It's been ages since we've seen anything from Crucial. Honestly, the company is a bit like Kingston was a few years ago. Both companies offer fantastic modules in the sense that they work on every motherboard and you very rarely have an issue with them.
In saying that, though, they're not on the bleeding edge of speed like other companies including Corsair and G.Skill. Over time we've seen Kingston step away from the more conservative module and keep with its high quality modules, but at the same time start breaking the speed barrier.
Crucial on the other hand while still offering those fantastic quality modules, aren't doing anything too wild with the speed. It's for that reason that we don't see as many releases and hence less reviews of their modules.
Today we'll be looking at a conservative PC3-12800 or 1600MHz DDR kit. Maybe we'll get a surprise when it comes to testing the kit. Before we get that far, though, let's have a look at the package and the modules themselves.
The Packaging and Modules
The kit we're looking at today you can see carries with it retail packaging which is something we haven't seen from Crucial in a while. Normally we just have some brown boxes and antistatic bags. Unfortunately Crucial have opted for a blister pack design which is really annoying to open. There's nothing unusual to the package with a bit of info on the front and back along with a peek at the three 2GB modules.
Checking out the modules, it might've been a while since we've seen Crucial kits, but nothing has really changed since then. Looking at the kit, you can see the trademark orange heatsink. We've seen this cooler for a while and to be honest there's nothing wrong with it; we've seen some good overclocks from Crucial kits using it and the quality feels great.
We can also see the timings of the modules on one side of the kit. We won't go into any more detail, though. Let's have a closer look at the kit and its overclocking potential on the next page.
Out of the box the Crucial modules aren't anything spectacular or mind blowing; we don't mean that in a negative way. There's just no denying that a 1600MHz DDR kit that carries with it an 8-8-8-24-1T setup is something very standard in today's DDR3 memory world.
You can see the validation here.
While they might not be anything too fancy, we didn't expect to run into any problems when it comes to achieving the stock clocks. And not to our surprise, they ran like a charm at the default settings.
As always, we have the need; the need for speed. When it came to overclocking the kit honestly went a lot better than I thought it would. At first I thought I would leave the CPU at the default BCLK and adjust the memory divider so that the memory went to 2000MHz. No dice, though! A 400MHz DDR overclock was probably a bit too hopeful.
You can see the validation here.
Instead we dropped the BCLK down and started working our way up to see what we could achieve. Slowly but surely we increased our BCLK which increased our memory clock. Eventually we ended up on a surprising 195BCLK that resulted in our memory running at 1954MHz DDR; less then 50MHz DDR shy of that 2000MHz DDR mark we had dreamed about.
Important Editor Note: Our maximum overclocking result is the best result we managed in our limited time of testing the memory. Due to time constraints we weren't able to tweak the motherboard to the absolute maximum and find the highest possible FSB, as this could take days to find properly. We do however spend at least a few hours overclocking every motherboard to try and find the highest possible overclock in that time frame. You may or may not be able to overclock higher if you spend more time tweaking, or as new BIOS updates are released. "Burn-in" time might also come into play if you believe in that.
Test System Setup and wPrime
We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASRock, Sapphire, Western Digital, Noctua and Thermaltake.
Today we'll be looking at the Crucial Ballistix modules in both stock and overclocked form against a couple of other kits including a 6GB kit form Kingmax and a 4GB kit from Kingston.
Let's get started!
Important Note: When modules are overclocked we adjust the BCLK which not only lets us fine tune the MHz out of a module, but in turn increases the overall CPU clock speed. While we always make the effort to include the BCLK and CPU Speed in our graphs, please just make sure that you make note of these when looking at the results. In some tests that don't purely test the memory speed the extra MHz on offer from the CPU can increase the result. Of course, it's worth noting that having faster memory gives you the ability to run your CPU at a higher speed.
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.62
Developer Homepage: http://www.wprime.net/
Product Homepage: http://www.wprime.net/
wPrime uses a recursive call of Newton's method for estimating functions, with f(x)=x2-k, where k is the number we're sqrting, until Sgn(f(x)/f'(x)) does not equal that of the previous iteration, starting with an estimation of k/2. It then uses an iterative calling of the estimation method a set amount of times to increase the accuracy of the results. It then confirms that n(k)2=k to ensure the calculation was correct. It repeats this for all numbers from 1 to the requested maximum.
The 980X grunt does wonders for wPrime and we see the Crucial kit perform as we would expect.
