Crucial Ballistix Elite DDR4 2666MHz 16GB Kit Review
As you may have been aware from our last RAM review the new Intel’s new CPU/chipset (Skylake) is almost upon us and that means we have started to look at more DDR4 memory modules as that’s the default configuration for the new Skylake based motherboards. Here at pcG we’ve also started taking a look at Intel’s X99 platform and the associated range of Socket LGA 2011-3 CPUs (like our own test Intel Core i7-5820K) which also supports DDR4. So the next set of Memory modules on our list is the Crucial Ballistix Elite DDR4 2666MHz 16GB Kit, the second of at least a dozen new DDR4 modules that we’ll be taking a look at over the coming weeks.
The Crucial Ballistix Elite DDR4 2666MHz 16GB kit features two modules for dual channel support, with memory timings of 16-17-17-36 at its maximum rated speed of 2666MHz. Being DDR4 this is available to us at 1.2-1.35v, instead of the more common 1.5-1.65v seen with DDR3. All modules have been tested for quality assurance and the Crucial Ballistix Elite memory comes with a Limited lifetime warranty.
As you can see the Crucial Ballistix Elite modules arrived at pcG in their customary see through packaging. The advantage of Crucial’s plastic packaging is that you can view the product inside before opening. There is a sticker on the front which tells us that we have a DDR4 16GB Kit (x2 8GB modules) with a rated speed of 2666MHz and the kit is designed for Intel’s X99 platform.
Looking at the back we can see a cardboard insert that is inside the packaging. The featured information is all about the other Memory products in the Ballistix range from Crucial. In eight different languages we can see that there is a Sport Series, Tactical Series and an Elite Series. Apart from this there little else to be found here.
With the packaging open we find that the pair of modules sit in a separate plastic blister. There is no need for scissors, penknives or lengthy trips to A & E as the packaging simply pops open and the inside blister is like an open tray. 🙂
At the time of review, the Crucial Ballistic Elite DDR4 2666MHz 16GB Kit (BLE2C8G4D26AFEA) is available from Amazon for approximately £127.00 and comes with a lifetime warranty.
courtesy of Crucial
Form Factor: UDIMM
Capacity: 16GB kit (8GBx2)
Warranty: Limited Lifetime
Specs: DDR4 PC4-21300 • 16-17-17 • Unbuffered • NON-ECC • DDR4-2666 • 1.2V • 1024Meg x 64 •
Series: Ballistix Elite
Kit Quantity: 1
Speed: 2666 MT/S
Bullet Features: Designed for extreme enthusiasts, gamers and overclockers
DIMM Type: Unbuffered
Crucial Ballistix Elite Series Memory
Approximately 5.25 in. by 1.56 in. (133.35 mm by 40 mm)
Outplay. Outmatch. Outlast. The future of performance memory is here.
To max out performance in the final days of DDR3 technology, you needed the right processor, the right motherboard, a PhD in overclocking, and the willingness to surrender everything in your wallet. Not anymore. Crucial Ballistix Elite DDR4 memory cracks the DDR3 performance limit and debuts at 2666 MT/s – and that’s just getting started. Feed your 8-cores and draw upon some of the fastest speeds and bandwidths available.
Outplay. Open fire at 2666 MT/s
While your opponents fight petty using DDR3-1600 MT/s, obliterate them with DDR4-2666 MT/s speeds that get even faster as the technology matures. Alongside these speed gains, draw on the improved responsiveness, increased frame rates, and optimized latencies of Ballistix Elite DDR4 technology and revel in an unreal gaming experience.
Outmatch. Subjugate the opposition with 21.3 GB/s bandwidth
Flood your memory bandwidth and process up to 21.3 gigabytes per second – a feat that’s nearly impossible to achieve with DDR3 memory. Leveraging the faster burst access speeds that are only possible on DDR4 architecture, Ballistix Elite DDR4 maximizes performance with four channel memory.
Outwork. Push your memory to the edge – using less power
Ballistix Elite DDR4 memory leverages the latest advancements in efficiency technology and is engineered to run at lower voltages for inherent energy gains. Armed with a thermal sensor and our high-end Ballistix M.O.D. utility for real-time temperature monitoring, Ballistix Elite DDR4 wrings up to 40% more power efficiency out of your memory.
Outfit. Brandish your memory in style
Give your rig a next-gen facelift with a menacing black anodized heat spreader and complementary black PCB that bodes well for any color scheme. Optimized for the latest Intel® X99 boards with support for XMP 2.0 profiles, Ballistix Elite DDR4 module set up is easy: just lock and load your BIOS and get ready to win.
