Crucial Ballistix DDR3-1866 8GB Kit

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Product: Crucial Ballistix Elite DDR3-1866 8GB Kit
Provided By: Crucial
Price: $67.99 MSRP at Publication (Shop Crucial RAM here)

Introduction:

Today we have some DDR3 ram modules from Crucial on our test bench. Crucial - if you haven't heard of them - has come a long way in the memory market and as they are a division of Micron, they have been one of the pioneers in the memory market. They are a serious contender in the memory market, even if they don't have the highest-clocked modules around.  If you are not familiar with their products or just want to know more about them, check out their website.

The samples they have sent us are the Crucial Ballistix Elite Series DDR3 PC-3 14900 @ 1866MHz. This kit features 2×4GB that have 9-9-9-27 1T timings @ 1.5Volts. This is achieved via the XMP (eXtreme Memory Performance) profile on Intel systems.  If you use this memory on an AMD-based system, you may have to specify the XMP settings in the BIOS.  By default, they will default to a JEDEC standard also listed in the memory's SPD.

Package Front Package Rear

First Impression:

Crucial packaged their ram as you would expect - in a plastic clam shell.  Once you open the clam shell you will find that both modules are in a molded plastic tray.  The molded tray snaps out for easy access to memory sticks and did a great job of protecting them during shipping.  The first thing I noticed once I have removed the memory from the clam shell was that Crucial did use high quality aluminum in the heat-spreader.  In fact, a module of the Crucial Ballistix Elite series memory is about twice as heavy as the Corsair Vengeance memory I was using.

Elite Pile Front & Back

On the next page, we'll cover the specifications and features before we jump into testing.


Specifications & Features:

Crucial didn't send a lot of info about the Ballistix Elite series memory.  If you look at the packaging above you will see there isn't much labeling or so much as a description on it.  In fact, the samples I received were supposed to be a matched set, but they were not.  After a little research I figured out by the part number that they were 2 individual memory modules in kit packaging.  This shouldn't matter for my testing purposes.  The specifications and features below were taken from the Crucial website.

Editors Note: Crucial pairs up their memory in kits that match performance and overall specification so there should be no compatibility issues.

Specs

Features

Test Setup:

Below you will find the specification of my test rig for this review.  I did not do a lot of playing around with RAM settings at this point and we ran the memory at its rated speed.  I installed the memory modules as most users would and ran our benchmarks.  This would give me a good baseline of what to expect.  Then, I simply went into the system bios and changed the DRAM configuration from the default (auto) to the XMP profile.  The Corsair Vengeance could only support running the RAM in the 1.2 XMP profile while the Crucial Ballistix Elite series was capable of running the newest 1.3 XMP profile.  Then I re-ran all benchmarks.

Installed

 
Sandy Bridge
CPU
Intel Core i-5 2550K @ 3.40Ghz
Motherboard
ASRock Z68 Pro3 Gen3
Memory
* 8GB Corsair Vengeance Series DDR3 PC-3 12800 (1600MHz)
* 8GB Crucial Elite Series DDR3 PC-3 14900 (1866MHz)
Graphics
EVGA GeForce GTS 450
Cooling
Thermaltake Water 2.0 Pro
Hard Drives
Crucial M4 256GB SSD
Operating System
Windows 7 Ultimate x64
GeForce Drivers
306.97 WHQL

 

On the next page we'll take a look at some benchmarks as we start testing these modules.


Benchmarks:

In this section we will be running four benchmarks.  The four benchmarks we are using are Super Pi, SiSoftware Sandra, AIDA64 and CPUID CPU-Z (this isn't really a benchmark it just shows what is actually has been changed in the system).



CPUID CPU-Z:

Below you can see that most system will default the memory timings.  This is done mainly to make their memory module backwards compatible with older motherboards.  As you can see the default frequency is 667 MHz for both memory kits.  The Corsair Vengeance DDR3 PC-3 12800 (1600 MHz) with the timing of 9-9-9-24 Command Rate (CR) 1T @ 1.5Volts with the default setting it is actually @ 1333MHz.  This is a little short from what is advertised.  The Crucial Ballistix Elite DDR3 PC-3 14900 (1866MHz) with the timings of 9-9-9-27 Command Rate (CR) T1 @1.5Volts with the default setting is actually at 1333MHz.  This is way below advertised speeds.  When you change the BIOS DRAM configuration from the default profile (auto) to the XMP profile, the frequencies come into line with what you expect.

The Corsair Vengeance DDR3 PC-3 12800 memory module with the same timings and CR is actually at the advertised speed of 1600MHz. The Crucial Ballistix DDR3 PC-3 14900 memory module came up to its advertised speed of 1866MHz with a slight change in the timing.

   

Super Pi:

Super Pi is a program that calculates Pi to a specific decimal point and times it.  We included this result in the review, but when looking at the different profiles, this seems to be largely CPU dependent anymore.  Back in the day, memory made more of an impact on these results.

SuperPi

 

On the next page we'll continue with the benchmarks as we compare the two kits in SiSoft Sandra as well as AIDA64.


SiSoftware Sandra:

This benchmark tests memory speed.  You can definitely see a performance gain in both sets of memory with the correct timings.  The Crucial Elite series jumping way ahead and this is no surprise as it is actually a faster-clocked kit.

SiSoft Bandwidth

AIDA64:

This benchmark is use to find Read, Write and Copy speeds along with overall memory latency.  I was actually surprised that the Corsair Vengeance had a better overall latency at default timings, but once you change them to their perspective XMP profiles, the Crucial Ballistix Elite series set came out swinging!  It had a substantial drop in overall latency and therefore increases in performance.

AIDA64

Those numbers look pretty good, but how do they compare?  Take a look below.

AIDA64 Performance

On the final page we'll wrap up our thoughts and the review.


Conclusion:

The Crucial Ballistix Elite series DDR3 PC-3 14900 2x 4GB memory kit performed great.  It outperformed the 8GB Corsair memory kit and still has some room to play with.  An advanced user could most definitely find some more speed by changing timings and settings in BIOS or even over-clocking the CPU and RAM to gain every extra MB of transfer available.  The Crucial Ballistix Elite series 8GB kit can be found online for $50.  This puts it in line with other manufacturers of equivalent memory.  Overall, I was pleased with the performance of the Crucial Ballistix Elites series.  It ran at its advertised speed without any problems.

Pros:

  • Competitive pricing
  • High quality construction

 

Cons:

  • Heat-spreader height could be an issue with some CPU coolers

BCCRating

Silver

 

I would like to thank Crucial for sending BCCHardware these samples for review. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the forum link below.