Crucial Ballistix Smart Tracer 6GB PC3-12800 BL3KIT25664ST1608OB

Author
Aron Schatz
Posted
March 4, 2011
Manufacturer
Crucial
Product Page
Ballistix Smart Tracer
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205771
Crucial Ballistix Smart Tracer 6GB PC3-12800 BL3KIT25664ST1608OB
While the RAM might be the same as two years ago, the Smart Tracer series is an excellent choice for new builds by modders.

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Page 1
Introduction

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It has been nearly two years since we reviewed the Crucial Ballistix Tracer Red 6GB kit on ASE Publishing and it is time for an upgrade. We even commented about the lack of an interesting pattern to the LEDs on the modules. Crucial listened to customer feedback and the Smart Tracer series was born. The RAM modules are the same, but they have some spiffy new features for case modders to fawn over.

About Crucial

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Crucial is a key brand in the Lexar Media family of products. As the Memory Experts, we're the only DRAM supplier that's part of a major memory manufacturer.

A wholly owned subsidiary of Micron Technology, Inc., Lexar Media, Inc. boasts one of the most comprehensive offerings of memory product lines in the industry. We deliver high-quality, award-winning products in every memory category: USB flash drives, all popular form factors of memory cards and card readers, DRAM computer memory for PCs and Mac systems, and solid state drives (SSD). We back our products with outstanding customer support and industry-leading warranties, and we strive to expand our offerings to meet the ever-changing needs of our customers — customers just like you.

The Lexar brand has long been synonymous with reliable, high-performance products, which is reflected in the award-winning memory products and USB flash drives sold under the Lexar name.

Our Crucial brand reflects our status as the only consumer memory upgrade supplier that's part of a major DRAM manufacturer. We sell high-quality memory that has been qualified and approved by most major original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). The Crucial.com website features innovative online tools and an intuitive design that makes it easy to find compatible memory and recommended upgrades. And because we carry over 250,000 upgrades for more than 40,000 systems, we've got options for nearly every system out there.

Lexar Media has more than 10 years experience in the memory industry. Our strong retail brands, along with our direct online and OEM presence, make Lexar Media a global player in every major customer channel, including value-added resellers, system builders, and e-commerce. And we've built a name synonymous with quality, innovation, and customer service.

Lexar Media. when memory matters.

http://www.crucial.com/company/index.aspx
Page 2
Packaging

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Crucial changed the retail packaging from the Tracer Red series by making the product flat and easily stackable. The package color is the orange that is known with the Ballistix range of products. There is a window to see what modules are inside the package. Each module is labeled with timings and such.

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The back of the packaging has additional information. Strangely, the pictures on the back are for the older modules.

Specifications

  • 240-pin, unbuffered dual in-line memory module (UDIMM)
  • Physical dimensions are compliant to JEDEC MO-269B
  • Fast data transfer rates: PC3-10600 and PC3-12800
  • 2GB (256 Meg x 64)
  • Exclusively designed for high-performance systems
  • Critical performance parameters tested for functionality
  • Speed verification performed in-system
  • VDD = VDDQ = +1.65V ±0.075V
  • VDDSPD = +3.0V to +3.6V
  • Reset pin for improved system stability
  • Nominal and dynamic on-die termination (ODT) for data, strobe, and mask signals
  • 8 internal device banks for concurrent operation
  • Fixed burst length of 8 (BL8) and burst chop of 4 (BC4) via the mode register
  • Adjustable data-output drive strength
  • Gold edge contacts
  • RoHS compliant
  • Fly-by topology
  • Terminated command, address, and control bus
  • Aluminum heat spreader
  • 1.18” (30mm) PCB Height
  • XMP Profiles Programmed to SPD
  • On-board I2C temperature sensor with integrated serial presence-detect (SPD) EEPROM
  • Compatible with the BallistixTM MOD Utility
  • Ground effect and top edge dual-colored LED's showing memory activity.
  • Custom on-the-fly LED pattern selection and light intensity with on/off option
  • Thermal sensor allowing real-time temperature monitoring and historical data generation
  • Module Voltage and Uptime monitor
  • Timing Parameters (CL - tRCD - tRP) 8 - 8 - 8 - 24


Marketing Summary

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Are you ready to shed some light on your computer?