First impressions of the Crucial Ballistix Elite modules are very good. Each of the modules feature black PCBs, with gold contact points which give a nice contrast in colour. The modules have a very solid and heavy matte black heatspreader covering them which is very rugged in design. They have a very military feel to them and would not look out of place if they were on a tank or some piece of heavy artillery! Also, the modules are only 40mm in height so you should not have any problems with clearance issues when using air based CPU Coolers.
Looking at the front of the module we can see the Crucial logo on the left and the even bigger Ballistix logo on the right. The heatspreader has a sort of tank track strip going across it (you can see we are still with the military theme here) which covers cut outs exposing the PCB underneath.
The back of the modules are the same as the front albeit we have the warranty and specification stickers. Here we can see that the 2666MHz modules feature timings of 16-17-17-36 and has an operating voltage of 1.2v.
The top of the modules have a castle like feel to them with a battlements shape which gives a tooth like feel to the edge. In the middle of this is the Ballistix Elite DDR4 logo which stands out predominantly in white.
Installing the Crucial Ballistix Elite modules is as simple as installing any other memory modules. Just line up the slot in the connector to the motherboard DIMM slot and carefully push into place. To avoid any clearance issues and due to the fact that the Intel Core i7-5820K is one large and warm CPU, we will be using a Corsair Hydro Series H110i GT AIO water cooler to help us in our testing.
As there are only two modules in the 16GB kit (2x8GB) we only need to insert them into one side of our ASRock Fatal1ty X99X Killer test motherboard, but, the memory modules do need to installed into slots A1 and B1 for maximum performance according to Crucial. It is worth noting that the Crucial Ballistix Elite memory modules will not work if they are fitted into the A2, B2, C2 or D2 slots.
- Test Rig Setup
|Case||Cooler Master HAF XB||Power Supply||Corsair AX760i|
|Motherboard||ASRock Fatal1ty X99X Killer / 3.1||CPU||Intel Core i7-5820K|
|CPU Cooler||Corsair Hydro Series H110i GT||RAM||Crucial Ballistix Elite DDR4 2666MHz 16GB Kit|
|Graphics Card||XFX R9 290X Black DD Edition||SSD||HyperX FURY 120GB SSD|
I had no problems when booting up my Test Rig and after an initial boot I went into the ASRock UEFI to check the Crucial Ballistix Elite settings. As you can see from the first screenshot (below) the two modules were in RAM slots A1 and B1 and were running at out of the box frequency of 2400MHz and not they’re rated maximum of 2666MHz.
What we need to do via ASRock’s UEFI OC Tweaker is Enable the Load 4 GHz and XMP OC Setting as all of our testing is done at 4.0GHz and also this will enable the Crucial Ballistix Elite RAM to run at it’s XMP (Profile 1) setting of 2666MHz with Timings of 16-17-17-36. The two settings that are changed are shown below.
The end result can be seen in the screenshot below with the CPU now running at 4.0GHz and the Crucial Ballistix Elite DDR4 RAM now running at its XMP (Profile 1) setting of 2666MHz. Time for some testing then…
The Crucial Ballistix Elite DDR4 2666MHz 16GB Kit was tested on our new X99 based platform shown above, using Windows 7 64Bit (Service Pack 1) with all relevant Drivers installed. Prime95 (Blend) was used to test stability and the following benchmarks were also used.
