Crucial Ballistix Smart Tracer 4GB Kit (2x2048MB) PC3-12800/DDR3-1600 Memory Review

The introduction ...

Today, ocinside.de published again an interesting DDR3 memory review.
This time the new Crucial Ballistix Smart tracer DDR3-1600 modules are tested, which offers fast timings, high frequencies and a special highlight, in the truest sense of the word.
We already know activity LEDs in different colors on the top of the modules and near the pins from several Crucial Ballistix Tracer reviews.
But these new Smart Tracer RAM LEDs can be programmed with a special BallistixUtility and additionally the software can show the temperature of the DDR3 memory modules and write it into a log file.
The temperature monitoring of the RAM is particularly interesting for overclocking and for us one reason more to overclock these modules up to the limit.
Let us see, what these Crucial Ballistix Smart Tracer PC3-12800 CL8 4GB DDR3 kit can offer in addition to colored lighting and temperature monitoring.

 

 

 

Thanks for the support ...

Many thanks for the support with the BL2KIT25664ST1608RG Ballistix Smart Tracer 4GB PC3 12800 / DDR3 1600 CL8 kit
by the manufacturer Crucial.

Click Here

The Crucial Ballistix Smart Tracer BL2KIT25664ST1608RG 4GB Dual Channel kit contains 2x 2048 MB Ballistix Smart Tracer 240-pin DIMM DDR3-1600 memory modules and has at present a price of approx. 77 Euro (04/2011).
The modules are additionally available with other LEDs.

Here you can buy Crucial DDR3 RAM.

 

 

The supply of the two 2048MB PC3-12800 memory modules ...

Both memory modules came well protected supplied in this antistatic plastic packing:

 

 

That is contained ...

This kit came without a manual, but usually Crucial delivers memory modules usually with a quick installation guide.
The plastic packing can be opened very easy, by pressing the back to the rear, to break the two predetermined breaking points and fold up its cover.

This is an exemplary Blister packaging, which can be also closed again without any problems:

 

Here is a picture of the two nice Crucial Ballistix Smart Tracer BL25664ST1608RG.16FF modules:

 

 

The technical data ...

Manufacturer Crucial
Article number BL2KIT25664ST1608RG or 2x BL25664ST1608RG
Memory 4GB kit (2048MBx2)
Package Ballistix Tracer Smart 240-pin DIMM
Type DDR3 PC3-12800
Configuration 256Meg x 64
DIMM Type UNBUFFERED
Error correction NON-ECC
Speed DDR3 1600 (200 MHz * 8,00)
Voltage 1.65 Volt
Memory timing 8-8-8-24 2T (CAS-TRCD-TRP-TRAS)

 

 

Characteristics and other features ...

Heatspreader ...

The memory modules are provided on a PCB with two bonded passive heatsinks (heatspreader), which are supposed to enhance RAM cooling also with higher frequencies and/or higher voltages.
Thus one achieves on the one hand better overclocking results and on the other hand a longer life-time, whereby Crucial by the way grants lifelong warranty (Limited Lifetime Warranty) for the buyer (all information about manufacturer conditions are of course without guarantee by ocinside.de).

JEDEC and XMP ...

Instead of the JEDEC standard values of 1.50 Volt for DDR3 modules, these modules are officially designed for a higher voltage of 1.65 Volt to reach the fast CL8 timinings at DDR3-1600 without errors.

The fast timings and frequencies were programmed as XMP-1600 value (Intel Extreme Memory Profile) in the modules and can be detected on some mainboards like the EPP value (nVidia Enhanced Performance Profile) or the usual SPD value (Serial Presence Detect).
If the motherboard supports XMP, the standard timings can be set to these higher frequencies automatically without much knowledge, otherwise one should adjust the correct RAM values manually in the BIOS, in order to get optimal results.
Don't hesitate to ask for help about the correct BIOS setup and the exact values in our forums.

Light Emitting Diodes ...

Another feature are the red and green light emitting diodes atop each memory module, which shows the active RAM traffic,
to see the activity of the memory modules at any time without any additional software.
Close to the pins within the lower range of the PCB are 8 further red and green LEDs integrated to lighting the PC permanently.
This is a nice feature for a PC or Mac, but that's not all, as we will see below.