The Ballistix Smart Tracer features activity-indicating LEDs on the top edge and ground-effect LEDs along the bottom. Add to it the downloadable MOD utility, and you get the real-time temperature monitoring-and more!

Play with even more bling-customized by you. These Smart Tracer modules are available in either Blue/Orange or Red/Green LED color combinations that you can manipulate in real time, switching up the color options. In addition, select from four different LED patterns, adjust brightness, or turn the LEDs on/off. All of this can be done on-the-fly! Turn on the lights — and turn up your performance — with Ballistix Smart Tracer memory.

What is Ballistix Tracer memory?

Ballistix Tracer memory is specifically built for performance enthusiasts and case modders who want to push the performance envelope while adding flash appeal to their boxes. The Ballistix line of high-performance memory modules features advanced speed grades, low latencies, and integrated aluminum heat spreaders. And, Ballistix Tracer memory is available in variety of colors depending on technology.

DDR3 Ballistix Tracer has been updated with more LEDs (up to 32 total) with one or two rows of 12 activity-indicating LEDs along the entire top length of the module. The wider spacing and pattern moves from the center toward the outside of the module and creates some interesting light patterns and effects in your case. Eight constantly illuminated ground effects lights along the bottom edge will light up your motherboard. DDR3 Ballistix Tracer is available in classic black, as well as red, all blue or all green (PCB/heat spreader/LEDs). Show the world your true colors by picking scheme that suits your style or matches your rig.

What is a Ballistix Tracer DDR3 240-pin DIMM?

A Ballistix Tracer dual inline memory module (DIMM) consists of a number of memory components that are attached to a black printed circuit board. The gold pins on the bottom of the DIMM provide a connection between the module and a socket on a larger printed circuit board. The pins on the front and back of a DIMM are not connected to each other.

Ballistix Tracer 240-pin DIMMs are used to provide DDR3 SDRAM memory for desktop computers. DDR3 is a leading-edge generation of memory with an improved architecture that allows it to transmit data very fast.

To use DDR3 memory, your system motherboard must have 240-pin DIMM slots and a DDR3-enabled chipset. A DDR3 SDRAM DIMM will not fit into a standard SDRAM DIMM socket or a DDR of DDR2 DIMM socket.

The number of black components on a Ballistix Tracer 240-pin DIMM can vary, but it always has 120 pins on the front and 120 pins on the back, for a total of 240. Ballistix Tracer 240-pin DIMMs are approximately 5.25 inches long and 1.18 inches high, though the heights can vary. These 240-pin DDR3 DIMMs have only one notch within the row of pins, and each technology has the notch in a slightly different location on the module.

http://www.crucial.com/store/partspecs.aspx?IMODULE=BL3KIT25664ST1608OB
Page 3
Ballistix Smart Tracer

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Normally we have a section for the package contents, but this is RAM and that's all you get. Interestingly, Crucial doesn't provide any media along with the Smart Tracer series. To get the program to control and view temperatures, you'll need to head to Crucial's website and download it. The software was made with .NET 4.0 and doesn't work in Linux through WINE... yet.

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The Smart Tracer series uses the same modules as the previous Tracer Red DDR3 modules so the timings remain the same at 8-8-8-24-1 using XMP settings. The voltage defaults to 1.65v, the max that Intel recommends. These modules are nearly the same as the original black version of the Tracer series. It uses the same coloring for the heat spreader, but the LEDs are unique. For the SPD setting, JEDEC speeds of 1333MHz at 9-9-9-27 with the standard 1.5v that DDR3 specs provides are done. This way, the module will work out of the box on any motherboard. Many times in the past, you'd get modules with insane timings that require a voltage increase and the system doesn't boot from default.