|Patriot Viper DDR4 2400MHz 16GB Kit @ 9-11-11-31||DDR4||X99||40550||37050||45891||71.9 ns|
|Crucial Ballistix Elite DDDR4 2666MHz 16GB Kit @ 16-17-17-36||DDR4||X99||35829||19186||32148||73.9 ns|
|Corsair Dominator Platinum DDR3 2133MHz 16GB Kit @ 9-11-11-31||DDR3||Z97||32180||33437||31298||48.9 ns|
|HyperX Savage DDR3 2400MHz 8GB @ 11-13-14-32||DDR3||Z97||33409||34811||29523||48.9 ns|
|Avexir Raiden Series DDR3 2133MHz 8GB Kit @ 9-11-10-27||DDR3||Z97||30478||31445||28178||48.9 ns|
As you can see from the AIDA64 memory benchmark the X99 dual channel setup using the Crucial Ballistix Elite DDR4 2666MHz 16GB Kit performs very well and far better than all of the Z97 based DDR3 kits. The Crucial Ballistix Elite memory modules cannot really be compared to the Patriot Viper which is a quad memory kit and not a Dual Kit like we are testing. Time to see how the numbers are when it comes to testing our benchmarks…
Below I have left the Z97 based HyperX Savage RAM in for comparison purposes as obviously much has changed here (new MB, new CPU and obviously new RAM). But of course one would hope that the X99 based platform with the Ballistix DDR4 memory would perform better! But no it does not, there’s fluctuations in the results but all are really down to the change in Drivers (over time) and or just the margin of error. The Crucial Ballistix Elite modules do perform slightly better than the Patriot Viper Modules in most of the tests, but not by much (remember we are also using dual channel memory and not quad like the Patriot Viper). The numbers are better but only in the smallest percentages, 3D Mark is 2% higher, Batman is the same, Tomb Raider is 4% higher, Unigine is 2% slower and Metro Last Light is 1% higher (all these percentages are approximate).
The only test to really show a valid performance improvement for the DDR4 against the DDR3 is the 3DMark test, this is due to the fact that the test also contains dedicated CPU tests. It is in these tests that the X99 platform and the Patriot Viper RAM shows its true potential.
TEST SYSTEM: ASRock Fatal1ty X99X Killer/ Intel Core i7-5820K/ XFX R9 290X Black DD Edition
|Memory||3DMark (FireStrike)||Batman Arkham Origins||Tomb Raider||Unigine Heaven||Metro Last Light|
|HyperX Savage DDR3 2400MHz 8GB||9593||178||87.9||1422||81|
|Patriot Viper DDR4 2400MHz 16GB||10421||169||88.4||1411||79.67|
|Crucial Ballista Elite DDR4 2666MHz 16GB||10690||169||92.4||1379||80.56|
As we have shown before having more memory (over 8GB) and having faster memory doesn’t equate to better FPS in Games! But what you should do is purchase a good looking kit that matches the style of your Gaming Rig, and that is fast enough not to hold the system or your Gaming back at all. In all honesty the Crucial Ballistix Elite 2666MHz 16GB kit does all this for you…
Crucial have designed software for their high-end Ballistix modules which is called the Ballistix M.O.D. utility (Memory Overview Display). This software allows you to monitor memory temperature in real time on the Elite and Tactical Tracer range of modules, also, there is a customizable LED light system but this is for the Tactical range only. This all looks pretty interesting and it is good to see that RAM is now coming with more customisation, but, sadly the software was not compatible with our test rig ASRock Fatal1ty X99X Killer / 3.1 motherboard so I cannot let you know how well it works. 🙁
If you fancy rugged military looking Memory Modules then the Crucial Ballistix Elite DDR4 2666MHz 16GB Kit is the one for you, it is well designed, fast and it’s wearing Armour! 🙂
The Ballistix Elite DDR4 2666MHz 16GB Kit arrived at pcG in the customary plastic packaging that we are all too familiar with from Crucial. The packaging was easy to open without the use of scissors or other sharp implements.
The Crucial Ballistix Elite modules look Hard! Not hard in a difficult way but hard in a sense that these modules look like they will kick your ass (excuse my French). They have a heavy rugged matte black heatspreader (which is also wearing Armour BTW) covering them with a battlements style edge to the top of them, it’s not until you physically hold one in your hand that you will appreciate what I am saying. The modules are of a good height (not too tall) at 40mm, so you will not have any problems fitting them around most modern Air CPU Coolers. The only thing that is missing that I would hope to see more of these days is illumination; we want modules to stand out in our Rigs! Come on manufactures…
So apart from looking hard how well do the Crucial Ballistix Elite modules perform? Well as you can see from the results above the DDR4 modules offer a lot more bandwidth than their DDR3 counterparts. Compared to the Patriot Viper DDR4 though, we do have some faster results such as 3D Mark is 2% higher, Tomb Raider is 4% higher and Metro Last Light is 1% higher, but, Unigine was 2% slower and Batman the same. But these figures do not necessarily mean that you will get a better performance in Game as percentages like these will not make that much of a difference.
Overall the Crucial Ballistix Elite DDR4 2666MHz 16GB Kit is a good set of memory modules for your X99 or your new Z170 platform. The modules were easy to set up in the UEFI and they performed without any stability issues at all during Gaming. The only thing that I wish was here to write about would be some sort of illumination…
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Many thanks to Crucial for providing this sample for review