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  1. #1
    BenchTec UK
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    05.08.2008
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    Standard Crucial Ballistix Tracer PC10666 666MHz review

    Crucial Ballistix Tracer PC10666 666MHz review


    Crucial dont need an introduction so I will skip the really basic stuff....

    Crucials Ballistix Tracer line is aimed at gamers and case modders who want something a bit fancy. With surface-mount LEDs along the bottom of each stick, as well as flashing LEDs at the top that match RAM activity, the Tracer line is certainly eye-catching. The model up for review here is Crucials first for DDR3, but instead of releasing a product at the high-end of DDR3 capabilities, Crucial have picked a fairly pedestrian set of MHz and timings for launch- 666MHz at 6-6-6 latencies. The lower spec allows a more competitive street price (no doubt in part to offset the bling,) and if that is coupled with the undeniably unique look, Crucial have the potential to be onto a winner.


    The packaging.


    [IMG]http://img147.imageshack.us/img147/5475/dscf0219ai4.jpg[/IMG]

    I believe I received a very early set of sticks that came in single-stick blister packs, therefore I cannot comment. For a case-modders line, blisters with an interesting background would be a better style of presentation than a plain cardboard box. Heres hoping Crucial are learning to show themselves off a bit more strongly- bling does sell, especially to the casual shopper!



    The sticks.



  2. #2
    BenchTec UK
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    05.08.2008
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    Standard

    Test setup, notes, drawbacks and assumptions

    Mobo: Asus P5E64 WS Pro. BIOS 0702
    CPU: E8400, C0

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

    All voltages were measured directly with a multimeter. I do not trust software readings. Ever.

    There is more than one place to measure ground on a motherboard. If a PSU ground line is attached to a mobo hold-down screw and used as a measuring point, it reports a higher voltage than if the casings of the I/O plugs are used. I find the difference to be around 0.1V. For this review, I used the PSU ground line as a reference level. This is the worst case scenario voltage. ie... if I report 1.80V in the review, it would have been closer to 1.70V if I had used the I/O casing.

    My motherboard does not allow VDIMM values of less than 1.75V if using the previously mentioned ground spot

    a MAXMEM value of 600MB was used to limit the effect of random data scatter in RAM. The results should be more consistent using this method.

    vNB values were changed where necessary to allow the RAM MHz to be stable. If values significantly higher than normal are used, they will be stated.

    I did not spend hours finding the absolute limits of the RAM, I picked ballpark numbers that should be within reach of most owners. There will obviously be some variation between sets, so posting results obtained from the ragged edge would give a skewed review.

    Due to the way these sticks arrived, I do not think I received a matched set. its possible that retail sets will have higher ceilings.

    No tweaks were used to speed up SPi32M. The longer the test, the better sign it is for stability anyway



    The testing


    I will not insult the in-house test procedure or quality assurance by testing at default, so I will jump straight into the RAMs capabilities for tweakers and overclockers:

    Sadly, I had very little luck in testing the kit below its rated voltage. No worthwhile results were obtained.

    However, if I kept the voltage at 1.80V I was able to tighten up the timings:


    680MHz 6-5-5 1T, 1.80V:

    [IMG]http://img373.imageshack.us/img373/5774/680mhz6551t180vmw6.jpg[/IMG][IMG]http://img373.imageshack.us/images/thpix.gif[/IMG]

    Nothing to be ashamed of! I could not improve on the MHz at that voltage, but by increasing the juice by 0.1V I obtained another 40MHz:


    720MHz 6-5-5 1T, 1.90V.

    [IMG]http://img373.imageshack.us/img373/4291/720mhz6551t190vmo0.jpg[/IMG][IMG]http://img373.imageshack.us/images/thpix.gif[/IMG]

    If the timings are loosened to 7-6-6 1T at default voltage (remember that 6-6-6 2T is the default) the ceiling is lifted up to 780MHz!

    780MHz 7-6-6 1T, 1.80V



    820MHz 7-6-6 1T, 1.90V


    880MHz 8-7-7 1T, 1.80V



    920MHz 8-7-7 1T, 1.90V

    [IMG]http://img373.imageshack.us/img373/8055/920mhz8771t190vzc9.jpg[/IMG][IMG]http://img373.imageshack.us/images/thpix.gif[/IMG]


    Conclusion

    For a low-spec RAM kit, this RAM offers a real range of MHz and timings options. Irrespective of FSB, there will be a good RAM performance option awaiting. Crucial did not have to use ICs of this quality given the rated spec, I am pleasantly surprised!

