We are getting close to the end of the DDR4 cycle with the next generation being just around the corner. That doesn’t stop manufacturers from releasing new DDR4 models, while constantly tweaking the best performance-price-looks combo. Crucial just launched their new Ballistix Gaming line, with RGB variants of course and even a top tier high frequency one called the ‘MAX’. All of these will replace Micron’s existing suite of Ballistix Sport, Tactical, and Elite products.
Today we will focus on the standard range which tops out at a 64 GB kit (2x 32 GB) 3600 MHz. Having a low profile 64 GB RAM kit on an ITX system is very tempting!
First about Crucial
Crucial is a global brand of Micron Technology, Inc., one of the largest memory and flash storage manufacturers in the world also ranked among the Top 5 Semiconductor producing companies in the world.
They make computer memory upgrades (DRAM) and solid state drives (SSDs), and offer more than 250,000 upgrades for over 50,000 systems.
Prices and Availability
The new Ballistix Gaming line has 3 colour options for the heatsink (Black, Red or White) with speeds that can go all the way to 3600 MHz. They offer RGB variations as well. Then everything tops out with the MAX series which can be had all the way to 4400 MHz! Our sample kit for today is a 32 GB kit (2×16 GB) in plain black with the 3600 MHz. Below you will find one from each spectrum.
Presentation and Specification
*Courtesy of their website.*
Crucial® Ballistix® gaming memory is designed for high-performance overclocking and is ideal for gamers and performance enthusiasts looking to push beyond standard limits. With an anodized aluminum heat spreader in black, white, or red and XMP 2.0 support for automatic overclocking, Crucial Ballistix memory is engineered for the latest AMD and Intel platforms. RGB modules are controlled using popular RGB software, while SODIMM modules offer speed and compact thermal management for laptops.
Anodized aluminum heat spreader available in black, white, or red. Low-profile form factor is ideal for smaller or space-limited rigs.
Bold RGB Effects
Low-profile form factor, ideal for smaller rigs. Customize your rig’s color scheme with 16 RGB LEDs in 8 zones on each Crucial Ballistix RGB module.
Redefine Game Performance
XMP 2.0 support and pre-defined profiles let you overclock to extract maximum performance. Select the JEDEC default profile for standard performance.
We work with AMD and Intel, as well as motherboard designers and system builders, to ensure our memory is optimized for high performance.
As the manufacturer of memory components, we do more than bin parts. We optimize performance at the die level.
Our sample kit carries the following product code: BL2K16G36C16U4B. This means that they are a 32 GB DDR4 kit which is composed of 16 GB per stick with an operating frequency of 3600 MHz while having a CL16 latency (16-18-18-38) at 1.35v. For the rest of variations, here is the complete listing.
Visual Inspection and Installation
The kit comes in a minimalist package with all of the main information printed on the front which is easy to acknowledge. There is even a transparent window for a sneak peak inside.
The back hasn’t much to offer besides the limited lifetime warranty tag in top right corner.
Both RAM sticks are nested in this plastic tray and no other accessory is provided. Just plug and play.
Looks wise, they are very cool since a correct minimalist approach goes a long way. Notice that top bar? That’s where the RGB models would have a light bar instead of this solid one.
On the other side we have the complete product code alongside the main specs.
As you can tell, the heatsink is a low profile one and according to my measurements, it’s under 36 mm in height (vs G.Skill’s Trident Z at 44 mm) which is really good because it will eliminate a lot of possible clearance issues with big CPU coolers in the future.
From a top side view, they look very industrial and mechanical like, with the ‘Ballistix’ branding smack in the middle.
Here they are installed. If you are looking for an all blacked out/stealth build, these are just perfect.
We will employ a run of synthetic benchmarks at their stock D.O.C.P value of 3600 MHz for 1.35v. After that, we tried to OC’d them but unfortunately we ran into limits since our B450 motherboard with a 2nd gen Ryzen CPU can officially work up to (32 GB) 3600 MHz which is exactly what these samples can do out of the box. The board’s RAM capability has been updated to support up to 4400 MHz (!) and even 64 GB kits but this is mandatory with a 3rd gen Ryzen CPU.
