Mushkin Ascent XP2-8500
“Take your system to a new extreme” is Mushkin’s message on its corporate website, where the Ascent memory line is presented. But this is only the top-notch product. The enthusiast memory line consists of several choices, including the EM series (basic overclocking memory), the HP series (high performance) and the XP series (extreme performance). The latter supports highest memory clock speeds and lowest latencies. The Red Line series, which was is based on DDR2 memory, is not available in a DDR3 version.
Vapor Chamber Interface for Cooling
We didn’t receive just an ordinary memory kit. Rather, we got the new Ascent XP2-8500 series, which is an extreme performance product. This series utilizes Mushkin’s eVCI technology, which stands for enhanced vapor chamber interface. Basically, Mushkin replaces aluminum or copper as the main material for conducting heat with a vapor chamber. The chamber is filled with a coolant that evaporates once the memory chips heat it up sufficiently. Once the aluminum surface conducts the heat away from the memory, the gas cools down and return to its liquid state. Be aware that your DIMM sockets need to be more than 2 mm away from each other if you intend to install two DIMMs per memory channel, as the eVCI cooler requires more space than a standard heat sink. However, this is generally the case on most motherboards.
Specifications, Packaging, Cost
The kit consists of two 2 GB DDR2-1066 DIMMs, which are rated at CL5-5-5-15 timings at 2.0 V to 2.1 V. The modules do not come with additional features such as Nvidia’s Enhanced Performance Profiles (EPP), but we found them to be inexpensive despite the sophisticated cooling solution. Unfortunately, the modules did not even come with a product sticker, which makes it really difficult to tell Mushkin Ascent DIMMs apart.
You need a Microsoft Passport account to purchase online on Mushkin’s Web site, which is something not everybody likes, but we agree that Passport, OpenID or similar solutions are a good attempt to facilitate authentication on the Internet. Once you are logged in you’ll be able to purchase this product at the current web price of $152.26, which sounds like a good deal for an enthusiast.
Once again, we started our overclocking attempts at the default voltage of 2.0 V, which did not allow us to reach significantly more clock speed. Then we increased the memory supply voltage to 2.3 V and tried again, but the maximum we reached wasn’t really far above the stock speed. We had to abandon our hopes at DDR2-1115, as the next step, DDR2-1124, was already unstable. More voltage didn’t help us reach higher clock speeds, either.
Although the Mushkin Ascent XP2-8500 isn’t a spectacular overclocker, it requires a low supply voltage and provides a great bang for the buck at its attractive price tag. Therefore it receives our Recommended Buy Award, along with Kingston’s product.