Crucial is one of the leaders in the world of high-performance, high-quality memory. Crucial, a division of Micron, has been in existence since November 1996. Micron saw the market for the home user exploding and took advantage of it by taking part of their team and having them build memory for that segment. Fast forward a few years from 1996 and you start to see their enthusiast line emerge. In 2004 they introduced their Ballistix and Ballistix Tracer line of memory for the enthusiast and gamer, we will be speaking about the latter today.
The day started off in the usual way: diapers to change, bills to pay... Oh wait, bills to pay! Let me go check the mail (the real mail ;). Oh to my suprise. DELIVERY! Inside the delivery packaging is another cardboard box that houses the actual ram sticks.
Inside this box, the Crucial Tracers are held in place by cardboard brackets. Accompanied with the ram is an instruction manual in six different languages as well as a coupon for System Mechanic 6.
Finally out of the packaging and basking in the sunlight in all its glory.
As you can see, the heat spreaders are black, have chrome clamps, and yellow lettering. Also on the heat spreaders are stickers indicating the RAM's serial, part number, and chip configuration.
The Tracers have red and green LED's along the spine of the memory that light up and 'chase' each other depending on the memory useage.
This looks similar to Knight Rider, or Cylons...yeah Cylons....because they're cooler than Knight Rider. There are also blue LED's along the bottom giving the impression that this may in fact be some low rider memory. /insert WAR - lowrider.mp3
Finally, the Tracers are in their new home.
I promise they will be well cared for and overclocked to their limits. Due to the clamps on the heat spreaders coupled with the thermal tape adhering the chips to the spreaders, I was unable to get a picture of the chips underneath.
The new home consists of:
- AM2 3800x2 processor at stock speeds
- Asus M2N-SLI Deluxe Motherboard
- eVGA 7900gt KO at stock speeds
- 2gb (2-1gb) pc2 5300 Crucial Ballistix Tracer Memory
- 36gb WD 10k Raptor Drive
- 580w HiPer Type-R
I started the testing at stock speeds and with one of the most widely used benchmarks, SiSoft Sandra. Moving up to 800 and all the way to the max attainable overclock I was able to acheive a score of 1014, you can see the extra bandwidth getting served up by these chips. 9546 MB/s overclocked versus the 7107 MB/s stock speeds.
That is over a 2000 MB/s upgrade for a few extra volts and some mild tinkering. I had to push 2.4v to get up that high, but apparently these chips are rated for that much power. To top that off I was able to do this at the stock timings of 5-4-4-12 @ 2T, anything less and my system would not post.
With SuperPi finding Pi to the one millionth digit we can see that it too favors the MHZ increase.
PiFast is very similar to SuperPI in that it benefits greatly from the increase in memory megahertz. I had the Chudnovsky method calculate to the ten millionth digit with a 1028k FFT
The 3dmark05 and 06 benchmarks that I ran show an increase, however slight, in performance. This is mainly due to the fact that they are stressing the video card and the cpu. I ran both of these at 1024*768
To show off some of Crucials strengths in the enthusiast market, I have compiled a few benchmarks of what an enthusiast might be playing today. These games consist of Prey, Far Cry, and F.E.A.R. These games were all run at 640*480 to minimize any impact on the video card.
I chose to run Prey to show how this memory would run on the d3 engine. Doom3, Quake4, and Prey all run on this engine and the most recent variable would most likely be the one that is played currently. Prey responded quite favorably with the increase in memory bandwidth.
Far Cry, while being a bit outdated at this point, still proves to be one of the hefitest games to run on almost any system. Crytek's game engine favors the extra oomph I have provided.
F.E.A.R. has it's own built in benchmarking system that I used. I realize I hit a ceiling of 183fps, however all the low and mid range frames decreased showing that this Crucial memory helps out in all gaming situations.
The Crucial Ballistix Tracer memory has provided some outstanding performace. The blinking LED's and underbody lighting effects are unique in the enthusiast memory market. The Crucial memory company has, in my opinion, leaped to the head of its class. At $333.99 it is a bit on the expensive side, however, this can be justified with the lifetime warranty and the overclocking potential especially since it can compete with other manufacturer's PC2-8000's for a LOT less. I would not hesitate to reccommend Crucial's Ballistix Tracer line to anyone.
- Black heat spreaders with chrome clamps & yellow graphics
- Moving LED's and a nice blue underlighting
- Outstanding customer support coupled with a lifetime warranty
- Extreme Stability even at higher than rated speeds.
- The potential to overclock this to speeds competitors offer at $449
- Gets really hot with the extra voltage. - I'm reaching pretty far here.
We would like to thank the folks at Crucial for providing us this memory sample. If you have any questions, comments, constructive criticism even, please hit us up in the forums.