Crucial, a division of Micron, has a long tradition in producing quality memory modules for all categories of users. Their fastest ever memory comes under the codename Ballistix PC2-8000, DDR2 memory capable of running at up to 1000MHz, ensuring the maximum available speed with currently sold Intel Core2Duo motherboards and processors. We had the chance to test Crucial's new memory modules and provide our impressions in this review.
- Crucial Ballistix BL2KIT12864AA1005 — The ultimate in gaming performance
The Ballistix line is specifically built for performance enthusiasts who want to push the performance envelope without worrying about data loss or corruption, mysterious intermittent errors and display problems, or worse — the dreaded BSOD! The Ballistix line of high-performance memory modules features advanced speed grades, low latencies, and integrated aluminum heat spreaders.
A Ballistix dual inline memory module (DIMM) consists of a number of memory components that reside on a black printed circuit board. The gold pins on the DIMM provide the best possible connection between the module and a socket on a larger printed circuit board, usually a motherboard.
Ballistix 240-pin DIMMs are used to provide DDR2 SDRAM memory for desktop computers. Ballistix 240-pin DIMMs are available in DDR2 PC2-4200 SDRAM (DDR2 533), DDR2 PC2-5300 SDRAM (DDR2 667), DDR2 PC2-6400 (DDR2 800) and DDR2 PC2-8000 (DDR2 1000)
- Main features
- Module Size: 2GB kit (1GBx2)
- Package: Ballistix 240-pin DIMM
- Feature: DDR2 PC2-8000
- Configuration: 128Meg x 64
- DIMM Type: UNBUFFERED
- Error Checking: NON-ECC
- Speed: DDR2-1000
- Voltage: 2.2V
- Memory Timings: 5-5-5-15
- Retail package
Crucial provided us with the retail package for the 2x1GB Ballistix PC2-8000 series. The retail price is around US$555, directly from Crucial. The kit we received arrived in our labs had the memory modules sealed inside anti static bags.
After removing the memory modules from the plastic bags, we took a closer look. On both sides of the heat-spreader are the "crucial.com" and "Ballistix" logos, while on one side there are the part numbers and manufacturing information.
In order to test Crucial's PC2-8000 modules, we used the following setup:
- CPU: Intel XE6600 @ 2.4GHz
- Motherboard: Asus P5B Deluxe Wi-Fi Edition BIOS 711
- Memory: Crucial Ballistix 2x1GB PC2-8000
- PSU: OCZ GameXStream GXS600 SLI-Ready
- VGA: MSI 7600GT Silent (stock memory/core timings)
- HDD: WD 800JB
- OS: Windows XP SP2 with all the latest updates installed
While for benchmarking we used:
- Memtest86+ v1.65
- Sisoft Sandra 2007 SP1
- RightMark Memory Analyzer v3.70
- Pov-Ray v3.7 Beta16
- SuperPI XS Mod v1.50
The Asus P5B Deluxe offers various CPU:RAM ratio settings and high overclocking tuning precision.
For all tests, we manually set the FSB to 266MHz. That made the CPU run at 2.40GHz and we then used the various preset memory:cpu ratios to underclock or overclock the memory:
Each CPU:RAM ratio offers slightly different performance which was benchmarked with the various software. For each setting, we tried to find the most aggressive timings that offered the best possible performance. Each test, before benchmarking, had to pass a 30min test from Memtest86+ v1.65 without producing any errors. All benchmarks were doubly confirmed and all displayed results are the average number of both measurements.
The Asus P5B Deluxe by default will set the memory at DDR2-800 with CL5 timings:
The SPD as reported by CPU-Z are set at only 266MHz and 500MHz, with CL4 and CL5 respectively:
Before we proceed onto the test results, we should mention that with Bios revision 711, the Crucial PC2-8000 modules couldn't work with the 1067MHz setting, despite all our efforts. This of course was rather strange, since with a previous bios (revision 706) we had no problems with the memory at 1067MHz. This is probably a BIOS "bug" on the Asus P5B Deluxe:
3. Tests - Page 1
SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility. It should provide most of the information (including undocumented) you need to know about your hardware, software and other devices whether hardware or software. It works along the lines of other Windows utilities, however it tries to go beyond them and show you more of what's really going on. Giving the user the ability to draw comparisons at both a high and low-level. You can get information about the CPU, chipset, video adapter, ports, printers, sound card, memory, network, Windows internals, AGP, PCI, PCIe, ODBC Connections, USB2, 1394/Firewire, etc.
Sisoft Sandra offers two tests, un-buffered and buffered. Below are the test results.
The best performance is obtained with the DDR2 1067 setting.
Before this test packet was created, there was no proper software for measuring vital system parameters such as CPU/Chipset/RAM providing steady and reliable (reproducible) test results and allowing for changing test parameters in a wide range.
Vital low-level system characteristics include latency and real RAM bandwidth, average/minimal latency of different cache levels and its associativity, real L1-L2 cache bandwidth and TLB levels specs. Besides, these aspects are usually not paid sufficient attention in product technical documentation (CPU or chipset). Such test suite, which combines a good deal of subsets aimed at measuring objective system characteristics, is a must have for estimating crucial objective platform parameters.
RightMark offers a variety of test results, including both read/write performance from synthetic and performance tests:
The fastest results were again with the DDR2 1067 setting.
4. Tests - Page 2
Pov-Ray s a high-quality, totally free tool for creating stunning three-dimensional graphics. It is available in official versions for Windows, Mac OS/Mac OS X and i86 Linux. The source code is available for those wanting to do their own ports. We used Pov-Ray v3.7 for all tests, since it supports Dual Core CPUs. We used the build-in benchmark as suggested from developers.
It is a little unusual to see that with the setting at DDR 667, we have better performance than at DDR2 800 and not far behind DDR2 889. The best result came with the 1067MHz setting.
SuperPI has become an utility to benchmark modern systems. In August 1995, the calculation of pi up to 4,294,960,000 decimal digits was succeeded by using a supercomputer at the University of Tokyo. The program was written by D.Takahashi and he collaborated with Dr. Y.Kanada at the computer center, the University of Tokyo. This record-breaking program was ported to personal computer environment such as Windows NT and Windows 95 and called Super PI.
While the software offers up to 32M calculations of PI numbers, for all memory settings we tested only up to 2M calculations.
Crucial memory modules include memory for the fastest available processors and chipsets. The Ballistix PC2-8000 is designed to run up to 1000MHz, and at least according to the official specs, at 2.2V.
According to our tests, the memory reached 553.50MHz with the voltage at 2.3V. Of course, that is higher than what the memory has been designed for (2.2V), so it may cause some problems with certain motherboards. On the bright side, you can use aggressive timings for lower speeds, down to 3-3-2-4 at DDR533 (1:1) that can be used for high FSB overclocking (up to 500) with Intel's Core2Duo processors. Before buying this memory kit, be sure to check your motherboard support list to avoid any possible incompatibilities.
Overall, we were pleased with the Crucial's Ballistix PC2-8000 2x1GB kits performance. The retail price for the kit is around US$555, as listed on the Crucial website. We think that such high priced memory will probably be bought mostly by enthusiasts looking for that little bit extra in overclocking, at least at 1:1 with low CL3 timings.