Crucial Ballistix PC2-6400 DDR2 1GB Kit Page: 1
Introduction

Celebrating it's 10 year anniversary, Crucial is a company that even the 'newbie' PC enthusiasts among us will have heard of. With roots steming from Micron Technology - an OEM memory manufacturer with almost 30 years under its belt, there is no question that Crucial modules are designed by some of the most experienced engineers in the industry.

Crucial have been kind enough to send us a 1gb DDR2 kit from their high-performance, overclocker orientated Ballistix range. Here's what they've got to say about them:

"It doesn't matter how fast a memory module is if it isn't stable and doesn't fit your system. Software crashes, choppy game play, and driver and operating system hiccups — all can be caused by bad memory modules. Performance and stability are Crucial! Don't settle for anything less than Ballistix!

The Ballistix line is specifically built for performance enthusiasts who want to push the performance envelope without worrying about data loss or corruption, mysterious intermittent errors and display problems, or worse — the dreaded BSOD! The Ballistix line of high-performance memory modules features advanced speed grades, low latencies, and integrated aluminium heat spreaders."



Packaging

Most memory modules that I've reviewed in the past have been packaged in a clear plastic blister pack. This seems to work well for showing off funky heatspreader designs, but doesn't always provide optimal protection for the memory against damage.

Crucial Ballistix PC2-6400 Packaging Crucial Ballistix PC2-6400 Packaging

Crucial have decided to package their Ballistix modules in a double walled cardboard box sealed with a Crucial sticker. This may look very plain, but certainly serves its purpose in protecting the modules contained within. To prevent any damage from static electricity occurring to the memory, each module is individually packaged in a sealed anti-static bag.



Crucial Ballistix PC2-6400 DDR2 1GB Kit Page: 2
Specifications

The following information has been taken directly from Crucial's website:

"A Ballistix dual inline memory module (DIMM) consists of a number of memory components that are attached to a black printed circuit board. The gold pins on the bottom of the DIMM provide a connection between the module and a socket on a larger printed circuit board. The pins on the front and back of a DIMM are not connected to each other. Ballistix 240-pin DIMMs are used to provide DDR2 SDRAM memory for desktop computers. DDR2 is a leading-edge generation of memory with an improved architecture that allows it to transmit data very fast.

Ballistix 240-pin DIMMs are available in DDR2 PC2-4200 SDRAM (DDR2 533), DDR2 PC2-5300 SDRAM (DDR2 667), and DDR2 PC2-6400 (DDR2 800)."


Crucial Ballistix Specs

• Module Size: 1GB kit (512MBx2)
• Package: Ballistix 240-pin DIMM
• Feature: DDR2 PC2-6400
• Configuration: 64Meg x 64
• DIMM Type: UNBUFFERED
• Error Checking: NON-ECC
• Speed: DDR2-800
• Voltage: 2.2V
• Memory Timings: 4-4-4-12

I was disappointed to see no mention of a warranty for the Ballistix modules on Crucial's site. Considering that these modules are aimed at enthusiasts it would be nice to see them warranted up to a certain voltage (for example 2.4v) for that extra piece of mind during overclocking.

On the up-side, the Ballistix modules have impressive timings of 4-4-4-12 at DDR2-800 (PC2-6400). One thing to note about these modules is their need for a motherboard capable of providing its DDR slots with a minimum of 2.2v. Without this voltage, the Ballistix modules may not work to their full potential.



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Appearance

More and more memory manufacturers are using their heatspreader designs as a way of attracting buyers to their modules. Long gone are the days when enthusiasts would be happy with a set of modules sporting nothing but their IC's. The Ballistix modules may not be as flashy as some others on the market, but are certainly classy in their design.

Crucial Ballistix PC2-6400 Front Crucial Ballistix PC2-6400 Back

Crucial Ballistix PC2-6400 Side Crucial Ballistix PC2-6400 Side

The Ballistix modules use a full-cover heatspreader design finished in metallic gold paint with an aluminium silver surround. Printed on the right-hand side of the module is a black and red Ballistix logo. Personally I quite like the look of the modules, but I can imagine them having a marmite-like effect (love it or hate it) on other people.

Crucial Ballistix PC2-6400 PCB

The Crucial Ballistix PC2-6400 1GB kit is on a single sided PCB and makes use of D9GMH IC's. Interestingly I also found a single D9GCT IC on the module (see picture above). This is rather unusual, as it is my understanding that D9GMH IC's are rated at 667mhz with D9GCT being rated at a lower speed of 533mhz.



