Crucial Ballistix Tracer Blue DDR3-1600 6GB Triple Channel Memory Kit Review

Installation

Test Rig:
Intel i7 920
Gigabyte EX58-UD4P
Asus Asus ENGTX260 Matrix geForce GTX 260 video card
OCZ EliteXStream 800 Watt PSU
Zalman CNPS 9900LED CPU Cooler
NZXT Tempest Extended Midtower
Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit

Installation involved popping the modules in the proper DIMM slots, and setting the desired speed and timings in the BIOS. Note on X58 motherboards that the memory goes into the opposite set of DIMM slots from what we are accustomed to. Rather than the slot nearest the CPU, the memory starts in the second set of slots, which happen to be colored white on this motherboard. The other slots are used only if six modules are installed, which in case Intel and most motherboard manufacturers recommend an active cooling solution, some kind of fan blowing directly on the modules.


Crucial Ballistix Tracer Blue DDR3-1600 6GB Triple Channel Memory Kit Crucial Ballistix Tracer Blue DDR3-1600 6GB Triple Channel Memory Kit

When you flip your rig on, the action starts.



As all high-performance memory does, the Crucial Ballistix Tracer Blue defaults at a lower than advertised speed so the memory will boot in any system. I’ve seen people complain about that in forums, but I’ve had issues several times that would have prevented the system from booting at the advertised speed without some tweaking first. The rated speed and timings will be set in the BIOS. The memory defaults at DDR3-1066 and 1.5v, but was easily set to DDR3-1600 8-8-8-24. This particular motherboard won’t allow a VDIMM of 1.65v, the increments are in even numbers so you have to choose between 1.64v and 1.66v. A couple of the DDR3-2000 kits I’ve tried wouldn’t get to that speed at 1.64v, so I had to go to 1.66v. The Crucial Ballistix Tracer Blue booted fine at DDR3-1600 with a 1.64 VDIMM.


Crucial Ballistix Tracer Blue DDR3-1600 6GB Triple Channel Memory Kit Crucial Ballistix Tracer Blue DDR3-1600 6GB Triple Channel Memory Kit

Overclocking

First I tried tightening the timings at the advertised clock of DDR3-1600. Usually I can’t, but surprisingly, the system ran and booted fine with timings of 7-8-7-24. As I usually do, I also dropped the memory speed to see what kind of timings I could get. At DDR3-1066 I got the memory to CAS 5, but in my testing I found that these settings gave no performance benefit over stock clock at all.

Next I tried to see what kind of overclock I could get at the advertised timings. I did have to bump the VDIMM up to 1.66v, but I got the Crucial Tracer Blue to DDR3-1876 8-8-8-24, a 17% overclock. I loosened the timings and cranked up the Tracer Blue to DDR3-1940, a 21% overclock. I saw a performance drop in all tests, something that usually happens when loosening the timings that much, but the high clock still has significance in giving overhead for overclocking the CPU.


Crucial Ballistix Tracer Blue DDR3-1600 6GB Triple Channel Memory Kit Crucial Ballistix Tracer Blue DDR3-1600 6GB Triple Channel Memory Kit

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