Crucial Technology was launched in 1996 in reponse to a growing demand for high-quality memory upgrades among end users by Micron Technology, Inc. Since that launch, Crucial has done nothing but exceed the expectations of those end users with their wide range of memory products and to this day remains the only consumer memory upgrade supplier that's part of a major DRAM manufacturer, selling high-quality memory that has been qualified and approved by all major original equipment manufacturers. Needless to say, Crucial has made a name for itself in the enthusiast market with the high-performance line of Ballistix and Ballistix Tracer memory.
Today we will be taking a look at Crucial's latest High Performance DDR2 kit, the Ballistix Tracer 4GB kit (2GBx2) Red Edition, for which I would like to thank Crucial for sending us.
- Suitable for: Desktop PC
- Model: BL2KIT25664AR804
- 240 Pin Unbuffered-DIMM non-ECC
- Versions available: 4GB Kit (2GBx2)
- Pin layout: 256 Meg x 64
- Module Bandwidth: 6.4 GB/s
- Memory Clock: 2.5ns
- Data Bit Rate: 800MT/s
- Timings: 4-4-4-12-2T
- Operating Voltage: 2.2V
- Exclusively designed for high-performance systems
- Aluminum heat spreader
- Red activity LEDs
- Red ground effects LEDs
Packaging & Contents
The packaging for the Red Ballistix Tracers is the Crucial standard, a simple brown box with dividers to keep each DIMM separate during transportation.
Each module is fully sealed in it's own anti-static bag with a label indicating model number, name, and a few barcodes.
A Closer Look
The memory modules incorporate a unique red heatspreader proudly proclaiming Ballistix Tracer. The heatspreaders have a serrated and flashy aluminum border with a red surface that simply loves angles. By shifting the light reflecting from them a range of color from near black to cherry red can be emitted. A small sticker is located on each side of the modules, one indicating stock specification and the other an indescript sticker with small barcodes.
One of the most unique aspects of these special edition modules is the red ground effect LEDs and top-mounted red activity LEDs. These are the same LED lights that are used for other Ballistix Tracer kits with all red as opposed to red and green. The red activity LEDs are unique in that they dynamically represent the activity of each individual module and put on quite an entertaining show. It is plain to see that these modules make a great addition to almost any lighting scheme, red most especially. I would also like to add that my pictures are slightly deceiving in that the activity LEDs are indeed a bright red as opposed to what appears to be almost yellow in the pictures.
The system being used to test this memory is as follows:
||Intel Core 2 Quad Q6700 G0 Stepping
||DFI LP UT P35 T2R
||eVGA 8800GTS (G92) 512MB Core: 670MHz Memory: 972MHz
||2 x 320 GB Seagate 7200.10 in RAID 0 Array
||Silverstone Strider 600W Fully Modular
||Windows XP Pro SP2, 169.21 Forceware
The first step was to test the memory at it's specified settings to set a baseline for which to compare overclocked benchmark results. From there, the maximum memory clock was sought at stock voltage and timings to see just how much overclocking potential this kit has out of the box. As the table shows, 930 MHz was the max overclock reached at stock timings and voltage and is clearly nothing to scoff at considering the high density of these modules.
The remaining tests show how well this kit works with a range of voltages at specific timings. The kit was tested at CL4 and 5 timings to find the max stable memory clock at 1.8, 2.0, 2.2 and 2.3V each. I must note that despite my best efforts with a broad range of voltages and clocks I simply could not get this kit to POST at CL3. Crucial had the following to say when I inquired about my findings:
"These are higher density double-sided components - that makes it much more difficult to run lower latency. Most of the 2GB 800MHz modules on the market today are CL5 with a few (including ours) that are CL4. Hitting CL3 is just difficult with this newer technology. We’ll constantly evaluate if the parts will go lower and generally they get better over time."
After the factory specified settings were tested it was time to see how far beyond their rated speed these modules would go while remaining stable at each voltage setting. Amazingly for 2 GB modules, this kit was able to reach 1120 MHz at CL5 with the stock 2.2V!
As the voltage scaling graph shows, this particular memory kit seems to be more latency dependent than voltage. At either CL4 or 5, 1.8V appears to yield the best overclock/volt while obviously helping to ensure a long lifetime due to low voltage. I should finally note that, while these results are a good indication of expected performance, no two kits will perform identically and that these results are not guaranteed.
Value and Conclusion
- The Crucial Ballistix Tracer 4 GB kit (2 GBx2) Red Edition memory kit sells for $149.99 US Dollars at Newegg.com at the time of this publication and is indicated as a limited time offer.
- Runs at stock rated 800 MHz at CL4 with as little as 1.8V so great for motherboards with limited voltage adjusting as it is highly independent of supplied voltage.
- Great potential for overclocking, reaching 1120 MHz with CL5 timings at stock 2.2V.
- Roughly half the power consumption of 4 GB (1 GBx4) kits.
- Red LEDs and heatspreaders look amazing!
- Wouldn't run at CL3 timings.
- Smaller than expected gains with voltage increases.
- Slight premium in price over similarly rated RAM on the market currently.
Crucial has once again succeeded in producing a set of special edition memory that truly tailors to the PC enthusiast on all levels. While this kit is rated to run at 2.2V, it easily managed 828 MHz with CL4 timings at only 1.8V. On the other end, 1120 MHz was achieved at CL5 without any voltage increase beyond the stock 2.2V! I was a bit disappointed that this kit was incapable of CL3 timings, though it's simply a limitation of the newer high density module technology. Also, while being only slightly disappointed in the voltage scaling I saw at higher voltages, I was otherwise quite pleased with how they scaled with timings. An almost consistent ~100 MHz (~200 MHz DDR) was attainable at each voltage by loosening timings to CL5.
From their exquisite appearance to their great overclocking headroom, the Crucial Ballistix Tracer Red Edition are a must-have for any enthusiast looking to improve system performance and add a little bling to their interior at a reasonable price. The whopping 4 GB these modules provide should leave very few users wanting for more!