Crucial Ballistix DDR3 1600MHz 4GB £151
22nd Jul 2010 | 16:40
Not the Ballistix missiles overclockers may be hoping for...
Crucial Ballistix DDR3 1600MHz 4GB - Overview
Crucial's Ballistix range of high performance DDR3 memory modules are well known amongst the overclocking fraternity offering faster clock speeds and lower latencies and in some instances fancy LED displays, than the standard Crucial product range.
The latest addition to the family line-up, is a 4GB memory kit of DDR3-1600 (PC3-12800) modules, carrying the part number Ballistix BL2Kit25664FN1608 if you want the full nomenclature.
The new modules also bring a change in module design to the product line and a new feature which some overclockers will find very useful.
The small discrete heatsink covers found on the rest of the Ballistix range have been replaced by the high profile finned heat spreaders favoured by most of Crucial's competitors on their high performance memory modules.
The new modules have also been fitted with a thermal sensor which when used in conjunction with Crucial's new Ballistix MOD software utility (downloadable from Crucial's website) allows real time monitoring of the modules temperature on your desktop.
Crucial Ballistix DDR3 1600MHz 4GB - Benchmarks
As you might expect overclocking the modules gives more bandwidth to play with but it also shows the limitations of the Ballistix 4GB modules.
The fastest stable speed we could get them to run at was just 200MHz above stock speed due to the voltage limitations of the memory chips.
Overall memory performance (avg thousand particles/second)
Crucial Ballistix DDR3 1600MHz 4GB - Verdict
Crucial's latest addition to the Ballistix range certainly looks the part with its new design of heat spreader but when you get down to the nitty gritty, the performance of these new modules is pretty disappointing.
The most we could stably overclock them at was just 200MHz over the stock 1600MHz speed at 1800MHz, which is not what we have come to expect from the Ballistix range.
This is due to the fact that even to run at stock speeds the modules are on the power limit at 1.65volts while the chips themselves don't seem very keen to run at too high a clock rate.
On the other hand the hardware thermal monitoring and M.O.D (Memory Overview Display) Windows based software combination looks interesting and although it is at early stage in development seems to work well.
It'll be interesting to see if Crucial add the thermal sensors to the rest of the Ballistix range because as it stands it is only available on these modules.
As well as showing the temperature of the modules (which can be logged to a file) there's a settings page that allows changes to the time that the temperature chart updates and from Celsius to Farenheight.
There is also a SPD data page showing details of the modules which includes JEDEC timings and Intel XMP profiles.
Crucial's BL2Kit25664FN1608 is a well priced 4GB memory kit and the combination of the integrated thermal monitoring/M.O.D utility, although in its infancy is a neat touch especially if Crucial decided to add to the rest of the Ballistix lineup.
But, and it's a fairly significant but, don't choose this kit if you want to do some serious overclocking.
The major problem with this BL2Kit25664FN1608 kit is the limited range of overclocking options available.
This is something that you can't normally accuse the Ballistix range of, mainly due to the fact that running at 1.65v out of the box there's no where to go voltage wise which wouldn't be a problem if the memory chips themselves were capable of being tweaked at lot more than they are.
If you are looking for a stable memory kit which you can tweak slightly and monitor the thermal dynamics as you do it, then this is the kit for you.
Want serious overclocking potential then look to Crucial's competitor's or other modules in the Ballistix range.