Crucial 4GB Ballistix Tracer PC3-10600 KitDec 10th, 2008 | By Simon
Crucial 4GB Ballistix Tracer PC3-10600 Kit
: 12/10/08 – 02:47:36 AM
Page 1 : Index
: Crucial (Micron Technology Inc.)
Crucial needs no introduction here at Overclockers Online. They are famed manufacturers of memory, flash cards, USB drives and solid state disks. They are by far one of the most recognized names when it comes to enthusiasts and their parent company Lexar Media is even a bigger name.
It wasn't too long ago when Jody finished his review of the Crucial Ballistix 1GBx2 PC3-16000 and simply put, they knocked his socks off. The memory bested his 790i motherboard and the kit rightfully earned the Ballistix name by offering high stock frequencies with loose timings or lower clocks with tighter timings.
The focus today is going to be solely on the Crucial Ballistix Tracer, in particular the 4GB (2x2GB) PC3-10600 Ballistix Tracer kit. This kit is timed at 6-6-6-20 at 1.8V. You can consider it to be a relatively low speed kit at only DDR3-1333, but here's to hoping that that we'll be surpassing those numbers this afternoon.
Page 2 : Package & Content
Crucial is the only company I know of that keeps their packaging
simple. There's no fancy claim shell packaging that takes up the side of a book. Instead, Crucial clamshells each stick and bundles them together for shipment as a pair.
The shipping package would now be a tiny box with some padding on the inside. This not only keeps shipping prices down, but minimizes the carbon footprint of the kit. Well done Crucial. Once you get the kit you can pull the two sticks out from the paper wrapping and cut open the small clamshells.
That essentially wraps up the package of the Ballistix Tracer PC3-10600. You won't find any installation instruction or warranty information with this package. All that information needs to be found online. Pulling the two individual sticks out, we see the standard Ballistix Tracer DDR3 logo on black aluminum heat spreaders. There a trim of exposed aluminum on the heat spreader and it gives the kit a nice sharp look.
The small labels provide the buyer with model information, stock frequency, voltage and timing. It also notes the kit is lead-free. This will make recycling a lot easier and less environmentally harmful when it's time to say goodbye to the kit.
As you can see in the photos above, the heatsink is held in place with thermal tape on each memory module. The lack of clips on the top ensures the heat spreader does not lift off the IC at the bottom. It also ensures a clear view of the LEDs that make it the Ballistix Tracer. The LEDs are integrated onto the PCB to ensure the smallest profile possible.
There's absolutely no difference in size between the Ballistix and Ballistix Tracer. Measuring 134mm by 30mm by 7mm (LxWxD), you'll have no problems fitting this kit in any motherboard.
Page 3 : Features and Specifications
What you get on the sticker is generally all there is to the basic specifications of a kit of memory. Straight from Crucial's website, we don't have much more information that wasn't already covered in the page before.
Here are the product details on what the Ballistix Tracer means.
What is Ballistix Tracer memory?
Ballistix Tracer memory is specifically built for performance enthusiasts and case modders who want to push the performance envelope while adding flash appeal to their boxes. The Ballistix line of high-performance memory modules features advanced speed grades, low latencies, and integrated aluminum heat spreaders. Ballistix Tracer memory features a black PCB, black integrated heat spreaders, and one or two rows of eight ‘chasing’ red and green LEDs atop the module, circulating in a random pattern based on memory utilization. A custom-designed circuit relays bus activity to the LEDs, allowing them to accurately reflect usage of each memory module. In addition, eight blue ground effects LEDs emit a constant glow near the pins.
What is a Ballistix Tracer DDR3 240-pin DIMM?
Ballistix Tracer 240-pin DIMMs are found in DDR3 memory. DDR3 – the next generation of memory – boasts an improved architecture allowing very fast data transmission.
A Ballistix Tracer 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(TM) tool.)
The number of black components on a Ballistix Tracer 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 Tracer 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.
Crucial has programmed a few timings into the kit but none at frequencies we'll be interested at. Raw power is what we want and that's what we'll get once we start overclocking.
Buried under the Ballistix etching we can make out that these modules are Micron D9GTS. These were once thought to be dead and out of production, but it appears they have been revived. On single sided kits, these were amazing overclockers, not so much the case with double sided DIMMS.
The memory controller is powered by XILINX and everything sits on top of a black Levin 83061 PCB.
Page 4 : Installation and Test Setup
This section is going to be incredibly boring. The Ballistix Tracer DDR3-1333 is only marginally larger than the stick of memory itself. By slapping on two heat spreaders, this kit will have no problems fitting into your motherboard and it certainly won't get in the way of any heatsinks. The height hasn't changed a millimeter. The custom circuit for the LED is tucked away between the edges of the heatsink.
The only fun part of this section will be showing off the Crucial Ballistix Tracer DDR3-1333 in action. The LEDs flicker to the RAM load. The LEDs are just bright enough to light up the interior of your case so if you're at a LAN party and your case has a window, these bad boys will certainly impress your friends.
Here's a complete list of hardware that will be used for the testing and benchmarking.
- CPU: Intel C2D Q6600 (G0 SLACR L731B434) @ 2.71 Ghz
- CPU Cooling: Thermalright HR-01 w/ 120mm Antec Tri-Cool Fan
- MB: Asus P5E3-Dlx Wifi-AP Edition
- GPU: HIS HD4850 IceQ 4 TurboX Catalyst 8.8
- PWM Cooling: Stock
- NB Cooling: Stock
- SB Cooling: Stock
- PSU: Cooler Master Real Power Pro 850W
- Primary HD: Seagate SATA 80 GB 8MB NCQ
- Secondary Storage HD: Seagate SATA 400 GB 8MB NCQ
- OS: Windows Vista x64
Page 5 : Overclocking
It's time to turn our attention to overclocking, the best part about any new piece of hardware. Everyone has their own opinion of what a stable overclock is and I find half the stuff we read online aren't nearly strict enough. A loop of this or a round of one game isn't enough to say the system is stable. Overclockers Online has derived this formula to dictate what a stable overclock is.