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Instead of getting a single color LED, you are given the option of two color choices. You can pick red and green or blue and orange. The modules we're reviewing are the blue and orange variants. The software controls which color is the active one and you can also change the running lights. You can't use both colors at the same time, though. It is blue or orange, not both. This goes for each function. You still can pick a different color for the running lights. The heat spreaders are once again bonded to the ICs. You shouldn't remove them. Remember that this is Micron RAM and Micron supplies so much OEM product that reliability is a given.

Stability

HardwareLogic views stability a bit differently from most publications. At HardwareLogic, RAM is only stable if it passes Memtest86+ and a plethora of memory intensive applications for a few hours like mprime and doing continuous compiling of specific programs. Just because the memory POSTs and runs doesn't mean that it is stable. Linux users may find memory errors by having errors in compiling (very common) to errors in tar as well as segfaults. Windows users can expect program faults and BSODs. Memory stability is very important. When we say that a specific specification of RAM is stable, we mean it!

This kit uses the same modules as the original »Tracer Red review. They should perform basically the same so we are leaving performance out of this review and concentrating on the new lighting patterns. Using an Asus P6T-Deluxe, the Crucial Ballistix Smart Tracer 6GB kit was up and running on XMP settings without issue. The first XMP profile set the RAM to 8-8-8-24-1.65v and was stable at 1T command rate.

Testing

We tested the modules and found out that the perform nearly the same as the older Ballistix Tracer Red series that we have reviewed earlier. You can reference the review on »ASE Labs or »HardwareLogic to find the performance numbers. We are interested in the new features.
Page 4
MOD

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The Ballistix MOD (Memory Overview Display) is a .NET4 program that gives you access to additional information and control about the Smart Tracer modules. The first screen shows SPD and XMP information as well as some other technical information. You can see the modules have 3 JEDEC speeds and the XMP profile is listed as well.

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Crucial added thermal monitoring on the last refresh, but the Smart Tracer series continues the tradition. Each module has its own sensor and the program can even log the data if you need. Our modules were running at under 40 degrees C. This is fine. Most modules don't need heat spreaders, but they add a bit of flair and protect the ICs.

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Here is where things get interesting. The new feature of the Smart Tracer series is the ability to change the color and pattern of the LEDs on the modules. You get to pick from two sets of colors. It is orange/blue or red/green. Each module has two color adjustments. There is one for the running lights and one for the activity (pattern) lights. Unfortunately, you can't set the modules to use both colors for a single thing. For instance, you can't set the running lights to show orange and blue at the same time. You can set the running lights to orange and the activity to blue, though.

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There are three new patterns. The original pattern is called inside-out and it is the second pattern. Since each module can be assigned a different pattern, you can make your computer go nuts with the lighting options. Streaming and Stereo are the best options. Streaming makes a snake type of activity pattern and stereo mimics the equalizer of a stereo. The pattern goes faster as the RAM is used.



Conclusion

The Crucial Ballistix Smart Tracer 6GB PC3-12800 kit has a small premium added for the extra functionality over the older kit. The kit is available from Crucial for less than $140 which is okay for a 6GB triple-channel kit. For the case modders still out there, these modules add a bit of flair you won't see anywhere else. People that like lights will love these. We asked if there would be a way to change the pattern with an API or something, but Crucial said that the patterns are locked due to costs. Maybe the next series will have it.

Still, Crucial makes excellent RAM and the extra features are certainly interesting. Most people might balk at the lights, but the temperature information is very helpful. We like being able to see when our computers are working at the Tracer series allows us to do just that. The Smart Tracer line is another good product from Crucial. If you have the original Tracer kits, you'll probably want to wait till your next build.

HardwareLogic would like to thank Crucial for making this review possible.

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