A-Data vs Crucial: Battle of the PC2-8500 - Closer Look: A-Data and Crucial

Article Index
A-Data vs Crucial: Battle of the PC2-8500
Closer Look: A-Data and Crucial
Test Setup and Testing

Closer Look - A-Data:

The A-Data PC2-8500 is a pretty kit as far as memory kits go.  Our sample arrived in a RAM tray and came very well wrapped in bubble wrap.  Retail kits will ship much differently.  With the memory arriving as it did, it is hard to tell if the RAM was hand-picked by A-Data for us or if it will reflect the quality of product that consumers can expect over the shelf.  A-Data was contacted regarding this and they said that the memory was some sample memory they have around for testing and it should indeed reflect retail quality.

The 2GB kit of DDR2-1066+ looks very sharp with its green PCB and red aluminum heat spreaders.  A-Data has printed a bunch of information on the heat spreaders so you won't have any trouble remembering what memory you've got in your system.  Although it has the company name, and memory brand, it does fail to mention just what speed at which the modules are rated.  This is due primarily because these same heat spreaders go on many different speeds of memory at A-Data.

 

 A-Data Sticks - Close
A-Data Sticks - Close
 A-Data Sticks - Top & Side
A-Data Sticks - Top & Side

 

The heat spreaders are held on by a couple of small metal clips and some "frag" tape.  Close inspection showed that the tape and heat spreaders were making very good contact along the entire length of the module.  Thankfully, they were fairly easy to remove as well and we managed to find out what BGA chips that A-Data uses on these PC2-8500 modules.

 A-Data - Bare Stick
A-Data - Bare Stick
 A-Data - Micron D9
A-Data - Micron D9

 

Like many other companies that sell fast RAM, A-Data uses Micron D9 chips for their Extreme Edition memory.  I didn't know what to expect from A-Data memory, but Micron D9 chips bring my hopes up a whole bunch!


Closer Look - Crucial:

At the launch of their 10th Anniversay DDR2 modules, Crucial redesigned their heat spreaders and they now look much better than before.  Crucial has dropped the yellow heat spreader in favor of a much more stylish Black heat spreader that covers a black PCD.  The edges of the spreader are machine and this allows the shiny aluminum to show through and really catches your eye.  Across the face of each side of the heat spreader is the "Ballistix Tracer" logo done in yellow and orange which really pops from the background and looks good.

These modules arrived in the classic brown box from Crucial and were placed through their regular ordering system which shows that they are not hand-picked at all.  They are pulled off the shelf just like any other kit available - these sticks should reflect what you will get if you order from Crucial directly or from one of many retail outlets that carry Crucial products.

 Crucial Sticks - Profile
Crucial Sticks - Profile
 Crucial Sticks - Long Shot
Crucial Sticks Long Shot

 

What separates Ballistix Tracer from standard Ballistix memory is the fancy LED lights that are located on the top and bottom of each module.  Here's a clip from Crucial's site about their 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. 

We have managed to partially pull off a heat spreader to show more details on the Tracer PCB as well as what memory chips Crucial uses on these sticks.  You'd assume they use Micron memory, but you never know. . .

 Crucial Sticks - Top LED
Crucial Sticks - Top LED
 Crucial Sticks - Ballistix chips
Crucial Sticks - Ballistix BGA

 

When I managed to remove the heat spreader from one side of the module, I found that each chip has the word "Ballistix" screen printed over top of the other markings and couldn't read what chips Crucial used.  I tilted, squinted, got a light and even a magnifying glass to see what markings were under the "Ballistix" printing.  After a few minutes of frustration, I was able to identify the Micron logo and "D9" on the bottom row of one memory chip.  They are in fact D9 chips - same as the A-Data memory.

With both products packing Micron D9 chips can we expect identical performance?  On the next page we'll jump into testing and find out.