Benchmarks - Everest Ultimate Edition
Version and / or Patch Used: Ultimate Edition
Developer Homepage: http://www.lavalys.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.lavalys.com/products/overview.php?pid=3&ps=UE&lang=en
Buy It Here
EVEREST Ultimate Edition is an industry leading system diagnostics and benchmarking solution for enthusiasts PC users, based on the award-winning 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.
We don't see anything too crazy when it comes to the results here. When we overclocked the Crucial kit we saw a nice jump in read performance, but write did fall back slightly.
Benchmarks - SiSoft Sandra
Version and / or Patch Used: Professional Home
Developer Homepage: http://www.sisoftware.co.uk
Product Homepage: http://sisoftware.jaggedonline.com/index.php?location=home&a=TTA&lang=en
Buy It Here
SiSoft Sandra (System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is a synthetic Windows benchmark that features different tests used to evaluate different PC subsystems.
Sandra on the other hand sees a good jump in performance in both settings.
Benchmarks - Sciencemark
ScienceMark 2.0 is a mathematical program designed to stress the memory subsystems of both desktop/workstation and server environments to determine the read/write latency as well as the overall memory bandwidth available between the CPU and the memory controller.
Sciencemark performance is more linked in with the CPU speed and you can see the results reflect that here. Because we saw such a good OC from the kit, the CPU speed is only ever so slightly down.
Benchmarks - Far Cry 2
Far Cry 2
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.03
Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long
Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com
Product Homepage: http://www.farcry2.com
Buy It Here
The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.
Looking at real world performance in games, there's nothing that holds any real surprises.
Total Performance Rating (TPR)
Total Performance Rating
The TPR graph is a combination of all our benchmarks in which we test our memory modules with.
The TPR number is a combination of:-
wPrime Benchmark, Everest Ultimate, SiSoft Sandra, Sciencemark 2.0 and Far Cry 2.
Due to the nature of some benchmarks where scores having a lower is better result, we've had to change the way we do the numbers when compared to our video card ones. Far Cry 2, SiSoft Sandra and Everest Ultimate numbers are all combined. In Sciencemark 2.0 and wPrime Benchmark where a lower number is better, we have a base number of 300. The score we get from the kit is then removed off that number. There's a total of 600 base points.
For example; if the wPrime Benchmark score is 193.266 and 6.297 for 1024M and 32M respectively, the number that is added to the graphs is 400. That number is obtained by using the following equation: 600 - 193.266 - 6.297 = 400.437. It's then rounded down to 400 in this case. In the event that the RAM was slower in wPrime, the total would be lower which represents our TPR graphs exactly how we want.
Considering we're under 2000MHz DDR the Crucial kit performs pretty well and really does sit where we would expect it.
Total Value Rating (TVR)
Total Value Rating
The TVR graph is the TPR score divided by the price of the memory kit. The price of the memory kit is based on the list price of the model on Newegg.com. In the event the kit isn't listed, it will be based on the U.S. $ MSRP given to us by the manufacturer.
In the event we can't source a price from either, the product will not receive a TVR rating. As with our TPR graph, the amount of memory kits on the list will grow over time and the price of the model won't change from what it was when first reviewed. For this reason the U.S. $ price that the kit is based off will be included next to the name of the model.
In the event you want to find the TVR rating yourself based on the current price, all you have to do is simply divide the TPR number by the list price.
TVR numbers are rounded to the nearest whole number; 100.3 will be 100; 100.8 will be 101 and 100.5 will be rounded down to 100.
Having a look at the above graph, you can see that the Crucial kit is one of the best value ones we've tested.
The Crucial Ballistix kit is similar to a few other kits we've looked at lately; it's not all that fancy or flashy. It is a nice quality, good performing kit that does cater for the masses. For so many people PC3-12800 memory is perfect and people want to know if this is the speed they want, which memory should they buy?
Well, you should buy something like the Crucial Ballistix kit we looked at today. It looks nice, feels great, performs well and has a competitive price. Sure, you're not going to break any records when it comes to performance, but the overclock we got was surprising to say the least.
Crucial are a great company that produce some quality modules and while they might not be on the bleeding edge of speed, they continue to dominate the market with strong priced and strong performing memory modules. And for so many people this is exactly what they want.
If you're looking for a modest speed kit of 6GB memory that's not going to break you at around $190, yet looks the part, take the time to check out the Crucial Ballistix PC3-12800 kit we have here today. The best thing is that if you can't find it at your local retailer, you can always head over to the Crucial website and buy direct.
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