Crucial Ballistix Elite DDR4-2666 16GB Memory Kit Review
For our memory overclocking tests we are usually interested in two main elements: how well the memory scales with additional voltage and how versatile it is at overclocking with different timings. During our early testing, we absolutely did notice that this memory kit kept scaling when we increased vDimm all the way up to 1.50V, but we don’t really have any interest in stress testing with that much voltage, both for the sake of the memory ICs and our processor’s memory controller. As a result, we capped memory voltage at 1.40V during in our DDR4 overclocking endeavours, which is still almost 20% over the stock 1.20V, and put all of our efforts on testing timings scalability instead.
In order to make sure that there weren’t any possible CPU-related bottlenecks, the CPU Cache Voltage was set to 1.35V and the CPU System Agent Voltage set to 1.25V. We focused on four basic timing configurations (12-12-12 / 13-13-13 / 14-14-14 / 15-15-15) all with a 1T command rate for optimal performance.
With the pleasantries out of the way, let’s get to the fun stuff.
Wow, this stuff is tight. We don’t mean that in the youthful slang way either. The Micron memory chips that Crucial are using on this Ballistix Elite model are capable of tight timings at much higher frequencies than we have seen from any kit equipped with Hynix MFR ICs. The Hynix is still unrivalled when it comes absolute maximum frequency – DDR4-3100 15-15-15-1T is trivially easy with them – but with this Crucial memory kit what you lose at the top-end you more than make up at the low-end. DDR4-2750 12-12-12-26-1T? Yes please! For comparison, click here for a pop-up showing what our previously untouchable Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-2666 kit managed at those same timings. It’s not even close until timings start loosening up at 15-15-15. Our G.Skill DDR4-3000 put up a stronger showing at 14-14-14, but it’s still blown out of the water by this incredibly versatile Ballistix Elite model.
At 15-15-15-1T, we either hit a hard or artificial limit. Even when we increased the voltage to 1.50V and loosened the timings to 16-17-17-2T we didn’t gain a single additional Mhz. As a result, either this where the frequency ends for these ICs or there is some secondary or tertiary timings, or even something more complex holding us back. We have heard of certain kits reaching up to DDR4-3200 16-17-17, and have no reason to be skeptical of that, but it’s going to take some additional BIOS work on our part (and maybe the motherboard manufacturers too) to potentially make that a reality.
By the way, it is hard to explain in layman’s terms, but this memory kit’s Micron ICs placed more of a strain on our processor’s Uncore than all three of our previously reviewed Hynix MFR-based kits did, even at similar clocks and timings. As you will see below, we combined the memory overclocks with very high 4250Mhz Uncore speeds, and usually we only need a CPU Cache Voltage of 1.35V to achieve that with full stability. However, with this kit we did actually end up having to boost that up to 1.40V. Just keep that in mind during your overclocking efforts.
These screenshots are just to prove that we did indeed achieve the overclocks listed, and that they were stable enough to pass a series of mainstream benchmarking and stress testing applications. If you are doing super critical work, then maybe a little Prime95 stress testing should be done as well, but for gaming and day-to-day tasks our testing is more than sufficient.
Usually, we would now include a 15-15-15-2T overclocking result to show off the maximum stable frequency that we achieved while overclocking, but as mentioned above, we did an artificial hard limit at DDR4-3000 15-15-15-1T.