Crucial Ballistix Elite 2x8GB RAM review – overclocked straight out of the box

Crucial-Ballistix-Elite-MemoryCrucial is part of Micron Technology, which is famous as a manufacturer of DRAM, flash memories and SSD sticks. It was this company in association with Intel that started the production of the NAND Flash memory. Additionally, it is notable for its fast storage devices that are becoming more and more necessary – SSDs. You won’t find Micron Technology on the market because its products are marked with brand names such as Crucial and Lexar.

The present publication aims to review and interesting product by this company. Its name is Crucial Ballistix Elite and the lines to follow examine everything you need to know about these RAM sticks. Additionally, the exact model is Ballistix Elite and its capacity – 16GB, DDR4.

If you are interested, you can have a look at all current memory offers by Crucial here: http://amzn.to/29FwE6p

Contents


Video product tour


What’s in the box

Our RAM sticks came in an antistatic plastic package that has both its pros and cons. What we were not very happy about was opening it. Unfortunately, we had to employ crude force since the package would not open. Of course, this did not cause any damage.

Because we had a 16 GB kit there were two plates in the front part of the package, separated by division of some sort, and the memory sticks secured by the peculiar package form so that any damage may be prevented. Additionally, there is a sticker confirming that this is a genuine Ballistix model by Crucial. It provides some information about the memory model, speed, capacity and the support website.

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By taking out the chips, you will find a little cardboard piece which is quite interesting. At first it seems to resemble corrugated metal worn out in the middle where one may find the Ballistix logo. Even though the surface of this piece is even, it certainly draws one’s attention. On the inside (it can be opened) there is a picture illustrating how one can install these sticks and also displaying Crucial’s support website in the case of problems. Additionally, the back of this cardboard piece lets us know that there are three memory types that Crucial Ballistix offers: Sport, Tactical and Elite. The first one is meant for casual users, the second offers better timing for higher efficiency, and the third type (our sticks belong to it) offer higher frequencies and timings for the purpose of maximum increase in performance.

Closer look at Ballistix Elite

As we mentioned above, we are dealing with the Ballistix Elite model. Each of the two sticks offer 8 GB. Since the latest Skylake generation of Intel processors as well as the extreme Broadwell-E lineup support the newest DDR4 memory type, we chose namely this type of model that ensures higher frequencies than those of the standard DDR3. What will the effect of this choice be on the entire system, you can find out in the lines to follow.

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The memories offer aggressive looks which is mainly due to the “cooler”. It encompasses the entire stick where the memory modules are located. Along its entire length (on both sides) there is a sort of a band with irregular form that is there for cooling purposes. Apart from this, the company has not missed to add its logo on this band, as well as some information about the chips – operating frequency, base timings, voltage, country of origin and, of course, memory type and series.


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Those of you who like to achieve a complete consistent design of their systems will be happy – both the cooler and the stick itself are entirely black. In this way, the RAM chips combined with white or orange components will make your configuration a bit more stylish. Another advantage that we noticed before installing the sticks was their height. We measured a maximum of 40.3 mm which allows us to install the sticks without worrying about fitting the CPU cooler (we managed to effortlessly fit Dark Rock Pro 3). Nonetheless, if you are hesitant about the compatibility of the two components (RAM and cooler), Crucial offers the wonderful option of removing the upper part of the sticks. Thus, you can reduce the height to 36.3 mm.

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Specs sheet


Brand Crucial
Capacity 16GB (2 x 8196MB) DDR4, 2400MHz
Series Ballistix Elite
Type UDIMM
Error-correcting code NON-ECC
Voltage 1.2V
Features
  • DDR4 PC4-21300
  • 16-17-17
  • Unbuffered
  • NON-ECC
  • DDR4-2666
  • 1.2V
  • 1024Meg x 64
Speed 2666 MT/S


Specs sheet of our configuration


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CPU Intel Core i7-5820K (6-ядрен, 3.30 – 3.60 GHz, 15MB кеш)
Motherboard MSI X99A Godlike Gaming Carbon
RAM 16GB (2x 8192MB) – DDR4, 2400Mhz
GPU 1x MSI GeForce GTX 1080 (8GB GDDR5X)
HDD/SSD 256GB M.2 SSD
Connectivity LAN 10/1000/1000 Mbps
Features
  • 4x USB 2.0
  • 10x SATA III
  • 5x audio jacks
  • 6x USB 3.1 – 4(Gen1), 2(Gen2, Type A+C)
  • 1x optical S/PDIF Out connector
  • 2x RJ-45
  • 1x 6.3 mm gilded stereo headphones jack


Benchmarks at stock frequency

Now that design part is over, it’s time to talk about some tests. You may have noticed that both the title and these section display that we are not dealing with a conventional DDR4 memory. Immediately after you install it, the frequency of Ballistix Elite is 2400 MHz, which means that the sticks offer a factory overclock and you won’t need to perform any adjustments. Of course, we have included some overclock tests for an objective comparison and so that you may know if it’s worth buying a regular or an overclocked RAM stick. We used the first and the last RAM slots of our motherboard because in this way memory works faster – this is the so called dual channel mode. It is different for every motherboard, so if you have more than one RAM stick, we suggest you read your motherboard manual.