After some tinkering with the timings, we managed to make them to boot at 3666 MHz for 1.40v but failed to perform in any benchmarks. This being said, these RAM might have extra performance that awaits to be discovered but our test system is the bottleneck in this case. So we decided to tighten the timings. We managed to get 15-15-15-35 2T but with 1.45v which is on the high side for daily use. Thus we will proceed with the testing and include only the stock numbers and see how they compare with similar RAM kits.
– CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 2700 AM4 – 8c/16t @ 65W TDP
– CPU Cooler: Noctua L9a chromax.black
– Motherboard: ASUS ROG STRIX B450-i Gaming mITX @ BIOS 2901 AGESA 18.104.22.168
– Boot SSD: Samsung M.2 970 PRO 2TB TLC
– Video card(s): EVGA GTX 1080 FTW 8G
– PSU: Corsair SF600 SFX Gold
– Case: Dan A4-SFX V4
– Case fan: Noctua NF-A9x14 HS-PWM chromax.black
– 32GB DDR4 G.Skill Trident Z Royal RGB Silver 3000 MHz
– 16GB DDR4 Crucial Ballistix Elite 3600 MHz
– 16GB DDR4 T-Force Vulcan Z 3200 MHz
– 16GB DDR4 T-Force Night Hawk RGB 3000 MHz
– 16GB DDR4 G.Skill Trident Z RGB Silver 3600 MHz
– 16GB DDR4 Team Group TFORCE Xcalibur RGB 3600 MHz
– OS: Windows 10 Pro x64 Version 1909
– CPU-Z v1.88 – To verify the CPU’s and RAM’s statistics
– Aida64 Extreme v6.20 – Memory analysis and Benchmark suite
– Cinebench R15 – Popular CPU benchmark
– Cinebnech R20 – The new revised version optimized for the newer multi-core CPUs
– 3D/Game(s) – Witcher 3 v1.32 set at FHD, with everything at Max quality Settings, no V-Sync
– NVIDIA Drivers – 442.19
Testing, Results and Analysis
We start with the integrated memory benchmark from AIDA64 so we can inspect the overall read, write and copy bandwidth. Also we will compare the numbers with other kits. Naturally, the Crucial kit takes first places since it has the best of everything – capacity, operating frequency and timings – when compared to all of the other kits.
Next up we have a CPU intensive benchmark – Cinebnech’s R15 – which is known to scale very well with better RAM. We see the same proportional increase as in the first test.
We see a similar story in Cinebench R20 since this is optimized with the newer multi-core CPUs and platforms. Copy paste story yet again, the Crucial Ballistix Gaming takes the first place.
Now for a gaming session. We know that the Witcher 3 is a highly optimized game when it comes to RAM and things are looking pretty good here as well for the kit that has the best of everything.
Things are pretty simple with the new Crucial Ballistix Gaming RAM kit. When compared to all of the other kits that we had, since the Crucial kit had the best of everything regarding capacity, frequency and timings, of course they took the first spot in all of the synthetic benchmarks and 3D tests. Too bad we couldn’t test the OC capability but we will have another go at that and revise the review accordingly when we upgrade to a 3rd gen CPU. But out of the box, they are amazing !
Crucial has launched a new line that replaces everything from their portfolio and from what we say today, even with the plain standard ones which hit the sweet spot for capacity, frequency, timings, looks, low profile heatsink and price, there is only one simple and short conclusion – they are a must have ! For the asking price, you get the sweet spot of everything and they excel on paper and in real life to anything out there. Of course there are slightly cheaper kits from Corsair, G.Skill but none have the balance of all the specs in one go.
+ Incredible sweet spot for performance, price and practicality
+ High density modules, up to 32 GB per stick
+ Low profile heatsinks
+ RGB and extreme performance variants also available
+ Great looks
+ Lifetime warranty