It's normal to find several iterations of the same product in the hardware world. The truth of the matter is that companies can rarely satisfy every consumer's requirements with a single product; therefore, diversity in a portfolio is important no matter how big or famous the brand.
The Crucial's Ballistix family has been with us for ages now. The current DDR4 lineup comes in four different flavors for consumers with different tastes. The Ballistix and Ballistix RGB target average users, while the Ballistix Max and Ballistix Max RGB are aimed at more demanding enthusiasts. For this occasion, we'll be taking a look at one of the memory kits from the Ballistix lineup, more specifically the DDR4-3200 C16 2x32GB package.
Featuring a low-profile design, the heat spreader on the Ballistix memory modules is devoid of RGB lighting. Crucial offers the memory in three color options: black, red, and white. Regardless of the color, the memory modules sport a black PCB. The Ballistix and Crucial by Micron are the only logos that you'll see on these memory modules.
Crucial's Ballistix memory modules are really space-friendly. The heat spreader doesn't add a lot of height to the memory module. Checking in with a height of 39.17mm (1.54 inches), we expect the Ballistix memory modules to fit under large CPU air coolers without hiccups.
When you have Micron as the parent company, it's a given that the Crucial Ballistix memory modules will carry some type of Micron integrated circuits (ICs). For this particular memory kit, Crucial is using D9XPF (MT40A2G8VA-062E:B) ICs or Micron B-die, if you will. The memory modules have an eight-layer PCB and feature a dual-rank design.
The memory kit is comprised of two 32GB DDR4 memory modules. By default, they post at DDR4-2666 with the timings at 19-19-19-43. There's only one XMP profile on the Ballistix memory modules, which clocks them up to DDR4-3200 and sets the timings to 16-18-18-36 with a 1.35V DRAM voltage. For more on timings and frequency considerations, see our PC Memory 101 feature, as well as our How to Shop for RAM feature.
|Memory Kit||Part Number||Capacity||Data Rate||Primary Timings||Voltage||Warranty|
|Patriot Viper Steel||PVS464G360C8K||2 x 32GB||DDR4-3600 (XMP)||18-20-20-40 (2T)||1.35 Volts||Lifetime|
|Crucial Ballistix||BL2K32G32C16U4W||2 x 32GB||DDR4-3200 (XMP)||16-18-18-36 (2T)||1.35 Volts||Lifetime|
|TeamGroup T-Create Classic 10L||TTCCD464G3200HC22DC01||2 x 32GB||DDR4-3200 (XMP)||22-22-22-52 (2T)||1.20 Volts||Lifetime|
Our Intel test system consists of an Intel Core i7-10700K and Asus ROG Maximus XII Apex on the 0707 firmware. On the other hand, the AMD testbed is based of an AMD Ryzen 5 3600 and ASRock B550 Taichi that runs on the 1.30 firmware. Regardless of the platform, an MSI GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Gaming Trio handles the graphical duties.
The Ballistix DDR4-3200 C16 overcame the other 64GB (2x32GB) memory kits on both the productivity and gaming charts. Crucial's memory kit dominated the majority of the benchmarks, including the image and video edition, compression, decompression, and encoding tests.
It was a different story on the AMD platform. The Ballistix DDR4-3600 C16 dropped to second place, trailing the Patriot Viper Steel DDR4-3600 C18 in the productivity and gaming scenarios. However, the Ballistix memory kit performed exceptionally in the encoding tests.
Overclocking and Latency Tuning
Thus far, the Ballistix DDR4-3200 C16 memory kit is the only one that has been able to hit DDR4-4200 firmly. The recipe included upping the XMP DRAM voltage from 1.35V to 1.45V and loosening the XMP timings from 16-18-18-36 up to 18-22-22-42.
Lowest Stable Timings
|Memory Kit||DDR4-3200 (1.45)||DDR4-3600 (1.45V)||DDR4-3800 (1.45V)||DDR4-4200 (1.45V)|
|Patriot Viper Steel DDR4-3600 C18||N/A||17-19-19-39 (2T)||21-21-21-41 (2T)||N/A|
|Crucial Ballistix DDR4-3200 C16||14-16-16-36 (2T)||N/A||N/A||18-22-22-42 (2T)|
|TeamGroup T-Create Classic 10L DDR4-3200 C22||18-18-18-38 (2T)||N/A||21-21-21-41||N/A|
While not exactly on the same level as Samsung B-die, the Ballistix memory kit was close enough. We tuned the primary timings down to 14-16-16-36 by applying a 1.45V DRAM voltage.
Not everyone needs the fastest or the gaudiest memory on the market, and that's where Crucial's Ballistix DDR4-3200 C16 memory kit comes in. Good out-of-the-box performance and broad overclocking margins are what sets this memory kit apart from the others in our tests. The price tag, however, could use some adjustment.
The Ballistix DDR4-3200 C16 memory kit presently retails for $279.95 when similarly-specced alternatives start at $229.99. Even the higher-clocked Viper Steel DDR4-3600 C18 memory kit only sells for $258.99. We understand that the Ballistix memory kit's true value lies in its overclocking headroom. The issue is that not everyone overclocks their memory beyond XMP specifications, so we're a bit concerned that the Ballistix might go unnoticed.