Crucial Ballistix Green PC12800 3x2GB review

This is a discussion on Crucial Ballistix Green PC12800 3x2GB review within the Memory forums, part of the Technology category; Crucial Ballistix Green 6GB DDR3 review Introduction Crucial sell RAM. Lots of it. As the retail arm of Micron, they have had access to some ...

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  1. #1
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    Crucial Ballistix Green PC12800 3x2GB review


    Crucial Ballistix Green 6GB DDR3 review


    Introduction
    Crucial sell RAM. Lots of it. As the retail arm of Micron, they have had access to some of the most popular enthusiast-level DRAM ICs for years and their Ballistix and Ballistix Tracer line aimed at overclockers and gamers has built up a solid reputation for quality and performance.



    Crucial have released 3 and 6GB tri-channel kits for I7 and have re-vamped their Ballistix Tracer line for gamers. There is now a wider choice of colour, so colour-co-ordination between RAM and motherboard is now much easier. Crucial have kits in the following colours: Black, Yellow, Green, Blue and Red. The Green, Blue and Red kits have matching LEDs to give attractive and VERY eye-catching displays when the RAM is active. The LED patterns have also been developed for the tri-channel kits and are genuinely worth watching and are worringly hypnotic! Gone are the multi-coloured LEDs of old- the RAM looks more mature and concentrated now but has lost none of its ability to turn heads.



    Undergoing the review treatment here is a 6GB kit of PC12800 RAM in Green, to match the DFI board being used as a base. The RAM comes in the standard unobtrusive cardboard box.




































    Its hard to capture the shimmer that comes off the heatspreaders when the RAM is placed in bright light. It looks FANTASTIC!


    Heres a 2 1/2 minute video the RAM showing the LEDs through startup, load and shutdown.


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQEXurV7Rig



    Getting System Specific
    With the release of Intel I7 technology, the goalposts have shifted compared to Intels 775 socket when it comes to squeezing RAM performance. With the memory controller built into the CPU, the link between the vDIMM and the vIMC/ vQPI/vUnCore means that high-voltage operation is no longer as "safe" as it used to be.

    The voltage difference between vDIMM and vQPI can be 0.5v maximum to be safe. Depending on the reliability of the motherboards voltage labelling in BIOS and the actual delivery of voltage to the components, skirting around this 0.5v limit can end in tears via a dead CPU. Given that an elevated but fairly sensible vQPI is around 1.45v, that means that around 1.85-1.90v can be given to the memory, which is an important difference compared to the 2.2v reguarly pumped into DDR3 RAM in 775 systems for benchmarking.

    Seeing as Crucial RAM predominantly (but not exclusively) uses Micron ICs which love voltage, this could have an effect on the performance of the RAM when pushed and rival ICs such as Elpida Hyper have made their way into high-performing tri-channel kits for I7. Crucial arent going to give up their place in the market though, not that easily. Some other tri-channel Ballistix reviews have revealed Samsung HCF0 chips under the heatspreaders.




    Stock latencies and a surprise
    LEDs are meaningless if the RAM doesnt perform. The stock rating of 800MHz 8-8-8-24, 2T @ 1.65v is fairly pedestrian and there are plenty of kits out there offering tighter timings or higher MHz. That wont put an overclocker off though. Something that Crucial have NOT advertised here is that the kit has an XMP profile loaded that offers 7-7-7-24 operation at 800MHz with 1.65v!!!! Thats a big boost to keep quiet about! Its mentioned nowhere on the packaging, the sticks or on Crucials website. I didn't catch on until I
    loaded up the SPD tab in CPU-Z for screenshot validation... typically after i'd tried and tested 7-7-7-24 timings at 800MHz and thought i'd found free performance!




  2. #2
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    System setup, test notes, assumptions and drawbacks.

    Motherboard: DFI X58 EH6. The X58 and FET heatsinks were checked for contact quality and thermal paste was replaced with Arctic Ceramique where appropriate.

    CPU: I7 920 C0. Watercooled.

