Following our review of the Mushkin STRIKER 480GB SSD, it’s time to present new memory kits from this enthusiast-oriented manufacturer. We saw the new Mushkin Redline and Blackline memory kits just a few weeks ago at CES, so they are pretty fresh products. In this review we will focus on the Redline 16GB DDR4-2800 CL15 memory kit. Stay tuned for a look at the Blackline series to come later in a future article.
Specifications and Features
The Mushkin Redline 994206T memory kit is based on four memory modules of 4GB each. Mushkin described it as a quad channel kit, but it is not. Simply put, you can buy the same memory modules in a package of one, two, or four memory sticks. All combinations have the same specifications, so they should work in dual or quad channel mode as well.
These modules are single sided – single rank. I couldn’t find any info as to what memory IC is inside, but specification and overclocking results, which you will be able to see later, suggest it’s SK Hynix – MFR series. This information can be important for overclockers, but less so for other users.
The memory kit is rated to work at 1400MHz so DDR4-2800. Main timings are quite low compared to most competitive memory kits @ 15-15-15-25, while voltage is slightly higher at 1.25V rather than the standard 1.20V.
Appearances are similar to previous Mushkin Redline memory kits, except for the new heatsinks. Mushkin decided to refresh all DDR4 lines adding the new, asymmetric Ridgeback heatsinks. They’re technically considered tall, but shouldn’t interfere with most processor cooling solutions.
Below you can see list of features as pointed out by Mushkin on its website:
All Mushkin memory kits are covered by lifetime warranty, tuned for optimal performance, and additionally hand-tested to confirm full stability.
Below you can see the packaging for the Mushkin Redline 16GB memory kit. It’s a retail box so exactly the same one found in stores. On the label we can find product number 994206T, which is really helpful to pick the right product or to match kits when expanding. It’s also the easiest way to find the exact memory kit from this review on the Mushkin website.
On the back of the package are the aforementioned Redline memory kit features. There is also additional description of the product.
Inside the package there are four memory modules protected by transparent clam-shells, a popular way of packing. It’s also protecting memory from damage in transport and any moisture.
Now let’s take a closer look at the memory modules themselves.
Mushkin Redline modules sport red heatsinks. In this case it’s a new, asymmetric design called Ridgeback-G2. I assume because it’s the second generation of the Ridgeback series. The heatsinks look really nice with additional sparkling, silver stripes.
I fail to understand why Mushkin sticks to green PCB in memory kits designed for computer enthusiasts and overclockers. Most other manufacturers have already moved to black or white PCBs, which look much better with red, black or silver heatsinks.
Stability at Rated Speed
Stability at rated speed was tested using a couple of applications, but mainly AIDA64 Stability Test. This test uses between 95-99% of available RAM. Additionally, it was stressing cache memory. Since it’s a multi-threaded test, the memory controller was fully loaded.
The above screenshot shows the stability test after it ran for a couple of hours under full load. Since I had no issues with stability in other applications, I decided to spend more time on overclocking and performance testing. I will only add that the XMP profile worked without issues on ASUS Maximus VIII Hero and MSI Z170I Gaming Pro AC motherboards.
Performance was measured using popular benchmarks. My test setup used an Intel Skylake platform based on an i7 6700K processor set at 4.2GHz (with power saving options disabled) and an ASUS Maximus VIII Hero motherboard. Quite a popular platform nowadays.
Synthetic Memory Bandwidth and Calculation Tests
First test is one of the most popular memory benchmarks, which can be found in AIDA64 diagnostic software.
Mushkin Redline performed well in relation to other memory kits in our comparison. It’s faster than the EVGA memory, which is also a DDR4-2800 memory kit. However higher frequency memory really helps overall performance on Skylake, so DDR4-3000 and higher memory kits will offer noticeably higher bandwidth.
Below we saw a similar situation in a single-threaded benchmark: MaxxMem Preview. As before the Mushkin memory beats out the EVGA kit, but is slightly slower than DDR4-3000 memory kit.
Mushkin Redline again performed well, but it’s simply impossible to beat higher frequency memory kits because of the aforementioned architecture of the latest Intel platform. I assume that all who wish to bridge that performance gap will make it without issues by overclocking the memory.
Rendering and Tests Based on Daily Usage
Let’s start from Cinebench, which is really popular rendering benchmark.
