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Crucial Ballistix 1,600MHz review

This Ballistix kit is sporty, but can it run with overclocking big boys?

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Our Verdict

A nice enough kit for the cash, but stingy overclocking headroom limits enthusiast appeal.

For

  • Crucial's rep for reliability
  • Competitively priced for a 6GB kit

Against

  • Not exactly over-specced
  • Limited overclocking capacity

Crucial is the IBM of memory makers. It's the brand you buy when you can't afford to make a mistake. Use Crucial's online system configuration tool, therefore, and compatibility is virtually confirmed.

Of course, mere compatibility is hardly the stuff of high performance thrills, however. That's where the Ballistix sub-brand comes in. In theory, it combines Crucial's well-earned rep for reliability with the promise of speed.

The Crucial Ballistix 1,600MHz is a triple-channel kit weighing in at 6GB, 1,600MHz and 8-8-8-24. For the uninitiated, that rather baffling four-entry latter figure describes the CAS latency timings, and we would rate it as being bang on the money for a kit of this speed and cost.

Overall, we are therefore talking Golf GTI rather than 911 Turbo pace. But then the sporty Golf analogy probably suits Crucial's marketing men just fine. Solid and reliable with just a whiff added oomph is probably the target.

First the good news. The Crucial Ballistix 1,600MHz's performance at our default 1,333MHz settings betrays no hidden nasties. 22-and-a-bit gigabytes per second of bandwidth, 43 seconds to complete the Cinebench test and 71 frames per second in World in Conflict are very solid results.

Indeed, things get more interesting when you up the clocks to this kit's official 1,600MHz rating. The World in Conflict score swells to 74 frames per second, the bandwidth jumps to 27GBps, measured latency tightens nicely and things generally bowl along very nicely indeed. For most people, most of the time, that's going to be more than enough performance.

In fact, at both 1,333MHz and 1,600MHz, Crucial Ballistix 1,600MHz is right up there with more expensive 4GB dual-channel DDR3 kits such as the Kingston HyperX 1600MHz and GSkill Tri-Channel 1600MHz.

However, 1,600MHz is where the fun stops. If our tests are anything to go by, there's little headroom available beyond this relatively modest frequency. Overclockers looking to squeeze the max out of a low-end LGA 1366 CPU need to look elsewhere.

Pinpointing the reason for the limited overclocking headroom. The cheap heat spreaders could contribute to the limitation but are unlikely to be the main problem.

Of course, this is the one of the cheaper high performance 6GB triple-channel kits currently available. In that context you could argue that Crucial gives you exactly what you paid for: a solid triple-channel kit that delivers on its 1,600MHz spec, but no more.