Crucial Ballistix BL2KIT25664FN1608 Memory Review
Reviewed by: RJR
Reviewed on: September 16, 2010
The Crucial Ballistix line of RAM has been widely known and favored by performance enthusiasts for quite some time now. The kit being reviewed is a 4GB kit rated at DDR3-1600 frequency with 8-8-8-24 timings at 1.65v. This kit also contains an Intel XMP profile for easily setting the rated frequency of 1600 MHz from within the BIOS.
This Ballistix RAM brings something new to the memory table, with the addition of an integrated thermal sensor for real time thermal monitoring. All that is needed is a small download of the M.O.D. (Memory Overview Display) utility from the Crucial Website to be able to monitor the thermal performance of your RAM in a graph and also a table format (when enabled) in real time.
We will check out the thermal monitoring along with the performance of the BL2KIT25664FN1608 kit to access what this kit has to offer at both stock and overclocked profiles.
The packaging is just your standard plastic sealed blister pack. The accompanying cardboard face includes the statements "High-Performance Memory", "Premium Memory" and "Limited Lifetime Warranty". The back states, "Crucial Ballistix high-performance memory is engineered specifically for gaming enthusiasts and system modders. Featuring advanced speed grades, low latencies, and sleek integrated heat spreaders". In the center is a very brief illustrated memory installation tutorial.
This memory, BL2KIT25664FN1608, is rated to run at 1600 MHz with a timing of 8-8-8-24 @ 1.65v, so, not bad for today's DDR3 memory offerings. The memory has a high profile aluminum heat spreader that should be capable of removing excess heat to keep this RAM running cool, and now that it also includes an integrated thermal sensor it will be very easy to find out.
Let's take a look at how this memory performs, and whether it lives up to the Ballistix name.
This is something new for memory modules - an integrated thermal sensor for real-time temperature monitoring. The utility software associated with this new sensor can be downloaded from Crucial's Website. It is a very small and light utility that is still in the Beta stage of development, so I'm sure it will only get better with time. This utility is called M.O.D. which stands for Memory Overview Display.
The first screen that is displayed is the SPD Data screen. This gives you some basic memory module information: Device Type, Capacity, Part Number, Banks, Ranks and Memory Bus Width. This screen also displays JEDEC Timing information and XMP Profile Data. This screen doesn't show any real time memory speed or timing information like CPU-Z or some of the other utilities enthusiasts crave, but who knows what may be included in the future versions of this utility.
The second screen gives you module temperature readings in a real-time graph format with the option of also logging your results to a file. You also have the option to open the log file and to delete the log from this screen.
The next screen is just the settings option screen. You can adjust the temperature display to Celsius or Fahrenheit, the chart update rate and the file update rate. You also have the option to log to file, open log and delete log from this screen as well as the previous one.
The last screen is just the utility revision and links to the Crucial Ballistix and Crucial Forum websites. Also included is a program update link.
Now that we have gone through the MOD utility and you have a better idea of what it entails, we overclocked the memory to 1800 MHz and then ran Prime95 Blend for an hour to see the highest temperatures I could obtain with this memory. The memory was in a sealed Lancool PC-K60 case with all fans at default speeds and an ambient temperature of 26 degrees Celcius. The memory reached a maximum temperature of 44 degrees Celsius. The thermal spec for DDR3 memory (without the extended high heat specification) is 85 degrees Celsius, so, as you can see you have a lot of thermal headroom in an Intel based computer.
Okay, let's test this RAM and see how it performs.
Crucial Part #
DDR3 1600 MHz, 4 GB kit
Intel XMP Profile
Limited Lifetime Warranty
JEDEC Compliant Dimensions
- DDR3-1600 @ 8-8-8-24, 1.65v
- 240-pin, unbuffered dual in-line memory module
- RoHS Compliant
- High Profile Aluminum Heat Spreader
- Integrated Thermal Sensor
- Speed Verification performed in-system
- Gold Edge Contacts
- Limited Lifetime Warranty
All information courtesy of Crucial @ http://www.crucial.com/ballistix/index.aspx
Testing of the Crucial Ballistix will include all the standard OCC tests with the addition of the thermal monitoring test already performed on page two of this review. We will run this memory at the rated frequency and timings specified by Crucial, make sure that the XMP profile works as expected and finally, push the RAM to see what headroom is available for the overclockers out there.
- CPU: Intel core i7 860
- Motherboard: Gigabyte P55UD4P
- Memory: Crucial Ballistix DDR3 1600 CAS 8 4GB Kit
- Video Card: Gigabyte HD 5870
- Power Supply: Enermax Modu-82+ 625W
- HDD: Patriot Torqx 128 GB, Seagate 640 GB 7200.11
- Optical Drive: Samsung DVD-R
- OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
- Kingston HyperX blu DDR3-1600 CL9
- G.Skill Ripjaws DDR3-1600 CL9
- Mushkin Blackline 996782
- Corsair Dominator DDR3-1600
- Memonex Top Series DDR3-1333
- G.Skil ECO Series DDR3-1600
CPU-Z: This application shows us the settings that we have chosen in the BIOS. Items shown in this application include CPU speed and bus settings, motherboard manufacturer, BIOS revisions, memory timings, and SPD chip information.