In this benchmark Mushkin Redline was about as fast as other, even higher clocked, memory kits. The difference was so low that no one would notice any noticeable changes in performance during regular PC usage. General performance was still good and I haven’t seen any drops during multiple runs in Cinebench R15.
Mushkin Redline performed very well in 3DMark. Results were similar to all previous benchmarks, so once again the Redline was faster than the competition at lower or the same frequency, but is slightly slower against higher clocked kits. The same as in Cinebench, you would not be able to perceive the difference as we are talking about 0.5-1 FPS in 3D tests.
At the end is another Futuremark benchmark: PCMark 8. This is the last version of one of the most popular benchmarks used to test holistic computer performance mainly in home and office environments. There is also a Creative suite which tests based on graphics software.
The same as in 3DMark, PCMark was barely reacting on memory performance. We can see differences in some tests but most of them are so small that we wouldn’t see that in the daily work. Software updates would probably make a bigger difference than investing in a faster memory kit.
If you are still looking for performance improvements then check how Mushkin Redline is overclocking.
Overclocking is never guaranteed, so the presented results may vary from results on other memory kits. I am not recommending overclocking if you do not know what are you doing. High voltages may damage hardware and it will not be covered by warranty.
As I mentioned earlier, Mushkin Redline is probably based on vHynix MFR memory. This memory doesn’t like high voltages so except competitive benchmarking, it’s better to keep it at voltages at or below 1.4V. It’s not because it could damage it fast, but more because Hynix-based memory kits often lose stability at higher voltage and higher frequency. If you are planning to overclock for daily work or gaming then it is safest to stick to voltages below 1.4V.
Above you can see results at DDR4-3000 15-15-15-35 achieved using 1.35V (1.34-1.35V read in software). Over five hours stability test was enough to say it’s stable at these settings.
I wasn’t expecting DDR4-3200 would be stable at similar voltages and slightly lower timings than DDR4-3000. However, except for some sub-timings, all the main settings at DDR4-3000 and 3200 were about the same.
I couldn’t raise memory clock much more than that though. Tightening timings at both settings was also not possible or was really limited. Going up to 1.45V, I could lower CL to 14 at DDR4-3000 but that’s all. DDR4-3333 wasn’t stable regardless of timings and voltage used.
I think it’s still a good result as DDR4-3200 can work at pretty tight timings considering a voltage of 1.35V.
I don’t think anyone will be disappointed with overclocking results. After all, the declared settings are DDR4-2800 15-15-15-35, while after overclocking and at slightly higher voltage Mushkin Redline was able to work at DDR4-3200 15-15-15-35.
Most older overclockers remember Mushkin Redline as the best memory kits on the market. DDR1 or DDR2 Redline memory series were simply legendary. However if we look at the new Redline memory kits, when compared to old, then something is missing. It’s still good memory and is worth recommending. It’s just not above the competition as one might expect when looking at old Mushkin Redline.
The tested Mushkin Redline 16GB DDR4-2800 is fast, stable, and a good looking memory kit. It’s fast, but specified at lower frequency so not as fast as we wish. It’s good looking, but a different PCB could improve general effect and it’s stable … I have nothing to add here as it’s really stable and I had no issues with memory profile on all motherboards.
I have a feeling that Mushkin is improving everything in small steps, focusing mainly on stability and low RMA rate. I was interested in Mushkin DDR4 for a while but my local prices were not so good so I decided to wait some time. During the last year I’ve noticed that Mushkin DDR4 kit haven’t changed much. The new memory has new heatsinks but not much more. At least from end user point of view there are no other changes which is quite disappointing. The competition is passing the DDR4-4000 mark, while Mushkin has been stuck at DDR4-3200 for a year now.
What is saving Mushkin on current market is price. A 16GB DDR4-2800 Redline memory kit is available for about $95, which is a good price compared to the competition at similar or worse specification. Still we are talking about high-end memory designed for gamers and enthusiasts. For gamers it’s great price point but what about enthusiasts? Most of them don’t care about $10.
I can recommend Mushkin Redline 16GB DDR4-2800 memory kit to all gamers who care about good performance for a reasonable price and all who care about high-quality and full stability, but don’t want to pay a premium.
Mushkin Redline is a good memory kit, but is simply missing something that may be really important to convince overclockers to purchase.