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Review: Crucial Ballistix Tracer DDR3-1,600: putting bling before value?

by Tarinder Sandhu on 18 February 2009, 06:48 3.1

Tags: Ballistix Tracer DDR3-1,600 CL8 6GB , Crucial Technology (NASDAQ:MU)

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Roll up for the bling

The Ballistix Tracer Core i7 range is available in 3GB (3 x 1GB) and 6GB (3 x 2GB) packs, released at DDR3-1,333 (7-7-7-24) and DDR3-1,600 (8-8-8-24) speeds and latencies. The reasonable combination of speeds and timings means that Crucial uses a higher-than-default 1.65V operating voltage, and we consider this to be the maximum long-term juice that the Core i7's memory-controller should be subject to.

AMD, too, has released DDR3-compatible desktop CPUs, AM3 parts, but the triple-module bundling makes little implicit sense unless you're purchasing for more than one PC.



Here's one of a trio of 2GB modules that make up the 6GB DDR3-1,600 pack, and it's available in blue, red and green. The aesthetics go beyond just adding a coloured heatspreader, because the underlying PCB is also colour-matched - well, the sample's PCB is more green than blue, but we'll let Crucial off.

Enlarge the picture by clicking on it and you'll notice that the white sticker highlights the speed and latencies. Making tweaking matters easier, Crucial adds in XMP support, and decent motherboards should be able to hit the requested speeds by the click of a button. However, please note that the enabling 1,600MHz memory on Core i7 dictates that the uncore speed of the chip needs to be at least 3.2GHz. Most will do it, of course, but it's something to bear in mind.

The heatspreader is otherwise identical to the previously available black modules, though.

The colours make some kind of sense if you've purchased a particular motherboard. The red-coloured Tracers would look good on a Foxconn Bloodrage, whilst the blue don't look out of place on a Gigabyte EX58-UD5.

Each PCB has 24 LEDs - 12 on each side - that light up a frenzy when there's RAM activity. Better invest in a case window to make full use of them, for obvious reasons.

And here they are on a Gigabyte UD5, refulgent in their blueness. The black-coloured modules don't have matching LEDs, of course.

Pre-benchmark summary

Crucial's latest Ballistix Tracer DDR3 is available in three colours - with matching LEDs - and in 3GB/6GB tri-module packs. The enthusiast-class memory ships with reasonable timings and decent speeds, too.

Trouble is, this 6GB kit currently costs a wallet-sapping £297. Compare this with Crucial's very own same-capacity DDR3-1,333 CL9 pack, currently etailing for £91, and we wonder why such a premium is being charged.

Getting ahead of ourselves, let's take a peek at the benchmark results before passing judgement.