Crucial's Ballistix range of high performance memory modules are well known amongst the overclocking fraternity for faster clock speeds and lower latencies. And in some instances fancy LED displays.
The latest addition is a 4GB memory kit of DDR3-1600 (PC3-12800) modules. The new modules also bring a change in design to the product line and a new feature overclockers should find rather useful.
The small, discrete heatsink covers found on the rest of the Ballistix range have been replaced by the high profile finned heat spreaders favoured by most of Crucial's competitors on the performance memory front.
These new modules have also been fitted with a thermal sensor which, when used in conjunction with Crucial's new Ballistix MOD utility (downloadable from Crucial's website), allows real-time monitoring of the module's temperature on your desktop.
They certainly look the part with the new design of heat spreader. But when you get down to the nitty gritty, performance is disappointing.
The most we could stably overclock them at was just 200MHz over the stock 1600MHz speed at 1800MHz.
This is down to the fact that even to run at stock speeds the modules are right on the power limit at 1.65v, while the chips themselves don't seem that keen to run at too high a clock rate.
On the other hand the hardware thermal monitoring and Memory Overview Display (M.O.D) Windows-based software combination is more interesting. Although it's at an early stage in the development it works well and it'll be interesting to see if Crucial adds the thermal sensors to the rest of its Ballistix range.
As it stands though, it's only available on these modules. As well as showing the temperature of the modules (which can also be logged to a file) there's a fairly standard settings page that enables you to change the polling times and the temperature units it displays. There's also a SPD data page showing details of the modules themselves, which includes JEDEC timings as well as the Intel XMP profiles.
Crucial's 4GB Kit (commonly known as the BL2Kit25664FN1608) is a well-priced 4GB memory kit and the combination of the integrated thermal monitoring/M.O.D utility is a neat touch, especially if Crucial decides to add it to the rest of the Ballistix lineup.
But don't choose this kit if you want to do some serious memory overclocking. The major problem is the limited range of overclocking options, mainly due to the fact that running at 1.65v out of the box, there's nowhere to go voltage-wise.
Which wouldn't be a problem if the chips themselves were capable of being tweaked more than they are.
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