    GPU: 512MB 9800GTX+ (The 512MB is important when dealing with RAM mirroring)

    O.S.: Windows 7 RC1 64-bit and XP Pro 32-bit

    Tests: Memtest 86 and SPi32M.



    RAM performance is closely tied to the CPU now as opposed to a capable motherboard, these results may not be achieveable by just anyone with an I7. Performance consistency, even within the same CPU batch is hit and miss. I believe my CPU to have a fairly capable memory controller, although its BCLK limit is fairly average at around 215MHz. Conversely, people with more capable CPUs may find this results easy to beat.


    Two low-speed 80mm fans were positioned over the RAM at all times.


    Absolute maximum performance limits were not sought, but rough numbers that most users should be able to acheive (subject to the points raised above.) There is scope for performance differences between kits, so I belive its the fairest way to present results.a QPI voltage was set at 1.44v for all tests. CPU voltage was adjusted as necessary for the clockspeeds but the CPU multiplier was kept fairly low to remove MHz as a possible bottleck.


    RAM and Uncore are closely connected in I7 chips. Uncore speed (derived from multiples of the RAM speed) is MINIMUM 4x the RAM MHz so if the RAM is at 1GHZ, the Uncore speed is 4GHz.
    Not every chip is capable of such frequencies so some might buy this RAM (or other high-performing kits) and not be able to use it at default speed due to a CPU limitation.


    Windows 7 RC1 is the only 64-bit OS I have access to and due to software compatability I was not able to run as many stress tests as I would have liked. Despite being a synthetic app, Memtest should show up any cracks in RAM stability.


    Despite the relatively low number of results posted, that does not mean there were not a lot of results discarded along the way as the RAM was tightened up. Memtest benching takes a long time and I do not have an unlimited time budget!!!


    Going over 950MHz resulted a loss of stability or unreliable behaviour. I encountered a sitaution where one RAM channel was dropped from detection upon startup. BIOS and Windows Task Manager reported a 4096MB RAM volume and there have been other users reporting similar problems at high RAM speeds. I believe this is either the first sign of instability or a limit in the IMC. I did not carry out any testing when this occured as it would be inappropriate for the purpose of this review


    I do expect readers of this review to have a basic understanding of I7 behaviour. If anyone is truely stuck, PM me and i'll do what I can do help.



    Memtest

    As always, I will not test at Crucials rated spec (subject to being aware of the stock spec!) I trust their quality control.

    From a basic spec of 800MHz, 8-8-8-24, 2T @ 1.65v I was hoping to be able to find extra running options without resorting to higher vDIMM values. I had aready "found" 7-7-7-24, 1T to be stable at 1.65 before I realised there are XMP profiles loaded. However, even the XMP profile sets a command rate of 2T, so being able to move from 2T to 1T without increasing any voltages was a plus point. Moving on from this, I was able to tighten up the tRP to 6 without any trouble, to give 7-7-6-18, 1T at 1.65v.





    Despite trying with higher voltages- up to 1.80v, I was unable to get the computer to POST with the CAS or tRCD set to 6. I have a feeling this is a BIOS limitation.


    Aiming now at higher MHz, I found 850MHz 7-8-7-18, 1T to be fine at 1.75v. I was slightly disappointed that I couldnt hold tRCD or tRP to their -7 and -6 latencies respectively much over 800MHz, even with 1.80v.




    Moving on again, 900MHz and on to 933MHz were no problem at 8-8-7-18, 1T at 1.65v This did impress me as it overtook higher-binned products. Stability tailed off quickly after 933MHz and I chose not to push it took hard as for true 24/7 stability there should be some breathing space left in the RAM.







  3. #3
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    SuperPi 32M

    SuperPi32M only uses 600MB of RAM, so cannot be considered any kind of stability tests for people who buy this RAM to actually utilise it! However, it is a popular benchmark and this IS a benchmarking site after all! The SPi32M testing will also include higher-voltage testing seeing as its a competitive benchmark and sprint performance is acceptable.