Ballistix MOD Utility

Before beginning our test talk, we would like to share some thoughts on a software that made a very good impression on us. Its name is Ballistix MOD Utility and it provides information about the memories. Fortunately, this package informs us not only about the RAM voltage, timings and frequency, but also about temperatures of each stick.


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The Lights option is for models that come with LED lights. Unfortunately, Ballistix Elite does not offer such extras and pressing the button will result in an error window on your screen (we had to try after all). Once you press OK, the app will lead you to the About menu which suggests that you should visit Crucial’s official website and forum.

AIDA64

Even though casual users mainly use this software to learn what components their box offers, AIDA64 also provides memory benchmarks that test latency, read, write and copy memory speeds. Below you can see the results from these sticks at 2400 MHz and stock timings. We decided it’s best to leave the voltage as it is, because very few people would take up this challenge. Nonetheless, there is that option of getting better timings for the purpose of better results.

AIDA64 Memory Read Memory Write Memory Copy Memory Latency
 –  35748  23927  31198  71.4ns

We managed to register speeds of almost 36 GB/s and 24 GB/s in the read and write tests at 2400 MHz. In the lines to follow you will see the change in results that happened after we increased the Ballistix Elite frequency to 2666 MHz.

Performance test

We’ve used this software before in our review of ASRock Z170 OC Formula. Because it features many tests that start one after the other, Performance test is a very useful application that brings information about your RAM, too. You can check timings, model and voltage. The tests here are similar to those of AIDA64 – read and write speeds, latency, as well as remaining RAM (after all the OS occupies several GB).


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Cinebench 11 and R15

Even though Cinebench is a benchmark that loads the CPU, its additional options have an OpenGL test that renders a recorded scene. Of course, it targets GPU performance (we used Palit GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock Premium as our graphics card) but after we saw the results from the RAM tests, we decided to see if there will be any difference in 3D apps after we overclock the memory. The results below are at stock frequencies again…


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Benchmarks at 2666MHz and comparison

If you want to overclock the memory, you need to perform a very simple operation. Like we said, the sticks offer a profile that allows overclocking with preset timings. In order to to reach them, you have to open BIOS and search for the profile named XMP. It can make your RAM operate at 2666 MHz by a single clicking of the mouse button. As it was mentioned above, we leave the timings at standard settings because pushing them will increase voltage. Since the motherboard we used was MSI Gaming Godlike Carbon, we had this option in the OC submenu. If you happen to encounter any problems (we did not during our review), you can turn to Crucial’s support.


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AIDA64

We launched the same tests and settings so as to see if the frequency increase will lead to better performance in our system. The table below displays the previous (stock) results, overclock results and the difference between the two.

AIDA64 Memory Read Memory Write Memory Copy Memory Latency
 Stock frequencies  35748  23927  31198  71.4
 Overclock  39642  23971  34336  66.4
 Difference +~1% ~+0,2%  ~+0,6% ~+8%

As you can see, overclocking is easy thanks to the XMP profile and the results are better in all four tests. Additionally, an increase of only 266 MHz brought 39 GB/s read speed – 4 GB more than what we got at 2400 MHz.

Performance test

After we got positive results from the above test, we were almost certain that there will be also an improvement in the Performance benchmark test scores. The screenshot below confirms that we managed to improve our results, and this was brought about by a single mouse click in BIOS! We were extremely happy with the available profile, but if you want more, you can push the timings, although you will have to play around with voltage.

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Cinebench 11 and R15

Finally, we had to check if 3D apps would register better performance after the change in standard frequencies. We got some strange results in the R15 version, but no matter how many times we repeated the test, the registered frames were very similar. Even though Cinebench 11 showed a difference of less than a single frame, which is normal, we observed 13 frames improvement in the updated version – 153 vs 166. The screenshot below confirms our words…


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Verdict

ram-crucial-1Even though this is not the first time we are reviewing a RAM stick, we are more than pleased. This is because of the design that fits perfectly into one’s system, and the performance Crucial Ballistix Elite offers. There’s no chance we can miss mentioning the awesome option of reducing the chip’s height in case we’ve not noticed that it’s higher than what we are after. All it takes is a philips screwdriver and two minutes for removing the small screws.

We were mostly impressed by the software features. Not only because of the single-click overclocking capabilities in BIOS, but also because of the Ballistix MOD Utility. It reveals many details about the memory, its timings, frequencies and operating temperatures. Unfortunately, if you want your RAM to work at higher values than 2666 MHz, you will have to do some additional work, but we are certain that Ballistix Elite can do better than 2666 MHz.

If you are interested, you can have a look at all current memory offers by Crucial here: http://amzn.to/29FwE6p

Pros

  • Attractive and aggressive design
  • Completely black finish that can be combined with other colors
  • Height-reducing option
  • Factory overclocked
  • Ballistix MOD Utility


Cons

  • High profile that can be quite important when you want to install a CPU cooler

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