Crucial Ballistix PC3-10600 (DDR3-1333) 4GB Kit Page: 1
 
Introduction
 
LogoIf you've been near, in or around the PC enthusiast scene in the last 10 years then chances are you will have heard of Crucial. This company is known for making some of the best memory around, capable of achieving some fantastic overclocks. Today we take a glimpse at one of their latest kits in the form of the (rather harshly named) BL2KIT25664BA1336. This is a 4GB kit that, at stock settings runs in at 1333mhz at timings of  6-6-6-20. We've been impressed by numerous kits from Crucial before. From the first set of DDR2 PC2-6400 reviewed here, to the last set we looked at - DDR3 PC3-16000. I had high hopes for this kit.
 
On with the blurb from Crucial's own site:
 
 
What is Ballistix memory?

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 aluminum heat spreaders.

What is a Ballistix DDR3 240-pin DIMM?

Ballistix 240-pin DIMMs are found in DDR3 memory. DDR3 — the next generation of memory — boasts an improved architecture allowing very fast data transmission. Ballistix 240-pin DIMMs are available in DDR3 PC3-12800 SDRAM (DDR3-1600).

A Ballistix dual inline memory module (DIMM) consists of a number of memory components attached to a black printed circuit board. Gold pins, found 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.

To use DDR3, your system motherboard must have 240-pin DIMM slots and a chipset that supports DDR3 — which is a different technology than that of than its predecessors, DDR2 and DDR. DDR3 incorporates different sockets; they are not interchangeable or backward-compatible. (Information about which memory technology your system uses is included in the Crucial Memory Advisor™ tool.)

The number of black components on a Ballistix 240-pin DIMM can vary, but it always has 120 pins on the front and 120 pins on the back, for a total of 240. Ballistix 240-pin DIMMs are approximately 5.25 inches long and 1.18 inches high, though the heights can vary. These 240-pin DDR3 DIMMs have only one notch within the row of pins, and each technology has the notch in a slightly different location on the module.
 
And the specifications, once again hijacked for Curcials site:
 
  • DDR3 PC3-10600
  • 6-6-6-20
  • Unbuffered
  • NON-ECC
  • DDR3-1333
  • 1.8V
  • 256Meg x 64 
  •  
    On the next page we take a look at the packaging and the modules themselves...


    Crucial Ballistix PC3-10600 (DDR3-1333) 4GB Kit Page: 2
     
    Packaging
     
    The kit came in pretty much as expected, packaged as the majority of Crucial's ram does. A sturdy, rectangular cardboard box bearing a large blue Crucial sticker. It's a little disheartening to see nothing outlining the content of the box but it's a minor niggle.
     
    Box Innards
     
    Staticbag
     
    Inside the box we see the modules sectioned off and sealed in their own anti-static bags. The anti-static bags feature the  specifications of the sticks contained within. No chance of ESD while these sticks are being shipped here! Crucial's packaging, while not the most aesthetically pleasing, is definitely one of the better protected that we've seen. Crucial need to be commended once again for not using the blister packs seen in use by many other manufacturers.
     
    The Kit
     
    The kit itself, like the packaging, is a very familiar affair. Utilising the same yellow and silver heat spreaders that have identified the Ballistix line for many years now. These spreaders look just like the ones seen on both previous DDR3 sticks  reviewed on the site.
     
    Side1 Side2
     
    Sticks Chips
     
    I for one welcome the distinctive yellow spreaders as they not only look good but can be easily identified in a system build.
     
    Naked Chips ICs
     
    Underneath the heat spreaders we see that Crucial have stamped over the chips coding again, but unlike the last kit reviewed here it was easy to read through. Showing that the chips on the PC3-10600 kit are the renowned D9GTS Integrated Circuits.
     
    On the next page we start testing the modules...


    Crucial Ballistix PC3-10600 (DDR3-1333) 4GB Kit Page: 3
     
    Test Setup
     
    The Ballistix kit was put through its paces coupled with the following hardware:
     
     
    Testing consisted of the following benchmarking programs:
     
    Synthetic Memory Subsystem
    • Lavalys Everest 4.0
    • SuperPI Mod 1.4

    3D Benckmarks & Games
    • 3DMark05
    • Unreal Tournament 3
     
     
    Results - Speed and Timings
     
    As with all the memory kits that pass through the OC3D Labs, the Crucial Ballistix was tested at stock speed and timings . The kit ran out of the box without a hint of trouble on the P5E64, with absolutely no tweaking. This was maintained during a 1 hour OCCT stress test. While this might seem humdrum it's a good start, as some kits struggle to run at their rated speeds - especially ones with 4GB capacity.
     
