The Bottom Line
- + Simple styling
- + Lower-profile
- + Thermal pad on PMIC
- + Overclockability
- - No A/RGB
- - High timings
Should you buy it?AvoidConsiderShortlistBuy
Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
The last time we looked at RAM from PNY, to say we were not impressed would be hitting the nail on the head. Of course, this was back in the time of DDR4, but they chose to rebrand poor ICs, which led to their demise when compared to everything else available at that time. As we said then, they looked the part and were affordable, but they were not something we could recommend. We hold no grudges and, at this point, are hoping that with the move to DDR5, PNY chose better ICs and can keep up with today's market.
One thing we have noticed about PNY when it comes to RAM is that they tend to keep things simple regarding the aesthetics and design of the heat spreaders. Still, for many, especially those using large air coolers, the low profile nature fits under coolers where many sticks we test could cause issues. However, with their step into DDR5, they have upped the style game while still keeping the overall footprint smaller, which should make their latest sample to hit the lab as user-friendly as they have been in the past, but this time around, with the styling and potential passive cooling that many want in DDR5.
PNY has chosen a new series name to go along with their newly released DDR5 and has gone with MAKO, as in the shark. As much as we tried to look for a direct tie to that name in the styling, we have to think that PNY went with the name based solely on its cool factor. There are no teeth, and they aren't silver and shimmery, nor is there anything about them like a fin or a tail that would make anyone see an obvious reason for the name choice. However, we can only hope that these new MAKO sticks in hand now are a predator and not the bait, and they can take on our charts with some aggression and stealth and come out on top as any apex predator should.
Of the two options currently available, we got the faster kit, the MD32GK2D5620042MXR. In this set of DDR5, we find mainly black heat spreaders which sport exposed metal, angled slits that could be seen as gills, but they also sport the bright red ">" logo that comes on all of the PNY XLR8 kits. Each of these sticks is 16GB in density for a total of 32GB with speed set to 6200 MHz. However, PNY has also delivered this set of RAM with the highest set of timings we have tested to date. As sold, at 6200 MHz, they run at 42-42-42-88 2T, which is quite a bit looser than the typical 40-40-40-76 2T we see everyone else using. The last bit one needs to consider is that with the looser timings, they can use 1.30V to power them rather than 1.35V, which is good for those looking to save a bit of power.
At just 34.9mm in height, you can see why we say they are lower-profile than many we see, but they still weigh in at 38.1 grams each, which is mostly due to the aluminum heat spreaders covering the PCB and the ICs. Unlike many other manufacturers, PNY offers a lifetime warranty, not a limited one, but in the end, when stock is gone, they will have to offer something different.
Under the hood, we get a better set of ICs, like what all of the rest of the better-performing sticks lately offer, which is a great start to what we have to show. On top of that, PNY is maybe the third company to put a thermal pad on the PMIC. While many may not care about this when looking to run them at XMP settings, for those looking to get more from the kit, cooling the PMIC can have advantages. As the cooler components are kept in RAM, the better they tend to function.
On paper, things are a mixed bag. Even though PNY have used better components than in the past, the timings have us wondering how well they will perform compared to similarly specced kits in our charts with more typical timings. The thing to remember here is that the initial and secondary latencies are just the start of the equation. With a bit of tweaking to the tertiaries, PNY may have done something we may not see upfront and be able to carry the weight that a kit of this nature should promise. For now, we should dive right into what the PNY XLR8 MAKO is all about and see if it is the apex product the name alludes to.
Packaging and PNY XLR8 MAKO
The red and black are a nice combination for the packaging, but the overall styling of it is kept simple, with angled lines in the backdrop to match the exposed bits in the image of the RAM. Across the top is the XLR8 series name along with the density, speed, CAS Latency, and type, whereas you have to go to the bottom of the panel to see the MAKO name of these kits.
Around the back, we see the RAM specifications for what is inside the box, and the specs include everything the end user would want to know. Lower down on the panel, we see the lifetime warranty mentioned and are given tech support information should you have an issue. Along with the contact information for PNY is the product sticker and a couple of warnings not to let your kids choke on these; they may contain chemicals you should not ingest.