Here is a view of the top side of the Crucial Ballistix Tracer module:

 

Here you can see a close view of the small SMD Light Emitting Diodes of the Crucial Ballistix Tracer modules ...

 

Here is a picture of the Crucial Ballistix Smart Tracer DDR3 modules operating on an ASRock motherboard.
The upper and lower LEDs illuminates nearly the whole PC and this give the PC a special touch:

 

 

BallistixUtility M.O.D (Memory Overview Display) ...

And that is still not all what these Ballistix Tracer Smart modules have to offer.
Because Crucial offers a special Ballistix tool for download on their web page, which is a must download for these modules.
With this software one can see the SPD data of each module in the first menu ...

 

In the second menu one can see the temperature of each memory modules and as diagram and save it in a log file ...

 

And even the LEDs can be programmed with the software!
With Pattern the kind of the activity LEDs can be changed e.g. to Stereodisplay or Lava, etc., with Brightness one can adjust the brightness of the RAM Light Emitting Diodes and with Running/Activity it is possible to change the colors of the upper and lower LED rows ...

 

There are also a few little monitoring functions and adjustments of the tool ...

 

So that one does not have to keep always the Ballistix window opened for temperature monitoring, it offers an additional small Ballistix Temperature Widget, to keep always the temperature in view ...

 

The Ballistix tools succeeded overall well, but could be optimized again in a few points.

 

 

Less than 4GB on booting, only 3GB in the BIOS or less than 4GB in the operating system ...

It can occur that the memory capacity is only indicated as approx. 3GB instead of the 4GB, because 4GB RAM or any sizes with more than 2GB have to be setup in the BIOS and/or in the OS.
Here at ocinside.de is a guide which contains among other things a table, how much RAM each operating system can support.
Additionally there are some topics in our forum under hints and cheat, how one can address 4GB or more also with 32-Bit operating systems.
Don't hesitate to ask us in our German or English forum if you need any help.

 

 

Benchmark values and test results ...

Let us continue with the most important part of the test report, the highest possible stable performance.
The test results are based on an ASRock M3A790GXH/128M motherboard with an AMD Phenom II 710 X3 CPU on different frequencies depending on the reference clock for the different memory benchmarks.
The multiplier adjustment remains on 13x with all frequencies, because an adjustment for the CPU in half multiplier
steps would be too inaccurate to get nearly the same CPU frequency for all tests.
Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate Edition is used as the operating system.
The stability was examined with the software Memtest86 and SiSoft Sandra Lite 2010c and Sandra 2011 is for all benchmarks used, because it offers extensive adjustments and a fast result comparison.
BTW. the latest SiSoftware Sandra 2011 version is available on our download server and can be downloaded very fast.
All memory benchmark tests are also included in the free Sandra Lite version.

First the maximum possible frequency of the memory module was determined with default 1.50 Volt (1.53V).
The memory frequency was increased in small steps with a fixed memory timing of 8-8-8-24 2T and default memory voltage, as long as the detailed memory test with Memtest86 runs without any errors.
This quite long testing time ensured that this frequency works really stable with these modules.

The highest possible frequency with 8-8-8-24 2T (CAS-TRCD-TRP-TRAS) timings and 1.53V was 750/1498 MHz.

Here is a Snipping screenshot of CPU-Z 1.53 with 750/1498 MHz and 8-8-8-24 2T with 1,53 Volt:

 

It's possible to run much higher frequencies with increased voltages or lower timings, because the frequency values and timings depends directly from each other.

The benchmark comparison of all DDR3 modules were tested with the default 1.53 V, where these modules reached 1498 MHz.
This highest possible clocking on the default DDR3 voltage was compared with two other settings.
On the one hand they were tested with 200 MHz reference clock x6,66 = 1333 MHz and SPD values (SPD values are programmed in the SPD IC by the manufacturer).
On the other hand the highest possible frequency was determined at 8-8-8-24 2T with the permitted manufacturer voltage.

With a frequency of approx. 667 MHz the SPD EEPROM autodetection timings were 9-12-12-30 2T (CAS-TRCD-TRP-TRAS).