Crucial Ballistix PC2-6400 DDR2 1GB Kit Page: 4
Test Setup

Processor: Intel Core2Duo E6700 "Conroe"
Motherboard: Asus P5B Deluxe (unmodded)
Graphics Card: Sapphire ATI X1900XT 512mb
Hard Disks: 2x Hitachi Deskstar 80gb SATA-II 8mb Cache (RAID0)
Power Supply: PCP&C Silencer 850w
Operating System: Windows XP SP2


Settings

When benchmarking the Ballistix I wanted to be sure to cover all angles. Some people like to run their memory at low latencies, some like to run their memory at high frequencies, whilst others prefer a mixture of both settings. Below is some information regarding the testing procedures and their results:

Stock settings (4-4-4-12 / 400mhz / 2.2v)

CPUZ CPUZ

The first test involved ensuring that the memory could run stable at stock speeds. This may seem a bit of a strange test, but unfortunately some modules we've tested here at OC3D in the past have fallen over at this first hurdle.

I'm pleased to say that the Ballistix passed the stock testing with flying colours, managing to run at 4-4-4-12/DDR2-800 with 2.2v on our Asus P5B-Deluxe test bed.


Highest frequency at stock timings (4-4-4-12 / 530mhz / 2.4v)

CPUZ CPUZ

Without sacrificing the memory latency I set out to find out the maximum frequency that these modules were capable of. By increasing the voltage to 2.4v I was able to push the modules up to 530mhz (DDR2-1060) - a hugely respectable overclock of over 30%! I certainly wasn't expecting anything close to this on the stock timings of 4-4-4-12.

Highest frequency overall (5-5-5-15 / 560mhz / 2.4v)

CPUZ CPUZ

Loosening the memory timings often allows for the memory frequency to be overclocked slightly further. This can be handy for people running high-fsb platforms such as Intel's Core2Duo which requires memory capable of high frequencies in order to get the highest overclock.

Increasing the memory timings from 4-4-4-12 to 5-5-5-15 enabled me to squeeze an extra 30mhz out of the modules bringing the maximum frequency obtainable up to DDR2-1120.



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Everest & SuperPI Results

The Ballistix performed admirably in all of our tests, being only fractionally slower than another brand of high-performance PC2-6400 memory we had in our labs at the time. The ability to overclock the memory all the way up to 530mhz while still maintaining the stock timings was simply excellent and produced great results almost up to 9gb/s on the Everest Read benchmarks.

Crucial Ballistix PC2-6400 SuperPI Crucial Ballistix PC2-6400 Everest

Crucial Ballistix PC2-6400 Everest Crucial Ballistix PC2-6400 Everest



Crucial Ballistix PC2-6400 DDR2 1GB Kit Page: 6
Sandra, 3DMark06 & CS:Source Results

Sisoft Sandra produced similar results to Everest, showing that the most benefits in memory bandwidth were to be had when there was a balance between low latency timings and high frequencies with the memory clocked at 530mhz/4-4-4-12.

On the other hand 3DMark06 and Counter-Strike:Source produced quite different results. CS:Source showed it's preference for lower latencies producing it's best score at 530mhz/4-4-4-12 with 3DMark06 going in the opposite direction and showing it's preference for the higher frequencies at 560mhz.

Crucial Ballistix PC2-6400 Sandra Crucial Ballistix PC2-6400 Sandra

Crucial Ballistix PC2-6400 CS:Source Crucial Ballistix PC2-6400 3DMark06



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Conclusion

When I first heard that I'd be reviewing a PC2-6400 kit from Crucial, I must admit thinking that the review outcome would be somewhat average. However, I can honestly say that the Crucial Ballistix kit has blown me away. Managing a huge 30%+ overclock (DDR2-1060) while still running timings of 4-4-4-12 is extremely impressive for a kit rated at DDR2-800 - I certainly never thought for a second that these modules would come anywhere close to these speeds.

Of course, these excellent results are only worth their salt if the kit is priced in the same range as other PC2-6400 kits on the market - and I'm please to say it is. After a quick search of Crucial's site, I was able to find these modules retailing for £135.11 - a very good price for memory with low stock timings and massive overclocking potential.

Komplett


Pro's
• Overclocks to DDR2-1060 @ 4-4-4-12.
• Maximum overclock of DDR2-1120.
• Well packaged (if a little boring).
• Competitive pricing.

Con's
• Umm...heatspreader design may not appeal to some people.


Editors Choice Value For Money

Thanks to Crucial for providing the memory for review.

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