I remember back to when we had the DDR2, when Crucial was one of the few vendors to have LEDs on memory modules – the famous Ballistix® Tracer series. Now, it’s time for them to reveal the DDR4 variant – however this time we have the full RGB spectrum. Let’s see if they are just a bling enhancement or a complete package.
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
They only come with the grey heatspreader as the external colour but are available in two main speed variations (2666 or 3000 Mhz). As for size, you will find them in 8GB kits all the way up to 64 GB.
Below we have the single piece 8GB kit at 2666 MHz for testing.
Presentation and Specification
* Courtesy of their website
This little detail caught my eye; the ability to install your own 3D creations for the light bar as well as being offered the 3D printer specifications for added customisation here.
I just love it ! Here are some quick ideas and templates available for download.
Now let’s see the specs:
* Manufacturer: Crucial/Micron
* Model: BLT8G4D26BFT4K
* Speed Rating: DDR4-2666 (PC4-21300)
* Rated Timings: 16-18-18-38-2T
* Tested Capacity: 8 GB (8 GB x1)
* Tested Voltage: 1.20 V
* PCB Type: 10 layer
* Height: 40 mm
* Lighting: Configurable 16 LEDs RGB
* Registered/Unbuffered: Unbuffered
* Error Checking: Non-ECC
* Form Factor: 288-pin DIMM
* Warranty: Limited Lifetime
Crucial also provides the means to fully customize and control the RGB LEDs via their proprietary software called Ballistix® M.O.D. Utility (Memory Overview Display). The download link is here. We will explore the app later on.
Next chapter please.
Simplicity is key here and Crucial has been using this doctrine in their RAM packages for many generations with success.
Our sample is a single 8 GB kit, hence the extra empty space in the clam-shell box.
The PCB is all dark with an all grey brushed aluminium finish on the external surface. An updated design over the last generation, nonetheless.
See those middle black plastic bolts? Those hold the top light bar in place.
Just press them out and voila ! This is how you insert your own creations into place.
Speaking of its stock light bar, here it is from a top view.
Now for a size reference, here they are compared to the Ballistix Sport series which are almost flush with the PCB. This makes the RGB Tactical Tracers still low in size for best height compatibility – they measure at 40 mm.
Installation is really easy, just make sure you align the notches to the slots.
The best has been left to last, of course – now let’s enable those full RGB eye candy lights ! First go to the M.O.D download page.
This tab shows you all the detailed specifications regarding the timing settings.
Moving on to the next one we have the operating temperatures. It will show the value for all the individual memory modules installed. This is the idle value and in gaming I din’t see them go over 35 degrees C in stock form. Those heat-spreaders really work.
Finally here is where all the magic happens. From this tab you have full control over the RGB lights – you can control the type of effect, the speed of the effect, the overall brightness, the colours as well giving you the ability to create profiles for all of the 8 zones of the LEDs.
Check this video out for all of the light modes available.
OK. They are pretty. But looks aren’t everything. Let’s see what else thse have to offer.
We will employ a run of synthetic benchmarks at the boot speed (2133 mhz) then at their XMP 2.0 value (2666 Mhz). Then of course we will see how far we can push them in overclock. We will put them to work in some gaming sessions as well just to see how they perform in that department as well.
CPU: Intel i7 6700T 2.8 Ghz
CPU Cooling: Intel Stock
Motherboard: MSI Z170i Gaming Pro AC mITX
Storage: Samsung M2 950 Pro 512 GB NVMe
PSU: Corsair SF600 SFX
Case: Dan A4-SFX V1
GPU: EVGA GTX 960 SSC 2G
– Windows 10 Pro x64 Version 1709
– NVIDIA GeForce WHQL 397.64
– MSI Afterburner v4.11 – To record the FPS and load/temperatures
– CPU-Z v1.71 – To verify the CPU’s and RAM’s statistics
– Aida64 Extreme v5.80 – Memory analysis & Benchmark suite
– Cinebench R15 – Popular CPU benchmark
– Games (Witcher 3 & Far Cry 5) – Set at FHD with maximum settings available
Testing and Results
First off, we did the AIDA64 Extreme Cache & Memory benchmark. We will see 3 values regarding memory: read, write and copy.
Next up is the Cinebench test. This is more of a CPU dependent test but in some instances, more theoretical bandwidth should bring some improvements.
Now let’s move into the games. This is where the main focus and attention usually ends up.
Even with one stick available, the 8 GB of DDR4 in today’s world is still sufficient to play games and complete some decent workloads. Regarding the speeds, a kit which comes with 2666 MHz out of the box with thd abiluty to easily OC to 3000 MHz is a clear win ! On paper, the numbers regarding synthetic tests show a proportional increase; roughly +25% when going from 2133 to 2666 MHz and almost +15% when you OC to 3000 from 2666 MHz. This is in the bandwidth test.
The rest of the tests, even in gaming, we only saw minor increases because this is mostly due to resolution & game optimization. Thus +1 to 2% and called it a day.
Despite the fact that Crucial took its time to release their highly popular RGB variant into the market, when nowadays most vendors have an RGB variant available, it was more than worth the wait un my opinion. Usually rushed products can encounter compatibility issues hence why Crucial wanted to release a fully working product. Very few other companies can offer such a great RGB experience with full customization without headaches.
Now, like I said, beauty isn’t everything and this RAM can OC like mad ! This being just another department that Crucial excels in as all the tests we carried out today fully demonstrate. Ah, then combined with the option to add a more personal touch to your memory modules via the removable light bar and insertable 3D printed design… well, this product has it all !
+ Very good performance out of the box
+ Epic overclock numbers
+ Lifetime warranty
+ Maximum eye candy with the RGB lights
+ Full control of the light show
+ Superb build quality
+ Removable light bar for own 3D-printed creations
– Expensive – Yet another review where the price is the only negative, however this product will still receive our maximum rating as price is subjective and we definitely this the price is worth it!