Here is a Snipping screenshot of CPU-Z 1.53 with 666.7/1333 MHz and 9-12-12-30 2T:

Officially Crucial specify the voltage of 1.65 Volt without loosing the warranty.
This voltage was also necessary, in order to be able to clock the modules stable with 800/1600 MHz and 8-8-8-24 2T.
With 1.65 Volt Vmem and CL8 it was possible to reach a maximum frequency of 1600 MHz on the AMD platform.

The highest possible frequency with 8-8-8-24 2T (CAS-TRCD-TRP-TRAS) timings and 1.65V was 800/1600 MHz.

Here is a Snipping screenshot of CPU-Z 1.53 with 800/1600 MHz and 8-8-8-24 2T with 1,65 Volt (manufacturer voltage):

 

An inoffical overclocking test outside the manufacturer specification with 2.00 V Vmem offered a maximum of 1667 MHz and offers an increasement compared to the permitted 1.65 Volt.
The memory temperature rose thereby externally measured from approx. 42.6°C with DDR3-1600 and 1,65V to 50.6°C with DDR3-1667 and 2V, which corresponds to an internally temperature measurement of approx. 53.25°C.
With higher voltages one should thus upgrade to larger heat spreader at the best with an active RAM cooler.

Here is a Snipping screenshot of CPU-Z 1.53 with 833/1667 MHz and 8-8-8-24 2T with 2 Volt unofficial voltage:

 

Here are the SiSoftware Sandra 2010 benchmark results:

Frequency
Timing
Speicher
Spannung
RAM Range
Int Buff'd iSSE2
Memory Bus Range
Memory
Latency
220 MHz * 6,66 = 1498 MHz
fix (8-8-8-24 2T)
1.53 Volt
13.47 GB/s
23.44 GB/s
77 ns
248 MHz * 6,66 = 1600 MHz
fix (8-8-8-24 2T)
1.65 Volt
14.51 GB/s
25.00 GB/s
71 ns
200 MHz * 6,66 = 1333 MHz
SPD (9-12-12-30 2T)
1.53 Volt
11.85 GB/s
20.84 GB/s
93 ns

By the way, the "Memory Bus Range" is no benchmark value, but this value is quite simple to calculate by the frequency and
this is useful for a benchmark comparison.
For own comparisons with the values from older Sandra versions before Sandra 2011 it is important to know, that starting from the version 2011 the memory performance in SiSoftware Sandra is differently calculated and one must convert the value, in order to get identical results: Sandra 2010 value /1024/1024*1000*1000 = Sandra 2011 result.

 

Here's a diagram of the benchmark values:

 

Here is a direct comparison of some DDR3, DDR2 and DDR memory benchmark results:

 

The Crucial Ballistix Smart Tracer PC3-12800 memory modules are not at the top of all results with the standard JEDEC voltage, but they are however nevertheless within the good upper range of all tested modules.
With the maximally permitted voltage of 1,65 V, which is also written in the XMP-1600 profile by the manufacturer, it was possible to reach much faster results and starting from a VMem of approx. 2.00 V even the 1600 MHz border (800 MHz) was significant exceeded.

 

Result and general impression ...

The Crucial Ballistix Smart Tracer PC3-12800 4GB RAM kit 1x BL2KIT25664ST1608RG or 2x BL25664ST1608RG is also at the standard DDR3 voltage well overlockable and reached the fast DDR3-1600 CL8 values at the manufacturer permitted voltage of 1.65V.

Thanks to the integrated XMP-1600 profile it is also for laymen absolutely no problem to setup the proper values with a XMP capable motherboard and alternatively one can enter these values also manually in the BIOS.
One should not forget to increase the DDR3 voltage in order to run the modules stable at DDR3-1600.

All in all these new Crucial Ballistix Smart Tracer PC3-12800 modules offers thus not only a lot of BlingBling with their green and red LEDs, but also good overclocking values and very useful features like the RAM temperature monitoring.
For higher overclocking results however clearly higher voltage levels were necessary, which would be far outside of the manufacturer defaults and which one should use only at their own risk with better cooling.
However, these it made in nay case a lot of fun to test these modules - not only with overclocking, but particularly thanks to the special features.

 

Discuss in our forum and exchange experiences ...

Here you can buy Crucial DDR3 modules ...

Read on in the hardware test area with several hardware reviews ...

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