Today we'll be comparing two 2GB (2x1GB) kits of SODIMM DDR2 667MHz memory. These kits are aimed at users of Intel based Apple Mac computers. These are machine specific parts designed to work with full compatibility with Apple Macs including the Macbook series.
The kits that we will be examining and testing are from Kingston and Mushkin. Both companies offer lifetime limited warranties and are guarantee the memory to work with the hardware in question. Both the Kingston (Model: KTA-MB667/1G) and Mushkin (Model: 971504A kits) sticks of memory are 1GB each, and rated to run at 667MHz (PC5300) with 5-5-5-15 timings. Each kit consists of two matched model sticks.
There are 8 chips on each side, totaling 16 for each module. The memory chips are all Kingston branded and the chips are all the same throughout the kit.
The SPD information from the memory fits with Apple's standard settings, and the memory is running within specifications.
Looking at the back of the memory modules, there is a PCB version number (outlined red in photo). Comparing both modules, they're different versions. The front label confirms that they are the same model, but one is revision 2.10 and the other 2.20. Looking closely at both sticks, there are some differences.
The most noticeable difference is that the chips on each module are different. One has Mushkin branded chips and the other Reneon. There are some small differences in the traces printed on the PCB. It should be noted that even though the revision of the sticks of memory are different, there were no compatibility or stability issues encountered when testing.
The SPD information from both memory modules is the same which leads me to believe that the Mushkin chips are merely rebranded Reneon chips.
The test machine is an Apple Macbook with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor running at 2.0GHz (T7200). The hard drive is a standard (Apple stock) Fujitsu 80GB SATA 5400rpm model. The operating systems for the OSX tests are version 10.4.8, and for the Windows tests, XP Professional with SP2 are being used. Apple Boot Camp 1.1.2 drivers are used for the Windows XP install. Both OS instances are clean installs with no third party applications running in the background.
Looking at memory bandwidth, the Kingston kit was slightly faster with both reading and writing.
With Photoshop there was a surprising performance margin between the Kingston and Mushkin kits in Windows XP. The results were redone numerous times to confirm this anomaly, but the results were consistent.
Overall the performance of both memory kits were close, but the kit from Kingston consistently edged out the Mushkin kit in the majority of tests. If you're a Photoshop user, you may want to opt for the Kingston kit as it was consistently faster in this test.
Both kits performed flawlessly with full stability. As these kits are specific parts from the manufacturer for the specific notebook (the Apple Macbook), this isn't surprising.
If you're shopping to upgrade an Apple Mac which uses DDR2 667 SODIMMs, you will be happy with either of the 2x1GB (2GB total) memory kits offered by Kingston or Mushkin. They both offer stable operation, and performance wise, they're both excellent with the Kingston edging ahead in most of the tests we performed. Either way, if you're upgrading up to 2GB total, you will definitely experience a performance increase.
In terms of availability (at least in my area), the Kingston kit was easier to be found. Much more stores carried (or could order) Kingston memory than Mushkin memory. Because of this, if you want more options for local support, Kingston might be a better option.