Crucial Ballistix Tracer 2x2GB DDR3 10666 Reviewccokeman - November 19, 2008
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There was a time in the not to distant past where the thought of needing even 256Mb of system memory was unheard of. I remember those days like they were yesterday (It just means I'm old...er). Playing Command and Conquer and enjoying it with my 128MB of system memory. Fast forward to the present! Now it seems that even four gigabytes is on the verge of not being enough to handle tasks on today's fastest systems. Just recently Intel brought out the X58 chipset that supports system memory in a tri channel configuration to keep the latest Intel Core I7 processors fed. Tri channel means for most people at least 3 gigabytes of memory or more. Since a 32 bit operating system can only address just over 3GB of memory many wonder if they need the additional memory. The vast majority of consumers will never know the difference, Some even swear that their system is smoother with more memory even if the OS cannot use it. While that is really subjective it is something that can be sensed. To get around this 3 gigabyte limitation you can always install a 64 bit operating system to make sure you officially get the benefit of your four gigabyte ram purchase.
Raise your hand if you have not heard of Crucial! No hands! Good! That means you all are aware of the Ballistix line of memory modules from Crucial. These modules are part of the high performance lineup from Crucial. So what makes the Ballistix Tracers a little more special than the standard Ballistix? Well for one the black and silver heatspreaders point to the fact that they are different but that's not all. The Tracers get the name from the fact that these modules feature some added "Bling" in the form of a series of LEDs along the top and bottom of the modules. Blue along the bottom and a series of red and green LED's that flash on and off as the memory is being accessed creating a pretty vivid light show inside your chassis. Not only do you get a set of high performance memory but a light show to make you the envy of your Lan party gaming partners. Lets take a look and see if the Ballistix Tracers offer more than just a light show.
The Ballistix Tracer modules arrive in two individual plastic containers with a wrap that features a window to view the modules on the front with information about the Ballistix lineup on the rear. A fairly simple package compared to some companies who go all out on the package and insert a product that does not perform to the expectation of the package. Pulling the modules from the sleeve you can get the full view of the Ballistix modules. Black and silver on the heatspreader on a black PCB makes for a good looking module.
This set of Crucial Ballistix Tracer modules are rated at DDR3 10600 or 1333MHz with latencies of 6-6-6-20 and need 1.8 volts to run at this speed. Running at .30 volts above the JEDEC specification means there will be some additional heat to control. All the rage right now seems to be getting the biggest gnarliest heat spreader you can on the modules when putting some volts to them. Crucial has not gone this route but have chosen to use the thin standard heatspreader to effectively deal with the thermal loads generated by the Tracer modules.
The Tracer lineup gets its name from the series of LEDs that light the modules up when in use. The tops flash green and red when the memory is being accesed while across the bottom there are Blue LEDs to light the DIMM socket area. This creates quite a light show that definitely will wow your friends when they see the modules in action.
Lets see what crucial has given us for performance with theses modules!