Crucial Ballistix 2x 512MB PC3200 (DDR400) Memory Review

Admin - 2007-03-25 15:43:17 in Memory
Category: Memory
Reviewed by: Admin   
Reviewed on: November 27, 2004
Crucial
Price: PC3200 $138.99 +/- USD (256MB PC3200 $74.99 +/-)
Introduction
In a recent poll of our forums members, not too many people thought of Crucial when it comes to �High Performance Memory.� Well, a good explanation to that would be that Crucial hasn't had a high performance memory until recently. Sure, they've been a big name in mainstream memory and flash memory, but they've left the niche stuff to the other guys. Well, not too long ago Crucial announced a new performance memory line, Ballistix™. How will this newcomer to the performance line stack up? How well will it hold out against the likes of a big contender like Mushkin? Let's see...


About Crucial
Crucial Technology is a division of Micron Semiconductor Products, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Micron Technology, Inc. Located in Boise, Idaho. Micron manufactures dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips and assembles them into memory modules for the global computer industry. Currently, Micron is the only DRAM manufacturer in the US and one of the three largest in the world. Micron is one of the top suppliers of memory to the major original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) including Compaq, Gateway, HP, and IBM.

In response to growing demand for high-quality memory upgrades among end users who wanted the best possible performance from their systems, Micron launched Crucial Technology in November 1996. For the first time, end users were given the opportunity to buy direct from the manufacturer the same memory modules bought by the world's major OEMs for original installation in their systems. Crucial remains the only memory upgrade supplier selling to consumers that is also part of a major DRAM manufacturer.


About Ballistix
The Ballistix™ line of high-performance memory modules features advanced speed grades, low latencies, and integrated aluminum heat spreaders. Ballistix modules are 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! For more information, please visit the Ballistix web site.



Specifications

Module Size: 512MB
Package: Ballistix 184-pin DIMM
Feature: DDR PC3200
Configuration: 64Meg x 64
DIMM Type:
Error Checking: Non-parity
Speed: DDR400
Voltage: 2.8V
Memory Timings: CL=2 (2-2-2-8)



*NOTE: According to our contact at Micron/Crucial, this memory should have timings of 2-3-2-6. However, since my system is set up to auto-detect the timings, and all other information available on the Internet show that this memory is 2-2-2-x, we will continue reporting/testing the memory as 2-2-2-8. If anything changes, we'll update you on it.

Closer Look
Even though Crucial sent us 2x 512MB of the Balistix memory, it is not sold in matched pairs. This shouldn't be a problem for those of you wanting to run Dual Channel memory. It is very possible to run dual channel with out matched pairs.


Each memory module arrived in it's own package, and included a multilingual user guide. I found this humerous, but also very detailed. Yes, it described how to install the memory. You'd almost expect someone that's buying high-performance DDR from Crucial to know how to install memory. ;) The user guide is also available on line at the Ballistix™ website.

 

The memory is very sharp looking with the black PCB and orange/gold aluminum heat spreader. I guess OCC isn't the only ones who like that color.


As I mentioned earlier, we'll be putting the Ballistix� memory up against the big name, Mushkin. Before we get to testing, let's introduce and take a look at the competitor.

 

The Mushkin memory we'll be using should compete extremely well with the Crucial. Both lines are PC3200 and have a CL2 memory timings (Crucial = 2-2-2-8 | Mushkin = 2-3-2-6).


While the Crucial memory comes with orange/gold heat spreaders, the Mushkin memory can come with a variety of colors. It's just random luck what you get, and luckily, the memory I ordered from Mushkin came with black heat spreaders. While it's nice, I actually prefer the Corsair heat spreaders better... like I said, OCC colors.
Testing
The system that I will be testing the memory on, is configured as follows:

XFX GeForce 4 Ti 4200 (AGP8x)
Chaintech ZNF3-150 (nForce 3) Motherboard (review)
AMD Athlon64 3000+
2x Seagate 40G 7200RPM IDE Hard Drives
2x Maxtor 160G 7200 RPM SATA Hard Drives
Creative PC-DVD ROM 8x DVD Drive
Plextor PlexWriter 24/10/40A CD-RW
Microsoft Windows XP Professional Service Pack 1a (services guide)

*Note: Just wanted to make another note here. Our contact has told us that the memory timings should be 2-3-2-6. We are testing/reporting it as 2-2-2-8, since that is what two different sets of memory have shown up as on various systems.

Historically, I've not been able to get this system overclocked past a 212Mhz HTT (200Mhz stock). Now that I've been able to confirm this with the Crucial and Mushkin memory, all signs are pointing toward the motherboard + CPU combination as the problem. I'll be getting a new motherboard here soon to replace this Chaintech ZNF3-150 as my review board. Another problem with the board, is despite changing the memory timings in the BIOS, when the system boots the POST screen and diagnostic software in Windows XP still report the memory as running at it's default timings. As a result of this, all tests were done with the memory at stock timings (Crucial = 2-2-2-8 | Mushkin = 2-3-2-6).


Crucial Ballistix                 Mushkin Level One


Since not everyone will be running 1G, I decided I'd perform the test in two sets. The first set would be 512M test, and the second set would be 1G test. Again, all tests will have the memory running at default timings, and the overclocked results will be at a stellar HTT speed of 212Mhz. - For the slower ones out there, that'll mean the memory is running at 424Mhz. Testing
512MB Test - Crucial vs. Mushkin






Conclusion

Well, Crucial's intro into the performance arena turned out pretty well. Even though I wasn't able to push the memory too far, the Crucial Ballistix™ sure gave the Mushkin Level One Black a run for it's money. In fact, the Mushkin memory showed higher numbers in only one result, and that was the Overclocked PCMark 04 Overall score.

Currently the Ballistix™ DDR line is only available in 512MB and 256MB sizes. I hope that in the future, we can see some 1GB low-latency, high performance memory from Crucial. Most people I know prefer to run one bank of memory (unless they have dual channel) to help reduce the variables when overclocking. We'll just have to wait and see where Crucial takes their performance line.

Crucial's Ballistix™ memory has defiantly proven to be a contender in the performance market. Those who were thinking about other brands, might want to reconsider their options.



Pros

 

Cons