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Appeared on: Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Crucial BallistiX Tracer PC2-6400


1. Introduction

Crucial, a sub-division of Micron, has recently released a 2x2GB memory solution clocked at 800Mhz. With x64 operations systems to gain popularity among computer users, the need for more RAM is increasing. Performance and overclocking capabilities of the new Crucial PC2-6400 2x2GB will be examined in the following pages of this article.

What is Ballistix 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 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.

What is a Ballistix Tracer 240-pin DIMM?

A Ballistix Tracer 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 Tracer 240-pin DIMMs are used to provide DDR2 SDRAM memory for desktop computers. Ballistix Tracer 240-pin DIMMs are available in DDR2 PC2-5300 (DDR2 667), SDRAM, DDR2 PC2-6400 (DDR2 800), and DDR2 PC2-8500 (DDR2 1066).

To use DDR2 memory, your system motherboard must have 240-pin DIMM slots and a DDR2-enabled chipset. A DDR2 SDRAM DIMM will not fit into a standard SDRAM DIMM socket or a DDR DIMM socket. (Information about which memory technology your system uses is included in the Crucial Memory Advisor� tool.)

The number of black components on a Ballistix Tracer 240-pin DIMM can vary, but it always has 120 pins on the front and 120 pins on the back, for a total of 240. Ballistix 240-pin DIMMs are approximately 5.25 inches long and 1.18 inches high, though the heights can vary. While 240-pin DDR2 DIMMs, 184-pin DDR DIMMs, and 168-pin DIMMs are approximately the same size, 240-pin DIMMs and 184-pin DIMMs have only one notch within the row of pins. The notch in a 240-pin DDR2 DIMM is closer toward the center of the module.

- Main features


2. Retail package

Crucial's retail package of the Ballistix Tracer (BL2KIT25664AR804) includes a 4GB kit (2GBx2) and it is sold online for around ~$150 . The kit we received is packed in a common carton box, inside antistatic plastic bags.

The memory modules are rather unique with the red colour and of course the BallistiX Tracer logos placed on both sides of the aluminum heatspreaders.

The BallistiX Tracer memories include LEDs on the top that glow when the memory is used.

There are two rows of eight "chasing" red and green LEDs at top the module, circulating in a random pattern based on memory utilization. A circuit relays bus activity to the LEDs, allowing them to reflect usage of each memory module.

CPU-Z provides more information about the memory. The Crucial BallistiX Tracer PC2-6400 2x2GB memory supports Nvidia's EPP profile for both 400MHz and 500MHz frequencies with up to 2.2V. The embedded JEDEC timings for 333 and 400MHz are rather relaxed; tightest timings will be examined later in this review:

More information is provided by Everest edition


3. Tests

We used the following PC setup for all the tests

The goal was to check the stability of the modules under various frequencies with the lowest available timings. This is a rather test and trial procedure and the results can vary according to the motherboard and the chipset used. The Intel P35 chipset of our test PC offers a generally good DDR2 compatibility.

Starting from 400MHz, the standard timings are 4-4-4-12. We tried to lower that down to 4-3-3-8 with no success even at 2.20V. We had a totally stable system at 4-4-4-12 with 1.8V.

By changing the FSB:DRAM divider we were able to get higher memory speeds, without affecting the CPU speed. So we reached the 417MHz at CL4:

Another memory divider allows us to go even higher at 445Mhz with CL4

The roof top for CL4 seems to be around 452MHz (with 2.20V memory voltage). To be honest, we were able to push the memory up to 930MHz (465MHz effective speed) by pushing memory voltage to 2.30V, although it is not suggested.

In order to get 500MHz, we must rise up cache latency up to CL5. With 2.20V, we get the promised 5-5-5-18:

Reaching the 1066MHz is very easy with CL5 also (2.20V).

So what we have so far... An 800MHz 2x2GB memory module can easily reach the 1066MHz with stock voltage. How far this memory can go? We are about to find out, by pushing memory voltage up to 2.30V:

The highest stable frequency we got (tested with Prim95 and memtest86+ software) was around 552MHz, aka 1102MHz.


4. Final words

We knew that Crucial offers quality products so we were very curious to see how their latest offer for 2x2GB memory platform would perform.

A first glance at the memory's specifications do not unveil the actual potential of the modules, since these ratings are also met in many other memory modules. The BL2KIT25664AR804 2x2GB memory kit is sold at a PC2-6400 product with CL4 timings at the retail price of $150. So what's so special about this memory?

 

The BallistiX Tracer is a rather unique product when it comes to overclocking. First of all you get CL4 at 932Mhz with 2.20V and if you move to CL5, you can go as high as 1102MHz - a rather impressive performance for a 2x2GB memory kit. Of course the results depend on the motherboard but more or less this is what you will get. Moreover, the included EPP profile will help you automatically get the highest performance at both 400/500MHz frequencies.

So do we feel happy about this product? You bet we are. We are not aware of many memory modules on the market that can go as high as the Crucial BallistiX Tracer 2x2GB. If you are looking for a quality product with great performance, this is a perfect match for you. The Crucial BallistiX Tracer easily receives our Editors Choice Award for its excellent design, performance and retail price.

 

 



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