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Appeared on: Saturday, May 03, 2008
Crucial Ballistix PC3-16000


1. Introduction

Crucial, a division of Micron, recently announced the a new DDR3 memory that aims at the magic number of 1000Mhz. With the arrival of Nvidia's 790i SLI chipset for Intel processors, it would be very interesting to see see how the Crucial memory performs.

- Crucial Ballistix BL2KIT12864BE2009  — 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 are attached to a black printed circuit board. The gold pins 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.

Ballistix 240-pin DIMMs are found in DDR3 memory. DDR3 — the next generation of memory — boasts an improved architecture allowing very fast data transmission. Ballistix 240-pin DIMMs are available in DDR3 PC3-16000 SDRAM (DDR3-2000).

- Main features

- Retail package

Crucial provided us a retail package of 2x1GB of Ballistix PC3-16000 series. The product is priced at around $650 and it can be obtained directly from Crucial. The kit we received arrived in our lab in a common carton box, with the memory modules packed into antistatic plastic bags.

CPU-Z provides information about the memory. Crucial's DDR3-2000 supports Nvidia's EPP v2.0 profile that should give you instant performance boost when paired with an Nvidia 790i SLI chipset. The embedded JEDEC timings for 444,593 and 667MHz are rather relaxed. We will try find the tightest timings for you later in this review:


2. Testing the DDR3 memory

Bellow you can see the PC set up we used for this test:

The Asus motherboard offers several ways to boost memory, either via Memory Level Up or via the manual method, which we followed:

During all the tests, we kept the CPU clock locked at the 333MHz and after un-linking FSB/DRAM we were able to boost only memory and measure its overall performance with Everest Ultimate Edition. Below is a table with all the speeds we managed to get and of course the corresponding timings:

Memory Frequency/Timings
Real Frequency
Voltage
Memory Ratio (FSB:RAM)
CPU x
FSB
CPU Speed
666,50
1,90
1:2
7,5
333,33
2500
800,00
1,90
5:12
7,5
333,33
2500
909,20
1,90
11:30
7,5
333,33
2500
952,40
1,90
7:20
7,5
333,33
2500
1000,00
1,90
2:6
7,5
333,33
2500

The results are rather interesting and also adequate. The memory performs exactly according to its specs and it can easily reach the 1000MHz when paired with an Nvidia 790i SLI motherboard. Until the DDR3-1904 point, the Asus Striker II Extreme could handle the voltages very easily and produced a totally stable system. After that point we had to manually rise up the NB (1.60V), SB (1.70) and of course for all the tests we kept DDR3 memory voltage at 1.90V. We also managed to get a further boost up to 1037MHz, which however wasn't stable at all, even with CL10.


3. Performance

Click for official website!EVEREST Ultimate Edition is a leading system diagnostics and benchmarking solution for enthusiasts PC users, based on the EVEREST Technology. During system optimizations and tweaking it provides essential system and overclock information, advanced hardware monitoring and diagnostics capabilities to check the effects of the applied settings. CPU, FPU and memory benchmarks are available to measure the actual system performance and compare it to previous states or other systems. Furthermore, complete software, operating system and security information makes EVEREST Ultimate Edition a comprehensive system diagnostics tool that offers a total of 100 pages of information about your PC. The software has build-in several tests for memory and CPU/FPU.

We used the latest Everest Ultimate Edition benchmark software and we got various memory copy/read/write numbers for different frequencies:

It seems that the unlinked memory doesn't give the highest results. In fact increasing the frequency and of course timings produces a lower performance. Of course that's the worst case scenario since most overclockers will keep memory and cpu paired (synced).


4. Summary

Crucial's latest offering in the DDR3 memory market comes with the codename "BL2KIT12864BE2009" a 2x1GB memory kit that aims really high, up to 1000MHz with CL9 timings. We found that Crucial's claim is actually true, since we easily reached the 1000MHz by un-linking FSB/DRAM on a Asus Striker II Extreme motherboard. As the specs indicated, the 1.9V was enough for the memory but also we had to rise up NB/SB voltages to keep the system totally stable.

What we didn't like was the fact that at DDR3-1600 (800MHz), we couldn't make the memory work at CL6, like we had experienced with Corsair's Dominator TWIN3X2048-1800C7DFG kit. It's possible that more memory voltage should be used to perform this. That's the only catch we can find.

Crucial lists this product at the retail price of $650, which is rather high. From our point of view, the new Crucial PC3-16000 performs pretty good and meets its specifications, but have in mind that it needs an expensive Nvidia 790i SLI motherboard to fully unveil its strengths. Obviously, overclockers seeking to get the best out of a DDR3 memory kit will not hesitate to buy Crucial's offer.



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