- Successful pass through 3D06
- Quad 32M runs of SuperPi Mod 1.5 (run at the same time using HyperPi 0.99b)
- 2 hours of quad Prime95 using Prime95 v2.55 on blend mode
- 2 hours of quad MemTest Pro in Windows using 800MB/instance for the first instance and the forth using all available memory
It takes a little more than just a single CPU-Z screenshot and a 1M SuperPi pass for it to be stable in my books. Here are the results I managed to pull off with the Ballistix Tracer DDR3-1333.
DDR3-1512 @ 6-6-6-20 1T 2.0V
Loosening the timing to 7-7-6-15 or 8-8-8-24 didn't let me squeeze too much more out of the kit. I maxed out at 1600 MHz. I was able to reach the 1650 range at the cost of MemTest Pro crapping out on me. Unacceptable for a review but it would be stable enough for most end users. Other reviewers have reported overclocks in the 1800 range… but my bet is they had a special sample unlike our store stock goody. This is more realistic of what you'll be able to hit.
DDR3-1600 @ 8-8-8-24 1T 2.0V
Page 6 : Memory Benchmarks
We start off with our benchmarks with a look at a few bandwidth and memory latency benchmarks. For all of our benchmarks today, the versions are listed on each graph and the results are averaged to the same decimal point they are achieved in. So if the benchmark does not provide a score with a decimal place, the results will reflect this. All benchmarks were run three times with UT3 being the exception as it was run ten times then averaged. Here is a chart of the various timing sets we used for the benchmarks and their settings.
Since not everyone is as comfortable or willing to put their memory through voltage abuse, I'm limiting the results to the stock 1.8V. If you went with the higher frequency at the higher voltages, you can expect your performance to increase.
Memory Bandwidth – Lavalys Everest Ultimate 07 v4.60
There's a good thousand point spread between the stock frequency and timing to our overclocked settings. To no one's surprise, the looser timing results in a marginally weaker performance.
Memory Bandwidth – Sisoft Sandra XIIc
Memory Bandwidth – Performance Test v6.1
A similar story can be told with Sisoft Sandra and Performance Test. There's a slightly larger gap between 8-8-8-24 and 7-7-6-15 but one you'll hardly notice in real world applications – we'll see that in the next page.
Memory Latency – Lavalys Everest Ultimate 07 v4.50 & Sisoft Sandra XIIc
Page 7 : System Benchmarks
Here is a chart of the various timing sets we used for the benchmarks and their settings.
FutureMark PCMark 2005 / Vantage
PCMark is a great way to benchmark your overall system, either comparing your results with the online database or comparing your own scores are you tweak your PC. I'm pleased by how well the Crucial kit performs but will admit I was shocked to see the 300 point drop by loosening the timings. The basic thumb of rule here is if you can achieve tighter timings that are stable, go with them. I bet it'll take a 50 MHz increase of memory speed to make up the difference.
SuperPi Mod v/1.5 – 1M
SuperPi Mod v/1.5 – 32M
SuperPi is the gold standard for memory reviews. The Crucial Tracer Ballistix DDR3-1333 manages to cross the sub-twenty minute mark but it requires both overclocking and memory timing adjustments.
WinRAR 500MB Benchmark
Here's a real world application that shows the true effects of different frequencies in timings. You can shave off almost a minute per 500MB by increasing your speed from 1333 to 1600. If you loosen the timing from 7-7-6-15 to 8-8-8-24, you can see how the difference is only 4 seconds. Increase the benchmark size to 1GB and maybe you can squeeze in an extra gulp of beer between the timing changes.
Page 8 : 3-D & Gaming Benchmarks
Futuremark 3DMark 2003/2005/2006/Vantage
Gaming Benchmarks – Crysis Demo – CPU (Average), World in Conflict – GPU (1920×1200), Unreal Tournment III (1920×1200 DX10)
As we look at some more real world applications with the Crucial kit, we see the overclocking offers modest gains in Unreal Tournament III and the Crysis CPU benchmark but it doesn't have too big of an impact in World in Conflict. 3DMark scores show continual improvement with increasing speed and the appropriate drop in performance when the timings are loosened.
Page 9 : Conclusion
What's the bottom line with this kit? The answer is simple. The Crucial 2x2GB PC3-10600 Ballistix Tracer kit offers great performance right from the get go. An inexperienced overclocker will be learn how to overclock and tweak their PC through simple FSB modifications or graduate to the more experienced realm with voltage changes and timing modifications.
Performance is key for a PC and the Tracer kit doesn't disappoint. The tight stock timings generated reasonable performance numbers despite the lower speed we're use to seeing. Backed by a 30-day satisfaction guarantee and a limited life-time warranty, the timing to buy this kit couldn't be any better as we enter the holiday season. Your glowing and dazzling PC will be enough reason to not need to setup a Christmas tree!
- Glowing LEDs to show off with
- Modest overclocking gain
- Tight timing
- Increased voltage doesn't improve overclocking results beyond 7-7-6-15 timing
- Similar kits available that are priced for less but w/o LEDs
Overclockers Online would like to thanks Crucial for making this review possible.