Negating the damage we saw on the front panel is the clear plastic inner packaging that the MAKO is shipped inside. Not only did it keep the RAM from harm, but it also ensured static was not an issue. In any case, it allowed our XLR8 MAKO to show in perfect condition for images and testing.
Without anything to block the view of this kit, we can see the XLR8 and logo at the left, where the middle offers the exposed metal angled bits, which have mock holes in them for depth and visual appeal. At the right, near the bottom of the black heat spreaders, is the term gaming, but there is no reason productivity is out of the equation.
The back of the MAKO is identical regarding the heat spreader design and what is on it, but this is where PNY placed the product sticker. On it is the part number, density of the stick, the speed, and the full set of timings with the voltage. If you want to remove this sticker, it will void the lifetime warranty.
From another angle, we can see the oblong holes cut into the heat spreaders, and the exposed metal and white painted bits go well together. Just a few millimeters taller than the PCB, we can see the PNY opted to keep these sticks to a lower profile than many kits we have seen before these.
The top is where the two halves of the heat spreader come together, and we like that PNY did not go with the straight gap across the center but used an offset at either end. Not only does it look a bit better, but it also offers a place to paint the XLR8 name at the left end of them.
When it came time to look at what was under the heat spreader, we flipped it over and found that the PMIC had a thermal pad. What is odd is that half of the ICs get taped to the heat spreader while the other four have a second thermal pad added to that end.
Under the thermal pad or the tape, you will find a set of eight SK Hynix ICs, which up until recently, were the best of the bunch to use. These are H5CG48MEBO chips that have proven to perform well and have wiggle room left for those that like to push their memory.
The PMIC found under the thermal pad is made by Richtek and is unlocked. The 0D=8J is one we have seen a few times now and have had no issues with its functionality.
Now with the XLR8 MAKO installed on the Apex motherboard, we can see all of the right stick, but due to the 1DPC layout, the left stick is only visible from the top. Even so, we like the look these PNY sticks offer, which, again, are sticks that blend well with the rest of the system.
Test System Details
To obtain the Intel CPU-Z screenshots, you will see directly following this image, and this is the system we used to do it, as well as in attaining the results seen in the following pages. Thanks go out to be quiet!, ASUS, and NVIDIA, for supporting this venture. Detailed specifications of the system can be found below.
To get the XLR8 MAKO to run as expected, we went into the BIOS and enabled the first of three XMP settings. As you can see, we are running the kit at 6200 MHz with the stated 42-42-4288 2T timings, using 1.30V. PNY also offers 5600 MHZ with 40-40-40-77 2T timings and 4800 MHZ with 38-38-38-77 2T timings as options.
In our attempt to find the lowest possible, stable timings, we got the MAKO down to 32-36-36-88 2T, as any lower would result in the postcode 55. To do so, we increased the VDIMM, VDDQ, and Tx to 1.40V and set the system agent to 1.30V, while the memory controller used 1.35V to accomplish this.
In the next attempt, using the voltages described in the previous image, we shot for the stars to see where the maximum speed ended up. We can run this kit stable at 6800 MHz with 42-42-42-88 2T timings. We got into Windows at 6933 MHz, but it was not stable enough to complete testing.
Chad's AMD DDR5 Dual-Channel Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS Maximus Z690 APEX - Buy from Amazon
- CPU: Intel Core i9 12900K - Buy from Amazon
- Cooler: be quiet! PURE LOOP 360mm - Buy from Amazon
- Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Founders Edition - Buy from Amazon
- Storage: Phison B47R Fortis 1600 2TB M.2
- Case: Thermaltake Core P3 TG - Buy from Amazon
- Power Supply: be quiet! DARK POWER PRO 12 1200W - Buy from Amazon
- OS: Microsoft Windows 11 Home - Buy from Amazon
Using the XMP settings, a fifth-place finish is a good start for the XLR8 MAKO kit. As you can see, overclocking gave us no boost in the performance of CPU-Z benching, but at least the scores didn't end up last on our chart.
AIDA read performance is strong with the XMP option, keeping close to the Viper Venom at the same speed. Reducing the timings delivers 1778 MB/s more from the MAKO, while the overall speed increase nets us 5319 MB/s beyond what XMP provided.