Task Manager: We use this utility to show physical memory, kernel memory, page file, and processor usage.
- Processor: Intel core i7 860 at 180 X 17
- Memory: Crucial Ballistix at 1800 MHz 8-8-8-24
The overclocking of the Crucial Ballistix memory was a little disappointing, to say the least. I was able to bring the memory up to 1800 MHz @ 8-8-8-24 rather easily, but then things got really frustrating. Trying to go any further resulted in a whole lot of window load errors and stability problems, even with looser timings and voltage increases. Not being able to raise the memory to 1840 MHz with 9-9-9 or 9-10-9 timings left me a little puzzled and a little disappointed. That being said, you do get an extra 200 MHz worth of performance out of this RAM, so you do have a little headroom to play with.
One other thing that surprised me with this RAM was that it will not run at 1T command rate at all. Even at the stock rated speed of 1600 MHz @ 8-8-8-24, setting 1T it will be completely unstable. There isn't a big performance gain going from 2T to 1T, but it did surprise me that it completely refused to run at all with the 1T setting.
The XMP profile worked just as it should, by bringing the memory up to the 1600 MHz rated frequency and timings.
The maximum memory speed for each set of modules when overclocked is a measure of how well the modules ran on these particular modules and test system. As such, your results may differ in either a positive or negative way based on the capabilities of your hardware. That said, your mileage may vary!
The benchmarks used in this review include the following:
- CPU-Z Version 1.52
- Windows Task Manager
- PCMark Vantage
- Geekbench 2.1
- Super Pi 1.5
- SiSoft Sandra 2010
- Batman Arkham Asylum
PCMark Vantage: With this benchmark, I will be running the system suite, as well as the memory test suite. The measurement for the system suite will be the total score. The measurement for memory performance is the total memory score.
SiSoftware Sandra 2010: In this program, I will be running the following benchmarks: Cache and Memory, Memory Bandwidth, and Memory Latency. Higher is better in all tests, except for Memory Latency, where lower is better.
The Crucial Ballistix memory is on par with the rest of the memory at the stock-rated frequency of 1600 MHz, but did take a little hit at the overclocked setting of only 1800 MHz.
Geekbench 2.1 provides a comprehensive set of benchmarks engineered to quickly and accurately measure processor and memory performance. Designed to make benchmarks easy to run and easy to understand, Geekbench takes the guesswork out of producing robust and reliable benchmark results.
Super Pi Mod 1.5: is a program designed to calculate Pi up to the 32nd millionth digit after the decimal and is used as both a benchmarking utility and simple stress test to check your overclock before moving forward with more rigorous testing. The world records for this benchmark utility are hotly contested.
The Crucial Ballistix holds its own at the stock speed again, but does take a little hit from the slower overclocked setting here too.
Batman Arkham Asylum is a game that pits Batman against the Joker, who has taken control of Arkham Asylum along with a whole load of bad guy prisoners. His task is to rescue various hostages the Joker takes, along with trying to stop the joker himself, and fighting scores of prisoners in the interim.
- 0 x AA
- 0 x AF
- Global Settings = Low
- Ambient Occlusion = Off
- Resolutions: 800X600,1024X768,1280X1024
The Crucial Ballistix is still on par with the rest of the comparison modules we tested it against.
This set of Crucial Ballistix memory modules, rated at DDR3-1600 running at 8-8-8-24 with 1.65v, is on par with the other memory modules we put it up against. The thing that makes this set stand out is the introduction of the integrated thermal sensor. We can debate as to the benefits of the thermal sensor on this particular set of memory, but the fact is that Crucial has made the first move with its introduction and we are glad to see its existence. Only time will tell as to where Crucial, and possibly other memory manufactures, will go with this technology but it ought to be fun watching its evolution.
The overclocking ability of this set of memory was a little disappointing, but still was able to reach 1800 MHz with the stock rated timings of 8-8-8-24. You get an extra 200 MHz of headroom to work with, so all in all, it's not that bad. The memory runs quite cool with the high profile extruded aluminum heat spreaders. The maximum temperature we were able to obtain, while running Prime95 Blend for an hour, was 44 degrees Celsius. That means no worries at all, about even coming close to overheating these memory modules, since the thermal specification is 85 degrees Celsius.
These may not be the best overclocking set we have ever reviewed, but these memory modules still have their strong points with some headroom and the inclusion of the integrated thermal sensors that make this set still a worthy buy.
- Integrated Thermal Sensor
- Good performance
- High profile aluminum heat spreaders
- MOD utility to monitor memory temperatures
- Limited overclocking headroom
- Unable to run with 1T command rate