being utilized by Mushkin in this XP series memory.

PC2-5300 667MHz DDR2 CL 3-3-3 (CAS-TRCD-TRP)
2GB (1024MB x 2) Unbuffered
Improved Black Heat Spreader with new thermal tape Lifetime Warranty
2.1 - 2.3 Volts 240 Pin DIMM
Elpida IC: E5108AG-6E-E Brain Power PCB: MLL E186014 B62URCE

In a screen capture from the Elpida data sheet, you can see how to decode the information from the actual IC part number. We are examining the EDE5108AGSE-6E-E part. The "A" in the part number is indicative of voltage (i.e. this is normally specified as a 1.8 volt part).

The XP2 PC2-5300 DDR2 memory uses the new Mushkin heat spreader, recently designed to improve Mushkin heat spreader performance. One feature of the new design is the use of better thermal tape.

On July 28, 2005, Mushkin announced their new heat spreader for their high performance memory modules. Mushkin claimed that the new heat spreaders provided 58% more surface area than their previous designs.

Below is a photograph of the sample heat sink design, which Mushkin sent back in July 2005 for feedback.

Consumers and enthusiasts should note that the XP2 PC2-5300 DDR2 memory kits are available in either a 1 GB or 2 GB matched pair. With memory intensive games and applications such as Adobe Photoshop, the advantage of having two gigabytes of memory will be quite apparent.

A Closer Look
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  • rallyhard - Friday, June 23, 2006 - link

    Under "Anandtech Deals" at the top of each page of the review, there is a link called " Mushkin 2 x 1 GB PC2-5300 DDR2 RAM". This link will take you to Mushkin part #991382 memory, which that page will tell you has 4-4-4 timings. Newegg will tell you this RAM has 5-5-5 timings. In any case, the RAM this link refers to is not the same stuff that they reviewed. The reviewed RAM is 3-3-3 timings, which I'm assuming must be Mushkin part #991512.
  • artifex - Tuesday, March 28, 2006 - link

    Wow, last time I had a warranty return at Mushkin, I just emailed them their serials and they shipped me replacements overnight with my credit card as collateral for the return. Of course, I bought from their website, not from a retail store... but there was no talk of packaging. What packaging? :)

    Has Mushkin changed owners?
  • bldckstark - Tuesday, March 28, 2006 - link

    On page 7 you show the Mushkin memory at the top of the graph with 65.1 and all other memories have lower times. To be consistent with all of your other graphs the rankings are apparently reversed since the super pi results are "lower is better", and the Mushkin should have finished last, not first and be on the bottom of the graph, not the top. Unless I forgot to take my medicine today, again, and I am reading the article upside down, again.

    Nice article. I'll keep waiting for the latencies to come down so that we might see some life out of AM2 against Conroe.
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, March 28, 2006 - link

    The Super Pi chart is now in Ascending order as it should be. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.
  • Pirks - Tuesday, March 28, 2006 - link

    I recall buying some Mushkin stuff a long time ago. A HUGE price AFAIR and then one DDR stick died and they replaced it no questions asked. But now, after checking out their prices and seeing noname 2 GB DDR sticks for $200 CAN TOTAL (!) in my local store... well, guess which way I went. Now 2GB with the same price as Mushkin's EXTRADUPERFAST 512MB is soo sweet, no swap in XP and stuff... not saying Mushkin is bad, it's just so nice to spend $$$ on the AMOUNT of memory, not the speed. Sometime I'll get 4GB of noname sticks and make myself a hefty RAM disk and outrun those Raptor boasting kids, hehe :))
  • artifex - Tuesday, March 28, 2006 - link

    Pirks, spend a little more for name brand, even if not high-performance. That $20 or so you save up front isn't going to look so good if you ever have a memory glitch that causes you to lose data.

    I buy Mushkin, but only for machines that I'm going to be building at the margins of their rated specs, intend to overclock, etc. I feel like Mushkin sticks might be just a little more solid for that.

    I don't overclock all my stuff, though, and for just regular performance that is solid, like in my Mac Mini, I use Crucial. I wouldn't go with a no-name. And I never, ever, would buy loose sticks from a place like Fry's. :)
  • Pirks - Wednesday, March 29, 2006 - link


    I wouldn't go with a no-name. And I never, ever, would buy loose sticks from a place like Fry's

    That's because you don't know what is :P
  • Inkjammer - Tuesday, March 28, 2006 - link

    I've not seen enough of a performance boost from the "elite" memory to justify the price. Now, I say this, and I have 2GB of Kingston HyperX memory in my system. I swapped it out for 2GB of regular Kingston Value RAM and the performance difference was minor at best. If I weren't running a benchmark on it via SANDRA I'd never have even noticed.

    It seems to be geared to overclockers primarily, or people who just wanna pimp their rig. I think you could take the extra $200 for 2GB and invest in a beefier CPU or graphics card and really, REALLY see a performance difference.
  • WxChaser - Tuesday, March 28, 2006 - link

    Mushkin was the first memory company to produce enthusiast memory using the Elpida chips, allowing them to overclock very well at tight timings for DDR2. These modules will provide excellent performance for Intel DDR2 motherboards, and migrate quite well to the AMD socket AM2 when those platforms are released later this year.

    Please note that Mushkin has revamped their main web presence recently, and markets to 3 main target groups now. These are enhanced performance, high performance, and extreme performance. The XP2 PC2-5300 modules we tested were the extreme performance category - in other words aimed at the overclocking and gaming niche markets primarily.

  • Inkjammer - Tuesday, March 28, 2006 - link

    I'd still love to see a comparison on RAM between standard and enthusiast and stock speeds. I know that the built in spreaders are fantastic for heat dissapation, but how much added performance is gained for the extra money?

    Granted, I have enthusiast RAM, so... don't think of me as a hypocrit, but I still ponder just how much better this RAM is if you're not overclocking to the MAX.

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