The write numbers are also on par with XMP vs. XMP to other kits with the same speed and can even pass the Manta Xprism, which comes with tighter timings. Tightening the timings got us another 1716 MB/s over XMP, whereas pushing for more speed from the MAKO got us another 6173 MB/s compared to what the outy of the box experience is.
Copy performance shines with the XLR8 MAKO sticks. Landing in second overall, only beaten by the Viper Venom, we are pleased with what PNY delivered. If you want to try overclocking, you can gain 2724 MB/s by reducing the timings and 7040 MB/s by increasing the overall speed.
With the red bar so low in the chart, you may assume that the latency is poor, but at 66ns, we are closer to the top of the chart than the bottom. Again, overclocking has its advantages, where we dropped a fair bit of time and got the kit down to 58.9ns at its best.
Super Pi Also seems to enjoy what PNY did with the MAKO, resulting in a second-place finish. Overclocking the kit for this test did not gain any headway, but the CAS 32 run did much better than when we added more speed.
When we ran Fire Strike and looked at the physics scores, PNY was the third fastest of the 6200 MHz kits and surpassed the Viper Venom. Again, overclocking was no help to improve upon that score, but it still turned in respectable results.
The other 6200 MHz kits beat the MAKO in PCMark, where the XMP results average for all scores. This is one metric in which overclocking was a huge benefit, taking the MAKO to the top of the chart.
When it comes time to compress files, these XLR8 MAKO sticks do land in last place amongst the other 6200 MHz kits, which is more what we expected to see across all tests. However, for those that have the time to tinker with the kit, you can vastly improve upon the XMP results.
Cinebench loves this MAKO, as we can see with the third-place finish. Even though our overclocking ventures hurt the overall performance, we are pretty stunned at the performance we got from a kit that, on paper, seems like it should not have beaten all of the other 6200 MHz kits out of the box.
Transcoding is also something PNY excels in. While we are being funny with that line, only the Xprism scored better than the MAKO in Handbrake, at 6200 MHz. We also gained a fair bit of time back by reducing the timings, but with increased speed, we get slightly more than nineteen seconds back for every 4GB of data we transcoded.
While PNY may not offer the most aggressive styling nor offer the tightest timings of the bunch, to our surprise, they performed much better than we expected. We have no issue with the looks of these MAKO sticks, as the exposed aluminum against the textured black heat spreaders is an attractive look. That and add in the red and white painted bits, PNY has delivered a set of DDR5 that is a good match for many systems without causing clearance issues with many air coolers on the market. While we wish we would have gotten an RGB version, as that seems to be what many desire, there is enough here to satisfy many consumers.
With the timings being what they are, many would expect these PNY XLR8 MAKO sticks to flounder and fall on their face, and to be blunt, we expected much of the same. The reality is that the timings on the box are not the end of the discussion. PNY put in the time to reduce tertiary timings to allow a kit with looser main timings to go through our testing well, and only in a couple of tests did we see it struggle.
Unlike when we last saw them with some of their DDR4, this is one time when we will get behind PNY and say that you should honestly consider them for their all-around goodness. On top of that, PNY also takes the time to offer users three XMP profiles to tinker with to get the best mix of performance with the specific system you have.
Checking the cost against the masses of 6200 MHz offering out there today, the only more affordable kit is from Patriot. Anything else we see costs at least $24 more, and that gets you a set of OLOy sticks, which we are unsure of their status in today's market. Looking at the likes of TEAM. Corsair, v-Color, or anyone else, will cost you quite a bit more for similar performance under most uses. If history was any indicator of what to expect from PNY, we might have written them off much earlier and talked some smack about them, but in the end, we are pleased that they have turned things around and are now offering competitive kits at a good price.
It makes our job so much easier when PNY comes out with something visually appealing that performs better than anyone would expect and does so without breaking the bank. While the XLR8 MAKO is not the best in their class across all of our tests, they make a strong argument for not needing to spend quite a bit more money to get good results.
Don't let the timings of these PNY XLR8 MAKO get into your head. The performance is stronger than expected, and the cost is comparatively low. While they may not be the most stylish and lack RGB, they certainly have their place in today's market.