    The CrucialUK site lists this at £108, which is £33 higher than the plain Ballistix equivalent. I believe this is in part due to it being a new line. The primary appeal of this RAM lies in its appearance- the look is still unrivalled. If it appeals, I would say this RAM is a very good buy- its range of working settings sees to that and act as a very nice bonus to the appearance. If the look doesnt float your boat...buy the plain Ballistix- it will probably have the same quality.

    The downside is that Nehalem is near launch. Much has been made of the recent warnings about VDIMM values over 1.65V, and this kit will probably not be suitable for that limit. All major RAM manufacturers are working on the new JEDEC DDR3 spec, and Crucial will have revised tri-channel kits by the time it matters. Given that Nehalem maturity (and lower prices!) are still several months away, I beleive this RAM still has a place in enthusiast-level rigs.

    my thanks to Crucial UK for the review sample






    Results update.

    I was asked about tRAS performance, so heres two runs with tighter settings: tRAS of 12 at 666MHz and 14 at 880MHz. Setting it to 10 at 666MHz provided a no-boot, and attempting 12 at 880MHz resulted in the same. No voltages increases were necessary- 1.80VDIMM was used for both.

    [IMG]http://img521.imageshack.us/img521/3963/tras12vc3.jpg[/IMG][IMG]http://img521.imageshack.us/images/thpix.gif[/IMG]

    [IMG]http://img522.imageshack.us/img522/6969/tras14vv0.jpg[/IMG][IMG]http://img522.imageshack.us/images/thpix.gif[/IMG]



    I was also asked for some runs at higher VDIMM. I had a suspicion about how it would scale, based on my initial results and I suspected right

    DISCALIMER: THESE RUNS WERE AT HIGH VDIMM. RUNNING THESE VOLTAGES WILL INVALIDATE WARRANTY AND PROBABLY SHORTEN THE LIFESPAN OF YOUR RAM. I ACCEPT NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY DEAD RAM THAT RESULTS FROM PEOPLE COPYING THESE SETTINGS. NO-ONE FORCES YOU TO TRY THIS STUFF.


    860MHz 7-6-6 1T, 2.00V




    900MHz 7-6-6 1T 2.10V

    [IMG]http://img522.imageshack.us/img522/1043/900mhz7661t210vyq4.jpg[/IMG][IMG]http://img522.imageshack.us/images/thpix.gif[/IMG]


    I appreciate that these results need higher VDIMM than some higher-rated kits, but remember the baseline of 666MHz 6-6-6 please
    Geändert von K404 (09.10.2008 um 22:55 Uhr)

  3. #3
    Avatar von KvD
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    04.03.2007
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    Berlin-Tempelhof
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    very nice review!!

    I love those Rams, if i buy a DDR3 mainboad id like to have them!!

  4. #4
    AwardFabrik Crew
    Strebert
    Avatar von SeLecT
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    15.09.2006
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    An der schönen Nordsee.
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    Thx for this review!

    Nice results!
    AwardFabrik - a tribute to hardware

  5. #5
    AF-hwbot-team
    Pimuckl
    Avatar von kovsk
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    15.11.2007
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    35260 - Stadtallendorf
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    Thx for sharing

    Nice RAMs
    [HWBOT]12659[/HWBOT]

  6. #6
    AF-hwbot-team Avatar von sTeco
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    yeah looks good, thanks

  7. #7
    AF-hwbot-team Avatar von chriFFer
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    Hessen -> Haiger - L.A.
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    Nice review . Keep it up!

  8. #8
    AF-hwbot-team Avatar von teurorist
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    21.07.2007
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    biberach an der riß
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    real n1 for this ram kit

    i think for a 24/7 computer they are real good
    I eXtremecooling

  9. #9
    AF-hwbot-team Avatar von sTeco
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    he didn´t test how they scale with higher vdimm

  10. #10
    BenchTec UK
    Registriert seit
    05.08.2008
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    post 2 updated with some tRAS and higher voltage results. Thanks to steco and sam for asking about the voltage side of things Better kits could do these runs with less juice but given the original spec, im more than happy they run them at all

  11. #11
    Avatar von H-Towner
    Registriert seit
    11.04.2008
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    Abenberg/NBG
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    Nice review . Keep it up!

    nice pics.

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