    CPU-Stock Mem-stock
     
     
    After breathing a sigh of relief that the modules worked without a hitch at stock settings. It was time to move on to the good stuff. First up was finding the tightest timings at stock clocks.
     
    CPU-Timings Mem-timings
     
    As you can see from the CPU-Z screenshots above, the kit did quite well indeed. Managing to stay stable at timings as tight as 5-5-5-15. Quite an admirible result for a 4GB kit. Next up was highest frequency attainable at stock timings (and voltage).
     
    CPU-Highfq-stock Mem-Highfq-stock
     
    Maintaining stock timings and voltage the memory remained OCCT stable until 720Mhz. Considering that this is a 4GB kit this is an impressive result. Showing that it's now possible to have quick and large amounts of DDR3. Interestingly, while the kit wasn't OCCT stable at anything over the DDR3-1440 shown, it would still pass a 3Dmark run a little higher. The last test was the highest frequency at relaxed timings and increased voltage.
     
    CPU-Highestfq Mem-HighestFq
     
     
    With the voltage set to 2.0, the Ballistix managed to pass both both SuperPi and 3Dmark tests at 800Mhz. An extra .1v was required to stabilise the OCCT test however. Adjusting the timings made no difference to the highest frequency obtainable with this kit, and while at 2.1v anything so much as 5mhz over the 800mhz mark proved fruitless.
     
    Let's head over the page for the benchmark results...


    Crucial Ballistix PC3-10600 (DDR3-1333) 4GB Kit Page: 4
     
    Results - Benchmarks
     
    On this page we see the results for all the benchmarks run on the 4GB Ballistix kit.
     
     
     
     
    The Everest results are pretty much as expected. As the frequency increases the performance jumps up with it. Latencies having roughly the same effect, but to a lesser extent.
     
     
    The SuperPi 1M times were a little less predictable. Obviously as the frequencies increase the times improve, and the performance boost between stock and the maximum stable overclock is plain to see. A slightly anomalous result occurred when the timings were tightened at stock frequencies. While this normally gives a slight improvement to a 1M run, it had the opposite result here.
     
     
    The SuperPi 16M test showed some more consistent results to what you would expect frosm the various settings. Showing a few seconds discrepancy in favour of the tighter timings at stock frequency, the 720mhz and 800Mhz settings showing  improvements again.
     
     
    3DMark03's scores followed the same pattern as the SuperPi 1M times. With the higher frequencies giving the best scores, the tighter timings at stock settings impeded the test by no more than around a hundred points.
     
     
    Lastly we see the results for the Unreal Tournament 3 tests. Some funny results presented themselves in these tests, with the highest frame rate being achieved at stock voltage, timings and 720Mhz clock speed. Surprisingly it's tailed by only ~4fps, across the board. Tighter timings resulted in a drop in framerate, as did the highest frequency.
     
    On the last page we can see the conclusion and scores for the Crucial Ballistix kit...


    Crucial Ballistix PC3-10600 (DDR3-1333) 4GB Kit Page: 5
     
    Conclusion
     
    Being a big fan of Crucial's Balistix range form the start I tried to remain objective while reviewing these sticks. I'm happy to report that they have in no way soured my opinion of the range. With 4GB of RAM becoming more and more popular it's good to see DDR3 kits that can keep up. The ability to clock the sticks up to an admirible 800Mhz with little tweaking bar the voltage was satisfying. It would be nice to see Crucial stating a maximum voltage that the sticks were capable of running up to in order to prevent voiding your warranty. Benchmarking results from the kit showed that they are not sloppy on the performance front either, with the sticks performing well at the speeds they were capable of.
     
    The Crucial Ballistix 4GB kit can be had from Crucial's online shop here for the rather hefty price of £206.79. With DDR3 prices dropping so readily i can't help but feel the pricing is a little over the top. Similarly spec'd kits from the likes of OCZ and Corsair can be had for a fair chunk less. Included in this, however, is a lifetime warranty.
     
    The Good
    + Overclocking potential is there
    + Timings can be tightend
    + No tweaking to run at stock
     
    The Medicore
    * A tad expensive
     
    The Bad
    - Nothing major
     
     
    Thanks go out to Crucial for providing the review sample.
     
    Discuss in the forum.