    850MHz 7-7-6-18, 1T, 1.75v. MHz higher than this were more stable with tRCD and tRP loosed off by another clock cycle.





    900MHz 8-8-7-18, 1T 1.65v





    970MHz 8-8-7-20, 1T, 1.75v. Higher than this, the board was more than likely to POST in dual-channel. Results were not persued in this state for reasons mentioned above.





    Something else that should be added- a 2T command rate was tried but the maximum MHz ceiling was not lifted and the dual-channel behaviour over ~970MHz was still present. Seeing as, for this setup anyway, the RAM can be maxxed out at 1T I chose not to include 2T results, but as a rough guide, 2T adds ~4-5 seconds to SPi32M compared to the equivalent 1T

    settings.





    Conclusion.


    I was slightly disappointed that the RAM could not match some top-shelf rival parts in regard to CAS 6 operation, but given the difference in price, along with the difference in expectation, I wasnt heart-broken. Its entirely possible its BIOS-related anyway.

    The RAM has its niche market due to its appearance and is able to offer an excellent boost over stock for the overclocker, however, Crucial really have to push the spec of their kits. They seem determined to make this RAM look, on paper, as average as possible!

    Having useable performance 170MHz over stock at stock voltage and tighter-than-stock timings is genuinely impressive!

    As for prices....

    Tri-Channel RAM pricing is currently pretty random, I suspect in part due to the different ICs available- Samsung, Elpida and Micron.

    6GB 800MHz kits range in price from 64 to 180 depending on timings.

    6GB 933MHz kits range from 98 to 247.

    If the Crucial stock spec of 800MHz 7-7-7-24 1T is considered, whilst not being the cheapest kit able to offer those latencies, it is still cheaper than many rival kits that have slacker timing sets. Once overclocked, its value for money is increased quite a bit. The LED display, despite obviously adding cost to the RAM does not cripple its value for money in any way. Crucial still have no competitors for this selling point.

    I have no problem recommending this to people as Crucial (as far as I know) do not limit their RAM to make a higher binned part look more tempting for benching. The parts are quality and are backed by a lifetime warranty.

    My thanks to Joan @ Crucial for letting me review these despite how long they've been on the market!


  4. #4
    KTE
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    Thanks for the review. Nice and precise.

    Only thing I need to ask is if you've done any undervolting?

    So 800 7-7-7-18 1T... whats the minimum voltage that requires?
    There is a widespread misapprehension that human beings behave logically, but many of society's ills illustrate that most of us are driven instead by our primitive instincts and emotions - Professor Philip Steer

  5. #5
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    nice review,very informative.just like your review of the EP45-UD3 over at XS.that one helped me with my board so much.thanks
    E8400 EO Q843A771
    EP45-UD3R rev 1.1
    Cellshock pc8000 cl4 2x1Gb


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    Quote Originally Posted by KTE View Post
    Thanks for the review. Nice and precise.

    Only thing I need to ask is if you've done any undervolting?

    So 800 7-7-7-18 1T... whats the minimum voltage that requires?
    Thanks! Good question... its possible i've not tried. I'll see if I can do some extra testing over the next few days and post up anything that shakes out

    @radaja.. thanks Glad you liked the P45 review.. Gigabyte werent so keen

    K

  7. #7
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    Thanks for sharing, that was a very nice and thorough review.

    The green heatspreaders are kind of cool, something different than black or red is nice.

  8. #8
    Newbie radaja's Avatar
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    would this kit work in the Rampage extreme LGA775 board?
    E8400 EO Q843A771
    EP45-UD3R rev 1.1
    Cellshock pc8000 cl4 2x1Gb


  9. #9
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    Yea it'll be fine Just as long as the kit doesnt get too used to higher voltages, else you run the risk of spoiling the sweetspot for I7 operation

  10. #10
    Newbie radaja's Avatar
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    thanks thats what i wanted to hear,planning on trying i7 soon
    E8400 EO Q843A771
    EP45-UD3R rev 1.1
    Cellshock pc8000 cl4 2x1Gb


 

 

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